The Panic Button

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This was the team that made D.C. dream. We cheered with them, cried with them, and sung “Take on Me” with them. 2012 was an incredible year for the Nationals.
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An Interesting Fifth Starter Idea

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There was really only one worry coming into Spring Training this year, and it was a good one. In a staff full of aces, who would be the fifth starter in the rotation? Would it be Detwiler, Jordan or Roark? Detwiler was demoted to the bullpen, but the question was never really answered, as Fister was injured in the final week of Spring Training, putting Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark in the rotation.

But looking at the statistics and just the general output this year, the Nats need to change one or two things. And with Fister’s rehab taking even longer than expected, it may be time to make this move. No longer keep the two sophomores in the four and five spot. Instead, put the most dominant candidate for the fifth spot so far in the rotation, Ross Detwiler.

Detwiler has been not only persistent and strong, but also quick, not panic inducing and has not given up an earned run.

If you see the statistics, the clear winner is obvious.

  • Tanner Roark: 17 IP, 5.29 ERA, 10 ER
  • Taylor Jordan: 16.2 IP, 5.94 ERA, 11 ER
  • Ross Detwiler: 10.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 R

The case is obvious here. If Williams gives Detwiler time to build up arm strength, he could be starting quite quickly.

The only question left is if his stuff will regress since starters turned relievers sometimes put more power into their arm. However, with the stats, I think it’s a bet Matt Williams is very willing to make. When Detwiler was demoted to the bullpen, he said that “It doesn’t mean he won’t start sometime in the future”

After a Depressing Road Trip, What Can the Nationals do to Bounce Back?

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There is no doubt there was room for improvement on that last road trip. Between being swept by the Braves, then giving up eleven runs to the Marlins, of all teams, with Strasburg consistently showing worrisome signs. They overall went 2-4, bringing their record to 9-6, a game and a half behind the Braves.

Not only could the Nats not beat the Braves, once again, showing signs of 2013 all over again, Strasburg had abysmal stuff and couldn’t figure out how to do the simplest of things, and the Nats were consistently down by three or more by the third inning.

A lot of these problems are real. But instead of worrying about them, and getting Nats fans riled up, it’s a lot more challenging to ask a different question: how can the Nats bounce back?

The first, and most worrying question is if the Nats will be able to beat the Braves. Atlanta has absolutely dominated the Nationals for the past year. The Nationals have not been able to figure out the supposedly decimated starting pitching, and have consistently been behind big, very early. It seems to be completely mental. The Nats play completely differently than any other time when the other team has a tomahawk on the uniform. There’s no obvious solution. I’m not inside the heads of the players or Matt Williams. However, if they can work it out mentally, they can easily beat the Braves, as they seem to be the better team.

Strasburg is supposed to be the ace. However, lately, he’s acted like a struggling rookie up for the first time. His confidence and stuff seems to be on and off, sometimes dealing like an ace, and other times giving up more than five runs in less than three innings. Once again, this looks completely mental. His stuff and arm is good enough to strike out anybody. However, something needs to change mentally, once again.

Another large problems is sloppiness and errors. The Nats have made a shocking amount of errors so far. The obvious solution here is just more repetition, more drills, and just being careful. That one is simple enough.

The Nats have also been dominated by certain division foes. Yelich and Upton (Justin) have dominated the rotation so far. This is a problem that happened last year. What needs to happen is that the plan needs to change for these players. They need to see a pattern, then adjust their game plan.

The Nats season isn’t over. Not even close, in fact. But these problems are pretty worrying. They’ll have to fix them some way, or we won’t be seeing playoff baseball. But if a thirteen year old can think of solutions, so can the rest of the Nats… so hopefully, there won’t be a problem.

A failure of an era: Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett, Punto off to LAD – but at what cost to both teams?

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The deal that all of New England, California, and Red Sox nation have been on the edge of their seats about is done. As well as an era, or an era that Boston tried to create. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto are members of the LA Dodgers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, something seriously bad was happening in the clubhouse of Fenway Park. Josh Beckett, the supposed leader of the beer and fried chicken brigade, was an obvious move out. Crawford, injury prone and when he was playing was not worth the millions he was paid. But the scariest thing for Boston is the loss of Adrian Gonzalez. It adds so many questions, and so many regrets.

Adrian Gonzalez could’ve been a serious candidate for MVP had the first half of the season gone better. He is a vital piece to the Red Sox success, and his RBI may be irreplaceable. While a first baseman from the Dodgers (James Loney, a career .284 hitter) was sent, he is not a real replacement, at .254 this season with 33 RBI, compared to Gonzalez’s .300 and 86 RBI.

But this was a deal that had to be made. Beckett and Crawford had to be taken off of Boston’s shoulders connected to their quality of play and injuries, as well as the salaries and bad memories that were connected to a failure of an era. But the Dodgers would not take on these players without a sweet spot in the deal. Nick Punto was a pawn in this trade, as a little bait. But they got to the big bait – Adrian Gonzalez, whose quality of play could make up for the others.

The Red Sox lost one of their best hitters and leaders. Adrian Gonzalez was not something they wanted to give up. Even so, they ended up doing just that. But the Dodgers didn’t get off of here worry free. Crawford and Beckett at their bests are incredible and at their worst are absolutely dreadful. The Dodgers will have to recreate them or get rid of them fast, because otherwise, those guys are just taking up space in the clubhouse.

Both teams came out losing and winning at the end of this deal.

THE WEEKLY: ReplACEments

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In 2009, it was a bad year for hitters.  In 2010, we thought it was a one year thing.  In 2011, we didn’t think it was anything but good pitching.  This year is no exception.  While many people struggle to find reasons for the pitcher dominating in the past few years, throwing around random statistics, I have maybe a real reason.

The pitchers of 2008 were a bit wiped out.  Most aces were veterans losing power.  In 2009, a new wave was born.  Roy Halladay was reaching potential, Clay Buchholz was ready to become one of the main men of a franchise, and Stephen Strasburg was picked number one overall.  In 2010, deemed “Year of the Pitchers” with 5 no hitters, we saw Halladay, Strasburg, and Tim Lincecum showing dominance on the mound.

2011 meant Justin Verlander’s domination.  He became the face of the MLB, winning a Cy Young and MVP.  In 2012, the transition was complete.  Yu Darvish came to MLB, and Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Moore, and many more are blowing by batters.  It’s not even the end of July and we’ve already had four no-no’s, and the league batting average is at its lowest since 1972.  When Lincecum faltered Cain shined.  DC became the fastest, curviest, and slowest city in the country.  Perfection was possible and becoming more common.

A new wave of Aces has replaced a hitters’ playground with a new pitchers’ palace.