Stephen Strasburg held Cincinnati hitless in 6.2 innings on July 3 as the Nationals routed the Reds 12-1. The start was the first of a month where the All-Star righthander would perform at an elite level.
NATS BY THE NUMBERS- July 2016
The Nationals won 13 of their 25 games in July, and their .520 winning percentage for the month was their lowest in the 2016 season. In the Nationals’ three division winning seasons, the only month where the team had a worse winning percentage was in May of 2014 when the Nats went 11-15 for a .423 mark.
Stephen Strasburg was arguably the Major League’s best starting pitcher in July 2016. The Nats’ stalwart went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA and struck out 37 batters in 34.2 innings pitched. Among starters, Strasburg’s .779 WHIP in July was the best in the Majors ahead of Aaron Sanchez of Toronto (.824), Brandon McCarthy of the Dodgers (.835), San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner (.861), Cincinnati’s Dan Straily (.861) and his teammate Max Scherzer (.882).
Daniel Murphy continued his hot hitting ways in July, putting up a 1.116 OPS with a .346 batting average, six homers and 23 RBI. Murphy had a 13 game hitting streak from July 7th through July 27th, and was particularly hard on his former teammates in New York during a crucial four game set at Citi Field in the early part of the month. In that series, Murphy went 7 for 17 with three homers, four runs and a whopping 10 RBI to lead the Nats to a 3-1 series win.
Top prospect Trea Turner was called to the Major Leagues for good in July, and his top level speed was on display immediately. Turner had three triples and seven steals (in seven attempts) in July as he served notice that the Nats’ search for an electric leadoff man was over.
After losing 9-7 to the Mets in the first game of a four game set in New York in the final series before the All-Star game, the thoughts of many Nats’ fans turned to 2015 when Washington was swept at Citi Field in late July in a series that changed the landscape at the top of the National League East.
With the Nats’ divisional lead down to three games the team’s superb pitching staff took over to give the Nats a six game cushion heading into the All-Star break, holding the Mets to a paltry four runs in the process.
On Friday the 8th, Strasburg allowed only two hits and fanned nine as he outdueled Noah Syndergaard in a 3-1 Nats’ win. The big blow at the plate for Washington came from Clint Robinson, who hit a two run homer off of the Mets’ ace.
It was Scherzer’s turn to excel on Saturday the 9th, as the veteran allowed only three hits, no earned runs and fanned nine to lead Washington to a 6-1 win. Murphy was the chief tormentor of the Mets among Nats’ hitters, as he went 3 for 4 with a double, home run and four RBI.
On Sunday the 10th, Gio Gonzalez (5.2 innings), Tanner Roark (2.1 perfect innings) and Jonathan Papelbon kept the Mets at bay while Murphy hit a two run homer as Washington won 3-2.
The July 4th fireworks spectacular is a staple of summertime in Washington DC and it is always an impressive show, but a show of equal impressiveness was put on by the Nationals one day before the Nation’s birthday celebration.
In a Sunday afternoon game at Nationals Park, Washington hit a season high six home runs in a 12-1 rout of the Reds. Wilson Ramos got the long-ball party started in the second with a solo homer off of John Lamb, and Danny Espinosa rocked the Reds two innings later with a grand slam off of Lamb that put the Nats up 5-0. One inning later, Bryce Harper’s solo off of Lamb gave Washington a 6-0 advantage. Anthony Rendon and Espinosa hit back to back homers off of Reds’ reliever Keyvins Sampson in the seventh inning to make the lead 11-0, and Stephen Drew provided the final homer of the game in the eighth with a solo shot off of Jumbo Diaz.
The contest was the fifth six homer game in Nationals’ history, and the first since August 29, 2014 when Washington hit six round-trippers in a 8 -3 win at Seattle.
Not all of the numbers were good for the Nats in July. Twice during the month the Nats’ pitching staff did something that had not been done by a Washington staff since 2010 by walking nine opponents in a nine inning game.
On July 7th, the Nats gave nine free passes to the Mets in a 9-7 New York win. On the 30th in San Francisco, Washington walked nine Giants’ batters as the Nats fell 5-3.
The most walks for a Nats’ staff in a nine inning game is 11, set on August 13, 2008 in a 12-0 loss to the Mets and equaled in a April 30, 2009 9-4 defeat at the hands of St. Louis.
Ben Revere’s spectacular leaping grab robbed Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman of a home run and helped the Nationals to a 7-6 victory over the Braves last evening at Turner Field.
GAME 121 REVIEW
Nationals’ Record- 72-49
Nationals 7 Braves 6
WP- Glover (1-0) LP- Johnson (2-6) SV- Melancon (35)
HR- Inciarte, Atl (3), Markakis, Atl (9)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Nats’ centerfielder Ben Revere’s highlight reel of amazing defensive plays in the second half of the 2016 continues to grow and has catch in last night’s win was probably the best of the year, if not his career. Revere raced deep into right-center, leapt at the wall, stretched all of his 5’9″ frame to the maximum and took away a certain home run from Freddie Freeman to make a play that earned the appreciation of not only his Nats’ teammates but the Atlanta crowd as well. Revere also chipped in at the plate, going two for four with a RBI.
Second Star- Rookie Trea Turner continued to ignite the Nats’ offense from the leadoff spot, going three for five with two runs scored an a RBI to move his OPS on the year to an impressive .879. He doubled in the game for the 17th extra-base hit of his brief Major League career, and his signature speed helped him beat out a two out infield single that kept an inning alive where the Nats scored two crucial runs.
Star of the Game- After the Nationals had blown a 5-0 lead and saw the game tied at 6-6 in the eighth inning, some ninth inning magic was needed to help the team avoid a disappointing loss. Clint Robinson came to the rescue with a RBI single that plated pinch-runner Pedro Severino with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Robinson, who was two for three with a pair of runs scored and two walks in the game, has driven in 20 of his 24 RBI on the year in road games.
Valiant in Defeat- Braves centerfielder Ender Inciarte is known more for his speed than for his power, but he had his long ball stroke on display last evening. Inciarte went two for five with three RBI and his third home run of the year to pace Atlanta’s attack.
Wilson Ramos joined Turner, Revere and Robinson as Nationals with multiple hit games in last night’s win. Ramos has 30 games this season where he’s had more than one hit, trailing only Daniel Murphy (46) and Anthony Rendon (34).
Washington won despite allowing two unearned runs, making the Nats 2-5 in games where they have allowed multiple unearned runs this year.
Bryce Harper had two RBI in the game, and he has driven in eight over his past eight games after driving in only two in the previous 13 contests. On the team’s current road trip, Harper has seven hits in 18 at bats with six RBI, two doubles, a home run and six walks.
Mark Melancon was clutch again for Washington, picking up his 35th save as he fanned two and allowed two weak ground balls (one that went for an infield hit) in last night’s game. In nine innings pitched for Washington this season, Melancon has allowed only five hits and one run with no walks while striking out ten.
The Nats’ win allowed them to maintain their 9.5 game advantage over the Marlins in the National League East. The nearly ten game lead in the division at the 121 game mark is ahead of the pace of the other Nats’ division winning teams. In 2012 the Nats were 75-46 at this point and held a five game edge, while the 2014 team was 68-53 with a six game advantage.
Max Scherzer faces off against Atlanta rookie Tyrell Jenkins in Saturday evening’s contest.
Scherzer is putting up another excellent year. He leads the National League in strikeouts, and is among the leaders in WHIP (he is second), strikeouts/nine innings pitched (second), innings pitched (third) and wins (tied for fourth). At Atlanta in his career, the Nats’ righty is 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched.
The youngster Jenkins was rocked for the Nats for seven runs in 4.2 innings pitched this past Sunday, and enters the contest with 30 walks and only 21 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched this year.
After a series in Colorado where the Nats’ bullpen was used heavily, the team needed a long outing by starter Reynaldo Lopez on Thursday in Atlanta. The rookie came through in a big way, striking out 11 and giving up only one earned run in seven innings pitched as the Nats beat the Braves 8-2.
Nats’ Record- 71-49
Nationals 8 Braves 2
WP- Lopez (2-1) LP- Whalen (1-2)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- He did not hit a majestic 461 foot home run as he did on Wednesday in Colorado, but Bryce Harper contributed to the Nats’ cause with a hit, two walks and two runs scored in the victory. Harper’s OPS on the year now stands at .386, and he’s reached base at a .399 clip in 153 career plate appearances at Turner Field.
Second Star- Playing more like his age is the number on the back of his jersey instead of the one on his driver’s license, Jayson Werth was again in the middle of good things for the Nats on Thursday. Werth was two for four with a double, a run scored and a RBI as he reached base for the franchise tying 46th consecutive game.
Star of the Game- While the Braves current lineup certainly doesn’t conjure up images of the 1927 Yankees or the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine, the type of domination Nats’ rookie Reynaldo Lopez displayed on Thursday is impressive against any opponent. Lopez struck out 11 Braves and allowed only a single earned run in seven innings pitched to earn his second win in as many starts against the Braves.
Valiant in Defeat- Atlanta starter Rob Whalen deserved a better fate last night. Whalen allowed only one earned run in six effective innings pitched, but was undone by his defense and by his teammates’ lack of production against Nats’ starter Lopez. Whalen’s record on the year fell to 1-2 despite his impressive performance.
It would be hard to find an uglier half of an inning at any place other than a Little League field than the one the Braves had in the top of the eighth last night. The Nats scored five runs, with only one coming home on a hit (Clint Robinson’s RBI single). The others scored on a passed ball, a walk, a hit batter and Trea Turner’s sacrifice fly as Braves’ fans witnessed why their team resides in last place in the National League East.
The Nats walked seven times in the game, marking the eighth time this year they’ve had seven or more free passes. Prior to last evening, the last time Washington had as many as seven walks came on June 30th at Nationals Park when the Nats were walked seven times in a 13-4 rout of the Reds. The season high for bases on balls for Washington is the 11 walks they received on May 18th in a 7-1 win at New York against the Mets.
Rookie catcher Pedro Severino is likely headed back to Syracuse today as backup catcher Jose Lobaton is primed to return from the disabled list, but the 23 year old rookie can take solace in the fact that he looked like he belonged during his short stint with the big club. Severino had a double and run scored last night, and hit a robust .412 in 17 at bats during his time filling in for Lobaton.
Tanner Roark takes the mound tonight at Turner Field against the Braves’ Julio Teheran in the second contest of the four game series.
Roark, who is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in six appearances at Turner Field, is looking for his 14th win in tonight’s game. His win in Atlanta was a memorable one for the Nats and their fans. On September 16, 2014, Roark held the Braves scorless over seven innings to lead Washington to a 3-0 NL East Division clinching victory over the Braves.
Roark’s opponent on the night gets this year’s vote for the hard luck player of the year. Despite having a sparking 2.81 ERA and a microscopic .965 WHIP this year, Julio Teheran has lost nine of his 12 decisions in 2016. Teheran, who has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 17 of his 21 starts on the year, may want to be especially careful when facing the Nats’ three and four hitters tonight. Daniel Murphy is 8 for 20 with four doubles in his career against the Braves’ righty, while Bryce Harper has hit .429 in 28 at bats with five home runs and 10 RBI.
Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals picked up right where they left off before the All-Star break, as the Nationals defeated Pittsburgh 5-1 to start the post-All Star break portion of the season with a big win.
Nationals 5 Pirates 1
Nationals’ Record 55-36
WP- Strasburg (13-0) LP- Liriano (5-9)
HR- Taylor, Was (7)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Michael A. Taylor’s home run to right-center off of Pirates’ hard-throwing reliever Neftali Feliz gave the Nats a four run lead and with Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the deficit probably seemed like 44 to Clint Hurdle and the Pirates. Taylor’s home run was his first since he hit two round trippers in a June 19th game at San Diego. Taylor now has three career home runs against the Pirates, more than he’s had against any teams other than the Phillies and Marlins (he also has three against each of those teams).
Second Star- Filling in for an injured Daniel Murphy, Clint Robinson had two hits and drove in a run out of the eight hole in Dusty Baker’s lineup to help Washington to victory. Robinson has 19 RBI in only 97 at bats on the year, making him the only player in the Majors with that many RBI and fewer than 107 at bats.
Star of the Game- As he’s been for most of the 2016 season, All-Star Stephen Strasburg was on his game last night as he earned his 13th win in as many decisions on the year. Strasburg allowed only three hits and one run in eight innings pitched, posting a pitching game score of 76 that was his second highest on the year (he had an 84 PGS on April 19th at Miami). Strasburg allowed one or fewer earned runs for the eighth time in 17 starts on the season, and for the 70th time in his 148 career starts.
Valiant in Defeat- Poor defense and perhaps some fatigue from pitching in hot conditions were his undoing in the Nats’ four run seventh inning, but Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano pitched well for most of his outing. The lefty retired the first nine Nationals he faced, and had allowed only one run and four hits through six innings before the rug was pulled out from under him in the seventh inning.
Reliever Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth inning for Washington, and recorded all three outs on strikeouts. It was the eighth time in Kelley’s career, and the second time as a National, where Kelley has pitched one inning and all of his outs were strikeouts. On the season, Kelley has 52 strikeouts in only 33.2 innings pitched. For pitchers with 30 or more innings pitched this season, Kelley’s 13.9 SO/9 rate trails only Dellin Betances of the Yankees (15.9), Betances’ teammate Andrew Miller 15.79) and Miami’s Kyle Barraclough (15.0).
Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates each stole a base in the game, making last night only the seventh time this season where a Nats’ opponent has stolen two or bases in a game. The Nats have allowed on 32 steals on the year, the fourth best mark in the National League. Arizona is first in that category with only 27 steals allowed, followed by San Francisco (29) and Miami (31).
The Nats’ win last night was their 10th in 14 games played on Fridays so far this season. The best day of the week so far for Washington is Wednesday, with the Nats’ posting a 11-3 record on that day. Washington is also 10-4 on Sundays.
The Nats look to earn a series win tonight with Tanner Roark taking on Pirates’ hard-thrower Gerrit Cole.
Roark has generally been very effective in his career after the All-Star break, posting a 14-8 record with a 2.77 ERA. He’s also excelled in his career at Nationals Park, going 16-10 with a 2.78 ERA.
Cole is 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA on the season, but there are some warning signs that point to potential problems for the Pirates’ ace. He’s allowed a 1.317 WHIP this year against a career mark of 1.168, and his SO/9 ratio of 7.2 is down from the numbers he put up over the past two seasons (in 2014 Cole’s SO/9 rate was 9.0, and he put up a 8.7 rate in 2015). One National who is glad to see Cole in town is outfielder Ben Revere. In 12 career at bats against Cole, Revere has seven hits.
Stephen Strasburg’s dominant performance on Friday night led the Washington Nationals to a 3-1 victory over division rival New York at Citi Field as Washington expanded its lead in the NL East to four games.
After Thursday night’s slugfest in which the teams combined for 16 runs and eight home runs, Friday’s matchup of all-star pitchers Stephen Strasburg of Washington and Noah Syndergaard of New York promised a game of a different sort. While Syndergaard was not totally on his game and had to leave due to a “tired arm” in the fifth inning, Strasburg kept up his end of the bargain to pace Washington to perhaps its best win of 52 it has so far in the 2016 season.
Nationals’ Record- 52-36
WP- Strasburg (12-0) LP- Syndergaard (9-4) SV- Papelbon (18)
HR- Robinson, Was (5), Cabrera, NYM (12)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- If one is looking for top performers for the Nationals in a game against the Mets, chances are that Daniel Murphy is going to be a viable candidate for that role. On Friday night Murphy was again in the center of the action, driving home Jayson Werth on a third innings double to pad Washington’s lead to 3-0. Murphy’s RBI was his 60th of the year, and he is on pace to shatter his career high of 78 RBI which he set in 2013 while playing for the Mets. Murphy was also big with the glove, snaring a rocket off of the bat of New York’s Juan Lagares to start a crucial double play to end the Mets’ eighth inning and keep Washington’s tenuous two run lead in place.
Second Star- Washington’s Clint Robinson’s story is one of perseverance, as the left-handed outfielder/first baseman toiled through many years in the Minors before getting a shot to play for the Nats last year. In 2016 Robinson is solidifying his place in the Majors, and his two run second inning home run off of Syndergaard was the big hit in last night’s contest. The home run was the third of Robinson’s career at Citi Field, and he is the only player in the Major Leagues with more than one home run against Syndegaard. When he has started a game, Robinson has posted an impressive .275/.348/.422 slash line over his time with the Nationals.
Star of the Game- Stephen Strasburg has been very good with flashes of brilliance during his Major League career, but 2016 appears to be the year when the former number one draft pick is putting everything together. Strasburg toyed with the Mets last night, allowing only two hits and one run in seven innings pitched to earn his 12th win in as many decisions on the year. The Nats’ righty is second among National League pitchers in WAR with 3.7 (Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is first at 4.8), and he is now 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA in games at Citi Field.
Valiant in Defeat- On a day when the Mets lost Syndergaard and fellow All-Star Yoenis Cespedes to injury, an unlikely trio held the Mets in the game and gave the New Yorkers a fighting chance to pull out a win. Relievers Seth Lugo, Jerry Blevins and Erik Goeddel combined to hold the Nationals scoreless and hitless over the last 4.1 innings of the game, fanning five Nationals’ hitters in the process.
So far in 2016, Strasburg (11.14) and teammate Max Scherzer (11.56) have impressive SO/9 numbers. There have never been a pair of teammates to finish a season with 11.0 plus SO/9 totals. If Strasburg, Scherzer and Miami’s Jose Fernandez (whose 12.91 SO/9 number leads the Majors) hold on to finish above 11.0, they will be the first trio to do so since 1997 when Curt Schilling of Philadelphia (11.29), Pedro Martinez of Montreal (11.37) and Randy Johnson of Seattle (12.30) did so.
The key eighth inning double play turned by the Nats’ was their 85th of the season, the third highest total in the National League. The Nats have a .990 fielding percentage on the year, the best figure in the Major Leagues. They also have showed well in the defensive efficiency metric, posting a .700 number that is behind only the Cubs (.725) and Dodgers (.710) in the National League.
Max Scherzer takes the mound tonight for Washington, looking to continue his career success against the Mets. The Nats’ all-star is 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA, a .839 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched against New York. Wilmer Flores is 0 for 10 with seven strikeouts lifetime against Scherzer, while teammate Curtis Granderson has had some success going 8 for 27 (.296) with two home runs.
With Matt Harvey now on the shelf due to injury, New York will send Logan Verrett to the mound tonight. Verrett pitched fairly well in Washington last week despite picking up the loss, as he allowed only two runs and four hits in five innings pitched in the Nats’ 4-2 win. Verrett has struggled with the home run ball recently however, allowing six round trippers in his last 13 innings pitched.
Righthander Tanner Roark threw seven scoreless innings on Sunday to pace the Nationals to a 3-2 victory that ended Washington’s grueling seven game losing streak on the team’s road trip from Hades.
A 3-7 road trip is nothing to write home about, especially when seven of the games were played against sub-par San Diego and Milwaukee teams. However the difficult trip did have a happy ending, as Tanner Roark’s pitching and power from unusual sources led Washington to a 3-2 victory and a three game lead in the National League East heading into a showdown series against the Mets at Nationals Park.
Nationals 3 Brewers 2
Nationals Record- 44-32
WP- Roark (7-5) LP- Barnes (0-1) SV- Kelley (3)
HR- Lobaton, Was (1), Robinson, Was (3), Maldonado, Mil (2)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Reserve first baseman/outfielder Clint Robinson doesn’t have flashy numbers, but he passes the eye test when looking for good at bats from a bench player. His two run homer to right field off of Milwaukee reliever Michael Blazek in the eighth inning gave Washington a 3-0 lead, a cushion they’d need when the bullpen surrendered runs in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Second Star- No one doubts Nats’ backup catcher Jose Lobaton’s ability as a defensive player and pitch framer, but he’s not known as much of an offensive threat. Today Lobaton excelled with both the glove and the bat, as his home run to left-center broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and gave Washington a lead it would not lose. The homer was the first of the year for Lobaton, and the first he’s hit since June 28, 2015 when he hit a round-tripper at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies.
Star of the Game- Starting a day earlier than expected due to Stephen Strasburg’s injury, Tanner Roark threw seven innings of scoreless ball to lead Washington to victory. Roark has five games this season in which he’s thrown at least seven innings and allowed no runs, tying him with Chicago’s Jake Arrieta for the National League lead in that category. Roark is now 7-5 with a sterling 2.96 ERA on the year.
Valiant in Defeat- Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter had two hits a piece for Milwaukee, but the big blow for the home team was a two-out, ninth inning mammoth pinch-hit home run by Martin Maldonado that kept the Brewers’ hopes alive. The home run was the backup backstop’s second of the season.
Washington’s Shawn Kelley earned his third save of the year, working 1.1 innings, striking out three and stranding the tying run on third base to end the game. In 9.2 innings pitched in June, the righthanded reliever has 16 strikeouts.
Prior to the home runs by Lobaton and Robinson, it looked like another “missed it by that much” day for the Nats in terms of the long ball. In the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Bryce Harper narrowly missed hitting a grand slam home run as Milwaukee’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis grabbed Harper’s blast to the deepest part of center to keep the game scoreless.
Joe Ross takes the hill tomorrow night at Nationals Park against the Mets. In his career at the home of the Nationals, the talented youngster is 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA and has held opponents to a paltry .596 OPS.
Ross’s opponent on the mound will be New York’s talented and towering righty Noah Sydergaard, who is 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched this year. Anthony Rendon (4-10 with a double and a homer) has fared well against Syndergaard in the past, while Danny Espinosa (0-6, four strikeouts) has not.
Max Scherzer’s best start to date in the 2016 season helped the Washington Nationals to a 6-1 victory on Sunday as the Nats wrapped up a three game sweep of the home-standing St. Louis Cardinals.
Nats Record- 17-7
WP- Scherzer (3-1) LP- Martinez (4-1)
HR- Robinson Was (1), Espinosa Was (2), Heisey Was (3), Moss Stl (6)
Excellent starting pitching, solid defense and timely power hitting were the keys as the Nationals finished their three game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 6-1 victory. The sweep was the Nationals’ first ever in St. Louis.
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- His batting average may be below the Mendoza Line and he only had one hit on the game, but Jose Lobaton fought the good fight for the Nationals all weekend long in Wilson Ramos’ absence and certainly was a key to the team’s success on Sunday. Lobaton’s sixth inning single off of Cards’ starter Carlos Martinez set the table for the first run of the game, a run that was tallied after Lobaton moved to second on Max Scherzer’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Matt den Dekker’s single to center. Over the weekend, Lobaton also helped lead a Nats’ starting pitching staff that held a powerful Cards’ lineup in check.
Second Star- Clint Robinson was a pleasant surprise in 2015, hitting .272 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI. His success last season had not translated over to 2016, but perhaps Sunday’s game will get Robinson moving in the right direction. The left-handed swinger had the big blow in Sunday’s game, hitting a two run home run off of Martinez in the top of the seventh inning that extended Washington’s lead to 3-0.
Star of the Game- All Scherzer did on the game was throw seven innings of shutout ball with nine strikeouts and go two for two with a sacrifice bunt at the plate as he won his third game in four decisions on the year. Scherzer allowed only four hits on the game and did not issue a walk, marking the seventh time he’s fanned at least nine batters and walked no one in his time with the Nationals.
Valiant in Defeat- Martinez was suffering from an illness leading into the game and he eventually tired in the seventh inning, but the flame throwing young pitcher showed his tremendous potential in the contest as he struck out eight and looked dominant in stretches. The loss was Martinez’s first in five decisions on the year.
Chris Heisey’s ninth inning pinch-hit home run was the 13th of his career, the most of any active Major League player.
The Nats take their three game winning streak to Kansas City to take on the World Champion Royals. Gio Gonzalez starts for Washington. The left-hander has been strong in May during his career, going 15-6 with a 3.51 ERA. Gonzalez has struggled in interleague contests however, winning only seven of his 18 decisions and allowing a 1.455 WHIP while putting up a hefty 4.74 ERA. His mound opponent Edinson Volquez is 10-5 with a 3.64 ERA in his career at Kaufman Stadium. Volquez is coming off his worst start to date in the 2016 saeason as he allowed eight runs in five innings pitched at the Los Angeles Angels on April 26th. Nats’ second baseman Daniel Murphy is 7 for 20 in his career against Volquez.
It’s Fun Fact Friday, courtesy of Baseball Reference.com’s Play Index, with the focus this time on trivia and numbers related to the players expected to be patrolling the outfield for the Nationals in 2016.
- New Nationals’ outfielder Ben Revere always seemed to be a thorn in the side to some of Washington’s better hurlers. For example Revere is 8 for 22 (.364) with a home run lifetime against Max Scherzer, and has a .400 average in 25 at bats against Gio Gonzalez. It turns out that Scherzer and Gonzales are not the only talented pitchers against whom the speedy outfielder has had success. Revere is 7 for 14 in his career against Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner, has a .583 in 12 at bats against Pirates’ flame thrower Gerrit Cole and has six hits in 10 at bats against Houston’s Tony Sipp.
- Jayson Werth has 198 career home runs, with 78 coming as a National. Werth has gone deep against 28 of the 30 Major League teams, and has a chance to add another notch to his belt in May when the Detroit Tigers visit Nationals Park. The Nats’ left fielder will have to wait a few years to get a shot at homering against the other team he’s yet to go yard against. The Nats won’t be playing the Oakland A’s, at least in the regular season, until 2018.
- Bryce Harper hit 42 homers and posted a 1.109 OPS in his MVP season of 2015. Harper’s breakout year was the 53rd in the Majors since 1914 where a player hit at least 40 homers and had an OPS of at least 1.10. If he can match the numbers this year, Harper will join a select group of players who have had more than once such season in their careers. All-time great Babe Ruth has 11 such seasons, with Barry Bonds posting six, Lou Gehrig having five, Albert Pujols, Mark McGwire and Hank Greenburg doing the trick three times each, and Mickey Mantle and Todd Helton having two each.
- In his rookie season of 2015, Nats’ center fielder Michael A. Taylor became the first Major League rookie since 2012 with at least 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases in a season. In an injury plagued 2012 Harper had 22 taters and 18 steals, Mike Trout of the Angels hit 30 long balls and stole 49 bases and Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes hit 23 round-trippers and swiped 16 bags. Since 1914, Taylor is one of only 51 Major Leaguers who have achieved this goal.
- Both Clint Robinson and Matt den Dekker served in backup roles for the Nationals in 2015, and both contributed significantly down the stretch. Robinson posted a .938 OPS in 35 at bats in August of last season, with eight runs scored, a double, three home runs and seven RBI. den Dekker saved his best in 2015 until the season’s final month, as he hit .298 with three homers, seven RBI and a .948 OPS in September. One area where the two outfielders differed was in their home v. road splits. Robinson was much better on the road (.897 OPS) than at home (.676) last year, while den Dekker (.993 home, .564 road) was almost his polar opposite.