The Unknown Crisis also known as Max Scherzer

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Like his eyes, Max Scherzer seemingly had two different seasons in 2015 – one powerful, striking and attention-grabbing, like his blue eye, and one mediocre, flying under the radar, like his brown eye. Even though Scherzer posted a 2.79 ERA, starting 33 games and pitching a career high 228.2 innings, the stats that will forever be associated with his historic campaign last season which included two no-hitters, there was still a hugely problematic span for the big righty.

From April to June, Max Scherzer headlined the NL Cy Young Award Conversation, holding steady to a 1.75 ERA, striking out 130 and holding opposing batters to a meager .179 clip, all on top of a no-hitter that was one out away from a perfect game. But when the calendar turned from June to July, something clicked in Scherzer’s head – or rather, unclicked. His starts went from must-see events and guaranteed wins to a decent start and a good game, to a serious problem. From July 7th to September 7th, the “ace” posted an ERA of 5.11 in an average of 5 innings per start, numbers, that for two months, certainly doesn’t look like it should belong to someone who commands a $210 million contract. All of this was forgotten in late September and early October, when Scherzer posted a string of incredible starts, capped off by yet another no-hitter, against another playoff team, the New York Mets.

Nats fans ended the season with the notion of Scherzer as an incredible pitcher who enjoyed a historic season. While two no-hitters are an accomplishment that is unprecedented, the biggest factor in the Nationals rotation worked against them for two months, and that’s not acceptable.

But what, if anything, was behind this sharp decline that took the most dominant pitcher in the league to a mediocre starter who could barely last five innings?

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Side of Interviews: Dave Jageler

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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

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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Grand Slams and Resilience Lead Nats to Sweep Over Marlins, But Will it Beat the Braves?

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As Strasburg dealt like an ace on thursday, striking out twelve and giving up one run over 6.2 innings, the Nats finally backed him up with a win, adding on to Werth’s early inning home run with a Harper walk with the bases loaded, to load them up once again for Desmond, who immediately teed off and gave the Nationals their second grand slam in two nights. (Just some perspective, it took them nearly three months longer to get one grand slam in 2013.)

But last night’s game shouldn’t be why fans with Curly W’s on their caps should be excited. On Wednesday, they didn’t have the ace of the 2013 season, Zimmermann. They had some odd replica of him, who didn’t have his A-game – or his C-game, and was hit early, giving up five runs in less than three innings. The bullpen came in, dominated the Marlins to one run over the next seven innings, and slowly, but surely, the Nats chipped away. After Harper’s moonshot that was fair by about seven inches, singles and sacrifices brought the Nats to a tie game by the eighth inning. And sure enough, the comeback kids did it once again, loading up the bases so Werth could send a home run into the Marlins’ bullpen, a type of home run he last hit in that Game 4 of the NLDS.

Comebacks have begun to become a staple of this season. But as the Braves continue to plague the Nats, the question remains, will the Nationals be able to come back and win against the Braves?

The signals are mixed. They’ve been the rally boys in the first and third series of the year, but the Braves gave them trouble last time. We’ll wait and see, starting tonight, but it’s not an option to not bring this atmosphere to Turner Field… or there’s no division title in D.C.

The offseason report – The teams doing the right thing – and the teams that aren’t.

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I am self-admittedly a mess without baseball. So as the winter meetings end, we begin to reach the mid point of the offseason, with only 2 months until pitchers and catchers report, or roughly, at least. That’s kind of a long time. However, it doesn’t mean we can look at some teams this offseason that have stood out, in a good or bad way.

The Good

Oakland Athletics

Top prospect from a great team? Check. Stealing a closer for not that much? Check. Great people and bench players? Check. Oakland has had a well rounded and not-too big offseason, which is exactly what a team in their position needs.

Boston Red Sox

Jacoby who? That’s what Ben Cherington is hoping he got right this offseason. Instead of re-signing the official spark plug and All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury, he went with the in house option – Jackie Bradley Jr. He (Jackie) has shown spots of talent, but not held a consistent spot on a Major League Roster. However, they made a few key additions themselves, signing A.J. Pierzynski and Edward Mujica while letting Jarrod Saltalamacchia go, who was good but never what the Red Sox expected him to be. They also re-signed official beard-man Mike Napoli.

Washington Nationals

What do you do when you don’t have that much to do? Fill in the blanks. While last year, Denard Span and Dan Haren were supposed to fix all the problems, they clubhouse guys like Mark DeRosa walk, and when he left, the Nats clubhouse kind of fell apart. Clubhouse man Nate McLouth will hopefully fix the problem Mark Derosa left, Doug Fister, a just overall great pitcher came for very little and one of the left handed relievers that were missing from last year’s flop season has come on, Jerry Blevins. The only two things they need to do now? Extend Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, and get Eric O’Flaherty.

San Fransisco Giants

It’s an even numbered year, and you know what that means… the Giants are going to be a contender. Okay, maybe not. But they have gotten another great starter in Tim Hudson, and another great clubhouse man the Nats let walk, Michael Morse, plus re-signing key players like Vogelsong and LIncecum.

The Bad

New York Mets

Unfortunately, a 40 year old veteran does not replace the next big thing in pitching. With Matt Harvey out for next season, Bartolo Colon was brought in to be the front(?!) of the staff. While they stole a great center fielder from their cross-town rivals, this just wasn’t the year to do it. Another two years until the Mets contend for the NL East, minimum.

Seattle Mariners

I know what you’re thinking. Cano. Hart. Yeah, that’s not really enough. Let’s look back at history. 2012 Miami Marlins: Fail. 2012 Los Angeles Angels: Flop. 2013 Toronto Blue Jays: No chance. 2013 Los Angeles Angels: Still a flop. You can’t buy a championship with big name free agents. You just can’t.

Completely Boneheaded GMs

Chicago White Sox

This just did not make sense. After signing Abreu, he trades for Adam Eaton and signs Felipe Paulino – after he unloaded Rios, Peavey and Matt Thornton. So in other words, you are admitting the strategy stunk, and now you’re trying it again. Rebuild. Take a year.

Houston Astros

This is not a team that will contend. They just aren’t good enough. Yet they went out and got Dexter Fowdler and Scott Feldman. I can’t emphasize this enough – until you are a legit contender to finish above .500, you just don’t go for outside talent and use your homegrown talent.

Miami Marlins

Pretty much exactly what I wrote for the Astros, except replace Fowdler and Feldman for Saltalamacchia, Furcal and Garrett Jones.

A reality check for three teams – good and bad.

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REALITY CHECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 teams just were handed losses today – some of them one of their first, one of them their fifth. Does the pain actually help? Maybe.

The Tigers were undefeated in 5 games before today. Justin Verlander was pitching, which seems like a pretty secure win to most teams. And it was a good game for him, at least until the top of the ninth. After giving up a run and getting two batters on board, it was time to leave. Unfortunately, Tigers relief couldn’t close it out, and they lost to the Rays. Which may be just what the doctor ordered for the Destroyers from Detroit. Why, you ask? Simple. A team that good, needs a good reality check about 79 times a year. Being good isn’t enough for teams in this league, you have to be better. And it proves – the Red Sox weren’t taking that reality check last summer, and collapsed at the end because they decided they didn’t need to keep working.

Now, for the Mets, since they were (past tense) undefeated and then lost two games to the Nationals, that’s a serious reality check. In the division they reside in, good isn’t good enough. Great isn’t good enough. Now, while this goes for every division, it really matters in the NL East. In all likelihood, there will be three NL East teams in the playoffs, and the Mets are a bit of a long shot. A loss makes them realize they are, still, the Mets. Which means they don’t have a leadoff batter. Or power hitter. Or shortstop. So, if anything, those losses were a reminder – if they want to finish even scarcely close to a playoff spot, they have to work harder than any other team in that division, even though they may not be the best.

The Red Sox have just been handed their fifth loss. In May, that’s incredible. In April – that’s horrible. The one game they win, is against Toronto, which is a fourth place in the division team. Not the best win, but they’ll take it. Losing to the Tigers doesn’t worry me, the Tigers are good. Losing two of three to the Jays, that does worry me. The Red Sox need to get back up and prove they aren’t knocked down with one punch, because at the end of last year, it seemed like it. The Red Sox need to wake up, and realize that last year was a dream turned nightmare. Getting back up and getting a playoff spot is a must for them. But trying so hard, they haven’t done much. They have to outlast the competition, and play very hard – until the end of October, because they forgot to do that, and guess what happened….

5 things to expect from MLB this year

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Well, it’s official – this show is on the road. After the long, dark, cold and gray winter, athletes return to Arizona or Florida to get their game on, for the real deal – the 2012 MLB season.

There is a lot to expect from this year – players leaving, players coming, and just brand spanking new players too. But here are five things you shouldn’t be caught off guard on this year.

1. The Cardinals Returning to the playoffs:

Look, I know they lost their heart and soul, and a starter, but this is a team that is more than two players. They have hitting and reasonable pitching, which is definitely enough to get them to a Wild-Card spot.

2. The NL East being up for grabs:

4 out of 5 teams in this division look ready to rumble. (the odd team out being the Mets). The Marlins have revamped hitting and pitching, the Phillies have always been good, the Nationals being led Strasburg and Harper, and the Braves getting a couple more chances with the newbies and veterans.

3. The AL East looking different – for better and worse:

The AL East has been a dominant power the past couple years – 3 out of the past 4 seasons they have gotten the AL pennant, and won it 2 times out of those years. But, teams like the Yankees are looking for a fresh start with young pitching and trading away veterans. Teams like the Rays are trying to find a way to not just ride luck this year, and finding talent that can play all year, and the Red Sox looking to forget last year – and look to find a prominent lineup to not collapse and goof off.

4. The Tigers winning the AL (possibly):

Take a look at the lineup. Now take a look at the pitching. Wow. That’s scary for batters and pitchers. They have found a second homer hitter, which just might get them those runs they need, since it’s still the same team, just better.

5. The Angels and Marlins not being necessarily good:

O.K, I know I said the Marlins were a contender. And they are! But, let’s just get some stuff straight first. As you could tell from the Red Sox epic collapse – (and every all-star game), putting good players together does NOT make a good team. I think they will both be fine, but I’m not necessarily a believer that either of these teams can make it past the AL or NLDS – after all, after C.J Wilson and Mark Buehrle, do either of these teams have pitching?

Well, every season takes it’s own twists and turns, so we’ll just have to see.