Nationals Arm Race

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

Reactions and Observations of Full Season Rosters (hitters)

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After washing through dozens of names shifting around on the Big Board (and hopefully not making any cut and paste errors), here’s my non-pitcher related observations to the rosters and movement of players around the system


AAA Rochester: The roster lists 5 catchers, which is kind of odd but clearly to me Brandon Snyder is the starting 1B here, despite being listed suddenly for the first time in 2021 as a catcher.

The hitters are very MLFA heavy: 9 of the 16 non-pitchers in AAA were MLFA acquisitions, including two that happened just in the last couple of weeks in Daniel Palka and Ramon Flores. Both project to be backup outfielders to the presumed starting OF of three other MLFAs in Yasmany Tomas, Carlos Tocci and a hopefully healthy Gerardo Parra.

The infield features two very important former prospects in Luis Garcia and Carter Kieboom, both of whom were signed/drafted in 2016 and both of whom really need to have a successful 2021 at the plate. Kieboom more so than Garcia.

I’m kind of surprised the team signed two veteran MLFAs instead of promoting up some of its long-serving minor league guys, players like Rhett Wisemann and Nick Banks.


AA Harrisburg: Not a lot of defense on this team, with several guys who primarily play 1B on the roster (Corredor, Mendoza, Sagdal and Harrison. Only 3 OFs listed, meaning likely that these 1B guys are covering in a corner. We see both Wisemann and Banks showing up here; they should be the starting corner OFers, but based on a lack of promotion to AAA they may be org-guys waiting to get cut. This is where we see Cluff arrive.

Pretty surprised not to see Antuna here. Why wouldn’t you put him at AA? we’ll see where he shakes out.

Not a very compelling AA roster from a player perspective…Is the best hitting prospect Drew Mendoza? Also, there’s only 26 players listed … out of a roster size of 30?


High A Wilmington: The high-A roster is populated with a weird combination of decent prospects (Antuna and Gage Canning) as well as a slew of what seems like org-guys (20th+ rounders and 7th or 8th year IFAs). Cavalli’s personal catcher Brad Lindsly is here as a 3rd catcher on a limited roster. I don’t see an obvious choice to play 1B on the existing roster, making me wonder if we’ll see a couple more bats added soon. Also, some oddities going on with the rosters: the Wilmington press release listed Jack Dunn on the roster, but transactions list Cole Daily on the roster … which would make sense since he’s a 1B that could play there; but the milb.com site doesn’t have Dunn, who does not appear in the player archives anywhere. I’ll chalk it up to data oddities with thousands of players moving around on the day the leagues launch.


Low A Fredericksburg‘s roster of out-field players looks really weak; I don’t see a single top-30 prospect among any of the hitters listed. Not one. And we have a really crummy farm system. We do have a bunch of younger prospects who are listed, but who clearly aren’t ready for low-A, guys like Jeremy De La Rosa, Daniel Marte and Viandel Pena. There’s also some interesting names left in the far right XST column post assignment, guys like Telmito Augustin.

2021 Full Season Affiliate Rosters announced

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Steven Fuentes will be an important member of the AAA rotation to start the season. Photo nats official via federalbaseball.com

This is a quick announcement with some links and to basically notify everyone that I’ve updated the Big Board for the four full season affiliate rosters just announced. I’ve also eliminated the Fredericksburg “extended spring training camp” … hopefully for the last time.

Here’s direct links to the four rosters:

Anyone not known to be released i’ve stuck in the XST roster to the far right of the big board.

As far as I can tell, here’s the likely rotations for the four clubs, based on prior usage and how I’d allocate the arms. This is of course a WAG until the first week of the season shakes out the true rotations. I’ll list a 6-man rotation since, with the move to 6-game series, it’s highly likely we’ll see 6-man rotations throughout the minors.

  • AAA: Armenteros, Baez, Braymer, Fuentes, Jefry Rodriguez and newly signed MLFA veteran lefty Sean Nolin.
  • AA: Cate, Lee, Mario Sanchez, Sharp, Teel and I guess Luis Reyes.
  • High-A: Adon, Cavalli, Dyson, Henry, Peterson and Rutledge.
  • Low-A: Pedro Gonzalez, Parker, Pena … and I have no idea; everyone else I have listed as a reliever from last year.

My thoughts on Arms that are or are not on each roster.

AAA pitching staff thoughts: somewhat surprised Sharp is not here. Not entirely surprised Romero is not. In a further indictment of the Nats development, nearly the entire AAA bullpen are MLFAs. Of the 10 bullpen arms in AAA, 7 are minor league free agents, an 8th is a trade acquisition who has already been outrighted (Bacus), a 9th is another trade acquisition in Ryne Harper, and the 10th is a twice-MLFA resigned former draft pick in Ronald Pena who is now entering his 9th minor league season with this team. That’s just crazy.

Missing older arms that should be here, guys like Aaron Barrett, Javy Guerra, Andrew Istler, etc. I wonder if they’re still hurt. Where the heck is Nick Wells? (answer; not on the milb.com page but in the press release)


AA pitching staff: we see Sharp starting in AA when he was on Miami’s MLB roster last year, likely a bitter pill for him. I sense the AA roster is still a bit light as of this writing and may see a couple more arms added. I like Cate and I can’t wait to see what Sanchez can do here. I can’t believe Romero isn’t at least here. Klobotis is on this roster; still cannot believe how successful he has been as a 36th round draft pick.


High A pitching staff; well, if you want to know what the future of the franchise is, you’re driving to Wilmington. Basically the entire top side of our top10 list will be in the Wilmington rotation. Headlined by top end draft picks from the last couple of years in Cavalli, Rutledge and Henry, but also including farm system dark-horse Adon and Peterson, who stuck around MLB camp nearly the longest of any prospect this year. In the bullpen we have our two best reliever prospects in Powell and Cronin (who closes?) There’s no room in the rotation for 2018 3rd rounder Reid Schaller, who may do tandem starts or might get moved to the pen. I expect lots of scouts in Delaware this summer.


Low A pitching staff: First thing that pops up here is the sudden presence of Tanner Driskill, who missed all of 2019 with injury (I guess), then was MIA in 2020 like everyone else. I thought he was released two years ago. Good to have him back in the fold.


Tomorrow I’ll post some thoughts on the non-pitcher rosters, noting interesting machinations from a player movement perspective.

(Note: as it turns out the MILB.com rosters may not entirely be in sync with the press releases identifying opening day rosters, so apologies if some of the above is slightly wrong.

Fangraphs/Longenhagen Nats top prospect list drops

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Rutledge gets the #1 nod from Fangraphs. Photo via BA

The last of the “major” pundits has released their Nats prospect ranking lists for the 2021 season, with Fangraph’s lead prospect writer Eric Longenhagen teaming with Tess Taruskin to release their top 22 Nats prospects for 2021.

Why 22 prospects, instead of 10 or 20 or some other round number? Fangraphs drives their rankings via a “Future Value” metric, so the deeper your system is, the more prospects you will have on their list. The cutoff is a “35+ FV,” which projects as something between a 4-A career guy and a bench role player. Yes, you may immediately draw some conclusions about the depth of our system by the number who reached that plateau; by way of comparison a “good” farm system in Tampa had no fewer than 62 players make their 2021 fangraphs list by using the same 35+ cutoff.

So, yeah, we have some work to do… but we already knew that since every macro ranking of our system done this year has us dead last as a system.

Anyway, here’s the Fangraphs list, with some commentary about how these rankings fare side-by-side with other pundits.

Fangraphs 2021 rankLast NameFirst NamePositionAcquisition
1RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st
2CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st
3AntunaYaselSS2016 IFA
4LaraAndryRHP (Starter)2019 IFA
5De La RosaJeremyOF (corner)2018 IFA
6RomeroSethLHP (Starter)2017 1st
7CroninMattLHP (reliever)2019 4th
8HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd
9PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA
10CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd
11InfanteSamuelSS2020 2nd supp
12CruzArmandoSS2020 IFA
13AdonJoanRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
14MendozaDrew3B2019 3rd
15DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)2018 1st
16QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)2019 IFA
17CluffJacksonSS2019 6th
18PowellHoldenRHP (Reliever)2020 3rd
19BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA
20BarreraTresC2016 6th
21SchallerReidRHP (Starter)2018 3rd
22PetersonToddRHP (starter)2019 7th

Commentary in rough order of list:

  • FG went with Rutledge over Cavalli for #1. At the end of the prospect season, these two basically split the #1 overall spot among major pundits, with FG, ESPN, and BleacherReport going with Rutledge #1, while BA, Keith Law, and MLBpipeline all went with Cavalli.
  • They’re now high rankers on De La Rosa, putting him at #5 in the system. It sounds like the projection for him is basically a lesser version of Juan Soto; lefty power hitting corner outfielder.
  • They have Romero still high, at #6, but added no intelligence as to why he did not appear in spring training 2021. Still projects two 60-grade pitches, but his fastball has fallen out of favor and they have him with 40-command. That’s a reliever, and not necessarily a good one, at best.
  • One of the reasons FG is high man on both De La Rosa and Romero is because they’re well lower on Cole Henry than anyone else, having him 8th. It sounds to me like they think he’s heading into relief, much like the guy ranked just above him Matt Cronin.
  • They’re well above anyone else on Israel Pineda, and i’m not really sure why. In the middle of last season, the same evaluator ranked him #16. What’s substantively changed since August?
  • He’s pumping the brakes on Armando Cruz, ranking him at #12 where a number of the major evaluators already have him 5-7 range.
  • He’s put Denaburg all the way down to #15, noting that his pro career/injury record now puts him nearly below non-prospects. Great 1st rounder guys!
  • He’s got Zach Brzykcy, a NDFA $20k signing from last summer, in the top 20 of our system. I suppose that does say something about our system depth, but Longenhagen does note that Bryzcky is one of a handful of NDFAs who have impressed and would have been legitimate draft picks with a longer draft. 2-pitch, pure reliever.
  • Last man in the rankings is Todd Peterson, mr coming out of nowhere for this team, who hung around Spring Training longer than most of our 1st round multi-million dollar prospects. He’s projecting as middle relief, with 2 good pitches, decent velocity and excellent deception in his delivery.

Nowhere in this list are a handful of characters that are well regarded on other lists. That includes Daniel Marte, Tyler Dyson, Jake Irvin (likely b/c he’s missing all of 2021 with a TJ), Ben Braymer, Viandel Pena ….

And of course Steven Fuentes is missing … who only just got a call-up…. to the majors … which is kind of the whole damn point of being a prospect? It does make me question what these guys are really looking for … if you project some 2-pitch guy as a possible middle reliever in the major leagues, then flat out don’t rank a starter who actually DOES make the majors … at age 23 … then what are we ranking/evaluating on? I’m not discounting prospect evaluation work entirely by any means (to head off some of my frequent commenters who are bound to pick up on this and disclaim all prospect rankers), but I do sense there’s a specific blind side in these evaluators when it comes to certain kinds of players. Fuentes (and Ben Braymer) fit right into that gap; a starter who doesn’t project as a stud, guys who get by on command/control instead of velocity. Maybe that’s the point; maybe guys like Fuentes/Braymer are such a “dime a dozen” kind of 4-A players that they specifically never get ranked … but if you have a prospect catcher ranked in the teens who does not ever project to make the majors, wouldn’t by definition you have a guy who IS capable of making the majors (whether its as a long-man, or a middle reliever, or the backup 2nd baseman) ranked higher? A theoretical question.

Nats Early Season Roster Trends

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Well, at least it wasn’t an elbow this time. Photo LarryBrownSports.com

As of 4/21/21, the Nats have already used 19 position players (Every single position player on the 40-man save Yasel Antuna, plus since-DFA’d Jonathan Lucroy and non-roster impacting call-up Cody Wilson). They’ve already used 16 pitchers (of 22 on the 40-man).

Thanks to the Covid scare ahead of opening day plus a spate of injuries they’ve already faced, no less than 14 players from their 26-man roster have already been on the DL this year. 14! Plus some unknown/unreported number of players from the alt site who may or may not have also been infected. We have no earthly idea what’s going on with Romero (zero IP in spring training, which usually implies either an injury or a disciplinary problem), and the team curiously called up Paolo Espino instead of any from 5 alternative starters sitting in Fredericksburg.

Amazingly … throughout all of this perhaps the team’s MOST fragile player (Ryan Zimmerman) has stayed healthy and productive. Who would have guessed!

The 2021 Nats were built using older players that we were hoping for bounce back seasons from. The team needed its big three starters (who combine to earn $93.9M of their $183M in payroll) to throw 6-7 innings of competent innings nearly every time out in order to have any chance of being competitive. Instead we’ve gotten up-and-down starts from Corbin and the DL list for Strasburg.

The trend so far is … not good. If the team is going to play whack-a-mole with injuries all year, filling in with a thinned 40-man roster, we’re going to end up with a similar record that we had last year. Its early right now, and we had to play divisional rivals short handed early, but the prognosis is not good right now.

We need to catch some breaks. Soto going on the DL is NOT such a break.

Written by Todd Boss

April 21st, 2021 at 11:23 am

Check-in on Traded-away Prospect Arms

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Dunning now in the Texas rotation. Photo via mlb.com

The Nats are well-known for their heavy emphasis on pitching in drafts, and then for using said pitching depth as “currency” to acquire talent to build their roster. The team has traded away more than 20 prospect pitchers in the last 5 years, ranging from recent MLB debutants to rookie-league wild-cards.

I thought I’d be interesting to check in with some of the arms we’ve moved over the past few years.

Part of me does this as a “wouldn’t it be nice if we had kept them…” motive, since not all of these trades were really ones I would have made. But nearly all of these trades contributed in one way or another to the 2019 title … so I have to temper my criticism. In the end, you’d rather have a title than a prospect. But, choices have been made over the years and some of those choices look better or worse in retrospect.

These are listed in order of MLB impact of the traded away talent, not chronologically (this list does not include all the MLB arms we traded away in the 2018 missing the playoff purge; this is mostly about trading away prospects).

  • Lucas Giolito; Traded to Chicago White Sox (along with Lopez and Dunning) for Adam Eaton in 2016. Eaton gave the team 4 injury-filled years and a combined 2.7 bWAR. Giolito is now the #1 starter for the White Sox and was an all-star in 2019, but it took him several years and multiple mechanical changes to get there.
  • Jesus Luzardo: traded to Oakland in 2017 (along with Treinen and Neuse) to acquire Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Luzardo rose to be one of the best prospects in the game ahead of the 2020 season, now Oakland’s #2 starter as a 23yr old. Madson and Doolittle served as valuable back-end bullpen pieces, though Madson did not make it to our title-winning season and Doolittle lost his closer job by 2019 and is pitching elsewhere. This is the kind of trade i wish we made less of; you should be able to grow relievers from your farm system, not trade away future #2 projected starters for a combined 3 seasons of varying production.
  • Dane Dunning was the 3rd of 3 ranked prospects in the 2016 Chicago/Eaton trade. He hovered in the top prospects list for several years, had TJ surgery, debuted with some success in late 2020 for the White Sox, then was flipped to Texas in 2020 for Lance Lynn, and is now featuring in the 2021 Texas rotation as their 5th starter.
  • Taylor Hearn: was the 2nd of 2 prospects in the 2016 Pittsburgh/Melancon trade. He was subsequently flipped by Pittsburgh in 2018 for Keone Kela, and debuted for Texas in late 2019. Since, he has been an 7th/8th inning reliever for Texas with some effectiveness.
  • Austin Adams, traded to Seattle in 2019 for Nick Wells after we DFA’d him. Pitched effectively for Seattle’s bullpen in 2019, then traded to San Diego in Aug 2020 for a package of players. Pitching in middle relief for San Diego in 2021. Wells has done basically nothing for this team, while Adams has at least continued to pitch in the majors and does beg the question … why couldn’t he do for us what he has managed to do for Seattle and San Diego?

Summary: well, you’d have a pretty nice start to a rotation right now with Giolito/Luzardo/Dunning. But it took years to get there for these guys: these were players who were traded 4-5 years ago. And the guys we got in return (Eaton, Doolittle) were key parts of the 2019 title team.

Minor league arms traded in last 5 years still in minors:

  • Reynaldo Lopez was the 2nd ranked of 3 prospects in the 2016 Chicago/Eaton trade; he was a full time rotation starter in 2018 and 2019 for Chicago, but got beaten out for the rotation in 2021 and is in AAA. Interesting how many thought Lopez was the “prize” of that trade … now he’s like 7th on their rotation depth chart.
  • Wil Crowe: traded to Pittsburgh (along with Eddy Yean) for Josh Bell. Crowe made the opening day 2021 roster for Pittsburgh, but was optioned after one poor outing. Likely projecting as a 4-A type starter, and future analysis of this trade will have to remember that Pittsburgh was in a salary dump mode when evaluating whatever Crowe and Yean become.
  • Jefry Rodriguez, traded (along with Johnson and Monasterio) to Cleveland for Yan Gomes in 2018. Pitched for a couple months in the Cleveland rotation in 2019, hit free agency in 2021, signed MLFA with Washington in 2021, likely in AAA. Probably safe to say the Nats are coming out on top of this move.
  • Taylor Guilbeau: traded to Seattle for Roenis Elias in 2019. Pitched for Seattle MLB middle relief in 2019 and 2020, DFA’d and outrighted in Feb 2021. Elias got lit up, got hurt and was essentially useless for us.
  • Trevor Gott; traded to San Francisco in 2019 for cash after we DFA’d him; he pitched for SF’s bullpen for two years, was DFA’d and outrighted in Feb 2021. Once again, like with Adams … how is it that Gott couldn’t break our crummy 2019 bullpen but then pitched effectively for another organization immediately upon his exit from Washington? its like Blake Treinen all over again.
  • Pedro Avila was traded to San Diego for Derek Norris in 2016; he rose in the ranks and debuted briefly for San Diego in 2019, then was subsequently DFA’d and outrighted; he remains in their minor league system and projects for AAA in 2021. Norris was originally drafted by DC, and they wanted to get him back. But he only lasted another 3 months with the team, getting released in spring training 2017 before catching on with Tampa for one more season.
  • Aaron Fletcher: traded to Seattle for Hunter Strickland in 2019. Likely in AAA in 2021. Strickland … wasn’t good for Seattle in 2019 and he wasn’t good for us either.
  • Mario Sanchez: traded to Philadelphia for Jimmy Cordero in 2016. Hit MLFA in 2018, came back to Washington, projected AA in 2021. Cordero was crummy for us, then got DFA’d, selected and was gone.
  • Yohanse Morel, traded (along with Gutierrez and Perkins) to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera in 2018. Likely in High-A in 2021.
  • Kyle Johnston: traded to Toronto for Daniel Hudson in 2019. Likely in High-A in 2021. Hudson closed out game 7 of the 2019 World Series; enough said.
  • Tyler Watson, traded to Minnesota for Brandon Kintzler in 2017. Likley in High-A in 2021. Knitzler was (possibly) scapegoated in the infamous clubhouse blowup mid 2018 and was dumped for pennies on the dollar in 2018.
  • Ryan McMahon; traded to Minnesota for Ryne Harper in 2020; Likely in Low-A in 2021. Harper has really yet to do much, so this is a show-me trade.
  • Eddy Yean; traded to Pittsburgh (along with Crowe) in 2020; projected to pitch in GCL or Low-A in 2021.

Summary: I see several really good moves here, a couple that didn’t work out as well for the Nats, and some that are preliminary. About what you expect when you’re trading prospect arms.

Minor League Arms traded in the last 5 years who are now apparently out of baseball.

  • McKenzie Mills: traded to Philadelphia for Howie Kendrick in 2017. Struggled in AA in 2019 for Philadelphia, released in big Minor league purge in June 2020 and out of baseball. This was a prime example of the Nats selling high on a guy; Mills blew that summer, going 12-3 for the 2017 season, then never replicated that success and was out of baseball two years later. Odd that the team didn’t try to pick him back up after his 2019 release.
  • Jeffrey Rosa; traded to Tampa Bay for Enny Romero in 2017. Struggled for Tampa’s GCL team in 2018 and was released.
  • Mick VanVossen, traded to Chicago WS for Ryan Raburn. struggled in high-A in 2017, likely released that off-season (he has no stats since 2017).
  • Felipe Rivero, traded to Pittsburgh (along with Hearn) in 2016 for Mark Melancon. Changed his name to Felipe Vazquez, replaced Melancon as Pittsburgh’s closer and was dominant, a 2-time all-star in 2018 and 2019. However, he was arrested on child sex abuse charges at the end of the 2019 season and faces multiple felonies in multiple states. As much as I hated this trade at the time (we gave up two solid players for yet another veteran closer since our team for reasons inexplicable cannot home grow closers ourselves), I think we’re all happy to have dodged a bullet w/r/t what Rivero/Vazquez became.

Did I miss anyone?

Denaburg to have TJ…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Todd Boss

April 8th, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Nats Opening Day Trivia

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

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

Home Opener Attendances through the years

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

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


Home opener Box Scores

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

How about Season openers?

Record: 8-9 in season openers.

times home/away: 10 home, 7 away.

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

Written by Todd Boss

April 7th, 2021 at 10:48 am

Posted in Nats in General

Opening Day Starter Trivia 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you enjoy this useless trivia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In other recent news:

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

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

Fantasy Baseball 2021

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For the first time ever, I get Bryce Harper in Fantasy Baseball. Photo via Phila Inquirer

We have a small break this week in news, thanks to the essential finalization of the active roster days ahead of opening day. So lets talk Fantasy baseball. As always, this is a niche post so feel free to move on if you’re not a player.

It didn’t look like my league was going to get its act together for Fantasy Baseball this year, since we bailed last year and the momentum was lagging to have someone organize again, but once we actually got the right cell number for the commissioner, we got our act together and drafted last weekend.

I had the 10th draft spot out of 10 teams, which I’ve come to believe absolutely sucks as a draft position for two main reasons:

  • there’s a finite number of really top end players in the sport now so you miss out in round 1
  • More importantly … you go nearly 20 picks between selections, meaning if there’s a run on a position, you cannot participate. This comes into play literally in round 3 for me. Read on.
  • On the bright side … i didn’t have to really focus on availability and strategy for large chunks of time, which allowed me to freely insult the picks of my competitors, always the best part of any draft.

My drafting strategy is basically this:

  • Focus on middle infielders first
  • do not overpay for a 1B; there’s plenty of them.
  • Do not overpay for SPs; there’s value in the middle rounds
  • Focus on NL starters. Preferably from the NL west
  • Get 5 closers and stream them
  • Draft a catcher last since there’s only like 2 worth drafting.

Our categories:
– Hitting: Runs, HRs, RBI, SBs, OBP and OPS. No Batting Average.
– Pitching: Losses, Ks, Saves, ERA, Whip, QS. no wins.

So, here’s how my team went. I’ll just group the picks in pairs since that’s how I ended up evaluating them.

1-2: I went with JP Ramirez and Bryce Harper 10 and 11. Two solid hitters, somewhat of a flier/upside guy in Harper. In all the time Harper played for the Nats, I never got him. Lets see if he can build on his pretty solid 2020 season. Ramirez fills a pretty decent position (3B) which, If I had been more in the middle, maybe I reach for Machado in the mid-2nd round to get 3B/SS eligibility. The top 6 go Tatis-Acuna-deGrom-Betts-Soto-Trout; I tell you what, if I was in the #6 spot and I got Trout i’d be ecstatic.

3-4: I got Clayton Kershaw and Bo Bichette. A mixture of old and new-school; there was a huge run on starters in the middle of both round 2 and 3, so Kershaw was the 10th starter selected. Maybe I should have picked Snell over him, but my rankings didn’t pop him into my brain. As for Bichette … he was the 8th SS picked and I like his upside just a tad more than Corey Seager (who went 2 spots afterwards). Not terribly happy with these players, but what can you do.

5-6: I wanted a 2B and it was a little early for Altuve, so i went with Gleyber Torres, who also has SS availability. That’s nice. Then I didn’t like the looks of some of the alternatives in the area; round 5-6 has a lot of 2nd tier infielders but i was already full up. So I grabbed rookie phenom Randy Arozarena. We’ll see if the hype matches the performance from last off-season.

7-8: still need hitters, still don’t like the starters here. I look up and one of the guys I was looking hard at for round 5 as a 2B is still sitting there: Cavan Biggio. That’s a sign; if you wanted the guy 20 picks ago and he’s still there, then he’s a steal. He’s also got 3B and OF availability. Like that. Then I grab BPA outfielder, who turns out to be Austin Meadows.

9-10: I now need some pitchers; I basically have my entire hitting lineup set. But that’s ok; its part of my strategy. So I grab the next best pitcher available at this point in Zack Greinke, then notice a pretty solid 1B guy in Matt Olson. Not bad. I’m a little worried about Greinke being in the AL and being old, but he is a Quality Start machine (which we have as a category instead of Wins).

11-12: At this point I now have just 2 starters and zero relievers. I’m going to start grabbing almost entirely Arms here out.. I get Charlie Morton and Julio Urias, two solid NL starters for good teams.

13-14: I get two closers: Rafael Montero and Jake McGee. Closers for Seattle and San Francisco, two crummy teams. Sometimes that’s a good thing (bad teams desperately depend on closers to get them to the finish line), and sometimes that’s a bad thing (if the team is *too* bad, they’ll rarely be in a position to use their closer).

15-16: Two more closers: Emilio Pagan and Alex Colome. Closer for San Diego (which should be good) and for Minnesota (though oddly Colome is not listed as the slam-dunk closer for the Twins despite excellent numbers last year). We’ll have to keep an eye out here.

17-18: From here I want one more closer, 3 starters and a catcher. So I grab Two starters here: Jose Urquidy and David Price. Price is a crapshoot, but at least he’s in the NL West. Urquidy could be a steal; he really could be Houston’s ace. Post drafting, we find out that Price got beat out by Dustin May for the 5th starter spot … so i’m quickly hitting the waiver wire.

19-20: I get a starter crapshoot in Framber Valdez, who was supposed to be a top starter for Houston but has a finger injury and will miss a bit of time (but I do get DL spots; once he hits the DL I will hit the waiver wire). I also grab a 5th closer in Anthony Bass from Miami. I now have 3/5ths of Houston’s rotation; interesting.

21: with the last pick in the draft, Mr. Irrelevant I get BPA catcher in Sean Murphy, who actually seems to have really good numbers. Hmm; maybe i’ll actually start a Catcher this year (I’ve gone with stretches before where literally i’ve had no good C options and have just left that position blank).


I’m not enamored of my team this year. I think i’ve got too many veterans who might be a season past their fantasy prime. kind of like the Nats. I may be hitting the waiver wire early and often for SP and RPs. I have 5 closers, but they’re relatively weak. I dunno; not my best draft. Team Summary:

Hitters: Ramirez, Harper, Bichette, Arozorena, Torres, Meadows, Olson, Biggio, Murphy

SP: Greinke, Kershaw, Urias, Morton, Urquidy, Valdez (DL), Price (soon to be dropped)

RP: Montero, Colome, McGee, Pagan, Bass

Written by Todd Boss

March 31st, 2021 at 9:08 am

Posted in Fantasy