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

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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”

Is Doug Fister the Nationals’ Missing Piece?

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Is Doug Fister what brings the Nationals a World Series Parade?

Is Doug Fister what brings the Nationals a World Series Parade? (CBSSports)

Hey everyone, this post was a collaboration between me and Matt Eisner, the Nationals youth pro-blogger. If you want to see more of his work, go to mattsbats.com or follow him on Twitter at @MattsBats.

Two hours down the long California freeways from San Francisco lies the Northern California town of Merced. A small, sleepy town, it doesn’t look like much to the naked eye. However, it is the home of a few notable people – NBA All Star Shooting Guard Ray Allen, the C.E.O. of YouTube – and Doug Fister.

Merced, California (Engadget)

Merced, California (Engadget)

One of the newest and most exciting additions to the Nationals roster for the 2014 season is pitcher Doug Fister.  Fister, a starter acquired from the Tigers, may be the proven veteran in the Nats rotation that Mike Rizzo has been hoping to find for many years.  He may also be the missing link in the rotation for taking the Nationals to the playoffs. But where did that start? Let’s go back a few years.

Doug grew up the son of Larry, a fire captain and police SWAT team member, and Jan, a homemaker. He grew up interested in baseball, woodworking, and remodeling cars.  As a kid, he would take apart his mom’s appliances and then put them back together again, just for fun. (He still has a love for tinkering – this winter, even though he could afford the best builder in California, he rebuilt his own bathroom – just for fun.) Doug grew up a fan of the nearby A’s and Giants.  He was also a fan of the “Iron Man” Cal Ripken, Jr.

Doug went to Golden Valley High School, and played high school ball for the Cougars. He was a pitcher and a utility player, and he hit .425 in his senior year. He was drafted by the nearby Giants as a first baseman, but decided to play baseball in college.  After graduating from Golden Valley, he decided to go to Merced Junior College for two years. In those two years, he was a junior college All Star, and struck out 29 players in just 30 innings pitched. He went on to Division I Fresno State and, in 2006, was voted to the ESPN All-District team, with a 3.33 ERA.  Doug was also a good student, with a 3.31 GPA in liberal studies and planned to be an elementary school teacher if he didn’t make it to The Show. The Fresno State Bulldogs, as they were called, went to the NCAA tournament that year, but fell to Cal State Fullerton in the Regional Finals that year.

After watching big names like Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, and Max Scherzer being picked, Doug Fister was selected with the fifth pick in the seventh round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Seattle Mariners.  His dream came true as MLB Commissioner Bud Selig introduced him as a professional ballplayer.

After rising relatively quickly through the Mariners’ organization,

(Hardball Talk - NBC Sports)

On the Mariners(Hardball Talk – NBC Sports)

he made his major league debut on August 8, 2009 with one inning of shutout pitching. Three days later, he started his first game against the White Sox, and eventually finished that season 3-4. The next year, he was given the chance to become a regular starter. He got the job, and posted a 6-14 record with a 4.11 E.R.A. Even with those rough numbers, many people saw the potential in the tall kid from Merced.

On the trade deadline of 2011, after a rough 3-12 start, the Mariners shipped Doug Fister away to the Detroit Tigers. After that trade, he went 8-1, and had a 1.71 E.R.A in ten starts as a Tiger. After two playoff wins, things were looking good for Doug

Fister celebrating in the clubhouse after defeating the Yankees in the ALDS (CBSSports)

Fister celebrating in the clubhouse after defeating the Yankees in the ALDS (CBSSports)

Fister and the Tigers. 2012 had potential to be a big year for them.

Although injured for a portion of the beginning of the 2012 season, Fister came back strong, and managed a 10-10 record that year, recorded a shutout and, in all of his playoff games, did not give up more than two runs in any game, in up to seven innings of work. Doug was a large part in the Tigers’ 2013 Division Championship run. Not only did he post a career high in wins, win percentage and strikeouts, but kept the eventual World Series champions, the Red Sox, to one run over six innings in the ALCS.

On the evening of December 3, 2013, a high school senior in Boston, Chris Cotillo, broke the news that Fister was being traded for the second time of his career.  In a move that surprised the baseball world, Doug Fister was traded to the Washington Nationals for utility player Steve Lombardozzi, rookie pitcher Ian Krol and prospect Robbie Ray.  For a deal like this, it was hard for Nats fans not to be excited.

The Nationals are hoping that Doug Fister fills a role in their rotation that they tried unsuccessfully to do with Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren in 2012 and 2013.  Fister is a seasoned veteran going on 5 years of major league experience with lots of postseason experience.  With his clutch pitching and intimidating height, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the already solid rotation. Most likely, he will slot in as the Nats’ fourth starter, although on most teams he would probably slot higher.  Most expect that Nationals starting rotation to go Strasburg (R), Gonzalez (L), Zimmermann (R), Fister (R), and the fifth spot to be decided in Spring Training between Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan or possibly even Christian Garcia.  With a lineup that strong, Fister could even go #5 for real right-left, right-left rotation.  He could also slot in higher in the rotation to mess with hitters’ timing– while Strasburg can go 95 mph and Gio and J-Zimm also throw heat in the 90s, Fister’s fastball tops out in the high 80s but with major accuracy and a sinker that induces a lot of infield outs.  Imagine what it would be like as a batter playing a four game series against the Nats facing Strasburg’s fastball on Monday, Gio’s wicked curve on Tuesday, Zimmerman’s change in velocity on Wednesday, and Fister’s nasty sinker on Thursday.

Doug Fister introducing himself at NatsFest, with Jerry Blevins and Mike Rizzo. (Scott Ableman, FLICKR)

Doug Fister introducing himself at NatsFest, with Jerry Blevins and Mike Rizzo. (Scott Ableman, FLICKR)

One big way Doug Fister can help is in the clubhouse. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems last year was the atmosphere behind the scenes, due to the loss of clubhouse guys Mark DeRosa and Michael Morse. With the help of Nate McClouth, Jerry Blevins and Jose Lobaton, he could change that. He will be the oldest of the Nationals starting pitchers and has a calm personality that will probably make him fit in well with teammates Strasburg and Zimmermann. He’s also just a generally fun guy to hang around with, according to many teammates and coaches.

However, the biggest reason Doug Fister can make the Nats a championship team, is the simple fact that he is an amazing pitcher. Even while he was pitching in the third most hitter-friendly ballpark in the country, he posted great numbers throughout his tenure as a Tiger. He succeeds by throwing well-placed pitches and getting hitters to swing on top of the sinker that drops like a rock, which means lots of groundballs to guys like Zimmerman, Desmond and Rendon/Espinosa. Walks are also a rarity with him.

In college, he studied to be a teacher – but went to baseball instead. But hopefully, he can teach the younger guys what has made him excel, and his calm. “Just do your job” attitude.  Doug Fister has seen a lot of postseason play with the Tigers, and in those high pressure situations he’s posted a 2.98 E.R.A. for an average of six innings a game.

The Nats already had the potential to be a great team, but with the addition of Doug Fister, they may have taken the leap to become a World Series team.

Fister told USA Today, he is going to “approach every day trying to get better and trying to make it to October.”

Hopefully, we’ll see him there this Fall.

This article was independently researched. However, if you want  another good article on this, please look at  washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-doug-fister-knows-he-can-be-of-service/2014/02/14/a0592b16-95c2-11e3-8461-8a24c7bf0653_story.html

Nothing special is happening in our nation’s capital

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28-29.

.229.

478.

Those are some interesting numbers for the Washington Nationals this  year. 28-29, their record. .229, their team batting average. 478, the amount of hits they’ve given up this year.

Yeah, somethings askew. After last year’s game 5 meltdown, Davey Johnson uttered the words, “World Series or bust”. It’s leaning towards the latter. In the early offseason, the Nats were a general pick for World Series champs in 2013. They were looking even better, with Denard Span and Rafael Soriano coming along for the rid, leaving the Nats with a great center fielder and a great closer. Opening day was marvelous. They won 2-0, as Strasburg pitched 7 stellar innings, and Bryce Harper hit two home runs. And then.

Then, it got hard, fast. 15-0 loss? Check. Losing to the Mets? Check. Injuries? Check. And that’s where we stand right now. Here are some reasons for Nats fans to be depressed, and then some reasons to be optimistic.

Why to be depressed: Bryce Harper is showing he can be injury prone, with knee and face injuries after playing too hard, crashing into multiple walls in California, and swelling in his knee has gone up. Jayson Werth is hurt, again, and he has missed 28 games already. Wilson Ramos has been gone for 30 games. Stephen Strasburg could be showing he’s destined for more time on the disabled list, and let’s not forget that the Nats’ bats have not heated up. At all. They average  3.46 runs a game. They are only better than Chicago and Miami. Ouch.

Why to be optimistic: Jayson Werth returns tomorrow, so that provides serious leadership not only in the clubhouse, but also in the games. He was crushing during rehab. Bryce Harper, after he gets back, should be returning to his incredible pace, and is pretty darn good in general. Ross Detwiler should be back in a week or two, and Nathan Karns has stepped up. Stephen Strasburg will pitch wednesday, so he seems to be okay. The Nats have been missing some of their big bats, so they will be a glad addition. Jordan Zimmermann has really come into his own, and is playing like an ace. LaRoche and Zimmerman have shaken off their cold starts, playing well now at the plate and in the field. (Zimmerman has reduced his errors a ton). The final thing to be happy about if you are a Nats fan is that the schedule is getting easier. Take a look at the april and may schedule comparing the Nats and Braves.

HARD TEAMS FOR THE NATS (Series): Cincinnati,  Atlanta,  St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, LA Dodgers,  San Fransisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta. HARD SERIES FOR NATS: 12.

HARD TEAMS FOR THE BRAVES: Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, San Fransisco, LA Dodgers, Washington. HARD SERIES FOR BRAVES: 8

The Nats’ schedule gets a lot easier, very soon. Like, tomorrow, starting a stint with the Mets and Twins, and they won’t see a “tough team” for another 2 weeks, and then it gets much easier come July. The Braves’ schedule gets harder around July.

I can’t tell you to be worried or optimistic for the rest of the season, but what I will tell you is this. The Nats have a great chance to win it all, and they have a great chance to miss the playoffs. We’ll just have to find out.

Nats look like they’re coming to play next year

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Sources say the Washington Nationals have signed Rafael Soriano to a 2 year, 28 million dollar contract. Don’t be surprised if next year’s slogan is World Series or bust.

This is just another signing for the Nats, like Denard Span, Dan Haren and others. But this is the biggest yet. Soriano is a great fit for the Nats, but it also shows that the Nats aren’t settling for “Good enough”. While last year was an incredible year for DC baseball, boasting baseball’s best record and a NL East division championship, this year looks even better.

Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann,, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and more will have playoff experience, and look like a recipe for success.

Here’s another reason they look pretty darn good – 4 or 5 of their bench players could be starting on almost any other team,  like Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina.

Also, injuries won’t be haunting them. Strasburg will be pitching an entire season, and presumably the playoffs, Zimmerman’s rest and surgery will mean he is ready to go, plus other players.

Also, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia and Miami do not look good at all this year, at all. The Nats’ young talent and veteran powers should make it extremely easy to propel them to another NL East division title.

But here’s the biggest thing this year: Everyone on the Nats knows they can do it. There is no doubt in any of their minds about this season. It isn’t a “Trial” – it’s real. They have the swagger and the team now.

So do I think the Nats are going to win the World Series?

That’s a clown question bro.