Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats All-Star review: 2016 and years past

67 comments

This photo is an oldie but a goodie, and one we'll probably see year over year for the next decade at least. Photo unk

This photo is an oldie but a goodie, and one we’ll probably see year over year for the next decade at least. Photo unk

Here’s my annual Nationals All Star selection post.

(* == All-Star game starter.  The Nats now have four ASG starters in their history, dating to 2005.  Soriano once, Harper thrice).

2016

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos, Max Scherzer (named as replacement for Strasburg on 7/8/16),
  • Possible Snubs: Danny EspinosaTanner Roark
  • Narrative: The four obvious candidates from the Nats this year were all initially correctly selected, though voting shenanigans out of Chicago elected Ben Zobrist over Daniel Murphy by a scant 500 votes.   I thought perhaps Strasburg would have a chance to start the game, given his 12-0 record, but it seems the team pre-empted any such thought when Scherzer’s naming occurred).  For the first time writing this post, I can’t really name any “snubs” and the team has (finally?) earned the proper respect it deserves in terms of naming its players properly.  Espinosa had a week for the ages just prior to the end of voting but really stood little chance of selection in the grand scheme of things.  He’s not really a “snub” but is worthy of mention based on his resurgent year.  At the break, Espinosa ranked 3rd in NL fWAR but 7th or 8th in bWAR thanks to differing defensive value metrics, so maybe/maybe not on him being a “snub.”  As pointed out in the comments, even I missed the sneaky good season Roark is having; he’s 12th in the NL in bWAR at the break and 9th in fWAR but was left off in favor of any number of starters that stand below him in value rankings.  Unfortunately for fans (and for Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun again” campaign, he opted to skip the Home Run Derby again.  I guess its kind of like the NBA superstars skipping the dunk contest; the Union should really do a better job of helping out in this regard.  The new format is fantastic and makes the event watchable again; is it ego keeping him from getting beat by someone like Giancarlo Stanton?

Here’s past year’s information, mostly recycled information from past posts on the topic but fun to read nonetheless, especially the early years.

2015

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Max Scherzer
  • Possible Snubs: Yunel Escobar, Drew Storen
  • Narrative: Harper not only made it in as a starter for the 2nd time, he led the NL in votes, setting a MLB record for total votes received.  This is no surprise; Harper’s easily in the MVP lead for the NL thanks to his amazing first half (his split at the half-way point of the season: .347/.474/.722 with 25 homers and an astounding 225 OPS+).  I guess he won’t be earning the “Most overrated player” award next year.  That Harper is electing to skip the Home run derby in a disappointment; his father is nursing an arm injury can cannot throw to him in the event.  In a weird year for the Nats, the only other regular worth mentioning is newly acquired Escobar, who is hitting above .300 and filling in ably at multiple positions that, prior to this year, he had never played.  Storen is having another excellent regular season … but at a time when mandatory members from each team often leads to other closers being selected (there are 5 NL closers and 7 AL relievers), the odds of him making the All-Star team were always going to be slim.  Scherzer deservedly makes the team and probably would have been the NL starter; he’s got sub 2.00 ERA and FIP and leads all NL pitchers in WAR at the mid-way point of the season.  But his turn came up in the final game of the first half, making him ineligible for the game and forcing his replacement on the roster.

As a side note, the 2015 All-Star game will go down as the “Ballot-Gate” game thanks to MLB’s short-sighted plan to allow 30+ online ballots per email address.  This led to severe “ballot stuffing” by the Kansas City Royals fans, led to MLB  having to eliminate 60 million+ fraudulent ballots, but still led to several Royals being elected starters over more deserving candidates.

2014

  • Nationals All-Star representative: Jordan Zimmermann (Update post-publishing: Zimmermann strained a bicep, and had to withdraw from the ASG.  For a bit it looked like the Nats wouldn’t even have a representative, until Tyler Clippard was named on 7/13/14).
  • Possible Snubs: Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen
  • Narrative: Zimmermann’s been the best SP on the best pitching staff in the majors this year, and thus earns his spot.  I find it somewhat odd that a first place team (or near to it) gets just one representative on the team (as discussed above).  Rendon tried to make the team via the “last man in” voting, but historically Nationals have not fared well in this competition (especially when better known players from large markets are in the competition, aka Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs), and indeed Rendon finished 4th in the last-man voting.  LaRoche is having a very good season, almost single handedly carrying the Nats offense while major parts were out injured, but he’s never going to beat out the slew of great NL first basemen (Joey Votto couldn’t even get into this game).  Soriano has quietly put together one of the best seasons of any closer in the game; at the time of this writing he has a 1.03 ERA and a .829 whip; those are Dennis Eckersley numbers.  But, the farce that is the all-star game selection criteria (having to select one player from each team) means that teams need a representative, and deserving guys like Soriano get squeezed.  Then, Soriano indignantly said he wouldn’t even go if named as a replacement … likely leading to Clippard’s replacement selection.  The same goes for non-closer Storen, who sports a sub 2.00 ERA on the year.  Advanced stats columnists (Keith Law) also think that Stephen Strasburg is a snub but I’m not entirely sure: he may lead the NL in K’s right now and have far better advanced numbers than “traditional,” but its hard to make an argument that a guy with a 7-6 record and a 3.50+ ERA is all-star worthy.

2013

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper*, Jordan Zimmermann
  • Snubs: Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond
  • Narrative: Harper comes in 3rd in the NL outfielder voting, ahead of some big-time names, to become only the second Nationals position player elected as an All-Star starter.  He was 4th in the final pre-selection vote, so a big last minute push got him the starter spot.   Harper also becomes the first National to participate in the Home Run Derby.   Zimmermann was 12-3 heading into the game and was on mid-season Cy Young short lists in July in a breakout season.  Strasburg’s advanced stats are all better than Zimmermann’s, but his W/L record (4-6 as the ASG) means he’s not an all-star.  It also probably doesn’t help that he missed a few weeks.  Desmond loses out to Troy Tulowitzki, Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura.  Tulowitzki was having a very solid year and was a deserving elected starter, while Cabrera and Segura are both having breakout seasons.  Desmond was on the “Final vote” roster, but my vote (and most others’ I’m guessing) would be for Yasiel Puig there ([Editor Update: Desmond and Puig lost out to Freddie Freeman: I still wished that Puig finds a way onto the roster but ultimately he did not and I believe the ASG was diminished because of it).   Gio GonzalezRyan Zimmerman, and Rafael Soriano are all having solid but unspectacular years and miss out behind those having great seasons.

2012

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Stephen StrasburgGio GonzalezIan Desmond, Bryce Harper
  • Possible Snubs: Adam LaRocheCraig Stammen
  • Narrative: The two SPs Strasburg and Gonzalez were the obvious candidates, and my personal prediction was that they’d be the only two candidates selected.  Gonzalez’ first half was a prelude to his 21-win, 3rd place Cy Young season.  The inclusion of Desmond is a surprise, but also a testament to how far he’s come as a player in 2012.  Harper was a last-minute injury replacement, but had earned his spot by virtue of his fast start as one of the youngest players in the league.  Of the “snubs,” LaRoche has had a fantastic come back season in 2012 but fared little shot against better, more well-known NL first basemen.  Stammen was our best bullpen arm, but like LaRoche fared little chance of getting selected during a year when the Nats had two deserving pitchers selected.

2011

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Tyler Clippard
  • Possible Snubs: Danny EspinosaMichael MorseDrew StorenJordan Zimmermann
  • Narrative: While Clippard was (arguably) the Nats best and most important reliever, I think Zimmermann was a more rightful choice.  He was 10th in the league in ERA at the time of the selections and has put in a series of dominant performances.  Meanwhile Espinosa was on pace for a 28-homer season and almost a certain Rookie-of-the-Year award (though a precipitous fall-off in the 2nd half cost him any realistic shot at the ROY), and perhaps both players are just too young to be known around the league.  Lastly Morse is certainly known and he merited a spot in the “last man in” vote sponsored by MLB (though he fared little chance against popular players in this last-man-in voting).

2010

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Matt Capps
  • Possible Snubs: Adam DunnJosh WillinghamRyan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg
  • Narrative: Capps was clearly deserving, having a breakout season as a closer after his off-season non-tender from the Pirates.  The 3-4-5 hitters Zimmerman-Dunn-Willingham all had dominant offensive seasons as the team improved markedly from its 103-loss season.  But perhaps the surprise non-inclusion was Strasburg, who despite only having a few starts as of the all-star break was already the talk of baseball.  I think MLB missed a great PR opportunity to name him to the team to give him the exposure that the rest of the national media expected.  But in the end, Capps was a deserving candidate and I can’t argue that our hitters did anything special enough to merit inclusion.

2009

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Ryan Zimmerman
  • Possible Snubs: Adam Dunn
  • Narrative: The addition of Dunn and Willingham to the lineup gave Zimmerman the protection he never had, and he produced with his career-best season.  His first and deserved all-star appearance en-route to a 33 homer season.  Dunn continued his monster homer totals with little all-star recognition.

2008

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Cristian Guzman
  • Possible Snubs: Jon Rauch
  • Narrative: The first of two “hitting rock-bottom” seasons for the team; no one really merited selection.  Zimmerman was coming off of hamate-bone surgery in November 2007 and the team was more or less awful across the board.  Rauch performed ably after Cordero went down with season-ending (and basically career-ending) shoulder surgery.   Guzman’s selection a great example of why one-per-team rules don’t make any sense.  Guzman ended up playing far longer than he deserved in the game itself by virtue of the 15-inning affair.

2007

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Dmitri Young
  • Possible Snubs: Ryan Zimmerman, Shawn Hill (though I wouldn’t argue for either)
  • Narrative: Young gets a deserved all-star appearance en route to comeback player of the year.  Zimmerman played a full season but didn’t dominate.  Our 2007 staff gave starts to 13 different players, most of whom were out of the league within the next year or two.  Not a good team.

2006

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Alfonso Soriano*
  • Possible Snubs: Nick JohnsonRyan Zimmerman, Chad Cordero
  • Narrative: Soriano made the team as an elected starter, the first time the Nats have had such an honor.  Our pitching staff took massive steps backwards and no starter came even close to meriting a spot.  Cordero was good but not lights out as he had been in 2005.  Soriano’s 40-40 season is a poster child for “contract year” production and he has failed to come close to such production since.  The team was poor and getting worse.  Johnson had a career year but got overshadowed by bigger, better first basemen in the league (a recurring theme for our first basemen over the years).

2005

  • Nationals All-Star representatives: Livan HernandezChad Cordero
  • Possible Snubs: Nick JohnsonJohn Patterson.
  • Narrative: The Nats went into the All Star break surprisingly in first place, having run to a 50-31 record by the halfway point.  Should a first place team have gotten more than just two representatives?  Perhaps.  But the team was filled with non-stars and played far over its head to go 50-31 (as evidenced by the reverse 31-50 record the rest of the way).

67 Responses to 'Nats All-Star review: 2016 and years past'

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  1. Bring back those uniforms, or ANY unis that are different from the Padre throwback/throw-up ones they’re using! (Perhaps the real reason that Stras didn’t want to be caught dead in one?)

    Espinosa is having a better year than the fan-voted Addison Russell by almost every measure, although I don’t know if that qualifies as a “snub.” Danny is currently 3d among NL shortstops in fWAR, behind only Crawford (based heavily on defense) and Seager. Russell is 6th. You know things are going right when you find yourself lobbying that Danny should be getting AS consideration . . .

    Rendon is 5th among NL 3Bs (counting Bryant as a 3B) in fWAR, which is close, but no star.

    KW

    12 Jul 16 at 12:43 pm

  2. I dunno; i kinda like those uniforms :-)

    Todd Boss

    12 Jul 16 at 1:39 pm

  3. Great read, a fun annual event! The cut & paste of the previous years makes one’s head spin a bit until one does the “past tense for present tense” swap, but I think that’s part of the charm.

    I will note (I may have done this in previous years) that to dismiss Soriano’s 2006 season as a one-off “contract year” phenomenon both serves a silly narrative (analysts have not been able to discern any detectable impact of pending free agency on player performance overall) and underrates Soriano’s career. He had excellent seasons before and after his 2006 season. By fWAR, Soriano’s 2006 season (5.4 WAR) was the third best of his career behind his 2002 season with the Yankees (5.6 WAR) and his 2007 season with the Cubs (6.7 WAR!).

    It’s funny the way Bryce is being criticized for not doing the HRD. He’s been getting some schizophrenic criticism on MLB radio – one minute he’s being ripped for being more interested in “building his brand” than in pleasing the fans, then in the same breath the same talking heads observe that Under Armor and Gatorade would have been delighted to have Harper in the HRD. So he’s doing it because he’s a selfish brand-building attention hog … but he’s really bad at being a selfish brand-building attention hog?

    Or maybe he’s just mentally/physically worn down and wants to focus on preparation for the second half – but participates in the game because the fans voted him in and he feels obligated? Nah, that can’t be it. SMH

    John C.

    12 Jul 16 at 4:36 pm

  4. It’s kind of sad that Ryan Zimmerman, who next year will likely drag his tired (32-year!) old body up to the plate and deliver the two home runs that will allow him to surpass Vladamir Guerrero and Frank Howard as the all time franchise and DC home run leader, has only been to one ASG, and that as a back up player. The real travesty was 2010, when he was slighted as team rep for Capps, but would go on to win the Silver Slugger award at 3B.

    I’ve always had a spot for Zimmerman. He signed immediately after being drafted in 2005 instead of holding a desperate franchise over a barrel to squeeze out more bonus cash. He then showed a willingness to stick around as his free agent eligibility approached after the 2011 season despite how awful the team had been his whole tenure here. And now, when he should be enjoying his role as an elder statesmen on a really good team, he looks used up and nearly done despite being the same age Werth was when he signed his big free agent deal to come to the Nats.

    Let’s hope he can get healthy and rebound, then maybe deliver one of his patented walk off HRs in a playoff game.

    Karl Kolchack

    12 Jul 16 at 6:04 pm

  5. One can argue that Roark was a snub this year, given that Colon, Pomeranz and Rodney are arguably worse than Tanner. But it’s certainly not an egregious omission.

    Andrew R

    12 Jul 16 at 6:08 pm

  6. Wow, we really do overlook Roark, don’t we? On fWAR, he’s 8th among NL arms, tied with Scherzer. Kershaw, Thor, and Stras aren’t pitching, so that leaves only four guys on the list ahead of Roark — Jose Fernandez, Cueto, Maddy Bum, and Arrieta. That’s some mighty tall cotton there, all the more so at 1/60th of Max’s salary!

    Terry Collins’ own fatboy deadbeat dad is, uh, 33d in the NL, tied with Gio, who we wouldn’t exactly confuse with All Star material this year. A lot of guys got diss’d by the inclusion of Colon.

    KW

    12 Jul 16 at 8:56 pm

  7. JohnC: on the Soriano comment, yeah definitely. I could “edit” it to correct my own mistake but what fun would that be? :-) I own all my narrative-driven comments.

    Harper skipping home-run derby: same criticism for Trout exists but is not made; fair to Harper? of course not, but he’s the lightening rod playing on the east coast while Trout is the more mild-mannered guy playing for a last place team on the west coast when all the Boston/NY/Philly/DC writers are long asleep.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 16 at 8:55 am

  8. Zimmerman: good commentary Karl. I have the next version of his “Mr. Walk-off” post just waiting to publish. http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=10616 was what I published when he hit his 10th; the MLB all-time leader has 13 so you’d think Zimmerman would get a few more chances to add to this accomplishment.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 16 at 8:58 am

  9. Should we be pissed at Cueto for blowing the home-field advantage, Stras for not being the starter instead of Cueto, or Bud for making such a stupid decree in the first place? My vote is for Bud. I’m actually glad Stras took the extra rest, even though it would have been a great thing for him to be a starter in his home town.

    KW

    13 Jul 16 at 11:59 am

  10. Bud. No guarantee that the same thing wouldn’t have happened to Stras or Kershaw or whoever else got the start. We always rail about small sample sizes; what’s smaller than 15-20 pitches? :-)

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 16 at 1:51 pm

  11. Let’s blame the Cub fans for stuffing the ballot boxes. I’m originally from the Chicago area and grew up a White Sox fan, and can attest from experience that a large portion of their fan base are insufferable yuppie douchebags.

    True story: the very first year at RFK when they were still using the t-shirt cannons, during a Cubs game a shirt landed near where we were sitting, and this jerk wearing a Cubs jersey grabbed it virtually out of the hands of a young woman wearing a Nats cap. That was bad enough, but he then threw the shirt back on the field like it was an opposition home run ball at Wrigley Field.

    I’m really rooting for another century of futility on the North Side. :)

    Karl Kolchack

    13 Jul 16 at 4:31 pm

  12. Cubs fans: i recall seeing a study done once that correlated wins on the field to amount of beer consumed in the stands and it reported that the WORSE the Cubs did, the more beer was drunk (which may seem logical, but it also implied that more people ATTENDED when the cubs were losing).

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 16 at 6:39 pm

  13. Second half, here we come! Looks like Bryce has his love life straightened out (engaged again, to the same girl), so perhaps that’s the spark he needs for the second half. Interesting that the first three starters out of the blocks will be Stras-Roark-Max. Dusty previously had been using Gio between the “Big 2” for most of the season.

    I’m pleased with where the team is at that break, and I feel good about its chances in the division, but I still don’t feel like it has all the pieces for a championship run. We’ll see.

    KW

    15 Jul 16 at 7:33 am

  14. Just had to comment again about Strasburg and how the Nats seem to have an uncanny sense of just how to handle him. This is some kind of special run he’s on right now, and it would be great to see him really kick it into high gear down the stretch and land the team’s elusive first Cy Young Award.

    Karl Kolchack

    16 Jul 16 at 12:09 pm

  15. It wasn’t just Stras who impressed me. The whole team really seems to be developing a confidence, a swagger. Dare we call it Natitude? Frankly, there was very little Natitude under Matty W., really not seen much since the big run in August 2014 that solidified the division flag. But there’s a real confidence across this team now. There are still some guys who need to get going, but with so many others picking up the slack, there’s not that much pressure on any one person, like there got to be on Harper last year.

    But yes, this is the Stras we were always promised. We can’t completely credit Maddux and Dusty, as he came back from his readjustment stint last year pitching this way. But he looks very comfortable now, more so than ever, and it’s showing on the score sheet.

    So here’s the question: if the starters keep going more or less the way they are now, who’s the Game 1 playoff starter? Has Stras now passed Max? Or do you take a little of the pressure off Stras by unleashing the bulldog in the first game?

    KW

    16 Jul 16 at 4:18 pm

  16. I know it’s armchair psychology, but Strasburg just doesn’t seem at all comfortable with any sort of accolades or undue attention. It even seemed like one reason he re-signed with the Nats the way he did early in the season was to completely minimize the hype of his new deal and to remain in a position where Scherzer would be expected to carry the pressure of being the team’s ace. Had he gone elsewhere–say to the Angels–all of the media scrutiny and pressure would have been immediately heaped on him again like it was back in 2010 and again in 2012, and I believe he’d rather just pitch and stay as low key as possible.

    Long winded way of saying that I think the playoff rotation should be Scherzer-Strasburg-Roark, and that doing it that way is not only not a dis to Strasburg, but probably the way he would prefer it to be.

    Karl Kolchack

    17 Jul 16 at 2:41 pm

  17. MLBTR says that Reynaldo Lopez will be activated on the MLB roster on Tuesday. Not finding any other info on this.

    HTT

    17 Jul 16 at 5:32 pm

  18. Wow if Lopez rumor is true. It would take a 40-man move for it to happen. I’m not sure why, with an off day on Monday, they don’t just skip the fifth slot and not worry about it until next weekend.

    In a related note, the Nats put Voth on the 3-day restricted list to activate Giolito. Obviously Voth could be reactivated at Syracuse if Lopez is promoted.

    KW

    17 Jul 16 at 8:18 pm

  19. There’s some crazy stuff out there about the Nats and deadline deals, so I thought I’d weigh in. Curiously, some of the crazier stuff is coming from national media types more so than the Natosphere. Perhaps Nat followers value Lopez more than the general media does.

    The Nats aren’t trading Lopez for Chapman. That would be GM malpractice. Voth for Chapman I would have to think about, but I don’t that the Yanks would think that was enough, even though it’s six-plus years of a capable starter for 40% of one year for a volatile closer.

    Would I do Lopez for Miller? Personally, I wouldn’t. If Lopez sticks as a starter, he’s a stellar talent. And from the other side of the equation, the Yanks might want more than Lopez in return. Some recent trades for top bullpen arms have netted more than one solid prospect.

    At the same time, I agree that a top bullpen arm could be a key addition. I just think the prices being bandied about are too high. Unless we’re talking Trout, I consider Lopez in the untouchable category, along with Giolito, Turner, and Robles.

    Does Cole have value? He should. Yet he’s hardly being mentioned in these conversations. I think Fedde is probably #5 on opposition wish lists, probably even ahead of Voth and Cole.

    KW

    18 Jul 16 at 8:56 pm

  20. At least I see where the bullpen arms would fit. I don’t see some of the bats at all. First of all, Charlie Blackmon is the only CF getting much mention, but he’s really a product of Coors, and not that great even with the Mile-High factor. His career high in HRs in 19. He’s not what you would call a power bat.

    Beyond Blackmon, for any of the other trades, you would have to believe in a unicorn: that Rizzo would allow Bryce to be a regular CF. It’s just not going to happen.

    But let’s believe in the unicorn for a moment. Jay Bruce? Why? No contact. Plus the Reds had outrageous asking prices last year and probably haven’t gotten any better. Beltran? He’s a postseason monster, but he’s also 39. Do you REALLY want Bryce trying to cover all the ground between 37 and 39? Braun? Terrible, terrible contract. Carlos Gonzalez? He’s owed $20M next year, based on Coors-inflated numbers. A half season of Reddick probably makes more sense than any of these others, but I’m still not sure how he really fits in the OF.

    I had the wild hair of at least putting in a bid for McCutcheon before the Pirates got hot and got back in at least sniffing distance of the wild card. Trout would take mortgaging the future — Robles, Giolito, Lopez, and much more, probably including Fedde and Taylor. (The Nats could keep Turner since the Halos already have Simmons.) But that one is so out there that’s it’s probably not even worth the dream.

    Otherwise, I’m just not seeing an obvious, significant upgrade among the regular eight, other than just hoping that Revere and Zim get their mojos back.

    KW

    18 Jul 16 at 9:26 pm

  21. I think that you’re logic makes sense as to what they should do. But as for what they will do, i think Rizzo does something big this year. He’s never really gone for it in a pennant race (I don’t count the pap trade because we didn’t give up anything significant). And I think that this is the year because (a) it’s open and they are in a good spot, and (b) he believes he has a strong farm system that can take some hits and still be productive.

    So here is my very out of the box idea (prepare yourself): Miller and Betances for Giolito (and probably a couple of interesting low level arms like Baez or Hearn). Nats get two controllable elite relief arms that fills their biggest area of need, and is very impactful in the playoffs. Yanks get a chance at something they don’t have and can’t get: a true TOR starter ready to compete in 2017.

    I think that you’ll dismiss it, but the next few years could be worth it.

    Wally

    18 Jul 16 at 11:03 pm

  22. I’ve heard a rumor today of Miller AND Chapman for Schwarber. I think that makes sense for both sides more than Giolito. Giolito projects to be too good.

    Andrew R

    18 Jul 16 at 11:30 pm

  23. Andrew, sorry, but I just can’t process how frightening the Cubs would be if they pull off that deal. You wonder whether the Nats have to get involved in the bidding with the Yanks almost as self-preservation to try to keep the Cubbies from world domination. (And personally, if I were the Cubs, I’d think more than twice about giving up Schwarber and his big bat.)

    Wally, I agree that Rizzo wants to make a deal. He’s even got money for it this year with the Werth deferral. I just imagine that he and his colleagues are in their war room twisting themselves into a pretzel the way I did above. I think the Nats are close to championship level, and a reliever and a bat might help get them over the hump . . . if they can figure out how to make the right deal and fit the guys into the lineup.

    The bottom-line key, of course, is properly valuing your own prospects. You want to trade the Alex Meyers, the guys who look great on the prospect charts who might not actually pan out. And frankly, that’s a fair number of your prospects, whether you want to admit it or not. Sure, you can come up with a lot of stories of guys included in trades who became Wainwright or Smoltz. But there are many, many more trades where the prospects remained guys we don’t remember.

    The other thing in the particular equation being discussed is that relievers tend to be terribly overvalued, closers all the more so. I hate overpaying for a reliever, ever. The Pap trade was a fair price, a second-tier minor-league starter.

    I wouldn’t include Robles in a trade for Miller or Chapman, but he’s also one I don’t think the Nats should overvalue at this point. Unless and until he shows considerable HR power, he’s going to profile more like Revere than Harper as an MLB ceiling. I hope he does develop that power, but he hasn’t shown it yet.

    KW

    19 Jul 16 at 7:18 am

  24. Well, we got one question answered: Lopez isn’t a late-inning answer for a playoff team. By my calculation, he’s only got about 35 innings left for this season anyway.

    That’s not to say I wasn’t impressed; to the contrary, I was. He showed a lot in settling down and mowing through the order the second time through. He showed a full arsenal of pitches and command of all of them. Once Loby figured out how good his offspeed stuff was, it started calling for it more often.

    All in all, I was more impressed with Lopez than I was with Giolito, who struggled a lot more with his command and seemed more unnerved by reversals of fortune. (In Giolito’s first couple of innings, the balls against him were hit just about as hard, they just happened to be hit right at Nats.) Giolito was dominant in his AAA debut last night, though, so he’s close as well. But do the Nats really want to lean on either of these guys in a stretch run? Probably not.

    But neither should they trade them!

    The bidding on Chapman and Miller seems to be escalating. Either one obviously would help the Nats, but Chapman is a nut job and a short-term rental. I just hope the Nats don’t overpay, particularly at the Lopez level. That kid is going to be a stud. He was throwing an “easy” 97/98.

    The Charlie Blackmon rumors seem to be building as well. We’ll see. As noted, I do think that the Nats are going to do something, but I hope it’s not something rash.

    KW

    20 Jul 16 at 9:05 am

  25. I was very impressed with Lopez’s stuff. That 98 was what I was expecting of Giolito too, but Lucas is definitely few ticks slower.

    Advantage to Giolito is his breaking stuff has a lot more room to break and tilt since it’s coming in from 10 feet high.

    But I love what I saw of Lopez even getting hit around last night. They are not going to keep hitting 98-99 mph against him like they did last night. And his composure in the middle of that S- storm was impressive too.

    On the flip… unfortunately my alarm at Harper last month was correct. He is a complete mess. Dude needs a serious hitting intervention. I usually tape the games to speed watch them later that night, and I’ve found myself fast forwarding through Harper’s AB’s now like I usually do for the pitchers ab’s! His May- July horrid stats do not even speak to how bad he’s been.

    When was the last time Werth hit a HR? Has to be over a month.

    Trae Turner… he looks bad some Ab’s but by end of the game he still has one or 2 hits somehow! Got to keep playing this guy and let him settle in.

    Marty C

    20 Jul 16 at 12:11 pm

  26. Marty – funny how the $500 million contract extension talk for Harper has quieted down. If he’s prone to disappearing at the plate for months at a time like this, he isn’t worth half of that amount.

    Werth’s last homer came on June 9th, but interestingly his OPS has actually risen slightly since then. On the other hand, Harper’s OPS since May 15th is .732. The only real positive is that he still has more walks than strikeouts since that date.

    Karl Kolchack

    20 Jul 16 at 3:46 pm

  27. Glover gets the call. My prediction of his run all the way to the big club this year has come true. So has my hope (above) that they give an MLB look to Lopez and Glover before spending big to get a big bullpen arm from elsewhere.

    Maybe Harper currently can be had for $400M? But yes, I share the concerns. He didn’t help himself by spreading himself so thin over the break, following on the game with the ESPYs and an engagement (or re-engagement).

    More than a trade, this team just needs the assets it has to start producing. If you had bet people that by late July, the team would be carried by Murphy, Ramos, and Espinosa, folks (including me) would have thought you were crazy.

    KW

    20 Jul 16 at 7:07 pm

  28. OK, I’m really starting to think that Bryce and Jayson read our comments . . . Their responses combined went about 850 feet. Of course if Revere can take the guy deep, everyone else should have had three or four taters, right?

    And every time we wonder whether they’re looking to move on from Gio, he goes out and posts a game like that. Glover got his feet wet as well, in a perfect spot for it, up 8-1.

    The Nats are now tied with the Giants, a half game behind the Cubs. There doesn’t seem to be much separating those clubs at the moment. It will be interesting to see what each can do to make itself better.

    I wonder how eager the Dodgers are to unload Puig. I’d be intrigued by him for the Nats if the price isn’t too high. I know that he brings the crazy, and that he hasn’t turned out to be the player everyone thought he could be, but there’s some serious talent there that I wonder if someone like Dusty could unlock.

    KW

    21 Jul 16 at 5:25 am

  29. Todd seems to have fallen and can’t get up. Let’s hope he reemerges before the trade deadline.

    Speaking of which, Boz is now all in on Chapman, Miller if the Nats can’t get Chapman, and maybe Beltran as well. Hmm. He suggests Voth and MAT for Chapman. I wouldn’t cry if the Nats did that, but I wouldn’t do cartwheels, either. I remain a Taylor agnostic, but the Nats don’t have a lot of other proven OF help in the upper minors (unless you are convinced by the Goodwin career resurrection). I would prefer something more like Fedde straight up for Chapman.

    Boz also thinks that Dusty can handle the Chap/Pap dynamics. I’d have to see it to fully believe it.

    KW

    22 Jul 16 at 7:42 am

  30. I’d love that Chapman deal. And I don’t think that Pap will be an issue. He is working for his next contract, and after last year he would nuts to continue his bad guy rep. plus, what’s it in reality – 10 saves?

    Wally

    22 Jul 16 at 1:31 pm

  31. Todd hasn’t fallen down, he’s visiting family in California with wife and son–back in a few days.

    old man

    22 Jul 16 at 1:56 pm

  32. Looks like CWS are gonna sell, Sale to TEX rumors. Also some speculation of Eaton to Nats. He’d be a nice fit, if the cost isn’t too high.

    Wally

    22 Jul 16 at 8:20 pm

  33. I know it may seem counterintuitive, as starting pitching isn’t an area of need, but if Sale is available, I’d be on the doorstep inquiring seriously about him. It would probably take something like Lopez, Robles, and Fedde to even get in the conversation. But Sale is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball, signed for three more years, likely his peak years, at a very reasonable rate. I doubt the Nats would do it, but that’s what I would do.

    My guess is that Fedde will be the price for Chapman. I think I would be OK with that, mainly because I’ve never been a big Fedde fan. He’s made a lot of strides this season, though.

    Eaton basically does what Revere is supposed to do, so I couldn’t get too excited about how he might “improve” the team. Since he’s signed forever — five more years — the Chisox will be looking for a little extra for him.

    KW

    23 Jul 16 at 9:51 am

  34. Eaton’s last two years are team options, so he is only guaranteed for three years through his age 30 season at a very reasonable salary. He’s a very similar player to Span, being a lefty with perhaps a bit more power but a tad less base stealing prowess.

    If Michael Taylor is part of the deal going the other way, with say Austin Voth and A.J. Cole thrown in, I think it would indeed fix both the hole in centerfield and in the leadoff position. The rebuilding ChiSox would then have the luxury of letting Taylor play every day until he hopefully figures things out.

    The other factor is that Turner, who everyone assumes would be the team’s regular leadoff hitter at some point, has thus far been striking out at an alarming rate. One thing we’ve seen way too much of is top of the order hitters with no plate discipline, so that might be factoring into Rizzo’s thinking as well.

    Karl Kolchack

    23 Jul 16 at 1:34 pm

  35. Rumors now have the Nats inquiring about Wade Davis as well. He’s signed for one more year. As good as Chapman is, I have qualms about giving up much for two months in return. The current speculated price seems to be Fedde . . . six years of team control of a start for two months of a reliever.

    White Sox said to want five prospects for Sale. That sounds about right. The Nats are one of only a few teams that could swing such a package.

    I wouldn’t be against Eaton. Per Fangraphs, he’s having a miraculous defensive improvement this year. With his speed, I’ve never understood why he isn’t a better base stealer. A little time with Davey Lopes might help.

    KW

    23 Jul 16 at 5:37 pm

  36. I’ve been talking myself into Eaton more and more. In addition to the talent, he has a hard nosed rep that I think the Nats could use. Lately I’ve been back to wondering if the Nats are a little ‘soft’ whatever that means.

    Maybe it’s connected or maybe it’s just a separate thought, but I think Taylor should be traded. I do think he has a chance at a decent big league career, but he needs to go somewhere that they can give him enough major league PAs to work through his contact issues. He won’t benefit from more AAA time, and he won’t be allowed to get them in the middle of a pennant race.

    So even if he just brings back a middling reliever, I think they ought to do it. He adds virtually no value in his current role.

    Wally

    23 Jul 16 at 6:17 pm

  37. And then Sale goes cuckoo . . . on the throwback uniforms?!? Instant trade devaluation.

    I’d also be OK with moving on from Taylor. The biggest sticking point with him, his K%, is actually slightly higher this season, with his OBP a hair lower. His OPS+ is almost exactly the same. At some point, you are what you are. With Revere, there’s an MLB track record, as well as a very low BABIP, to argue that he will “find himself.” With Taylor, there isn’t.

    There are a couple of caveats in moving on from Taylor, though. One is that he’s still got “projectable” tools (whatever that’s supposed to mean), so he shouldn’t be just given away. The other, much bigger, one is that the Nats only control Werth and Revere through next season, and the guy in RF for just a year after that. Their OF pool is very, very thin, particularly in the upper minors. Having Taylor “make it” has been a key cog in keeping the machine viable post-2018. That situation might be another factor that would point toward a trade for someone like Eaton who is controlable for 3-5 years.

    KW

    24 Jul 16 at 7:48 am

  38. Well, you don’t get clarity until you have meltdowns. The bullpen meltdown on Sunday probably just confirmed that the Nats will make a relief deal (or two) this week.

    I also see clarity in Taylor going 0-4 with 2Ks while Turner was twice again electric and scored two runs. If there’s a question of who should be sent down when Zimmerman is activated, I see it no contest. Turner isn’t a finished product by any means, but he’s definitely trending better right now than Taylor is.

    KW

    24 Jul 16 at 6:00 pm

  39. Todd… Come on home so we can continue our season long debates…

    1. Giolito #1 prospect in all of baseball? I’m laughing and crying now. I told you no way could he be #1 if he wasn’t even dominating AA. Now we see his vaunted fastball is 93 mph. makes you wonder about these scouts and rating systems in general. I would trade 3 Giilitos for one Rey Lopez right now just based on stuff.

    2. Rendon average or MVP? Seasons almost over and he’s hitting .254 even after puking himself down the batting order.

    3. Harper slump nothing to worry about? He’s got $500 million reasons to be worried now. Could be the first $500 million dollar player in the minors.

    Somewhat joking of course but the Nat’s long culture of entitlement has to end.

    Marty C

    24 Jul 16 at 6:26 pm

  40. Lopez pitched a complete-game shutout on Sunday for Syracuse while Giolito flailed in Nats Park.

    And wow, the Jays put Storen on the DFA wire. Unbelievable. We may not be happy with Revere’s production, but at least we got something out of the deal.

    KW

    25 Jul 16 at 9:16 am

  41. Looks like the Cubs are offering far more for Chapman than the Nats. Fedde said to be the lead for the Nats’ offer. I agree with not going overboard for a two-month rental. That said, the Nats still need some bullpen bolstering.

    KW

    25 Jul 16 at 9:54 am

  42. Hello team, i’m back from OOO. Don’t have anything right now to post and am catching back up at work.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 16 at 10:28 am

  43. Giolito definitely not ready for prime time. But consider some of the other candidates for #1 overall prospect prior to this season; Urias struggled at the MLB level as well. Buxton hit .203 in his 2nd stint. Glasnow 5.40 ERA in 2 starts of 8 total innings. Only really Corey Seager has excelled at the MLB level as a pre-season top prospect. I think its a good indication that these guys just aren’t as “elite” a set of prospects as what we’ve seen lately. It isn’t just Giolito; we’ve been hearing about how awesome Byron Buxton is for *years* and he has barely hit the mendoza line. Meanwhile guys like Benintendi, Schwarber and Bregman have come out of no-where (well, not really Bregman but he wasn’t #1 overall pick in his class) to excel, quickly.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 16 at 10:39 am

  44. Todd… doesn’t that speak to the fact that these scouts and ratings systems are using the wrong metrics for their rankings?

    All Nat’s fans want Giolito to be a good, but geez we thought based on prospect reports he was firing close to 100 mph heat, not one of these guys who needs all 4 pitches working on a day to be effective.

    Front office handled this terribly. He obviously wasn’t ready based on minor league production, and now we’ve sunk his trade value, his confidence, and maybe an entire draft.

    Would have been smarter to give Voth his well deserved chance or even Cole a second bite at the apple.

    Lopez you have to admit was mesmerizing stuff wise even if the first result wan’t there.

    Rizzo and Dusty need to learn how to use their entire 40 man roster. Why send Koda Glover down when Rivero unavailable and Pap and Kelly going multiple days in a row?

    Murphy just continues to amaze as does Ramos. Turner looks so smooth in the field and his dynamic offensive skills are so obvious you have got to let it play out with him to let him try to adjust to ML pitching without yanking him in and out of the lineup every other day. I’m betting he will adjust. He doesn’t even look great at the plate yet but still somehow near .300 with all those easy triples.

    In the minor league production not hype category, will be interesting to see how Max Schrock moves up. Has to be the most consistent bat we have down there.

    Marty C

    25 Jul 16 at 11:22 am

  45. I don’t think Giolio is “sunk,” but neither do I think he was ready, certainly not for a third cameo. Who was much more ready? Voth.

    I didn’t parse all the guys mentioned above, but by and large, it’s college guys who are succeeding and HS draftees who are struggling. This is absolutely, positively nothing new under the sun. Turner looks like be belongs; Giolito doesn’t. That’s an over-over-simplification, but the phenomenon was well known even before Moneyball. I’ll take a Nick Banks in the 4th round any day (currently hitting .300 at Auburn and probably will see Hagerstown this summer).

    KW

    25 Jul 16 at 1:11 pm

  46. OMG at the level of trade return for two months of Chapman.

    KW

    25 Jul 16 at 1:49 pm

  47. I think I’m the contrarian today.

    First, I think the criticism of Giolito from most quarters is significantly overstated from a few outings. yesterday is the only one that I think it was reasonable to expect better performance. The others were on atypical rest, and also high leverage situations, which is a lot to ask of a 21 yr old rookie. He wasn’t ready now, that’s all it says. I doubt strongly whether his trade value has moved at all.

    Second, the trade market is F-R-O-T-H-Y, to say the least. If you want a good reliever, you have to overpay right now. Look at the Chapman, Rodney and Kimbrel deals, and even Pomeranz is a comp. Teams are paying huge prospect values for proven guys. I definitely understand a conclusion that it isn’t worth it, but then we aren’t getting any help, at least not someone noticeably better than what we already have. We can’t have it both ways. I have really wanted to see them finally go for it, but I am hesitating at these prices myself.

    I think HS v. college comparison is a little unfair, at least with the examples KW used. Nick Banks was a major college player with US National team experience. If he wasn’t mashing in short season ball, that would raise serious concerns (and he isn’t actually mashing, other than BA). Is he really outperforming Blake Perkins, who is 2 years younger, has substantially less developmental experience, yet largely has the same OPS at the same level, with a much better BB:K rate?

    Anyway, don’t mind me. Just cranky with the way they are playing and coming to grips that they either won’t get help, or I won’t like the price if they do

    Wally

    25 Jul 16 at 1:58 pm

  48. So, we’ve learned that Giolito isn’t Strasburg at relatively the same age. I won’t re-hash prior arguments about how Giolito is basically two years younger in terms of professional development thanks to his arm injury. Is he “ruined?” thanks to a couple of shaky starts? Of course not. Look at Clayton Kershaw’s rookie season game log: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=kershcl01&t=p&year=2008 : he’s also got some big innings and some ugly numbers in there. From what I saw and read, Giolito couldn’t command his secondary pitches in his 2nd outing (hence why he was throwing so many fastballs) and once hitters figured that out, they sat on it. And pounded it.

    Why pick Giolito and Lopez over Voth? I wonder if the team isn’t protecting Voth’s trade value by keeping him off the 40-man roster honestly.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 16 at 2:25 pm

  49. It is way too early to call Giolito a bust, but you can count me as one who was skeptical of his ability to step in and be a big factor in the pennant chase this year. I saw his debut at Potomac last season when he got bombed, and to me the most disturbing thing was not his lack of control still coming back from TJ surgery but that his fastball was way too hittable. You could see it again on Sunday, he just does NOT have the swing and miss stuff you’d expect of an elite pitching prospect (and which Lopez DOES have).

    I’m also glad the Nats didn’t back up the prospect truck for Chapman, as I see a team that is disturbingly starting to look a lot like last year–starting pitching good but not dominant, shaky bullpen and an offense far too over reliant on two guys having great seasons. Papelbon was not the reason the Nats collapsed a year ago, and this season unless Harper, Rendon and Zimmerman start hitting and the bullpen starts pitching better overall they aren’t going to go very far.

    Karl Kolchack

    25 Jul 16 at 2:45 pm

  50. On the July 25th last year, the Nats were up three games on the Mets but only 12 games over .500. They lost the division lead within the week, never to regain it.

    Despite the recent turbulence, I have no similar feel that the wheels are about to come off. This looks like a much healthier team, both psychologically and physically. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but I think we’ll be fine, at least as far as winning the division goes. I also don’t think the Mets have the deadline deals or the late-season mojo in them that they showed last year. In fact, they may struggle to make the playoffs.

    Yes, some guys have got to start hitting. But Murph and Buffalo have covered for a lot of sins. Yes, a few tough calls need to be made, like Turner over Taylor. (I couldn’t help juxtapose Dusty’s comments about not wanting Turner to get on-the-job training in the OF with Giolito essentially getting the same on multiple auditions.)

    We’ll see. There’s still work to be done with the bullpen, and bullpen management. I was sorry to see Glover get such a limited audition. Solis is about ready, and he may get more of a late-game look.

    And no, I haven’t given up on Giolito at all. I didn’t quite understand the rush. They proved that Giolito and Lopez weren’t quite ready but never found out about Voth or Cole in the process.

    KW

    25 Jul 16 at 3:48 pm

  51. Yes let’s hope Giolito is not a bust. But how many pitchers in the league throw 93 mph? Almost all of them. I have nothing against Giolito. I’m just disappointed that for 4 years we’ve heard this guy had the liveliest arm in the entire minor leagues, and we find he probably has the 3rd or 4th best arm on his own minor league team.

    And if he can’t succeed on pure gas when he needs to, then I think he is highly probable to bust. Because he is so tall and lanky, that is a lot to get together for him to establish repeatable mechanics to throw those secondary pitches for strikes consistently. One swing and miss the whole start? That’s a bad sign.

    But our #5 pitcher will not decide the season. Our best hope is for Harper to suddenly turn it around while our top 3 pitchers stay solid.

    This weekend also showed that we can generate some runs when you stack good or hot hitters together. How many rallies have been killed this year due to the entitlement of ice cold hitting Harper and Zimm’s places in the batting order?

    Marty C

    25 Jul 16 at 3:54 pm

  52. Marty – they actually have moved Harper and Zimmerman down a spot each in the batting order. Say they now move Ramos up into the cleanup spot permanently and drop Harper down another notch, he is still going to kill plenty of rallies if he doesn’t start hitting.

    KW – if you really don’t think the wheels could come off then you shouldn’t mind if the Nats trade Lopez or whomever else they need to put them over the top. I agree that they should still be considered the favorites to win the division, but without some improvements coming from somewhere (either current players stepping up and/or acquired players catching fire) I just don’t see them getting past the Cubs and Giants in the playoffs.

    Karl Kolchack

    25 Jul 16 at 4:27 pm

  53. It’s fun having a team in contention every year. I enjoy the whole journey rather than just the prize at the end. Trading your best prospects is crazy unless they are horribly blocked. Playoffs are so unpredictable. Just try to win the division and hope all our slumpers get hot for the playoffs. Or marginalize our cold hitters at the bottom of the lineup. And hope the bullpen pieces are used correctly in the playoffs.

    Marty C

    25 Jul 16 at 5:19 pm

  54. Giolito velocity figures so far per fangraphs/pitchfx: http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfx.aspx?playerid=15474&position=P . Max 95.8, average 93.7 on 151 four seamers.

    So, just so we are in touch with reality, where would a 93.7 average mph fastball rank in the majors among qualified starters this year? 16th out of 93. see: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2016&month=0&season1=2016&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=4,d

    So to say he “only throws 93” is kind of misleading. Lots of relievers throw upper 90s … but not a lot of starters maintain that kind of velocity.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 16 at 7:06 pm

  55. Most of those guys don’t even throw a 4 seam fastball exclusively… so for instance if Roark did instead of his cutter, it would be faster than Giolitos.

    For more perspective… he ranks second out of two rookie players called up in the same week from the same team.

    Come on Todd… Are you the only pundit in the world who was satisfied with Giolito’s much hyped velo?

    Virtually everyone on that list and a hundred more in the minors can throw 93 if they are just rearing back for 3 innings on 4 seam fastballs.

    Everyone missed it on this guy. Baseball America beginning of year had his FB rated higher than Lopez’ which is laughable.

    Okay prospect but #1? No way. I bet the Nat’s are very worried about him at this point. He’s going to need major mechanical adjustments to create deception and movement plus command to make it.

    Marty C

    25 Jul 16 at 8:49 pm

  56. To quote Billy Beane, the playoffs are a “crap shot.” More so than any other sport, in Major League Baseball, building to win over 162 games is so much different than building to win over five- and seven-game series, much less the ridiculous one-game play-in. And building to win over multiple seasons is even harder. You have to retool. You have to let guys go. You have to get contributions from prospects, and you have to trade prospects for replacement pieces.

    The blueprint for modern times is what the Braves did. They get disparaged for winning “only” one WS during the 15 years (counting the strike-lost season; yes, Expos fans, the Braves were in 2d in that one). They had four first-ballot HOFers during that run. Only one was a Brave the whole time. Three of those guys were starting pitchers, which is where they put a lot of their resources (as the Nats are doing). And they were perpetually looking for a closer, and not willing to overpay for one . . .

    The Braves almost always “won” deals over the long term in which they traded prospects or younger major-leaguers. (Including Wainwright in the J.D. Drew deal at the end of the run was the big exception.) That means they had a better handle on the quality of their talent than other teams did. They didn’t become attached to players, either, moving guys like Justice and Klesko in their primes and releasing Gant. Eventually, they let their Big 3 pitchers walk as well.

    Following that example, I’ve got no issue with the Nats trading their prospects, provided that they have evaluated their prospects better than their trading partners have. That’s how you get ahead. In fact, I don’t think the Nats have traded enough of their prospects over recent years. They should have never let Cole or Jordan rot at AAA, as they seem to be letting Voth do now as well. Use ’em or move ’em.

    Let’s be honest, though, the Nats only have prospect depth in pitchers. The awful 2013-14 drafts and the over-picking of arms have left the Nats with very few viable MLB field prospects in the upper minors. It was pretty telling when someone, I think F.P., noted that Glover was the first Nat from the 2013, ’14, or ’15 drafts to reach the bigs, and not-ready-to-stick Giolito is the only one from 2012.

    KW

    26 Jul 16 at 8:47 am

  57. I know I didn’t say anything about what the Nats should do now. They made a fair bid in Fedde for Chapman. If that’s the price for relief, it’s pretty crazy, and presumably would be more so for Miller. I’d certainly check in with Wade Davis, but I’d look increasingly at internal options.

    What would those be? Well, the guys at Nats Talk are jumping up and down, with pretty good evidence, that Pap is still extremely effective with rest. Maybe Dusty is now convinced. Who is the alt-closer? Rivero isn’t looking like it. They used Kelley in Pap’s absence, but Solis may have the nastiest stuff out there. I’d try him more in the 8th and 9th, and I’d also get Glover back up (after the obligatory 10-day wait). I know it’s crowded out there, but not everyone has to be there.

    But really, what would help the bullpen most is for the vaunted starters to get their act together.

    Trades? What’s out there? If Sale is truly on the market, I’m in. Sure, he’s a wacked-out lefty (redundant?), but if I’m giving up a package that includes two or three of my top prospects, I’d much rather do it for a top-10 starter signed for three prime years. Ross, Giolito, Voth, Cole, Taylor, and Robles for Sale and Eaton — who says no? (I might; I’d have to think about that one.

    At the field positions, play Trea. Put Zim on notice, and maybe Rendon as well. Murphy can play either of their positions and get Trea in the lineup. I’d be getting Trea’s feet wet in the OF as well, at least in LF, inching him toward center.

    KW

    26 Jul 16 at 11:38 am

  58. Just catching up on Boz’s all-Nat chat from yesterday:

    https://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-boswell-20160725.html

    He’s all in on playing Trea, as he reiterates in his column today. He’s more keen on Lopez than Giolito, and is also on board with Glover getting a longer look.

    KW

    26 Jul 16 at 1:26 pm

  59. But Marty that’s the point; that’s why I specifically looked for STARTERS. Yes, lots of relievers throw upper 90s but we’re completely oversold on sustained velocity for starters. I’m definitely surprised that the “upper 90s” fastball we were told about wasn’t ever present in the majors yes. I can only imagine that the team management told him to locate more and over throw less; unless you think that every scouting report on the guy and every scout with a radar gun has been lying all these years.

    Fastball is more than just velocity. its spin rate, command, control, location, angle, mechanics, deception. Most of the scouts i read don’t think Lopez will be able to stick as a starter thanks to his mechanics (lots of arm, little leg). If he does, great. But there’s a long history of whipping arm/head jerk guys who couldn’t hack it for 180-200 innings a year. Whose mechanics are smoother?

    Todd Boss

    26 Jul 16 at 4:31 pm

  60. I like Lopez more compact mechanics better. And they must be better since he throws quite a bit harder than than Giolito and his mechanics didn’t blow up his elbow at 17 years old. Giolito has a lot of long levers to control. And he generates his power from his arm instead of his legs too. Probably why he blew out the elbow so early.

    Are you seriously telling me Giolito throwing hundreds of fastballs in his starts was taking something off it even with rockets getting hit off him 3 straight starts? You have to be kidding me with that. He was throwing with all he’s got.

    So yes I do think the scouts were wrong on his velocity. And since he’s been hit quite hard in the minors too I think that is proven now. I was hoping he was a Strasburg clone or 6′ 8′ Syndergaard with all the hype. Maybe he had the velo in high school before the injury as Stras lost 3 or 4 mph on his fastball post surgery too.

    Todd… you’re on an island here. Giolito is looking like Alex Meyer with less heat. Let’s hope he harnesses all his pitches so he can be effective and trick guys into swings and misses. 5 K’s in 11 innings this tour.

    As Dusty said.. “Back to the drawing board” with him.

    Marty C

    26 Jul 16 at 6:22 pm

  61. Boy, Giolito is really killing us in the 9th. Definitely gotta unload that hack

    Wally

    27 Jul 16 at 7:40 am

  62. The wheels aren’t coming off yet, but there are definitely a couple of lug nuts loose (both of whom pitched the 9th). (Glad I went to bed early, by the way.) You should NEVER lose when scoring six runs, and the Nats have done it in two straight.

    But what can be done? The postmortems on the Chapman trade show that the Yanks wanted exponentially more for Miller, and the Royals’ price on Wade Davis was higher than Miller’s. Forget either of those guys.

    I’m still mad that they sent Glover out. They’ve got another week before they can recall him. I know it may seem like a pipe dream considering his struggles this year, but Trevor Gott started rehab in the GCL on the 25th.

    Positive notes: Trea in CF, where he did OK. Harper hitting rockets all over the park, even if they were caught. Marty, he’s very close.

    KW

    27 Jul 16 at 7:54 am

  63. Yeah Harper looked better last night. He made an adjustment in his stance. His right hip is now more under his right shoulder in set up. Where before his hip was twisted out front while his shoulder was twisted back over his left hip in his set up. Like this balanced relaxed look much better so hope he keeps it. His right side wasn’t flying open last night so let’s hope this is the beginning of the return of SuperBryce.

    Marty C

    27 Jul 16 at 9:29 am

  64. Espi on the other hand…. We need TT to get a start at short to scare Danny back into a hot streak. Last 20 days Espi hitting .113 with zero HR and 24K’s in 53 AB’s.

    Marty C

    27 Jul 16 at 9:51 am

  65. Since the All-Star break, Danny has only 4 hits against 14 Ks. He’s starting to look a lot like, um, Danny Espinosa.

    KW

    27 Jul 16 at 10:24 am

  66. So what will happened first, Papelbon getting another save opportunity or Harper getting a hit?

    old man

    27 Jul 16 at 11:05 am

  67. Ha; just new posted on Papelbon’s fun night before I saw this :-)

    Todd Boss

    27 Jul 16 at 3:24 pm

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