Nationals Arm Race

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

Unbelievable! They did it!

16 comments

Kendrick for the win! Photo via USA Today

Kendrick for the win! Photo via USA Today

Tonight was one of the few games I’ve watched end to end in years.  I was not disappointed.

The Dodgers got to Stephen Strasburg early, clubbing several deep balls in the first couple innings (two for homers) to jump to a 3-0 lead, but he persevered and threw 6 innings and kept his team in the game. Walker Buehler looked unhittable … for a time.  The nats touched him up 5 straight innings for baserunners … but couldn’t string them together.  But the late-inning scoring heroics of this team came out again, with two homers in two pitches off of Dodger legend Clayton Kershaw to nullify Buehler’s excellent outing (6 2/3rds, 4hits 1 run) and tie the game in the 8th.  Every move Davey Martinez pulled came out Aces, with four shut-out innings from his “bullpen,” including four masterful batters from beleaguered starter Patrick Corbin to bridge the gap to the 8th/9th inning duo of Hudson/Doolittle.

Meanwhile, its Dave Roberts on the managerial hot-seat, opting for Kershaw and his oddly mediocre post-season record in lieu of a slew of solid bullpen options, then continuing with Joe Kelly and allowing him to blow the game wide open at the hands of Howie Kendrick‘s franchise defining grand slam in the top of the 10th to make up for his third error (and fourth misplayed ball) of the series.

Wow.

Credit where credit is due; Corbin looked like a different guy; he wasn’t slinging it up there nibbling at 91; he was firing it 94-95 to setup his slider to devastating effect.  Night and day from his last outing.

How about your two best  hitters going a combined 5-for-9 with two homers, 3 RBI and 5 runs scored in a do-or-die game?  Hats off to Anthony Rendon and especially Juan Soto, who tattooed a 110-mph exit velocity homer 450 feet into the LA night off of Kershaw and had Roberts out to retrieve his legendary hurler before the ball landed.   Kendrick got the big fly, but Rendon/Soto combined for 5 of the team’s 9 hits on the night.  That’s clutch.

So the team moves on.  They face the surprising St. Louis Cardinals, who ousted the favored Braves and beat the Nats 5 of 7 this season.  We’ll do a preview as we get closer to figuring out what the Nats will do with their rotation.

New #1 game; no argument this time.

Written by Todd Boss

October 10th, 2019 at 1:34 am

Starters as mid-relievers Strategy finally blows up

23 comments

Corbin did not like pitching in relief. Photo via Arizona republic

Corbin did not like pitching in relief. Photo via Arizona republic

The Nats had been getting lucky using Starters as middle relievers for years in the playoffs … and last night finally their luck caught up with them.

Here’s a history (dating to our first playoff series in 2012) of using starters as middle relievers on their “throw days:”

  • 2012 NLDS Game 4: Jordan Zimmermann pitches the 7th, strikes out the side.
  • 2012 NLDS Game 5: Edwin Jackson pitches 1 inning, throws just 12 of 23 pitches for strikes, walks 2, gives up a hit and was lucky to escape only giving up 1 run.
  • 2017 NLDS Game 5: Max Scherzer throws 1 inning, gives up 3 hits and a walk, gives up 4 runs (2 earned) to blow the lead in the deciding game.
  • 2019 Wild Card: Stephen Strasburg throws 3 shutout innings to bridge the gap between Scherzer and Daniel Hudson.
  • 2019 NLDS Game 2: Scherzer strikes out the side in one inning of relief of Strasburg
  • 2019 NLDS Game 3: Patrick Corbin falls apart, give sup 6 runs in 2/3rds of an inning on 4 hits and 2 walks.

So, not exactly a proven strategy time and time again.  Its hit or miss really.  And, frankly, I might exclude the Strasburg effort because it was always set to be a multiple-inning effort; the rest of these appearances all fell into the “throw one max effort inning on my starter’s in-between starts throw day” type outing.

This post may seem like hindsight is 20/20 criticism of the strategy … but its pretty easy to ask this simple question: if this is such a great strategy, then why don’t we see it done in the regular season?   I mean, we know the answer really (you don’t want to tax your starters and just add on useless middle relief innings; that’s what relievers are for) … but that’s also my point: this is what relievers are for.   You’ve got 8 guys in the frigging bullpen for the sole purpose of getting past the end of the night … but we can’t trust a single one of them now?  Is this now when the chickens come home to roost for the fact that Mike Rizzo cannot build a bullpen?  Is this the end result for a team that’s literally traded away 20 starting pitching prospects in the past few years, any one of whom could have been a home-grown relief alternative?

It looks amazing when Scherzer blows everyone away … but then it looks foolish when he coughs up 4 runs in a series decider.

So now we’re going into Game 4 … and I’ll bet dollars Davey Martinez is planning on throwing Strasburg in the 7th again (but I sure hope not if he’s going in game 5).

I think my bigger criticism of the strategy last night was the early yanking of Anibal Sanchez.  He left the game on 87 pitches, having struck out 9 through 5, and given up one run on 4 hits and 2 walks (both of which were in the first inning).  I realize he’s facing 4-5-6 for the third time … but this is the same guy who retired 20 straight Dodgers earlier this year.  If he gets through 4-5-6 then he’s got the bottom of the order in the 7th and you go to the bullpen then.  Why pull him?  I think that’s the “over managing” that irritates me most.  Its the same over managing that led to Zimmermann getting pulled at 8 2/3rds in the playoffs (and the Nats losing).  Different managers, same issue.

Look, at the end of the day, maybe it was inevitable that the potent Dodgers lineup blasted its way to a 10 run outing.  But the Nats had the early lead and had an effective starter on the mound.  I just don’t like deviating from whats working until you have to.

I like our chances in Game 4 behind an amped-up Scherzer … but who likes Corbin on the bump in game 5 now?  Have the Dodgers figured him out?  It sure seems like it.  His MO seems to be to throw 91 on the black, then bounce sliders to get you to chase; well if you don’t swing at balls that bounce in the dirt … you have a good shot of walking, as we’ve now seen displayed pretty frequently in the post-season.

I’m now hearing rumors of no Corbin game 5; instead Strasburg.  Uh, sign me up!  28 post season innings and 2 earned runs.  Yeah; throw that guy.  but we have to get there first.

 

NLDS Preview: Nationals vs Dodgers

13 comments

2019-mlb-postseason

The Nats used two starters to get to this point; how much will it hamper their efforts to supplant the class of the NL this  year?  Maybe not too much, if we can get Strasburg on short rest to pitch Game 2.  Read on.

Here’s a preview of the 2019 NLDS.

MLB Post Season schedule

Likely Pitching match-ups:

  • Game 1: Thurs 10/3/19 5:37pm EST in LA: Patrick Corbin vs Walker Buehler (officially announced)
  • Game 2: Fri 10/4/19: 5:37pm EST in LA: likely Stephen Strasburg vs  (likely) Clayton Kershaw
  • Game 3: Sun 10/6/19 time tbd in DC: Max Scherzer vs (likely) Hyung-Jin Ryu
  • Game 4: Mon 10/7/19 time tbd in DC (if necessary): likely Anibal Sanchez vs (likely) Rich Hill/Kenta Maeda/bullpen game
  • Game 5: Wed 10/9/19 time tbd in LA (if necessary): Corbin vs Buehler rematch.

I just don’t think Scherzer can come back on 2 days rest to start a game on Friday, but as noted Strasburg only threw 34 pitches in the WC game and seems like he can get the start on Friday with perhaps a short leash/pitch count.  This means Scherzer on full regular rest for the Sunday home game (that he’ll be up for, for sure) and then at Sanchez for game 4.  That should get the series back to LA and line up a possible game 5 with probably the best possible guy on the hill for that game (lefty Corbin).

Meanwhile the Dodgers are going with the kid Buehler instead of Kershaw; two years ago it was Kershaw that killed the Nats.  But the last time the Nats saw Buehler they bombed him.  The Dodger’s 4th starter is a question mark; Hill is coming off injury and threw just a handful of innings in September but he’s always been solid against the Nats.  If they have to go Maeda or their 5th starter Ross Stripling its not like its a huge step down in performance.

—-

Season head to head: LA beat DC 4 out of 7; they split four games in LA in May interestingly, when the team was nearly at its nadir, then LA took two of three in DC in mid July when the team had turned it around.

Here’s a quick summary of our pitchers versus LA this season.  First in our 4-game set in LA:

  • Patrick Corbin; beat Rich Hill in LA 6-0 and pitched beautifully; 7ip, 3hits, 0 runs.
  • Anibal Sanchez: lost to Kenta Maeda in LA; gave up 6 hits, walked 2 more and got yanked in the 5th
  • Max Scherzer beat LA giving up 2 runs in 7 innings, but Walker Buehler was better and the team only won b/c we got to LA’s bullpen
  • Stephen Strasburg gave up 2 in 6 but Hyung-Jin Ryu gave up one hit through 8 to beat the Nats.

then, in DC in July:

  • Sanchez pitched one of the best games of his season giving up 1 run on 3 hits to match Ryu’s similar output, then the Dodgers got to the bullpen for the win (stop me if you’ve heard that before)
  • Kershaw threw a QS and the Nats tried the “opener” for the only time on the year (starting Matt Grace with some success) before Joe Ross blew up and got the loss
  • Strasburg was brilliant, giving up 1 run on 2 hits through 7 and the Nats beat Buehler to avoid the sweep.

So.  what can we glean from this?

  • Our lefties have been pretty good against the Dodgers and Corbin may have some success.
  • As a team, the Dodgers are much better against RHs versus LHs … but they’re still pretty good against both.
  • Sanchez was more than adequate in his two LA starts.
  • Scherzer and Strasburg should be able to keep the team in games.
  • LA really doesn’t like hitting against either Strasburg or Corbin, and neither of them are the Nats Ace.

I gotta admit, i’m liking our chances here.  This is where having a big-3 of pitching aces matters; the Dodgers are going to have to win more two starts being made by Corbin, Strasburg and Scherzer, three guys who are all likely getting Cy Young votes this year.  I expect a bunch of low-scoring games with the Nats hoping to god their patchwork bullpen keeps it together.

Notable that the closer in the WC game wasn’t Sean Doolittle?  Or was that playing matchups with the Brewers?  Something to watch for.

 

The Nats finally win a loser-goes-home Game!

11 comments

Nats first ever playoff clinching win!  Photo via 9news.com

Nats first ever playoff clinching win! Photo via 9news.com

Davey Martinez‘ moves all worked out.  He started Max Scherzer, he got 3 wipe-out innings from Stephen Strasburg in relief (his first relief appearance as a pro), he got contributions from both the guys he picked to start (Kendrick and Cabrera) and the guys he used as pinch hitters (Taylor and Zimmerman).  He got a homer from one of his marquee players (Turner) and he got the game-winning hit from his star-in-the-making (Soto).

I can’t quite believe it.  I was dismayed when the team went down 2-0 five minutes into the game.  I pretty much gave up when our 2-3-4 hitters went down meekly in the 6th.

Bravo to the team, bravo to fans.

Is this new #1 best ever Nats game?   Here’s my current top 5:

  1. Werth walkoff, 2012 NLDS game 4
  2. First ever home game, Apr 2005
  3. Nats park opener, apr 2008
  4. Lobaton homer/NLDS game 2 come back win
  5. Zimmermann no-hitter to close 2014 reg season

Does this game supplant Werth walkoff?

We’ll post next once we see how the NLDS schedule shakes out.  I wonder how many days rest our two big arms need?

 

Written by Todd Boss

October 2nd, 2019 at 10:53 am

WC Preview: Nats vs Brewers

14 comments

Well, this is why he got $210M. Photo via sportingnews.com

Well, this is why he got $210M. Photo via sportingnews.com

Here it is.  Its Wild Card Tuesday.

The red-hot Brewers (winners of 22 of their last 30) couldn’t quite catch the Cardinals and thus travel to DC.  Meanwhile, the suddenly hot Nationals (winners of 9 of their last 10) finished the season in destruction mode and should be fired up for the game.

Pitching Match-upMax Scherzer; 11-7, 2.92 ERA vs Brandon Woodruff, 11-3, 3.62 ERA.

Season Series: 4-2 in favor of Milwaukee, but with a caveat.  The Nats got swept in Milwaukee in early May, when they were awful.  Woodruff pitched the series finale and dominated the Nats lineup of the day, throwing 6 innings of 4-hit, one-run, 9-K ball.  We threw Jeremy Hellickson, he got shelled, and a rare error from Anthony Rendon accounted for 3 unearned runs on the night.

When Milwaukee came to Washingotn, it was in mid August and they faced a different team: Washington took 2 of 3 at home, one game of which was the amazingly odd 15-14 game on August 17th where a tired Sean Doolittle blew a 3-run 9th inning lead and the beleagured bullpen forced the offense to extend the game three different times.  (Woodruff didn’t pitch in this series because he missed two months with an oblique injury starting in July 2019).

Scherzer hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since his return from the D/L: in his 5 starts in September his seasonal ERA has risen half a point.

Looking at the Brewer’s splits; they walk a lot (2nd most in league), but as a team don’t actually have that great of an wRC+ figure … and that’s playing most of the season with Christian Yelich.  They hit lefties and righties about the same, so no real advantage/disadvantage there.  Their bullpen is supposedly a strength, but their bullpen macro stats (ERA/FIP/fWAR) are all middle of the pack.

Prediction: two weeks ago I would have been more pessimistic about this team.  But with Yelich out and finishing as strong as they did and basically being at full strength, I like the Nats here.  I think they put a couple runs on Woodruff early, they let Max settle in and he goes 7 innings (he’s going to be fired up, lets be honest).  Then you go 8th/9th guys w/o screwing up the LAD rotation.  That’s the hope anyway.

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

September 30th, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Nats clinch: a remarkable comeback is complete

18 comments

Rendon; the unsung hero. Photo Nats Official via espn.com

Rendon; the unsung hero. Photo Nats Official via espn.com

I posted in this space at the end of May a post called “If we’re waiving the white flag...” , which led to a rather spirited debate as to whether the team could even rebound.

Well, here we are at the end of September, and the team has clinched a wild Card spot.

Arbitrary endpoints for this team:

  • May 23rd: 19-31: 2nd worst record in the NL (trailing only Miami)
  • Since?  67-38; best in the NL.

Here’s my mea culpa; I lost hope in this team in May.  I gave up.  I cannot believe they turned around the season so well.   They’re still going to lose the division by 10 games, but they made it to the coin-flip game.

We won’t know the particulars of the WC game; is it going to be here or on the road?  Is it going to be against Milwaukee (likely) or will the reeling Cubs or floundering Mets pull a rabbit out of their hat to advance (not likely).  So I’ll save predictions and analysis until we know who and where we’re playing.

Congrats to the team for making it to the post season in a trying year ahead of (likely) an off-season of transition.

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

September 25th, 2019 at 10:48 am

Posted in Nats in General

Race to the Bottom; 2019 Edition

3 comments

Casey Mize was Detroit's 2018 1-1 pick; who will join him next June?  Photo d1baseball.com

Casey Mize was Detroit’s 2018 1-1 pick; who will join him next June? Photo d1baseball.com

So, with a week to go, who’s in the lead for the #1 overall draft pick/largest bonus pool for the 2020 draft?

http://www.tankathon.com/mlb

I love that there’s an official “Tanking” page now tracking this.

With a week to go, here’s how we stack up (records as of 9/24/19).  There’s really only four teams to discuss; there’s a 7 game gap to the 5th worst team right now.

  1. Detroit: 46-109, projecting to 48-114.  Remaining Schedule: home to Min, away to CWS.  Likely getting swept by Minnesota, who is pushing for playoff positioning but may get some wins against CWS.
  2. Baltimore: 51-106, projecting to 53-109.  Remaining schedule: away to Tor, away to Bos.  may end up picking up a couple of wins here since all remaining teams also playing out the stretch.
  3. Miami: 55-101, projecting to 57-105.  Remaining schedule: away to NYM, away to Phi.  May very well lose out, given that these two teams are finishing strong.  but seems locked into 3rd spot.
  4. Kansas City: 57-100, projecting to 59-103.  Remaining schedule: home to Atl, home to Minn.  hosting all playoff teams still pushing, might lose out.

So, here’s the top 4 of next year’s draft.  At this point, it seems pretty likely that this will be the tankathon finish too.  Detroit is locked in for #1, Baltimore is pretty well locked into #2.  We might see a flip between 3 and 4 but doubtful since both teams are playing motivated squads to finish up.

So, what’s the prize of the 2020 draft?  Well, unlike 2019, when the conesnsus 1-1 overall pick Adley Rutschmann was pretty well established even at this early date, the 2020 draft isn’t consensus for #1 overall yet.   But the top few picks likely will include names from this list:

College top candidates for 2020

  • Spencer Torkelson, 1B/LF Arizona State.   3rd team AA PG/Rawlings 2018 as a freshman.   2nd team d1baseball AA 2018.  2018 Collegiate USA team as freshman.  Hit 25 homers as a freshman, 22 homers as sophomore.  2nd team d1baseball.com AA as sophomore.  2nd team NCBWA AA as sophomore.   2nd team BA AA 2019 as sophomore.  2019 Collegiate National team
  • Emerson Hancock, RHP Georgia.  High-90s fastball, 3-pitch guy, great sophomore numbers for #3 team in the land.  2nd team d1baseball.com AA 2019 as sophomore.  2nd team NCBWA AA as sophomore.  2nd team BA AA 2019 as sophomore
  • Austin Martin, 2b/ss/3B Vanderbilt.  Slashed .410/.502/.603 as a sophomore w/ speed.  1st team d1baseball.com AA 2019 as sophomore.  Plays 6 positions, should be primary SS in 2020.  1st team BA AA 2019 as sophomore.  2019 Collegiate National team

Or, if a prep player goes:

  • Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF (CF) Harvard-Westlake HS, CA.  top all-around prep position player in draft.   Vanderbilt commit.  3rd team Baseball america AA in 2019 as junior.  Maxpreps 2nd team AA as junior
  • Blaze Jordan, 1B/3B DeSoto Central High School (Southaven, Mississippi).  Re-classified/graduating early.   Mississippi State commit
  • Dylan Crews, OF Lake Mary HS (Fla).  LSU commit.  PG has him as #2 prep player in class, long-time member of US national teams.

The last time Detroit picked 1st overall, they got a guy in Casey Mize in 2018 who dominated high-A in 6 starts to begin the 2019 season, then threw a no-hitter in his AA debut.  He finished off AA this year with solid numbers for a 22 yr old, and could be featuring in the Detroit rotation mid-next season … that is if the team doesn’t play service time manipulation games.

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

September 24th, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Prep Baseball Coverage 2019: Player of the Year Lists

7 comments

 

Last post covering local baseball for 2019; this one tries to summarize all the various “Player of the Year” announcements from various shops, both local and national.

I kind of ran out of gas on this one; fighting through a dozen different paywalls and I never could find the official announcements of Virginia regional all-player lists.   But this is still a pretty good summary of the various POTY lists.

 


 

Individual Player Accolades Announced

In addition to being playoff-baseball time, this is also the time of the year that we start to see player awards.  I’ll put these in as they publish, but we won’t expect most of these until the end of June.

National Lists and State breakouts as available.

  • Gatorade Player of the year awards.  National POTY was Bobby Witt Jr., drafted 2nd overall in the 2019 baseball draft.
    • Maryland:  Jack Bulger, Jr. C from DeMatha.  Early commit to Vanderbilt.
    • Washington DCCollin Bosley-Smith, Jr. RHP from Wilson.   Early commit to Duke.
    • VirginiaNate Savino, Jr. LHP from Potomac Falls.  Early commit to UVA.
  • MaxPreps High School All-AmericansBobby Witt Jr. National POTY.   Local players: Jack Bulger (DeMatha), Lyle Miller-Green, RHP/1B from Lake Braddock named to 2nd team.
  • Baseball America High School All-Americans: no POTY declared.  No local players on 1st, 2nd or 3rd teams.
  • USA Today/American Family All-USA teamsBobby Witt Jr. National POTY.  Local players: Jack Bulger (DeMatha) named to 1st team, Brett Cook from Benedictine 2nd team.  Jamari Baylor HM.
  • American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings 2019 High School All AmericansBobby Witt named POTY.  local players Jack Bulger C DeMatha and Joe Clancy RHP Westfields named to 3rd team.
  • Collegiate Baseball High School All-AmericansBobby Witt Jr. National POTY.   Local players on 1st team: Jose Torres, SS Calvert Hall HS in Baltimore (NC State commit.).  2nd team: Jack Bulger (DeMatha), Parker Landwehr C Calvert Hall (Boston College commit).
  • Perfectgame.org/Rawlings All-Americans: (unclear if they’re still doing these lists).
    • Maryland:
    • Washington DC:
    • Virginia:
  • PrepBaseballReport; Brett Bady national POTY.  12th overall pick by NY Mets.
    • All Maryland TeamRyan Calvert, RHP/1B from LaPlata HS POTY as a junior.
    • All Virginia/DC Team:  Lyle Miller-Green, RHP/1B from Lake Braddock POTY.  George Mason commit.

 

DC/MD/VA Local

  • Washington Post All-Met team 2019Lyle Miller-Green, RHP/1B from Lake Braddock POTY.  George Mason commit.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro TeamJose Torres, SS Calvert Hall HS in Baltimore.  NC State commit.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro Team: (behind a paywall)
  • Virginian Pilot All-Tidewater teamMason Dunaway, SS Hickory is POTY.  JMU commit.
  • Virginia Class 6 All Region Teams
    • Region A (Tidewater) All Regional team:
    • Region B (Richmond) All Regional team:
    • Region C (Northern VA, inner suburbs) All-Regional teamLyle Miller-Green, RHP/1B from Lake Braddock POTY.  George Mason commit.
    • Region D (Northern VA, Western Suburbs) All Regional teamZach Agnos, RHP from Battlefield HS POTY.  ECU commit like his brother ahead of him.
  • Virginia Class 5 All Region Teams
    • Region A (Tidewater area) All-Regional team:
    • Region B (Richmond) All Regional team:
    • Region C (Northern VA) All Regional teamBen Williamson, SS Freedom-South Riding.  William & Mary commit.
    • Region D (Northwest and Western VA) All Regional teamDrew Harlow, RHP/SS Halifax county POTY.  Undecided/no commit as of 6/8/19
  • Virginia Class 4 All Region Teams
    • Region A (Tidewater area) All-Regional team:
    • Region B (Richmond) All Regional team:
    • Region C (Northern VA) All Regional teamJoe Vogatsky, jr RHP/3B from Kettle Run HS POTY.   early commit to JMU.
    • Region D (Northwest and Western VA) All Regional team:
  • Other Virginia All-Regional teams: harder to come by:
    • Class 3 Region B (Culpepper/Warrenton area) All Regional teamJake (Jakob) Dudley, 1B/3B from Culpeper County HS is POTY.  No college listed.
    • Class 2 Region B (NorthWest VA) all Region Team:  T.R. Williams, Sophomore RHP from Page County POTY.
  • Northern Virginia All-District teams:
  • NovaBaseballMagazine Nova Nine top 100 listJoey Kamide‘s top 100 players from the 85 high schools in the NoVa coverage area.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine Nova Nine:  Lyle Miller-Green, RHP/1B from Lake Braddock POTY.  George Mason commit.
  • VHSL All-State Teams: all 6 teams available from this link.
    • 6-A: Lyle Miller-Green, RHP/1B from Lake Braddock POTY.  George Mason commit.
    • 5-A: Michael Tolson RHP/oF from Stafford POTY.   Western Carolina U commit.
    • 4-A: Quade Tomlin, SS jr from Liberty Christian Academy POTY.  Liberty U commit.
    • 3-A: Jacob Critzer, C Fluvana County HS POTY.    No college commitment known.
    • 2-A: Andrew Potojecki, RHP Chatham HS (Danville) POTY.  Longwood College commit.
    • 1-A: Matthew Kleinfelter, RHP Lancaster HS POTY.   JMU commit.
  • VISAA’s All-State teams
    • Division III All State Team: Tanner Schobel, SS Walsingham Academy  (Williamsburg) POTY as Junior.  Early Virginia Tech commit.
    • Division II All State Team: Jeremy Wagner, OF/RHP from the Miller School (Albemarle) POTY as Junior.  Early Austin Peay commit.
    • Division I All State Team: Aiden Kuhle, RHP/1B from Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach) POTY.  Roanoke College commit.
  • Maryland All-MIAA All-State teams:
    • MIAA A division: behind a paywall
    • MIAA B division: behind a paywall
    • MIAA C division: behind a paywall
  • Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches (MSABC) All-Maryland teams: four regional all-star teams picked for exhibitions.
  • Maryland Brooks Robinson All-Star game rosters
  • Anne-Arundel County All-Baseball team: unknown
  • Montgomery County All-Baseball Team: unknown
  • All Baltimore-City Baseball team: behind a paywall
  • All Fredericksburg Baseball team:  Michael Tolson RHP/oF from Stafford POTY.   Western Carolina U commit.
  • All WCAC: unknown
  • All IAC: unknown
  • All MAC: unknown

If I missed an award, or if you know of something I don’t, don’t hesitate to post.

 


Past awards that no longer seem to be in existence:

  • Louisville Slugger All-Americans: last awarded in 2016.
  • National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) POTY: last awarded in 2017.
  • Under Armor All-Americans: perhaps there used to be selections, but now there’d just a game mid-July of mostly rising senior all stars.
  • USA Today/American Family All-State Teams and POTYs: stopped doing state-level all-state baseball teams for 2019.

Nats Annual Mid-Season Bullpen overhaul; 2019 edition

40 comments

Come on, you know every blog post about Strickland has to lead with this photo right? Photo via Star Tribune

Come on, you know every blog post about Strickland has to lead with this photo right? Photo via Star Tribune

Another year, another mad scramble at the trade deadline to fortify the bullpen.

So, how does this year’s moves look?

Honestly … pretty good, all things considered.

  • Acquired: Hunter Strickland, Daniel Hudson, Roenis Elias
  • Traded away: Taylor Guilbeau, Elvis Alvarado, Aaron Fletcher, Kyle Johnston
  • 40-man Moves to make room: DFA Javy Guerra, Michael Blazek and move Jonny Venters to 60-day DL.
  • 25-man Moves to make room: Guerra, Blazek and one tbd as of this writing
  • Salary acquired: just $1.233M per Mark Zuckerberg , thus staying under the Luxury tax.
  • Mid-season prospect rankings of traded away assets per MLBPipeline/Baseball America/Fangraphs:
    • Taylor Guilbeau: #15 on MLB/#14 on BA/#20 on Fangraphs
    • Elvis Alvarado: unranked on all three
    • Aaron Fletcher: #21/#19/unranked on Fangraphs
    • Kyle Johnston: #27/#21/unranked on fangraphs

So, I’ll take these moves.   The team traded from strength (college-age pitching prospects) to acquire a position of need, and got some decent control with a couple of them to boot.  Irrespective of the underlying stats of these three guys … they’re upgrades over the two guys DFA’d and/or the guys who still remain in the bullpen with seasonal ERAs that start with a 4 (Wander SueroTony Sipp), a 5 (Matt Grace) or a 6 (Kyle Barraclough, mercifully already demoted to AA).

Strickland has been  hurt all year, and saw  his 2019 numbers take a dive from 2018, but for his career he’s still a solid player and is a good gamble.  I’m guessing whatever remnant remains of the clubhouse stemming from his ridiculous and immature plunking of Bryce Harper will talk it out and move on.   Elias’ time as Seattle’s closer has also left his numbers in decline versus last year, but he’ll step into a different role here and won’t have as many high-leverage spots.  Hudson (who was born in Lynchburg and went to ODU in Norfolk) has an interesting career, was once a very promising starter for Arizona before missing an entire season due to injury.  He was featured prominently in Jeff Passan‘s book The Arm since Hudson had to do two Tommy John’s in two years … but he’s been healthy since (relegated to the bullpen).

It seems to me that the new bullpen lineup (assuming all healthy), will go like this:

  • Closer: remains Doolittle
  • Setup/8th inning: Strickland and Elias
  • 7th inning: Rodney, Hudson, Rainey
  • longer relief: Suero, Grace/Sipp

It remains to be seen who gets optioned back; Suero has been solid for a couple of weeks, Rainey has given up just one run this month, Grace has scuffled, Sipp had treaded water, so it remains to be seen.

Will these moves win the Nats the Pennant?  Hardly.  Despite their decent form as of late, they’ve picked up just 1.5 games on Atlanta and seem to be competing for the WC.  Atlanta drastically improved their bullpen, getting better, more expensive assets, and Philly made moves to improve their rotation (moves the Nats couldn’t do b/c of salary cap issues).

Which of the traded assets am I most bummed to see go?

  • Guilbeau had a fantastic year in AA, has struggled a bit in AAA in SSS and could feature as a MLB reliever for some teams.  He’s in his 5th pro season, has already been rule-5 eligible for two years, but may still be more than an org-guy.  A nice turnout for a 10th round pick.
  • Elvis Alvarado: a lottery ticket, 20-yr old recently converted pitcher who’s been in the GCL “rotation” this year and has more walks than IP.
  • Aaron Fletcher: a fantastic 2018 14th round pick who has shot up the Nats system this year, blowing away both Low-A and High-A and currently holding his own more or less in AA SSS.
  • Kyle Johnston: Probably the most pedigree’d player moved, a 6th rounder in 2017 who has been in the Potomac rotation all year, pitching pretty well.

I think I was most interested to see how Fletcher turned out, then to see if Johnston could make the jump to AA next year.  Guilbeau may have already peaked as an org guy, and Alvarado is 5 years away.

Thoughts?

 

Written by Todd Boss

August 1st, 2019 at 11:41 am

Nats 2019 Draft Class Wrap-Up

8 comments

Rutledge is signed up and ready to go. Photo via BA

Jackson Rutledge is signed up and ready to go. Photo via BA

The 7/15/19 deadline has passed, and the Nats have their official Draft class.

The last two top-10 round players signed (CWS participants Drew Mendoza and Matt Cronin) signed with little fan-fare and suddenly we had Mendoza showing up in Hagerstown.  We learned later he signed an over-slot deal for $800k, about $181k over slot and using up basically every last penny of our 2019 bonus pool and the 5% cushion.   (nearly every penny; see below for what the Nats did with the leftover dollars): Here’s a summary of the top-10 picks and the over-slot guys counting against the cap:

RoundOverallNamePositionCol/HSCollege or CmtmStateBonus AmtSlot ValueSavings off of Slot?
117Rutledge, JacksonRHP (Starter)Col J2San Jacinto College North (TXTX34500003609700159700
394Mendoza, Drew3BCol JrFlorida State UFL800000618200-181800
4123Cronin, MattLHP (Reliever)Col JrArkansasAR4645004645000
5153Dyson, TylerRHP (Starter)Col JrFloridaFL500000346800-153200
6183Cluff, JacksonSSCol SoBYUUT20000026600066000
7213Peterson, ToddRHP (Reliever)Col JrLSULA220000208200-11800
8243Ydens, JeremyOF (CF)Col JrUCLACA1695001695000
9273McMahon, HunterRHP (Starter)Col JrTexas StateTX1526001526000
10303Pratt, AndrewCCol SrLubbock ChristianTX10000144100134100
11333Arruda, J.T.SSCol JrFresno StateCA250000125000-125000
13393Randa, JakeOF (corner)Col J2NW Florida StateFL300000125000-175000
14423Knowles, LucasLHP (Starter)Col J3Central Arizona CollegeAZ136980125000-11980

The Nats gave over-slot deals to:

  • 3rd rounder Mendoza
  • 5th rounder Tyler Dyson
  • 7th rounder Todd Peterson
  • 11th rounder J.T. Arruda
  • 13th rounder Jake Randa.
  • 14th rounder Lucas Knowles, who gets the $11,980 exactly left over after the Nats signed Mendoza.  It seems like they signed Mendoza, calculated their remaining dollars with the 5% cushion, and gave Knowles that number and he took it.

I especially like the 11th and 13th round deals: Arruda got 6th round money and Randa got 5th round money, so that gives our draft class some extra talent.

Meanwhile, under-slot deals given to 1st rounder Jackson Rutledge, 6th rounder  Jackson Cluff, and 10th rounder Andrew Pratt enabled these moves.  I’m especially surprised that Rutledge signed for under slot, after having fallen on most draft boards.  This usually indicates that a player will demand over-slot money, not accept under-slot money.  The team made just one Senior Sign/blatant bonus money move, the 10th round catcher Pratt.

Bonus Pool Accounting for 2019:

  • Original Bonus amount for top 10 rounds: $5,979,600
  • Bonus amount plus 5% cushion: $6,278,580
  • Total Bonuses given counting against the cap: $6,216,600
  • Total savings/space left: 0$ exactly.  As noted above, the final $11,980 went to Knowles.
  • Total known Bonus money paid, all rounds: $7,536,600

the Nats paid a slew of $125k deals in the 11th-20th rounds to secure all these Juco guys.

Biggest surprise signings:

  • 23rd rounder HS pick Michael Cuevas, who took the $125k to forgoe a Juco commitment and come on board out of HS
  • 13th rounder Randa, who got bought out of a SEC Mississippi State transfer commitment.
  • 14th rounder Knowles, who seemed like he was bailing until offered slightly more than $125k and signed.
  • 32nd rounder Dylan Beasley, a college Junior who took $50k to turn pro.

Biggest surprise non-signings:

  • none really: our 26th rounder college Senior Dupree Hart has yet to sign as of 7/9/19, and his twitter says he’s a “financial Advisor” with Northwestern Mutual, so he may be declining a pro baseball career.

All told, 29 of their 39 picks got signed.

Assignments for the class:

  • 12 to GCL, including several college seniors who are going to be way too old for the level
  • 5 who spent a few days in GCL then went to Short-A
  • 9 Straight to Short-A
  • 3 straight to Low-A: Mendoza, Cronin and Cluff; havn’t seen a draft pick straight to such a high level since Stephen Strasburg, unless i’m not remembering someone in particular