Slowly But Surely, D.C. is Catching October Fever

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The Nationals celebrate yet another win.

Maybe it’s in the air. Maybe it’s the new manager. Maybe it’s that the Redskins are poised to have one of their worst seasons of all time. Maybe it’s that D.C. has finally gotten used to having a baseball team. Maybe it’s none of the above, and it’s just inexplicable. But D.C., slowly but surely is turning into a baseball town.

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The Rafael Soriano Era Comes To a Close, And The Right Man for The Job Is In Front of You.

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Soriano stands after blowing a save against Los Angeles.

Soriano has been inconsistent and blown six saves since the All-Star break. 

Drew Storen has had a major bounceback season this year, pitching dominantly.

Drew Storen has had a major bounceback season this year, pitching dominantly.

He was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle. Even though Drew Storen had come off of a career year, the Nats wanted insurance. So, they gave Soriano the closer role instead of Drew Storen based on veteran experience and coolness under pressure after Storen blew a two run lead in the fifth game of the NLDS.

But, on the heels of what may soon be considered the franchise’s most successful stretch of all time, one problem has persisted. In fact, the problem created the record. Rafael Soriano was that problem. In his past twelve save opportunities, Rafael Soriano has given up one run or more in seven of them. He owns a 6.98 E.R.A. since the All-Star Break, and his FIP, which takes out all possible lucky or unlucky factors is 3.16, which compared to Craig Kimbrel, is more than 1.5 points higher. These numbers are unacceptable for a closer in general, but a closer on a postseason team especially. After giving up three runs and two home runs on Friday night, it looks like Soriano’s stint as closer may be over, especially since the Nats can’t afford meltdowns like that on a consistent basis when they reach the postseason.

And while the rest of D.C. wonders who will replace him, whether it will be new but lights out reliever Matt Thornton or long-time setup man, Tyler Clippard, the choice is actually obvious. The only pitcher in the bullpen who has postseason experience as a closer under pressure, been consistent all season and has closing experience is Drew Storen. It seemed to be a given after last year that the Nationals would let Soriano go, and Storen would return to his old spot. But now that Soriano is in a downwards spiral, there is no better time to prepare Drew Storen for the future than now. If he was given the role down the stretch, he would get experience under the pressure that September brings and would be prepared for the postseason. If the Nats are expected to make postseason runs for years to come, wouldn’t Drew Storen, the once and future closer be the right one to put in the driver’s seat if the pitcher they brought in to perform in these types of situations can’t perform the tasks?

While many people are not sure of him, due to his rocky 2013 performance, it’s actually quite easy to explain. 

“‘You basically send a guy a message this offseason, for having one bad game, that he’s not the guy for the job,'”Said Drew Storen’s friend and bullpen partner, Tyler Clippard. “‘He’s only human. I mean, it’s going to get to anybody. Eight months later, you get to a point where he’s struggling, and you turn the page on him and you send him down. I just think it’s been handled very poorly.'” 

 

Storen in all likelihood would be more than happy to take his old job back. On closing, he has said “That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do, and that’s what I want to do.” 

 

 

 

 

Unlike Anything You’ll Ever See: Ten Games, Five Walkoffs, Hundreds of Stories

Anthony Rendon was the latest to be doused by the notorious gatorade cooler.
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It started innocently enough. A blowout of the Mets started the streak, which was not a new accomplishment. The Nationals easily swept the series. Then, it began to get more challenging as Pittsburgh came into town. The Nats were barely able to hold on in the first game, as Rafael Soriano continued his struggles, but was able to hold on for a 5-4 win. The next game, after three lead changes, the Nationals were able to walk-off on a Wilson Ramos double. The next night, Scott Hairston owned the magic bat, and he lead the home team to the second straight walk-off. After sending Pittsburgh home without a win to show for the series, Arizona came to town. LaRoche continued the walk-off theme, sending an absolute moon-shot into right field to end it. The Nationals were finally able to win without a walk-off the next day, destroying the D-Backs 8-1. But, the next night held another walk-off, as Rendon singled to end it. And the very next day, a 0-0 tie was broken on an errant throw by Jordan Pacheco. The Nationals won their tenth straight, and Matt Williams, as promised, will break out the ancient impersonation of “The Great Bambino”, Babe Ruth. But in terms of being the most important thing, none of the things that were just mentioned have been the most impressive element of this ten game win streak.
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The Biggest Hero This Year Is Not A Player

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While Anthony Rendon has had an astounding breakout season, hitting for power, average and just plain well, he is not the reason this season has happened the way it has. While Jayson Werth enjoyed a hot month of July, Denard Span has been the consistent lead off hitter the Nats have needed, the rotation has been outstanding and the bullpen has been lights-out, the big reason the Nationals have been doing what they are doing is behind the scenes. Continue reading

Side of Interviews: Dave Jageler

Dave Jageler and Me, Standing in Nationals Park
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On June 21st, I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Dave Jageler. You might know him from the Nationals radio broadcasts on 106.7 The Fan or player interviews at occasions such as NatsFest. He had a lot of interesting things to say and knows lots about the Nats, and is also a pretty funny guy. So without any further ado… Continue reading

Braves VS Nationals: Again, But With More Feeling

Image C/O Matt's Bats
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The Nationals and the Braves are meeting for the seventh time this season tonight. At this point in the season, the Braves have absolutely dominated the Nationals. Atlanta has won five of the six so far. However, that hasn’t seemed to define the Nationals’ season, as they sit in first place with a 1.5 game lead over Atlanta. Statistically, the Nationals have scored many more runs per game, have had better pitching, made more comebacks and have been just generally the better team. But as the Cardinals proved, some teams just have the Nationals’ number. So what can the Nationals do to win this series and take a definitive lead in the NL East? Continue reading

A Silent Killer on the D.L.

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No Nationals fan even blinks an eye when it’s mentioned a player has gone to the D.L. this year. After seeing names like Harper, Zimmerman, Gonzalez and Span fall out for fifteen days or more, it’s just not a surprise. However, this latest trip to the D.L. by a player, despite his lack of star-power, may be more important than Harper or Zimmerman. Continue reading