Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Archive for April, 2021

Denaburg to have TJ…

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Mason Denaburg … in high school, the last time he was apparently healthy. Photo via usatodayhss.com

Tucked into this past weekend’s worth of crummy news for our team was this little gem: 2018 1st rounder Mason Denaburg is going to have Tommy John surgery, which will cost him the whole of 2021 and the early part of 2022.

Here’s a summary of Denaburg’s “career” with Washington:

  • 2018: Nats 1st round pick, selected 27th overall and given a signing bonus of $3M out of high school, more than $500k above slot.
  • Denaburg fell to #27 because he had “biceps tendinitis” in high school, which meant he missed “more than a month” of his HS season. Nonetheless he was a high projection pre-draft/pre-injury and needed to be bought out of his commitment to Florida.
  • He did not appear in 2018, presumably because his “biceps tendinitis” never abated and the team didn’t want to push him. Fair enough; sitting them after a busy senior year of pitching and showcases happens all the time with prep kids.
  • In 2019, he finally debuted professionally on June 24th, throwing 4 innings and giving up 0 runs. It remains the *highlight* of his professional pitching career.
  • He started another 6 games for the GCL Nats, throwing a combined 20.1 innings with a 7.52 ERA before he was shut down with a “sore shoulder.”
  • In the 2019 off-season, he had arthroscopic shoulder surgery to alleviate whatever started bugging him in July of 2019. I’m not sure it was ever disclosed precisely what he had done, but suffice it to say “shoulder” and “surgery” is never a good sentence with a pitcher.
  • 2020 hits, and he suffers a setback with the shoulder in Viera. He never gets a chance to take the mound after rehabbing the shoulder thanks to Covid cancelling all but “extended spring training” camp, which the Nats populated with closer-to-the-majors players who might actually help if need be.
  • Now he’ll miss all of 2021 and probably doesn’t even project to appear until May of 2022, and if he does he’ll be on a pretty severe innings limit.

So, the next time we’ll see Denaburg he’ll be in his age 22 season, his 4th full pro season for us, with a grand total of 20.1 innings and having already had injury issues with his upper arm, his shoulder and his elbow.

And I thought Seth Romero‘s “career” with us was bad….

Look, hindsight is 20/20 I get it. It is foolish to look at draft picks and play back seat driver (Albert Pujols was a 13th rounder). And, yes any pitcher can pick up an injury at any moment. I get that too. “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect,” written by Baseball Prospectus founder Joe Sheehan in 2003, to stop people from dreaming on young arms until they matriculate. But man, Denaburg is looking like a waste of a 1st rounder. Its almost like the baseball gods have gotten the team back for being gifted three no-doubter 1st rounders in Strasburg, Harper and Rendon by giving us the likes of Denaburg, Fedde and Romero.

All we can ask as fans is … stop drafting HS kids, stop drafting players with known issues (injury or character), and just stick to the script. College players. Top programs. Solid pedigrees. No injury history.

I’m not sure what we can expect of Denaburg going forward. I can’t imagine any legitimate prospect ranking service putting him anywhere in our top prospects lists going forward. I suppose he could immediately be routed to the bullpen and, if he can regain some velocity, maybe he moves forward as a reliever? Does anyone want to bet money on whether he ever pitches in a MLB game?

Written by Todd Boss

April 8th, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Nats Opening Day Trivia

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It took a few days to get there, but the Nats finally got their season (and home) opener done. A 6-5 Juan Soto walk-off in front of a packed house of 4,801 DC city-mandated attendance limit.

Here’s some useless Nats Season- and Home-Opening trivia

Home Opener Attendances through the years

  • 2021: 4,8011 (4:05 tuesday game, 74 degrees, partly cloudy, 5mph wind)
  • 2020: 0 (7:09 thurs game, 90, partly cloudy, 7mph wind)
  • 2019: 42,263 (1:07 thurs game, 56, partly cloudy, no wind)
  • 2018: 42,477 (1:08 thurs game, 42, partly cloudy, slight wind)
  • 2017: 42,744 (1:05 monday game, 66 and cloudy, slight wind)
  • 2016: 41,650 (4:05 thursday game, 60 and 1.5hr rain delay)
  • 2015: 42,295 (4:05 monday game, 75 and gorgeous)
  • 2014: 42,834 (1:05 friday game, 50s and overcast)
  • 2013: 45,274 (1:05 monday game, 60 and beautiful)
  • 2012: 40,907 (1:05 thursday game 56, partly cloudy)
  • 2011: 39,055 (1:05 thursday game, 41 degrees and overcast)
  • 2010: 41,290 (1pm game monday, beautiful weather 80s and sunny): phillies invasion
  • 2009: 40,386 (3pm game on a monday, chilly 53degr and overcast).
  • 2008: 39,389 (season and stadium opener), 8pm sunday night, Braves, nat’l tv clear but cold.
  • 2007: 40,389 (in rfk, 1pm game vs Florida, 72degrees
  • 2006: 40,516 (in rfk, tuesday day game vs Mets, 72degr and sunny)
  • 2005: 45,596 (in rfk, debut of entire franchise, 62degr and clear, evening game).

2021’s weather was spectacular, certainly better than, say, 2011 or 2018. Or even the 2008 stadium opener, which was frigging cold. Notably, the 2005 home opener crowd stood as the franchise’s attendance record for more than a decade until supplanted by Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.


Home opener Box Scores

6-11 all time through 2021. The links in this list below are to opening day box scores at either mlb.com or baseball-reference.com.

How about Season openers?

Record: 8-9 in season openers.

times home/away: 10 home, 7 away.

  • 2021: Home: Nationals d Braves 6-5. WP: Hudson, LP Smith (starters Scherzer v Smyly): https://www.mlb.com/gameday/braves-vs-nationals/2021/04/06/634624#game_state=final,lock_state=final,game_tab=box,game=634624
  • 2020: Home: Yankees d Nationals 4-1. WP: Cole, LP Scherzer (starters same): https://www.mlb.com/gameday/yankees-vs-nationals/2020/07/23/630851#game_state=final,game_tab=,game=630851
  • 2019: Home: Mets d Nationals 2-0. WP: deGrom, LP Scherzer (starters same): https://www.mlb.com/gameday/mets-vs-nationals/2019/03/28/565895#game_state=final,lock_state=final,game_tab=box,game=565895
  • 2018: Away: Nats d Reds 2-0. WP Scherzer, LP Bailey (starters same): https://www.mlb.com/gameday/nationals-vs-reds/2018/03/30/529420#game_state=final,lock_state=final,game_tab=wrap,game=529420
  • 2017: home: Nats d Marlins 4-2. WP Strasburg, LP Phelps (Starters Strasburg, Volquez): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201704030.shtml
  • 2016: away: Nats d Braves 4-3. WP Treinen, LP O’Flarity (starters Scherzer, Teheran): http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL201604040.shtml
  • 2015: home: Mets d Nats 3-1. WP: Bartolo Colon. LP: Max Scherzer http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201504060.shtml
  • 2014: away: Nats d Mets 9-7. WP Aaron Barrett, LP Familia (starters Strasburg, dillon Gee): http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN201403310.shtml
  • 2013: home: Nats d Marlins 2-0. WP: Stephen Strasburg. LP: Ricky Nolasco. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201304010.shtml
  • 2012: away: Nats d Cubs 2-1. WP Clippard, LP Marmol (starters: Strasburg and Ryan Dempster): http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN201204050.shtml
  • 2011: home: Braves d Nats 2-0. WP: Derek Lowe. LP: Livan Hernandez. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201103310.shtml
  • 2010: home: Phillies d Nats 11-1. WP: Roy Halladay. LP: John Lannan http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201004050.shtml
  • 2009: away: Marlins d Nats 12-6. WP: Nolasco, LP; Lannan http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO200904060.shtml
  • 2008: home: Nats d Braves 3-2. WP: Jon Rauch. LP: Peter Moylan (Starters: Tim Hudson and Odalis Perez) http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS200803300.shtml
  • 2007: home: Marlins d Nats 9-2. WP: Dontrelle Willis. LP: John Patterson http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS200704020.shtml
  • 2006: away: Mets d Nats 3-2. WP: Glavine, LP: Hernandez. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN200604030.shtml
  • 2005: away: Phillies d Nats 8-4. WP: Lieber, LP: Hernandez. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI200504040.shtml

Written by Todd Boss

April 7th, 2021 at 10:48 am

Posted in Nats in General

Opening Day Starter Trivia 2021

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Kershaw gets another opening day start in 2021. Photo via wiki.

Every year I update this long-running XLS for this increasingly anachronistic relic of tracking Opening Day Starter honors for teams.

After this year’s opening day, which was delayed for nearly a week thanks to the Nats Covid outbreak, here’s some cool trivia:

  • Most Opening Day StartsActive Leaders:
    • Justin Verlander remains the current leader with 12, though he’s out for the season with injury.
    • Clayton Kershaw made his 9th opening day start after missing a couple in a row, making him the pitcher with the highest number that is still actively making opening day starts.
    • Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester have 10 and 8 opening day starts respectively, but neither
    • After these guys, the players with the most are Madison Bumgarner (7), Max Scherzer (6) and Julio Teheran (6).
  • Current Leading Consecutive streak:
    • both Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola are on a consecutive opening day start streak of 4 starts.
  • Number of first-time Opening Day Starters in 2021: Just 7. This is after 18 last year.
  • Number of Opening Day Starters who now have exactly two opening day starts: 14 of the 30.
  • Most surprising opening-day starters in 2021:
    • Chad Kuhl: well someone had to pitch opening day for Pittsburgh, who may lose 115 games this year.

Historically, here’s the all-time record holders:

  • Most Ever Opening day StartsTom Seaver with 16.  Tied for 2nd place with 14 is Jack Morris, Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton
  • Most Consecutive Opening Day StartsJack Morris, all of whom’s 14 opening day starts were in a row.

Hope you enjoy this useless trivia!

Nats say “Welcome to 2021” … Covid-19 says “Hold my Beer”

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DETROIT, MI – JULY 01: A detailed view of an official Major League Baseball with a surgical mask placed on it sitting outdie of Comerica Park on July 1, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

So, we knew that some Nats players (the numbers keep changing) have tested positive; it started with one known case, then that caused contact-tracing issues with another 4 players and 1 staff member. We’ve heard podcasts and reports that perhaps some of the 4 players might have it as well; regardless they’re now out for at least 10 days. So far, no mention of who popped positive for HIPAA reasons, but by the time you read this we may know.

As of Noon Friday 4/2/21, the entire opening series is now off. Makes sense; the league probably wants to get a handle on the outbreak, plus its an inter-divisional series that can be turned into a bunch of DHs later on with little travel/schedule impact.

Sources (aka Nats Beat reporters) have sniffed out the replacement call ups, which gives us a hint as to who has to sit for a bit. Call-ups are:

  • Sam Clay
  • Luis Garcia
  • Yadiel Hernandez
  • Tres Barrera

Now, based on the fact that its one positive test and then four others who were in close contact … and looking at who these replacements are for … it stands to reason these are the players who are now under quarantine:

  • Sam Clay for Luis Avilan
  • Luis Garcia for Starlin Castro
  • Yadiel Hernandez for either Juan Soto or Victor Robles
  • Tres Barrera for either Alex Avila or Yan Gomes.

It doesn’t take a detective to look at that like for like list and make some quick assumptions on who the players are that got hit or who were named in contact tracing; they’re all Latino. Which makes sense; if a team has natural cliques its around nationality and native speaking tongues hanging out together on planes and in clubhouses. The only other Latino players on the 26-man roster not already named would be Hernan Perez and Wander Suero, so don’t be surprised if we find out one of these guys is involved too.

Bummer all around, and not the best way to get the season started, especially if its taken out half our starting lineup.


In other recent news:

  • H/T to NationalsProspects for the BA story on the 2021 draft: it will be 20 rounds. With a lost year of development and every team now carrying an entire “extra” roster of players who played short-season last year, 20 rounds in 2021 makes sense. I think the natural landing point might be 30 rounds: basically every pick from the 31st round onwards by the Nats as of late is a HS throw-away designed to give notariety to a scout’s kid or cousin, or to throw a player a bone who some area scout who didn’t get any of his guys drafted previously, or to puff up some kid’s ego who was always going to go to college. They’re a waste and you can count on two hands the number of picks who even stuck with our system for more than a couple seasons from the 30th round onwards (Gabe Klobotis, Tyler Watson, Jorge Pantoja, Angelo LaBruna, Robert Orlan, Billy Burns from the last 10 drafts).
  • Also H/T to Luke Erickson for the BA story on Minor League affiliates increasing in size across the board. Again, this is nothing but a good thing.
  • Speaking of BA: they re-released their Nats top30 prospects and built in the Jan 2021 IFA signings, which resulted in the Nats adding their top 2021 IFA Armando Cruz at #5, with no other changes to our top 30 and HMs (I reviewed their list in Feb 2021 here). Cruz at #5 by BA makes them the high men on Cruz’s potential amongst those shops who have rated him. At this point there’s just one major shop who has not released their Nats prospect Rankings: Fangraphs/Eric Longenhagen, who seems to have gotten overwhelmed by his choice to rank 40+ prospects per system … by himself … while also writing other stuff. New Fangraphs and ex-Astros employee Kevin Goldstein is now helping get the list done. we’ll do a similar reaction piece as we did with other major pundits and then will publish the master prospect lists on the Big Board.
  • A reminder; we still don’t have an official opening day 26-man roster; the big board lists 27 …i’m guessing Will Harris will hit the D/L when the roster is officially released. Because the games got postponed, the team was not forced to officially release its rosters and can bide some time.
  • I’ve updated the Big Board to have the Alt training site, and to account for all the big moves, DFAs, outrights, roster sizes, etc.

Waiting in a holding pattern. But lets discuss once we get more news on who is impacted.