The big news this cycle was the manager situation clearly, but the team is playing some serious baseball right now. Cycle #15 ended with a loss, breaking an 8-game winning streak that pulled the team out of last place in the NL East (and nearly got them to .500 on the season). We have 3 interesting series coming up against teams with similar records to us (including the suddenly decent Pittsburgh Pirates), and it should be telling how the team does over the next couple of weeks.
- John Lannan pitched a pretty clean game on 6/22 (box/gamer), giving up 1 run on 3 hits in 5 2/3s innings against Seattle, then handing off the ball to his bullpen of hard-throwers, who held and closed out the win for him. Lannan has had a pretty amazing turnaround over the past month, lowering his ERA from 5.03 to 3.40 in 6 starts. Lannan is such an enigma; his career ERA now stands almost exactly at 4.00, with an ERA+ just over 100. He’s pretty much the definition of a MLB average pitcher. The problem is, the team needs guys who are consistently better than average in order to make the next step. I can see Lannan getting tendered next year but eventually getting beat out by one of our rising starters.
- Jason Marquis put in perhaps his best outing as a National on 6/23 (box/gamer), taking a no-hitter into the 6th and leaving the game having pitched 8 scoreless innings of 3-hit ball. He was at 108 pitches (70 for strikes) and (from what I could tell from the stands) was getting squeezed on the strike zone. Too bad this great outing was out-shined by the abrupt resignation of manager Jim Riggleman immediately following the game.
- Jordan Zimmermann continued his excellent streak of starts, going 7 scoreless innings friday 6/24 (box/gamer) before watching his bullpen blow his Win, then blow two more leads before the team finally won in 14 innings. Ironically it was (arguably) our 3 best relievers who each blew saves (Storen, Coffey, Clippard). The team also managed to use every single arm in the bullpen in the process.
- Tom Gorzelanny was an unlucky loser, pitching 7 strong innings on 6/25 (box/gamer) but getting tagged for the loss when Henry Rodriguez let inherited runs score. The Nats squandered a golden opportunity when opposing starter John Danks had to leave the game early, a night after both teams emptied the bullpens in the 14-inning wild affair. They couldn’t get to Bruney and they certainly couldn’t get to Peavy, getting a grand total of 2 hits in 9 innings. Hard get your pitcher a win in those circumstances.
- In the first game of the Seattle series on 6/20 (box/gamer), Livan Hernandez continued his up-and-down season with a “down” start, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits through 4 innings and a couple of batters in the 5th. The game looked like a 5-1 wipeout before the Nats improbably scored 5 in the 9th inning to get a walk off win and rescue a ND for Hernandez.
Starter Trends: last 5 starts.
MLB Trends (through gorzelanny 6/25)
Relievers of Note and other News.
- So far, so good for Ryan Mattheus, who hasn’t given up a run in 3 appearances through 6/21. He’s throwing the ball hard, he’s stranding inherited runners and he’s getting outs. Everything you want from a middle reliever.
- Not good news for reliever Cole Kimball, who pitched through arm pain for weeks before “fessing up,” and now is being “shut down” for a couple of weeks because of continued pain. Its still being reported as shoulder inflammation, but it sounds like it could be something much more serious. Guys with 95mph fastballs and shoulder injuries don’t usually recover either.
- Chein-Ming Wang is *finally* going out on rehab, with a planned appearance in Hagerstown monday 6/27. It is slightly surprising that he’s going to Hagerstown, meaning that our 5 excellent prospects there will have their rotation scrambled slightly. I think he would have made more sense in Potomac, where the starters have been less impressive all season. Wang’s beginning of rehab is significant; it starts the clock from a month downward before a major decision has to be made; he has no minor league options so at the end of the period he either joins the 25-man roster, goes back on the DL or gets released.