Nationals Arm Race

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

Mets vs Nats: first big showdown of the year


Will Harvey show up for his marquee matchup on thursday? Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Will Harvey show up for his marquee matchup on thursday? Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The first 6 weeks of the season have just been warm-up for this series.  Its time for the rubber to hit the road.  Time to see what’s what.

That’s right; its Mets and Nationals to see who takes round 1 in the battle for the 2016 NL East title.

(yes I know the Phillies are somehow in 2nd place, and the Marlins are frisky.  I don’t buy it; they’re not going to outlast their two divisional rivals that are built for 2016 playoff runs.  Because neither of those teams will spend a dime mid-season to improve and their kids will wilt in August).

Here’s the pitching match-ups (probables here for the week)

  • Tuesday 5/17/16: Max Scherzer versus Noah Snydergaard.  Wow; power versus power.  Scherzer fresh off a 20-k performance; Thor with his slider that he’s run up to 94 (!!) and his 101 peak fastball.  Washington’s hitters havn’t exactly been knocking the cover off the ball lately and Citi Field (I almost said Shea Stadium) will be rocking  Advantage Mets.
  • Wednesday 5/18/16: Gio Gonzalez versus (presumably) Bartolo Colon: The Mets lefties can’t hit Gio and he’s been solid … but he’s also prone to meltdowns under stress.  Washington only saw Colon once last year and it was on opening day; he’s 43 and still slinging the ball in there.  Advantage: even.
  • Thursday 5/19/16: Stephen Strasburg versus Matt Harvey: The Nats are 8-0 in Strasburg’s 8 starts so far and he’s earning his new pay-day.  Harvey is showing the signs of too many innings last year, has an ERA of nearly 5.00 and is 3-5 in his starts.  But Harvey is a big-game guy and will get up for this one.  Nonetheless, I give advantage to Nats.

Prediction/Hopes: you always hope and expect winning just 1 of 3 against a top rival on the road; if the Nats steal an extra game i’d be ecstatic.


Written by Todd Boss

May 17th, 2016 at 11:36 am

95 Responses to 'Mets vs Nats: first big showdown of the year'

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  1. Very relevant comments from Boz’s chat yesterday:

    Q: Matt Harvey

    Do you think the Mets/Harvey are regretting their decision to keep pitching last year?

    A: Thomas Boswell

    On May 1st, Noah Syndergaard had an MRI on his elbow because it hurt. That info just became public over the weekend. Steven Matz goes in for a “precautionary” MRI on his elbow today after skipping a start. After his start on Friday, with his ERA up to 4.95 and his fastball down 1.8 mph this year, Matt Harvey said, “I’m just not comfortable throwing the baseball right now, so it’s frustrating…Right now it’s not an easy task…I’ll keep pushing to figure it out.” On Sunday, Jacob deGrom, whose fastball is down two MPH this year, and is the same average velocity as Joe Ross, lasted 6.1 innings and gave up three runs in a loss in Colorado, the Mets fourth straight loss. Afterward, he said, “It was all right. I still didn’t feel very comfortable on the mound…Overall, I feel decent.”

    Harvey, deGrom and Matz have all had one Tommy John surgery as has Zack Wheeler, who’s due back around mid-season. On the bright side, Bartollo Colon, 42 years old and throwing 88 mph, feels just fine.


    17 May 16 at 2:50 pm

  2. How long will it take before Gio shakes the “prone to meltdown under stress” tag? He’s varied between very good and excellent this year, and even in an up and down season last year he was brilliant against the Mets, including in the two “showdown series” in late July and early August.

    Of course, given that people still throw the “hothouse flower” thing at Strasburg, I guess Gio shouldn’t get his hopes up.

    John C.

    17 May 16 at 3:13 pm

  3. Nats take the first and last, and lose to Bartolo, although Gio throws 8 IPs of 0 ERs. Pap gives up a walk off tater to Conforto after Murph fails to turn a DP to end the game. Pap confronts Harper, thinking he put Murphy up to it.

    At some point in the series, Terry Collins hits Cespedes with the water cooler after he inadvertently burns him with a cigarette butt on his way to the on deck circle.

    Granderson and Duda take Stras deep but the Nats put up a 5 spot on Harvey in the 4th and hold on. Kelley saves the third game.

    Zim gets three hits in the series, including an HR, but also leaves 11 men on base. harper hits .250 but also has 5 walks.


    17 May 16 at 3:23 pm

  4. Wally, I’ll take the over on Bryce walking five times. And Todd, I’ll take the over on one win in the series. As much as we’re concerned about the Nats being in the doldrums, particularly at the plate, I feel like they’re in a better place right now than the Mets are, particularly on the mound. Maybe their studs show up and prove me wrong. Or maybe their studs ain’t what they used to be . . . (I still haven’t seen whether Matz “passed” his MRI to pitch on Wed.)

    In the grand scheme of things, a series in mid-May doesn’t really matter, even if there’s a sweep one way or the other. It’s a fun measuring stick, just like the STL, KC, and Cubs series, but it’s far too early to think one team will start burying the other. Unless the Met arms start falling off . . .

    So . . . I’d call Mad Max vs. Thor a pick ’em, Gio the favorite over TBD (particularly if it’s an 85-year-old juicer), and I’ll give Shutdown the edge over Shoulda Shutdown on Thursday. The Nats are 19-2 over Stras’s last 21 starts. Pay the man! Oh, wait, . . .


    17 May 16 at 6:56 pm

  5. Just thought I’d point out that the Nats are now under .500 (13-15) since their blistering 10-1 start in which 7 of the 10 wins were against the pathetic Braves.

    Karl Kolchack

    17 May 16 at 11:14 pm

  6. The Nats have struck out 28 times over the last two games. That’s unacceptable, at any level of baseball, no matter how good the opposing pitchers are. You’ve GOT to make contact. Dusty is said to adhor strikeouts. He never struck out more than 89 times in a season himself. Perhaps it’s time for him to take a more active role as a hitting coach. The collective futility at the plate is ridiculous.

    Yes, Max gave up two more gopher balls, but I’ll take a start where he only gives up two runs and three hits any day.

    Time to get back on track tonight against the fat old juicer.


    18 May 16 at 7:46 am

  7. I don’t know if Rick Schu is a problem, but he certainly isn’t the answer.

    Literally every one of the regulars except Ramos with his new eyeballs and Murphy is struggling and struggling for long stretches now.

    No obvious adjustments to stance or style being attempted by Rendon, Werth, Zimm, Taylor, Espi, etc…

    Marty C

    18 May 16 at 8:50 am

  8. The old adage is that you shouldn’t draw any firm conclusions about your team until after Memorial Day. Well, MD is rapidly approaching and so far nothing is changing for the positive with the offense. The two highest paid hitters, who should be so key to providing Harper with protection, look old and slow–even the one whose only 31.

    The former hotshot third baseman came back from his injury almost a full season ago and has hit a paltry 7 HRs, 23 doubles and has driven in a measly 31 runs since then. Moreover, his OPS has dropped nearly 100 points for the second straight season. Rendon has morphed into Desmond with the strikeouts, but also without the speed or the power.

    These guys are the key to that Nats’ fortunes this year as even if they make the playoffs they won’t go far with the level of production they are getting right now.

    Karl Kolchack

    18 May 16 at 1:58 pm

  9. Sorry, that should read Desmond WITHOUT the strikeouts.

    Karl Kolchack

    18 May 16 at 1:59 pm

  10. Gio delivers. Maddux seems to be making a significant difference with him. Rendon and Werth both managed to dribble a couple of hits, some of them right by our immobile old friend AssCab. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get guys going.

    Nats reach the quarter pole with a 24-16 record, although still under .500 after the 10-1 start.

    The Nats are guaranteed to leave NYC ahead of the Mets, although not guaranteed first place, since the Phils are now in 2d, only .5 back. I don’t see how the Phils can stay in it, but stranger things have happened.


    19 May 16 at 7:55 am

  11. I gotta tell you, I like the lineup adjustments. I’ve long advocated for Werth to be the leadoff guy but putting him at #2 instead of the struggling Rendon looks like a genius move so far. Baker also adjusted to Zimmerman’s slow start by putting Harper and Murphy back to back so good for him for reading the tea leaves and making adjustments instead of being stubborn old man like he’s always rumored to be.

    I think Strasburg gets them a win and they get 2 out of 3 in NY.

    I’m ok with the under .500 record after 10-1 start because it included 10 straight away games against playoff teams. Before the season you would have been happy with a 3-7 road trip there.

    Todd Boss

    19 May 16 at 9:08 am

  12. I would sit Revere for a couple days and let him clear his mind. His ab’s last night were terrible and he’s struggling too hard to fix it right now. He was off balance and flailing at every pitch.

    Maybe Revere has never faced a slump like this before, but with all the pressure to get out of it he seems to be grooving himself worse instead of better. He’s not hitting his way out of it. Let him take a few days off, clear his head and try a fresh start.

    We’re going to need him soon to be the .300 slap hitter and base path pest he’s been his whole career.

    I don’t pay that close attention to the other teams, but do they struggle as poorly as we do with guys coming off the DL? We need to try something different because every player I can remember coming of DL stints for us struggles mightily for weeks or months to get back in the groove.

    Marty C

    19 May 16 at 10:50 am

  13. Kudos to Dusty for his willingness to shuffle the lineup, even with entrenched veterans. FP has noted that Baker is great about talking with the players individually, letting them know what he’s going to do and why he is doing it.

    Revere will probably get a day off the next time they face a lefty starter. MAT is so terrible leading off, though. Perhaps Werth could get a shot since he’s already been moved toward the top of the order. He had some very positive comments about batting second in the Post game story.


    19 May 16 at 12:26 pm

  14. How about 9 frigging runs off of Matt Harvey?!

    Todd Boss

    19 May 16 at 8:29 pm

  15. Marty; totally agree on giving Revere a mental break, though he hit Harvey hot tonight.

    That would let the Nats put Werth in leadoff, where I think he should be at this point. I’d like something like Werth, Rendon, Harper, Murphy, Zimmerman, Ramos, Espinosa, Revere, pitcher.

    Todd Boss

    19 May 16 at 8:32 pm

  16. The last 2 times Strasburg & Harvey met last year in NY the crowd was chanting ” Harvey’s better”. Guess what!

    Strasburg’s 1st year back he pitched 159 innings. Harvey last year pitched 212.
    Big difference and it’s showing this year with Harvery’s ERA sitting at 5.77

    Mark L

    19 May 16 at 9:13 pm

  17. Mark L. – Interesting to note that despite being only 8 months younger than Strasburg, Harvey only has about half the number of innings pitched and strikeouts, and for all the noise about Strasburg’s supposed lack of durability he has made at least 30 starts in a season twice whereas Harvey has yet to ever top 29 (not counting the playoffs).

    I also noticed that according to the NY media Harvey was nearly scratched from this start, and I wonder how much his determination to show that last year is not affecting him might be causing him to pitch when he shouldn’t be. At any rate, I gather that last year’s fiasco on whether he should be shut down kills any chance that Harvey will give the Mets a break on his next contract the way Strasburg did.

    Karl Kolchack

    20 May 16 at 4:23 am

  18. A few amazing stats on Stras: since returning from his injury last August he’s made 19 starts. In those starts he is now 15-2, 2.33 ERA, 167 Ks and 24 BBs. The Nats are 17-2 overall in those starts.

    I’d say those are the potential Cy Young Award numbers we’ve all been waiting for from him since he came back from the TJ surgery.

    Karl Kolchack

    20 May 16 at 4:56 am

  19. In 2013, the Braves openly mocked the Nats’ conservative pitcher policies while over-riding a group of young and already-repaired arms to a division title. In 2015, the Mets pretty much did the same thing. In 2016, Stephen Strasburg signed a $175M extension and looks to be one of the best pitchers in the game. Matt Harvey’s future looks to be worth around $1.75.

    I don’t relish injury in any player. What the Mets have done to themselves is sad, stupid, and preventable. Yes, flags may fly forever, but arm damage lasts just as long.

    Meanwhile, it’s early . . . it’s early . . . it’s early . . . but that series sure felt like a sea-change didn’t it? The Mets got one last hurrah from Thor, Granderson, and Cespedes, then got kicked all over the yard in games two and three when Matz couldn’t answer the bell and Harvey shouldn’t have. And this by a Nat team that came into the series scuffling. Let’s see if they can go to Miami and build on the momentum.


    20 May 16 at 7:24 am

  20. Not only did Harvey pitch so many more innings, he already had a very big jump from 2012 to 2013, and then substantially exceeded his highest ever IPs in his first year back (40+ IPs, around 25%) I am a Nats fan, but I don’t take any pleasure in watching this if it is related to abuse.

    I really feel bad for how the Mets handled their pitchers last year, both in overuse and how they used the media to pressure them. The players really can’t say anything about it for fear of more media and fan backlash, but I would think that all the players see the difference in how the two organizations treat their players, and I’d think that would matter in close calls when they decide where to play. Players will almost always take the clear financially-better offer, but when they are close, this kind of stuff matters.


    20 May 16 at 7:33 am

  21. As I recall, Harvey and his ego didn’t need much coaxing. Boras stepped in at one point to offer Harvey a shield, but he didn’t take it. So the player bears some responsibility here, although yes, the team pushed hard and made it a big issue in the media.

    And Boras has a long memory!


    20 May 16 at 7:48 am

  22. Unrelated, there was a story that Werth deferred $10m of salary to 2018. That’s pretty ominous, imo. I’d say that the indications from all of this deferred money in recent contracts is that, absent clarity around MASN revenues, payroll is $110-20mish. That’s not horrible but also isn’t top 10 any more, and suggests that they are going with a stars and scrubs approach. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t retain Ramos and flip Gio at the end of the season as ways to cut payroll.

    Angelos sucks but he has effective lawyers. Might not win in the long run but his tactics have been very successful so far.


    20 May 16 at 9:12 am

  23. The saga of two ligaments:

    It was the best of arms, it was the worst of arms . . .

    I hope Stras reads that Collins thought he was “mediocre” for a few years.


    20 May 16 at 9:30 am

  24. KW: on Harvey and his plight this year, on the Braves and their supposed superior treatment of Medlen, and on Strasburg …. while its still too early to really pass judgement, boy it does sure look like the conservative route has paid off for the Nats. I was going to do a post on this at some point but perhaps my conclusions are too obvious.

    Todd Boss

    20 May 16 at 9:34 am

  25. Wally; agree on Werth deferral. And good for him for doing it; it happens in NFL constantly. Big veterans restructuring contracts for the betterment of the team. Per my XLS now with $10M deferred i’ve got Nats 2016 payroll at $127,286,029. That’s $34M less than last year.

    I perceive that the Lerners have always treated this tema like a business; you have a budget, here’s the budget, don’t go over it. The deferred money just lets you do more now at the expense of later, and maybe its a good strategy. In a few years time they’ll go completely to a stars and sccrubs model, with the top 3-4 guys making huge dollars and the rest of the team on min contracts. It may work. It may not 🙂

    Todd Boss

    20 May 16 at 9:38 am

  26. Strasburg article/Collins calling Strasburg Mediocre: can’t get worked up over stuff like this. Collins probably calling Strasburg “mediocre” because of his W/L record. I guess he though Felix Hernandez was “mediocre” too when he went 13-12 and won the cy Young.

    Todd Boss

    20 May 16 at 9:39 am

  27. I’m not worked up over the “mediocre” comment, either; just thought it was both ill-informed and not smart.

    We have no way of knowing that the Nats’ budget has gone down. They had several big-ticket free agents supposedly on the hook whom they didn’t reel in who would have kicked up the total quite a bit this year. The guess seems to be that the Lerners are comfortable in the $135-150M realm, at least pre-MASN settlement. (Manfred has just weighed in again on the Nats’ side). However, they let Rizzo take it up to around $165M last season, just not add any more during the year. Perhaps the reduced total this year is partially paying back to the kitty for going over last season. Again, we don’t know.

    The curious thing to me about the Werth deal is that it’s for this season, when spending is already way down. At minimum, it guarantees Rizzo trade-deadline flexibility. If you consider how low (compared to past years) the payroll already is, though, you have wonder if Mikey is clearing even more space to bring a big contract on board now.


    20 May 16 at 10:24 am

  28. For those doing math at home, Andrew Miller is making $9M and Werth just deferred $10M . . . If Rizzo calls to ask me where to spend the cash, I’ve got my answer.


    20 May 16 at 10:29 am

  29. The Braves and Mets (or at least their fans) would likely feel much better about their decisions had they actually won the series. It is still a very tough choice, regardless of the fact that the potential consequences are becoming ever more obvious. Clearly, the Nats made the better long term decision, but that won’t mean so much if they end up not at least getting to the series during Stras’s tenure with the team.

    Pitchers blowing their arms out trying to win a ring Is also another reason why I hate the wild card in baseball. Playing 162 games should eliminate all but four teams anyway. They should either go back to the four division format or shorten the season by ten games or so to cut down the number of innings an ace has to pitch In a playoff season. But of course, they won’t.

    Karl Kolchak

    20 May 16 at 11:35 am

  30. In terms of clearing space to bring on a contract, wasn’t the report that Werth’s deferral came fairly early in the offseason? It may have been part of what cleared the deck for the (ultimately unsuccessful) offers to Zobrist, Heyward & Cespedes. And of course it could have then been used for the (really, really successful so far) singing of Daniel Murphy.

    John C.

    20 May 16 at 12:53 pm

  31. I also wasn’t a fan of the second wildcard when it came along, but it isn’t going away. If anything, the play-in will become a three-game series. I think what will eventually happen will be NFL-like: there will either be four divisions in each league or a third wildcard. Six teams will make the playoffs in each league, four division champs and two wildcards. The two wildcards will play the two division winners with the worst records in a three-game or five-game first round. And the final game of the World Series will be played around Thanksgiving . . .


    20 May 16 at 12:59 pm

  32. On payroll, the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know what it means. 🙂

    But I’d use Todd’s payroll numbers, the amount of deferrals in contracts lately, even seemingly minor ones like Murphy, and the refusal to take on money mid season in trades lately and at least say it is more likely than not that the MASN issue is hampering them.

    And that would also make me pessimistic on the Nats taking on a Miller-sized contract at the break, even though I’d love to have him.


    20 May 16 at 1:05 pm

  33. I think they can still have the added playoff games, just increase the roster size. Mayb bump it to 28 or so and spread the innings around to more guys


    20 May 16 at 1:06 pm

  34. I was just reading Boz’s column about the Met series and what it means for the rest of the season. For the rest of *this* season, the Mets will probably stay in it, but I could see their window closing rapidly, all the more so if their vaunted arms don’t bounce back. Cespedes and Walker are one-year rentals, and Cespedes is a huge liability in CF. (See the Revere triple, not to mention the WS misadventures.) AssCab is just as bad at SS as we thought he would be and looks nearly done, as does Granderson. Wright *is* done, which is sad to see. Murphy was Wright’s heir as the spiritual leader of the team, but they let him walk. They only have feast-or-fame Duda through ’17. That basically leaves Conforto and all those suddenly suspect arms.

    Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but this doesn’t look like a team built for the long haul.


    20 May 16 at 1:12 pm

  35. Wally — teams will still want their aces starting the games, especially if they fall behind and are facing elimination. Adding a few extra relievers isn’t going to help the problem. Reducing the number of games Is the only way to cut down the workload of these highly valuable arms.

    Karl Kolchak

    20 May 16 at 2:26 pm

  36. Karl – I meant increase rosters to 28 for the whole year, so you can go easier on innings the whole time, and then maybe it isn’t as bad if you add some at the end. Who knows, maybe then you could even go to 6 man rotations. In general, I’d like to see the game take steps to keep the players on the field longer. I think it benefits everyone, including baseball’s bottom line.

    KW – I think that is overstating the problem for the Mets. First, this could just be the year after hangover for the pitching staff after a large bump in innings, and it could settle back next year. Also, even with this falloff, they still have a highly rated staff. lastly, I think they have several very good position player prospects coming down the pike. I’d see them as a playoff contender for the next several years.


    20 May 16 at 2:59 pm

  37. The fundamental problem with six-man rotations is that most teams already struggle to field five competent starters. Most only have three or four, if that. We Nat fans are spoiled on that score. The more logical solution would involve reducing the number of games and including more open dates, but those things aren’t likely.

    As for the Mets, I’m not writing them off, just pointing out that they seem to have a lot riding on the present, and that their future hinges heavily on their starters. But then I considered them an aberration last season, so I’ve never completely believed in their Amazin’ness. The teams in the division that seem to be building for the longer haul are the Phillies and the Marlins. The Barves have also accumulated a good bit of young talent, but time will tell how much of it actually makes it.


    20 May 16 at 3:36 pm

  38. Ok, at the quarter pole, here are a few observations:
    – I believe [again] in Roark. He was a big question mark for me coming into the year, but he’s shown enough that he’s a quality major league starter. Probably can’t see him as more than a 4/5, but he’s one of the better ones of those.
    – I am still not sure how good Joe Ross is. He pitches like a strong 2 often but I can’t get myself to buy into that. But because others do, I find myself thinking if he could be the primary part of a package for a young, controllable, slugging OF to replace Werth, I’d consider it. Alternatively, Gio may be that piece (all of this would be in the offseason, not now)
    – this is a good team, and absent injuries should be in the hunt all year. With a couple of bullpen tweaks, it could be very dangerous. I’d like to see what it takes for them to acquire a Neris type from Philly, and also would love to see Giolito and Lopez up late in the year for the pen
    – I am not buying into Goodwin’s resurgence. I am happy for him, but I don’t think he is going to be a quality major leaguer and would look to sell high for a pen piece
    – Espy is very polarizing for Nats fans, but I’d say that his defense, while not elite, is a very stabilizing presence for this team, and he’s is producing just enough that I’m not sure that Turner right now gives the team a better chance to win than Espy. Oddly, shifting Murphy to 1B and putting Turner at 2B might be the better line up adjustment for immediate benefit, but I see now way the team does that for political reasons.
    – I think Philly is for real. Not 85 win real and I do expect them to fade to below .500, but their pitching is good and young, so I see their turn around happening much more quickly than ATL or even MIA, despite MIA having stars. Thankfully this is a terrible FA class coming up or they could be a contender next year by adding two bats and calling up Crawford.

    All told, it’s been encouraging and fun so far. If Rendon is truly heating up and Bryce gets back on track, we could be in a really fun ride.


    21 May 16 at 9:08 am

  39. Draft musings: I’ve spent a little more time than usual,reading about it this year. I’d say my philosophy if picking mid/late round is to try to grab a high ranked guy who is falling for some reason and I don’t have a strong preference between high school and college. So with that, here are some guys that I’d like to see them consider:
    Position players : Taylor Trammell, Zach Collins, Nolan Jones, Gavin Lux, Will Craig
    Pitching: Joey Wentz, Ian Anderson, Dakota Hudson, Forrest Whitley,

    I tried to avoid guys who seemed clear top 10 guys on most lists


    21 May 16 at 11:46 am

  40. Draft: I’ve got a big draft post coming soon, collecting mock draft links and other stuff. Most are predicting that a team like the Nats with 2 supp-1st round picks will take one “safe” pick and one “riskier” pick. I’m guessing this means one college guy and one HS guy. Joey Wentz would be a coup; i think he’s pretty darn good.

    Todd Boss

    22 May 16 at 9:20 am

  41. I’ve got to admit, I’m having trouble getting anywhere near as psyched up for this Met series as I was the last one. It’s a LONG season. The Nats took care of business winning 2 of 3 in both series on the road, losing only to the young studs. Many of the bats are showing life. Rendon and Revere in particular look revitalized. Turner Liberation Day is on the near horizon, either Sunday or Monday (I’ve seen both dates), although time will tell when and if the Nats make the switch.


    23 May 16 at 11:54 am

  42. Draft: there’s no way the Nats pass on Quantrill if he drops that far, all the more so with two picks with which to play. That should seem obvious to the baseball universe.


    23 May 16 at 12:15 pm

  43. Turner: why do so many think that it’s an automatic call-up when his service clock guarantees an extra year of control? Sure, he’s a top prospect and it performing well, but how does the team make room for him? Even if you assume that he becomes the starting SS, which many team officials have suggested won’t happen any time soon, who get’s removed from the 25-man? They’re not cutting Espinosa and Drew has a significant guaranteed contract and has brought value from the bench. Do you reduce the outfield depth by optioning MAT or cutting Heisey? I doubt it. Bottom line, I don’t see Turner getting the call until there’s an injury, someone’s performance really goes off a cliff, the team needs a wake-up call for prolonged losing, or until rosters expand.


    23 May 16 at 12:27 pm

  44. Since the “Super 2” date is some ill-defined time in mid-June, and since there isn’t a glaring need with the big club right now, I doubt we’ll see Turner on Memorial Day. Beyond that, I have no idea. He’ll be the Nats’ opening-day SS in 2017, but it’s really hard to say before then. I agree that there isn’t a clear-cut place to put him on the 25-man unless/until someone gets hurt.

    The other possibility, of course, would be a trade of Espinosa or Drew. I’m not particularly advocating for it, just saying it’s a possibility.


    23 May 16 at 12:41 pm

  45. I think MG is right that he won’t be up until there is a path to regular playing time, as Espy’s D is solid enough that it is important and not one that they’ll tinker with. (and as an aside, I don’t think Super 2 comes into this analysis at all, since that date is usually mid June but you have to add the 45 days he picked up last year, so his effect Super 2 cutoff is August).

    As for Quantrill, that seems right but I’ve read that teams believe that he has an overslot deal with the Padres agreed to, so will threaten to go back to school if anyone else takes him (a la Cameron/Astros last year)


    23 May 16 at 1:00 pm

  46. I just pulled up Espinosa’s defensive stats in fangraphs for the year: . 0 DRS so far but a 9.5 UZR/150 rating, which is very good. On, his component WAR figures show him at -0.3 oWAR. 0.2 dWAR. So its kind of what we thought we’d see; his good defense is kind of evening out his poor offense.

    Now, what you really want of course is someone like a Trea Turner coming in and providing positives on both sides of the ball. But when will he get his chance? Well not until a veteran’s manager like Baker has his hand forced. And with the team in 1st place i’m agreeing with MG; not seeing any compelling reason to do this.

    Maybe continued Revere issues at lead off will force his hand. Maybe it’ll be an injury. Honestly more likely is an injury; there’s just no way that Zimmerman and/or Werth plays 150 games.

    Todd Boss

    23 May 16 at 1:07 pm

  47. The Zimmerman one is interesting, since they could slide Murphy over to 1B and slot Turner into 2B. the offensive pickup isn’t quite as strong (Turner for Zim) but it could be a way to get turner acclimated to the bigs


    23 May 16 at 1:47 pm

  48. But truthfully, I still think Zim is going to hit and would be the stronger offensive force anyway


    23 May 16 at 1:48 pm

  49. Yeah these are all plausible scenarios, but I just don’t see this team or management making such a bold move ever in the middle of a season. Zim and Werth seem to be the biggest liabilities now and in the future, but they’re also at the top of the clubhouse chemistry ladder that Dusty likely won’t disrupt permanently. After the Papelbon/Storen disaster I’m surprised that many (myself included) seem open to this possibility, especially in the midst of a winning/division leading/2nd in the NL season.


    23 May 16 at 2:33 pm

  50. My understanding is that Super 2 date is based on the average service time of all players, so Turner individually wouldn’t have an extra 45 days. I’ve seen a Post article that said he would meet the regular Super 2 date whenever it falls around mid-June. But don’t quote me on that.

    Personally, I’m on the fence on the Trea/Danny issue. Danny’s defense has been good, but not off the charts, as some claimed it would be. Trea’s defense has been suspect (seven errors), with one error on Sat. that apparently opened the floodgates for a loss. Turner’s offense at the AAA level certainly has been superior to Espinosa’s MLB effort. Even knocking 20-25% off Trea’s AAA number for MLB equivalence, he should be better offensively than Danny.

    I don’t buy taking Zim out of the lineup for a slot for Turner instead of Danny. Danny is currently slashing .201/.307/.288. His career OBP is .301. There’s reason to think his SLG should improve some, but by this stage of his career, he is what he is. Even a slumping Zim is better than an average Danny offensively. Plus Zim has looked great at 1B, particularly with the scoops.

    And don’t get me started on only scoring one run against Fat Boy Deadbeat Daddy . . . Man, that was ugly. The Ghost of Gio Past picked a bad time to make an appearance.


    24 May 16 at 5:25 am

  51. Danny is one of the worst offensive players in the history of the MLB – it is offensive how bad he his. A 58 wRC and a .288 SLG are off the charts bad. And as bad as Espy is, Drew has arguably been worse.

    This is why Turner needs to come up asap – TT would have to regress tremendously from his AAA numbers to be a downgrade. I think we’ll see Turner as the starting shortstop beginning sometime next week.

    Andrew R

    24 May 16 at 11:13 am

  52. Considering how many contending teams could use help at SS, I would think that Rizzo is pushing the limits of his data plan as we speak. A trade would be the best way to go. The Nats wouldn’t even have to get much in return. They would just need to clear a roster space, and keep a Boras client happy (Espi or Drew). I’d actually rather trade Drew, who hasn’t done much and is owed more, plus Danny could offer significantly better late-inning defense, at SS or 2B. However, since Danny is the starter, it would be much clearer who the new starter is if the incumbent is traded (the Billy Beane method of making sure his manager gets the message).

    Failing a trade or an injury, what’s it going to take to get Turner in the MLB lineup? Probably what it took last season to get him called up, a swoon in the standings. Part of me thinks that Dusty will remain very loyal to the vets, but the other part observes that he hasn’t hesitated to shuffle guys who aren’t hitting. He kept Trea around with the big club for all of spring training and got him a lot of action, so he knows the score on that deal. I think he’s also intrigued by Turner’s speed.


    24 May 16 at 12:30 pm

  53. Danny has hit terribly, no doubt. But his defense has gotten better as the year has gone and as he has reacquainted himself to SS. He adds value in that role. (I think that you can lay back more at 2B, while you need to charge the ball more often at SS – grossly oversimplifying that analysis, but just trying to give a flavor of what I meant). So while I definitely agree that I expect Turner to add more value offensively, I do think that there is a slippage defensively and it just needs to be weighed for overall impact.

    While I would prefer that Espy stick around even as demoted, that might be awkward dynamics and he should probably be the one to be traded. I doubt that they would have difficulty finding a taker


    24 May 16 at 12:40 pm

  54. You have to always be trying to constantly upgrade a team. Whether it’s week to week or day to day. And the reason so many focus on Espi there is the team has precious few other spots they are willing to make changes due to salary or political reasons.

    They can’t or won’t really sit Werth or Zimm, even in stretches when they are slumping horribly – as they can’t stomach $20 million each on the bench. They won’t refresh Harper for a couple days even when he is in the midst of an atrocious 25 game slump. (Which started even before his 7 walk game).

    So Espi is about it as far as upgrade slots available or possible barring injury.

    As I’ve mentioned to Todd often… Every player has extended slumps. I personally think they are not related to mechanics, but rather to something occular. Where maybe the eye cells are regenerating on a cycle like your skin cells regenerate and replace every month. Every player in a slump says he is not seeing it well. So maybe we all go through cycles every couple months where our vision is just not quite as sharp as it usually is. In a game like baseball a 2% vision fluctuation could make a big difference.

    That’s why I always advocate giving slumping players lots of time off. Do you think Harper now, or Rendon, Zimm and Werth last month were not doing everything possible every single day to try to break out of their slumps? Watching video, extended time in cage, mechanical adjustments etc… yet the slumps still lasted over a month.

    Nothing seems to work except time… then they start to suddenly see the ball better and start crushing it again.

    Marty C

    24 May 16 at 1:06 pm

  55. Saw this on Keith Law’s “updated top 25 prospects” today (insider only link:

    “The Nats’ pitching coach at Harrisburg, Chris Michalak, decided to change Giolito’s delivery this spring, which produced the subpar results Giolito had in April and early May. Fortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage to Giolito’s stuff or arm — just a delay in his arrival in the big leagues. He’s still throwing hard with the plus curveball he has long had, but it might take a few more turns to get him back to where he should be at this time of the year.”

    We talked about this before but more in a theoretical discussion … now he’s named a name. And I ask the question; why in the hell would you mess with the mechanics of one of the best prospects in the game?

    Todd Boss

    24 May 16 at 2:43 pm

  56. . . . and if someone makes a decision on the mechanics of the top prospect in the system, shouldn’t it be Maddux, in consultation with Rizzo? I realize that the MLB pitching coach can’t be involved with every decision on every kid on the farm, but this isn’t just another kid. The well-respected Spin Williams is still a part of the chain as well.

    Of course the flip side of the equation is that the tweak may have been one that needed to be made, for arm health, or better repeatability, or whatever. Michalak did pitch in the majors, and the Nats are well above average at developing pitchers, so the decision may deserve the benefit of the doubt here. We’ll see. I find it hard to believe that Michalak made the call by himself.


    24 May 16 at 5:33 pm

  57. That’s shocking if true. I didn’t even know Michalak was in the organization.

    Nice to see Robles with such a huge jump on Law’s list. I expect that to be true across the board on all the lists. Can’t ignore his performance.


    24 May 16 at 7:53 pm

  58. Whoo-Hoo! Strasburg is now 16-2 in his last 20 starts, and the Nats are 18-2 in those starts. And Harvey is…well, the fact that Harvey is still pitching is a disgrace. Obvious injury or no, it sure seems like a month to six weeks of rest might do his arm a world of good. After all, look how Strasburg has pitched after being shut down for awhile last year after he was struggling.

    That article on Giolito seems unbelievable, but I agree with KW that at the time there was probably valid reasoning behind the decision. Just be thankful the Nats haven’t yet needed his services.

    Also, I’m starting to think that we may not see Turner up with the big club at the end of this month as everyone assumes. With Revere, Rendon and Zimmerman beginning to break out of their slumps there is less need to bolster the offense, and the Nats have to be concerned about further degrading their middle infield defense given that the team is built to win with pitching. No doubt Turner is the SS of the future, but he may not be the right one for the present.

    Karl Kolchack

    24 May 16 at 10:46 pm

  59. As much as I love beating the Mets and watching homers fly through the night air, with Harvey, it does seem like we’re watching a train wreck in slow motion, doesn’t it? When it’s some young celebrity spiraling out of control, we say where are the parents? Where is the agent? Well, in this case, where is Boras? Where is Harvey’s dad, or someone close to him? A second TJ and you’re done, dude. You can take that superhero posture all you want, but take a look at Kris Medlen’s 7.77 ERA while you’re at it. That’s the best-case scenario for your future if you keep pushing it.

    And two weeks in a row, he’s had to eat Stras’s shutdown dust.

    Speaking of pitching mechanics (and brief shutdowns), to my knowledge, we’ve still never heard the full story of Stras’s reboot during his sabbatical last season. I really don’t think McCatty did it, as it was a pretty radical makeover. Maybe it was Spin Williams. We don’t know. But whatever it was, it turned Stras into the true stud he had always been expected to be.

    I also wish to report that I now have no regrets surrendering the draft pick for Murphy! In less than two months, he’s become the soul of the team.


    25 May 16 at 8:23 am

  60. I think Turner and Robles are better prospects than Giolito, for the Nats system. When Turner gets into the lineup, the Nats are going to take a quantum leap forward. All of these perspectives are predicated upon one’s work product, sooner or later. And Robles at 19 is something to behold. The only thing slowing him from a fast track is a log jam in front of him. If the Nats can just get Taylor to make the next step in his development (I would send him down to AAA to play every day), and sign Harper, an OF of Harper, Taylor, and Robles in 2018 and onward would be super exciting.

    And so it is only fitting that we revisit not only the Nats and Mets, but expectations. Daniel Murphy was a certain type of player who had an unexpected otherworldly end of the year. It’s clear from the results of this year that he was a far better “prospect” than a Plan C. Players change and our projections of them do as well. Nothing against Giolito, a fine talent. But Turner is right there and is going to make it.


    25 May 16 at 9:38 am

  61. Something looks off in Harvey’s mechanics; its hard to pinpoint but he now has this “curl” in his arm action that i don’t recall seeing last year. And his motion is definitely slower/more deliberate than in 2013. Take a look; am i crazy?

    Here’s video highlights from yesterday:

    And here’s a youtube video of his 2013 highlights (the year he got hurt):

    Todd Boss

    25 May 16 at 9:56 am

  62. I’m not sure the coaches messed up Giolito. He wasn’t exactly tearing up AA last year either. His walks are way up this year, but he’s probably also added the pitches they were scared to let loose on last year with the elbow. I forget if it was the curve or two seamer they were backing off of last year.

    He and Lopez look solid prospects but not otherworldly based on performance or dominance so far.

    Robles looks like real thing, and you have to get Turner up. No sense spending this time to get and extra a year of control, then wasting the first of those years in the minors. He’s only hitting 300 yet again while leading the whole league in runs and stolen bases.

    The defense matters but look at it this way… if Desmond was still here at SS, would you rather have Espi or Daniel Murphy at 2nd base? I realize SS is more important for defense, but we did also win divisions and tons of games with Desmond booting balls all over the infield.

    And as we passed the quarter season mark, Goodwin is still looking like a viable alternative to Taylor. Why not give him a look? He’s on the 40 man and really how much worse could he be than Taylor at this point.

    btw… everybody references “quarter pole” which is a horse racing term. But in horse racing the quarter pole is actually a quarter mile from the finish line. Not a quarter into the race.

    Marty C

    25 May 16 at 10:30 am

  63. Foren – I don’t agree, I think Giolito will prove to be the better major leaguer. I think Turner is going to be a good player, but when both are playing at their peak performance, Giolito will be the higher talent. I think the difference will come down to how good Turner’s D is. I’m assuming average or slightly worse, which leads to my conclusion. If its plus or better, then I’d agree with you.

    I don’t know what to think about robles yet. He looks amazing now, but he still has a long way to go so I have to discount him somewhat for that when the other two are knocking on the door. It could be that he winds up the best of all three though.

    But this is really a fun quibble, and we don’t have to pick one or the other. I am glad to have all three in the system.

    As for Harvey, I don’t know what’s going on but I feel bad for him. He does look a little heavier than he was, so conditioning could be part of it (but I think Jose Fernandez also looks a little heavier and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him).

    The Mets suck as an organization, imo. There is a decent chance that they hurt Harvey and de Grom, and yet act like they are the aggrieved party. My reasoning for ‘they suck’ isn’t that they maybe overused them, since the medical views are mixed, its how they did it and used the media to pressure the players. KW asked ‘where is Boras?’, well he tried to intervene when it could actually matter for his client (last year), and the Mets adeptly spun the media against him and Harvey, where they had no choice but to back down. Back then it was ‘if you’re really a tough guy, you would pitch. Don’t you care about making the world series for the fans?’ Now its ‘Harvey isn’t getting the job done, and we can’t just do what’s best for him, we have to think about what’s best for the team’. And the Mets didn’t even offer to tie up Harvey through his arb years, like a 3/$30m deal to give him some financial security for his effort. Lerners and Rizzo look pretty good to me, warts and all.


    25 May 16 at 11:23 am

  64. Giolito: look at his fangraph stats: . His BB/9 has nearly doubled this year from what he did last year and his K/9 is down; seems to support clearly what Keith Law was saying.

    “Wasn’t exactly tearing up AA” last year Marty? When he arrived in AA, he had less than 200 innings pitched … in his entire pro career. And that’s dating back to basically his junior year in HS since he hurt his arm mid-Senior year and then threw a grand total of 2 innings before TJ surgery. When he was promoted mid 2015 … he was on average 4.5 years younger than his competition. And he still struck out a guy an inning and posted a 3.18 FIP.

    I feel like people forget the context; if you put a 13yr old junior high student into a game with a bunch of 17-18 yr olds … how shocking would it be if he could hang with them? That’s the same general age difference you see in a 4.5year gap that he was initially dealing with. He DOMINATED high-A in 2014; fip of 1.96, again nearly 3 years younger than his average competition.

    Its why guys like Giolito and Urias (who is doing similar stuff for the Dodgers in their AAA team) are both listed as the two best pitching prospects in the game. Its why Jayson Stark reported that Giolito had the best curveball he saw all spring … of any pitcher in the game. Its why he has 80/70/50 grades on his three pitches. You just don’t find that.

    I just can’t understand (and this goes to you too forensicane) why you’re poo-poohing Giolito. Do you really think that a slap hitting/no power shortstop in Trea Turner is going to be a better pro than a 6’6″ 100-mph fastball throwing starter? I mean, its not just us that are saying Giolito will be great. Its every prospect scout in the game.

    Todd Boss

    25 May 16 at 11:51 am

  65. It is a fun quibble.

    I think it comes down to the idea of whether an everyday all star shortstop ceiling is better than a #1 starter ceiling. That’s a tough choice.

    The arguments about Giolito’s plusses are familiar to many. I am careful not to let the idea of a #1 be indefinitely self-perpetuating. Sooner or later, one has to deliver.

    As a reference point, these are the three top pitching prospects per the pundits from 2011-2014:

    2011: M. Moore, Teheran, S. Miller
    2012: D Bundy, Taijuan Walker, T Bauer
    2013: Walker, Archie Bradley, J Taillon
    2014: Giolito, Bradley, Syndegaard

    So as they say, your actual mileage may vary. Giolito is projectable but there has to be due consideration of a person who is on the doorstep and delivers.

    Turner has, in a very short time, overdelivered. he overdelivered last year. He has excelled as expected this year. Perhaps with even more pop than expected at this stage. I agree that the question will continue to be his defense, just as there are minor questions about Giolito that reflect in his underachieving at AA this year.


    25 May 16 at 12:00 pm

  66. Todd, I am not pooh poohing Giolito. I am very bullish on Turner. I think he is a winner, which the team sorely needs, a leader, which any team needs, and a catalyst to a lineup, which theis everyday lineup needs, and I think that with Davey Lopes he will run wild and run smart. It’s about Turner to me, not diminishing Giolito.


    25 May 16 at 12:02 pm

  67. Giolito is still one of the younger players at the AA level, as is Lopez. The best part for the Nats is that there’s no rush, all the more so with the Stras extension.

    Giolito has the stuff to be a top-of-rotation stud, the kind who can carry a team in the playoffs. If he turns out as expected/hoped, it’s going to be something to see to plug him in with Max and Stras, not to mention Ross.

    For Turner to turn out to be more valuable than a fully realized Giolito, he’d have to be Rickey Henderson. Actually, since Lopes was mentioned, he might be a more realistic comp for Turner expectations (although Lopes did muscle up and hit 28 HRs one year).

    Robles could transcend them all . . . or could never make it past AA. He’s still got a long way to go, and more power to develop (although 5 HRs thus far this year is promising). He just turned 19 last week.

    Even though I’ve commented on the Harvey stuff, I have a hard time getting worked up about it. I’ve been saying since last year, before the playoffs, that what the Mets were doing with their staff looked like what the Braves did in 2012-13. That dumpster fire consumed everything in its path pretty quickly. I don’t wish ill to the athletes, but if the franchise itself gets humbled a bit, well, couldn’t hurt.


    25 May 16 at 1:25 pm

  68. I also agree with the comments that Harvey looks out of shape. There were a lot of stories about him enjoying his celebrity status. I don’t think that’s the whole story here, but it may be part of it.


    25 May 16 at 1:28 pm

  69. Derek Jeter with more base stealing would be the comparable I was thinking of.


    25 May 16 at 1:53 pm

  70. Marty–Desmond’s arm and range made him one of the best defensive SS in baseball despite his propensity for errors. By all reports Turner does not have those tools. Even if Turner doesn’t commit a lot of errors, if he lets say, three more ground balls a week get by and turn into singles and two more fast runners make it safely to first on slow rollers because of his arm, that will easily make up the difference between he and Espinosa at the plate. And that is not withstanding the fact that he has been a pro less than two years and is still learning to play the hardest position on the field.

    Anyway, if Turner is still at Syracuse on June 1st you’ll know whether the Nats agree with me on this point.

    Karl Kolchak

    25 May 16 at 1:54 pm

  71. Forensicane; the way you “presented” Trea Turner might be the problem here. Do you really think he’s an “every day all star shortstop” in this league? Because if that’s where you value him, then sure I’d understand why you think he’s more valuable than an ace-level starter. But here’s where we diverge; i don’t see Turner as an all star shortstop in this league. Not with the likes of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado, Andrelton Simmons, Addison Russell, Trevor Story, Corey Seager out there. All of those guys are relatively young and have already established serious value in this league. Even vets like Troy Tulowitzki, Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Crawford are hard to overcome in terms of accomplishments on both sides of the ball.

    Do you really think Turner profiles in the same breath as these types of players? I don’t. I just don’t see it; i don’t see the power, i don’t see the arm.

    Todd Boss

    25 May 16 at 2:07 pm

  72. Todd–I would add that as he gains experience Turner may well become an exceptional leadoff hitter, but to expect him to be that immediately upon recall is a bit much. At any rate, with Revere in the fold that Nats do not need a leadoff hitter right now.

    Karl Kolchack

    25 May 16 at 2:33 pm

  73. He is not the same player as Simmons, Seager, Story, and Tulowitzki. But his *ceiling*, to me, is Jeter with far more dynamic (60+ SB) speed at the leadoff. I’d rather have him than Lindor and Russell. Machado is an MVP third baseman filling in at SS.

    I don’t expect Turner to be an all-star when he first steps in. I do expect him to fare better by the end of his first year than Rendon did in his. And to keep elevating expectations.


    25 May 16 at 5:19 pm

  74. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Turner’s defense. The guy you all keep quoting, Keith Law says Turner is a defensive upgrade to Espi. I haven’t seen him enough to judge. But since he is one of the fastest guys on the planet, I would assume his range is even better than Espi or Desmond. I’m sure Turner has enough arm for SS if David Eckstein could do it for a playoff team for several years.

    You guys seem to be forgetting who he would be replacing…. Not Tulo or Derek Jeter, but current .199 hitting again Danny Espinosa. Danny Espinosa is going to block your top position prospect in the last 3 years?

    We still have a very inconsistent offensive team. So yes I would take a slap hitting speedball who always hits over .300 and leads every league he plays in runs and stolen bases. Yeah I’d think I’d give that guy the opportunity to fail you all are so scared of.

    And if performance counts… yes I would take him over Giolito as Turner has dominated AA and AAA now. I’ll take the bird in hand instead of the hype.

    Todd.. I’m not poo poohing Giolito… But you and the scouts are just mesmerized by his tools and draft status. The hitters aren’t as mesmerized.

    You need to look again at Strasburg’s AA stats when he was the same age as Giolito to see what a dominant phenom AA pitching stat line looks like.

    So if they were essentially the same age at AA, Strasburg was about 2 days away from the big leagues and Giolito is nowhere close today.

    If Giolito is such a monster he should be striking out 10 or 11 per by now, just on talent alone. That’s what I’m looking for from Giolito now, Not even consistency but rather just flashes of pure dominance. We’re still not seeing even short stretches, a game or two in a row of pure dominance. His k rate dropped to 8.5 as soon as he got to AA last year, so it’s only slipped slightly so far this year when he supposedly got ruined by the coach. He’s probably walking more guys because this is the first time in his life he’s realizing and dealing with the fact he can’t fire it past all of them. So if you throw 100 mph and have the best curveball a scout has ever seen, how do you not strike out 10 struggling, undisciplined minor leaguers per nine?

    A nice prospect but #1 or a phenom like Strasburg at the same age? Not close yet. Hopefully soon.

    Marty C

    25 May 16 at 5:38 pm

  75. I’m trying to figure out what would qualify as average and above average for MLB shortstops. Turner hit 9 HRs across all stops in 2015, so it’s reasonable to think he could get to the 12-15 level or so. In 2015, only five MLB SS’s hit more than 15 HRs; only two hit more than 17 (one of those, Desi, doesn’t play SS anymore). Even with 9 HRs, he would have placed 12th.

    The MLB SS leaders in SB (tie) were at 25; Turner should be able to lead in that category, perhaps by a fair margin, right from the beginning. (Although Fore may be ambitious projecting 60 SBs in this day and age.)

    Only 13 SS’s had an OBP over .300 ‘in ’15, and only five over .320, so the bar is pretty low there (although some young guns are changing that in ’16). Trea’s MiLB career OBP is .382, so it’s fair to think he can be in the top ten in that category. It’s a stretch to think Turner could maintain his MiLB SLG of .455, but a SLG of .400 would have placed him 8th among major-leaguers in ’15. Only seven SS’s posted an OPS of .700 or more, only three over .750.

    Numbers are from FanGraphs for full-season qualified guys in ‘15 so don’t include Correa, Seager, or Story, or Machato now playing SS. Still, it’s fair to think that Turner can be among the top 15 SS’s offensively from early in his career, in the top five or so in getting on base, and one of the very best at stealing them.

    Defense is much harder to figure. For his brief MLB tenure last year (including time spent at 2B), Turner earned a 1.0 defensive fWAR. Among the full-season MLB regulars at SS, that number would have placed him 14th, right behind Desmond, ahead of guys like AssCab and Peralta. That sounds about right for now. (For the current season thus far, 1.0 would put him at 15th.) With his speed, Turner should have significant range, but whether he has the arm and the leather to take full advantage of it will remain to be seen. (Law seems to think he’ll be better than average.)

    So, based on these guess-taments, Turner would start his career somewhere around the 15th-best SS in the MLB . . . right around league average. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t or couldn’t improve. For comparison, Espinosa is currently 17th overall in fWAR, based almost entirely on leather, where he ranks 5th. Offensively, he’s 22d.


    25 May 16 at 7:06 pm

  76. I should clarify that Turner could to get to 12-15 HRs *eventually*. I don’t think he’ll start off at that level, probably more in the 5-10 range.


    25 May 16 at 7:10 pm

  77. Marty … Strasburg had three full college seasons prior to showing up at AA. Hundreds of innings. Giolito missed essentially his whole senior season of HS plus his first pro season. And now, as we know, he’s had some dipsh*t of a coach messing with his mechainics.

    However, if you’d like me to acquiesce here fine. Giolito is not the same as Strasburg. Strasburg is clearly one of the 10 best arms in the game today. If that’s the standard we’re holding Giolito to, then of course he’s going to fall short. He’s a superior arm, a top-end talent. For the same reason you cannot compare the best hitting prospect in the game right now to Bryce Harper; Harper and Strasburg (as we now know) were clearly once in a generational type prospects.

    Todd Boss

    25 May 16 at 8:06 pm

  78. “You’d rather have Trea Turner than Francisco Lindor?” wow. Just so we’re on the same page here, Lindor was a 4.6 fWAR player last year … in just 99 games! Projecting to nearly a 20/20 player as a rookie, he was also arguably the best defensive SS in the league (uzr/150 of 14.3).

    That’s one hell of a high bar. You compare him to Jeter? Another high bar; basically one of hte 2-3 best hitting short stops of ALL TIME. A first ballot hall of famer.

    Forget comparisons of Strasburg to Giolito. Strasburg has yet to even get a Cy Young vote.

    Todd Boss

    25 May 16 at 8:10 pm

  79. The current highest-paid SS, Jose Reyes, got his bloated contract for doing what Turner is capable of doing — getting on base and being disruptive at a 50+ SB clip. One can debate whether that was money well spent, but there’s good value for that type of player at a high level. Can Turner get to that level? For it to happen, he’ll have to get on base. If he can start out with an OBP in the .325-.350 range and get up to around .375 at career peak, he’ll be very good offensively at what he can do.

    The other number I would watch with Turner is doubles. If you want to talk even venturing into Jeter territory, you’ve got to talk doubles — gap power — more than HRs. If Turner can get to a level of 30+ doubles, 50+ SBs, and .350+ OBP, he’ll be a heck of an offensive force, just a different kind of one than a 20/20 type player. It won’t happen right away, though. A reasonable hope for 2017 would be an OBP around .320, 20 doubles, 30-35 SBs, and 5-10 HRs.


    26 May 16 at 8:09 am

  80. Giolito must be reading the blog . . . or Keith Law. He posted his best start of the year last night and went seven innings for the first time. He’s at 42.1 innings at the end of May so has ~100 left for the rest of the season, if he gets to the point where there is any consideration of bringing him up. Right now, I wouldn’t think there’s a rush.


    26 May 16 at 8:24 am

  81. Since it has taken Strasburg until age 27 and nearly six full years in the bigs to finally start maximizing his potential, how can anyone dismiss what Giolito might be capable of doing when he’s only 21?

    KW – I agree that there is no rush to bring Giolito up. In fact, it would be a great thing if Gio, Ross and Roark stay healthy and keep pitching well enough to push his debut back to next season (no, I don’t expect that will happen).

    As for Turner, he drew an 0 for 5 last night and has really cooled off after his blistering start (since April 17th, his slash line is .268/.321/.394). Obviously, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a bust, but like Giolito he’s very young and is still learning.

    Karl Kolchack

    26 May 16 at 9:22 am

  82. The ascent of Giolito will be dictated by Ross and Roark ( barring injury), but more importantly Turner. I think Turner’s impact on the lineup will be so meaningful that he will affect deadline needs. Since the Nats will not have a six man rotation, if there is still a lack of offense, one of those two is a significant sell high option if there is a young, controllable superstar bat out there who will mesh. Then Giolito slides in. But Giolito isn’t coming up as soon as he is ready. Maybe they’ll start skipping starts to keep his innings lower for when he will reAlly be needed at year’s end.

    Todd, I know you are incredulous, and thank you for being respectful, but I think Turner has the •IT• factor. I trust my judgment on this and I have been right, usually, on this board about that. I was advocating Souza from the time he was in AA while folks here were giggling at me, and advocated Souza’s future after the Turner trade when we all made Rizzo the emperor. Just as I was a lone voice lamenting the loss of Burns, as a player who would make it. I would say Souza is headed for a hell of a career. I feel Turner has the IT and that transcends his statistical body of work. Let’s enjoy rooting for all of them.


    26 May 16 at 10:51 am

  83. From the game report:

    ‘Washington’s top prospect had struggled through his first five Eastern League starts of the season, going 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA after his May 4 outing against Hartford. Since then, Giolito has not allowed more than two earned runs or five hits in a start while racking up two wins.

    “I got out of sync with, it starts with the leg lift,” Giolito said. “I was lifting my leg a little awkwardly and I would leak forward, open up too early, open my hips too early and it would make my arm be late. That’s where the lack of command and control was all throughout the first part of the year. I was falling forward and not staying balanced.

    “I’ve been working really hard to fix that, especially with my pitching coach, Chris Michalak. We’ve been working really hard every day in the bullpen and now the results are starting to come from that hard work. It’s a good step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard and getting back to where I need to be.”

    – with that said, we have another example of a pundit like Keith Law not properly diligencing what he writes. So he goes half cocked and blames the pitching coach for “changing” his delivery. Fool.

    It’s like Barry Svrluga and his “Lerners are cheap” and “no one wants to play for the Nats” garbage all over again. Anything to create the perception that a reporter is in the know. vomit.

    Where have you gone, Bud Black?


    26 May 16 at 12:17 pm

  84. The reasons that formed the offseason consensus for trying to get Giolito ready for promotion this year were two-fold: 1) to make sure he was MLB-ready when (and we all thought it was “when”) Stras left; and 2) in case Roark and/or Ross didn’t hold up their end in the rotation. Well, here we are at Memorial Day, and both of those concerns have been pretty well alleviated. That doesn’t mean that one of the starters won’t get hurt, or that Giolito won’t start Thor-like domination and force the team to use him, but unless and until either happens, there’s no rush. Right now, the best benefit might be another year of control gained by waiting.

    With Stras re-upped and Roark and Ross looking solid, I would also think those developments would make Rizzo more willing to at least listen to offers for Giolito, or Lopez. Not saying at all that it’s going to happen, and there would have to be controllable all-star-quality return involved, but perhaps that door has opened just a crack.


    26 May 16 at 12:44 pm

  85. Fore — thanks for posting the game-report quotes. That does clear up some things. Those types of issues are very common among young pitchers (and sometimes even established ones). Giolito comes across as humble and willing to work, as he has in other interviews. I hope that’s true. I’ve certainly never seen anything that made him out to be an entitled Hollywood rich kid, even though that’s his background.


    26 May 16 at 12:51 pm

  86. KW, I am with you on the flexibility to trade, especially with the catching situation unresolved post-2016. But Ross brings a lot more than Giolito because he has been well-hyped, because he is establishing himself. And Lopez is sell low, and no way will Rizzo do that.

    One important point to add, which factors into the injury question, is that Voth looks great at AAA.
    And, that in the next two months, there is still plenty of time for 1) Lopez 2) Cole 3) others (Jordan) to turn it on in warmer weather and excite the team about where they fit in (or not). The cupboard is absolutely not bare other than Giolito and by the ASB things may look different on the assets front as well.

    There is an excellent article, easily accessed, about Kelley. What a clever acquisition he was, and on a three year contract. Rizzo has a great eye for the undervalued. When you go around the diamond, even Giolito and Rendon symbolize buy low, as does Turner, Murphy, Papelbon, Perez, Rivero, and others. Rizzo has realy done well in that regard. And that may well be what we are in store for, unless he engineers a trade for a star in the Gonzalez mold for what the team needs.


    26 May 16 at 1:00 pm

  87. Regarding midseason trades: my guess is that Lopez, Glover and Stevenson will be the Nats’ prime prospects on offer. Lopez because of his raw talent, Glover because he appears to be close to MLB ready and the team has lots of strong relief arms coming up behind him, and Stevenson because CF is covered for the next two years, which looks to be about the time Robles will likely be ready.

    Karl Kolchack

    26 May 16 at 2:17 pm

  88. I don’t think they will make a significant trade this year. Perhaps a high quality bullpen arm that could slot into the 8th this year, and then close next year. If Will Smith was healthy, someone like that. If they go that route, some of the prospects Karl mentions would be the bait.

    But if they really did want to acquire a premium, controllable bat, then I’d agree with Forensicane that Ross represents the highest trade value. He is young, controllable and proven at the major league level. He would bring back an all star in his prime, and with Stras and Max locked up, and Giolito to take his place, they have the depth to absorb the hit.

    Could he bring back a Mookie Betts type? Maybe, I think it’s in that ballpark


    26 May 16 at 10:22 pm

  89. Regardless of how well Giolito is doing in AA, I think he is next man up if there is an injury. No need to bring him up if everyone stays healthy, but I can’t see anyone in his way (until perhaps Arroyo comes back, if he does come back). Voth would be the other contender and maybe Cole, but I’d give Giolito a few spot starts over those guys and see what he can do (before returning him to the minors when the injured guy came back).

    Andrew R

    27 May 16 at 12:46 am

  90. If you’re looking for a comp for what Joe Ross, might bring, they’re a couple of good recent ones, both involving Shelby Miller. Like Ross, Miller established himself in the majors as a solid (until this season) #2-3 starter at a relatively young age, with lots of years of control included in the trade (five years in the first one, four in the second; Ross currently has 5.5). Like Ross, Miller is on his first elbow.

    In the first trade, five years of Miller brought one of Jason Heyward, which in retrospect seems like a bad deal for the Cards, who were hoping that J-Hey would stay long-term (although he did post 6.5 bWAR in that one year). In the second trade, four years of Miller brought the #1 overall draft pick (Swanson) plus a young everyday player (Inciarte). I know there were other players involved in both trades, but Miller was the centerpiece. In each case, the haul was serious.

    I can’t think of a true comp for a Giolito trade. Both Thor and Wainwright changed hands early in their minor-league careers, before they were as advanced as Giolito is now, as part of multi-player deals that both teams dealing them away lived to regret. Wainwright was part of a package for a guy then thought to be a budding superstar, though, J. D. Drew, who posted an 8.3 bWAR in the year after the trade.


    27 May 16 at 2:36 pm

  91. I see that Taylor Jordan has had his second TJ surgery. Tough break for him. As I’ve said before, I thought that if the Nats had traded him at some point over the last couple years that he could have been decent at the back end of other MLB rotations. The percentage of guys who make it all the way back from the second TJ is significantly smaller.

    On the immediate Nats’ personnel front, I assume that Jordan will be moved to the 60-man DL, freeing up a spot for . . . something. Voth? Giolito? Is Arroyo still lurking out there somewhere? I haven’t heard a word about him since his career-ending/not-ending injury in the spring. Not that I’m particularly lobbying for his return.


    28 May 16 at 2:59 pm

  92. Don’t expect any kind of return similar to the second Shelby Miller trade; that trade was viewed with astonishment throughout the industry, and was widely panned from the moment it was announced. If they’d gotten Matt Harvey (before his struggles this season) for that kind of haul, that could be understood. But Shelby Miller?

    The fact that Miller has been brutally awful for the Diamondbacks since then hasn’t helped.

    John C.

    28 May 16 at 6:18 pm

  93. Since the Nats likely wouldn’t be shopping Ross, it would take a Miller-like package to get them interested. Most people agree that AZ overpaid, but that’s the immediate precedent that’s out there.

    What I would not want, and I don’t think the Nats would do right now, would be for the Nats to trade a young, established player for an expiring contract, like the Cards did with Heyward.

    But big returns in trades are rare. The Nats would be more likely to move guys like Cole, Voth, or Fedde who wouldn’t bring as much. Fedde still doesn’t excite me, although he seems to be finding his footing at Potomac.


    29 May 16 at 8:36 am

  94. While we are talking about trading starting pitchers, how about Gio as a candidate? The Nats need to make room for Giolito somehow, and with Gio’s relatively cheap two-year team option some GM might even be convinced that all he needs is a change of scenery to revert to top form since nothing seems to be wrong with him physically. It might be a great way to pick up the bat they need.

    The downside, of course, is that it would leave them without a lefty in the rotation, but if Giolito is pitching well by trading deadline time I think they could live with it.

    Karl Kolchack

    29 May 16 at 11:51 am

  95. Gio does seem to have hit a wall after a strong early season, doubling his run total in the last two starts. Thank goodness for Stephen Strasburg, stopper.

    And I would like to pause here and thank the Mets for trying yet again to enforce the “unwritten rules” . . . and wasting a Thor start and outright first place in the process.

    I know I’ve engaged in the trade chatter as much as anyone, but really, I don’t know who they would trade for. Karl says another bat, which sounds good in theory, but where would said “bat” play? Much as we got into during the offseason, the acquisition would have to be a CF or RF, with Bryce moving to center. Trout or Betts are very, very unlikely. On quick glance, about the best I see possibly available is Josh Reddick and his expiring contract, or Kole Calhoun, who has been in a power drought this year. Or if we wanted more pop at SS, we could package Trea in a deal for Marcus Semien. I’m not holding my breath for any of those.

    Right now, it seems like the best we can do is just be encouraged by signs of life in the bats of Rendon, Zim, Danny, and even Werth today. Trea seems to be getting back in the rhythm as well.


    29 May 16 at 7:17 pm

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