Yeah yeah, 6 games into the season is a little early to talk about stats, records or anything being anything more than 1 week of games. But .500 is still .500, and a series victory against the Mets is still a series victory. Besides, the last time the Nats were .500 was two years ago. It was April 5, 2008, when they were 3-3. And the last time Johan Santana got a loss against the Nats was June 9th, 2007, when he was with the Twins. Since then he had been 5-0 in 5 starts.
Like I said, it’s a little early to be looking at the stats sheets… buuuuuuut, it is nice to see the Nats are 3-3 considering the only people hitting are Willingham, Desmond, and Pudge. Anyway, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit where credit is due, and it’s due to Livan Hernandez. I was critical of them bringing him back, but he’s had the best start of the Nats’ young season so far, and it’s the best start by far. It was a typical Livan “good” start – 5 hits and 3 walks over 7 innings, with only 1 strikeout. But he only allowed more than 1 baserunner in 2 of his 7 innings, and he looked in control throughout. It’s good to see he can still do this, the question with him, though, is one of consistency.
Shouldn’t we have to wait a few more weeks? The win last night was a bit of a surprise – especially if you watched the 9th inning. Matt Capps does not appear to be a stabilizing force in the bullpen, at least not at this point. And the bullpen DID blow the lead. In the 6th inning Sean Burnett came in with Stammen in line for the win, but gave up a run. So tied at 5-5, the bullpen had at least 3 innings to go, with no room for error. Tyler Clippard was very good, and though Brian Bruney wasn’t exactly spectacular, he allowed no runs, which is all that matters for this game. Capps came in at the end and barely preserved the lead, although not to disparage him too much, he was going against the heart of the best lineup in the NL.
So what we had, despite the bullpen blowing it in the 6th, was the bullpen holding on to a 1 run lead. Last year it took until game 8 for the Nats to get a win, also against Philly. First time they won a game where they held a 1 run lead last year was game 12 (the win went to Zimmermann). Oh, and the first time they got a lead as late as the 7th inning and held on to win the game in 2009? That wasn’t until May. None of these dates are particularly significant, but they should make you feel at least a little better about the state of the team.
The bullpen was able to plug the dam, and keeping the water from rushing through, which was the good thing. Unfortunately, they were already up to their armpits in water at the time. Or something like that. Jason Marquis is not a front line pitcher. He will have some good days, and he will have some bad days. The bad days are more likely to come against teams that can score run. You know, teams like the Phillies, Mets, Rockies, Braves… ugh. According to Baseball Prospectus, they forecast exactly 4 NL teams to score at least 740 runs this season. Those are it, and 3 of them are in the division. It could be a long year for Marquis.
Back to the good news, the bullpen. In the 5th inning, Ryan Howard hit a prodigious home run. Jason Marquis was replaced with Tyler Walker, who pitched 2 perfect innings and struck out three. Then came the 7th, where Jesse English, fresh off his perfect debut, gave up a liner hit at him, a walk and got Howard to fly out. He was replaced with Tyler Clippard, who walked someone and allowed a run, credited to English, on a sac fly. Clippard also pitched the 8th, and other than that run, didn’t give anything up. Finally, Matt Capps allowed an unearned run thanks to another error by Ian Desmond, and generally looked bad. But for the most part, outside of Capps, the bullpen looked effective.
A day off on Tuesday meant the Nats remain unvictorious for at least 2 full days. You can contemplate the gravity of that or move on to thinking about the Caps or McNabb… Seriously, though, people, it’s baseball season!
In a day that started off promising, the Nationals ended up losing 11-1, pretty horrendous. They got beat in every facet of the game, and quite a few things happened that we all knew could happen, but hoped would.
Lannan looked bad, which is what places like BP tell us we should expect, despite the last 2 years of success
On this, the last weekday before the season begins, I wanted to link back to some of the Spring Training articles that are more a preview of the season than a rundown of the days or weeks events. If you haven’t read them yet, this should get you all fired up for Monday. If you have, well, thanks for reading them originally!
Yesterday I did a quick and dirty preview for the AL, so now it’s time to look at the NL. Once again, before I show you my predictions, I’ll give you my thoughts on each team.
Astros: Their lineup isn’t that impressive, other than a few keys pieces. If Myers has a good year, then they have a strong front of the rotation with him, Oswalt and Rodriguez.
Braves: I am bullish on these guys this year, their lineup is better than people realize, and I like their pitching staff. It’s too bad they have to look up at the Phillies. I think they’ll be in the Wild Card fight all year long.
Brewers: Their lineup is better than people realize, it’s more than just Braun and Fielder, that’s for sure. But their pitching staff is a mess beyond Gallardo. Read the rest of this entry »