I wanted to post this yesterday, but the office network was going crazy. Anyway, ground ball double play to Espinosa, relayed to Desmond, sent over to Dunn at first. For some reason, I’m excited about it. Hopefully that combo, at least the 2nd base and SS component, will be commonplace over the next half of a decade…
The way these rookies are playing, who needs veterans? As you may have not been totally paying attention to baseball this weekend, with the start of college football and the fact that the Nats are playing for nothing, you may have missed what the youngsters on this team have been able to do. Of course, Danny Espinosa had such a day that the local news was forced to mention baseball for a moment, but he’s not the only rookie doing well right now. But let’s start with him
Espinosa has now had 16 ABs in his career, 9 of which have resulted in hits, 3 of them doubles and 3 of them homers. He managed to hit two yesterday, one being a grand slam. He has given no reason to doubt that he can hit in the majors, but keep in mind that even if he hit 16 HRs in 16 ABs, it’s still not enough to truly judge a player. Ok maybe 16 for 16 with 16 HRs would be, but you get my meaning. He has yet to take a walk in the majors, and his inability to do so will hamper him at some point, but the .563/.563/1.313 is still pretty impressive. So far so good and this is as amazing a start as any rookie could have.
Meanwhile, on the other side of second base, depending on the day, Ian Desmond has quietly recovered from his midseason slump to bring his numbers up to .289/.324/.427. Not quite as much power as one would have hoped, but his recovery in itself (from an OPS low of .659 on June 30th) is something to be excited about. He has hit .340/.370/.497 since July 1, which is now no longer that small of sample, with 211 PAs in 57 games. It’s almost 1/3 of a season, and he keeps going, with 10 hits in 17 ABs in September.
The Nationals have exactly 28 games left to play this season and according to their website, the rotation is:
That means, assuming the rotations stays the same, Livan, Lannan and Marquis will get 6 more starts each, the other 2 get 5. Of course, we know, that this isn’t the case. For one thing, Yunesky Maya will be getting some starts. So how should the rotation actually go? Here’s my take on each guy, and whether they should remain a starter for September.
Livo – Re-signed for next year, he is the elder statesmen of the group, and has been the best pitcher on the team this year. His 3.7 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) is not only the best by a pitcher on this year’s team, it’s the best since John Patterson’s 4.9 and Esteban Loiza’s 3.8 in 2005. He won’t catch Patterson, but he has the opportunity to go past Loiza this month. Regardless, he will and should continue to start, if only to bring some stability. STARTER
According to Ben Goessling, the Nats are calling up a trio of players today with the expanded roster. Danny Espinosa will be on his first major league stint, 22 year old Wilson Ramos will likely make his longest appearance – in May he was up for a week with the Twins, followed by a 1 game appearance after he was traded to the Nats, and, of course, Collin Balester will return to the bullpen. Meanwhile, Yuneksy Maya is starting in Syracuse tonight, but is expected to start for the Nats some time next week. Syracuse’s season is over early next week, so more callups, including Maya, are expected after that. You’ve no doubt seen Balester this year, but here’s a little bit on the others:
Danny Espinosa – Sometimes he’s portrayed as the opposite of Desmond: less rangey, more sure-handed, weaker arm, not as powerful with the bat… more powerful with the bat.. the list goes on. This comparison is probably unfair to both players. The truth is, in the field, Espinosa has a very good range, and a cannon arm. And he is a very solid defensive player. He’s more similar to Desmond than different, which is why there will be arguments about who should play where. But at this point, Espinosa will play 2B as Desmond sticks at SS. With the bat, Danny has been able to take walks in the past, although this year he wasn’t as patient. 74 BB in 2009 was good, only 41 in 2010 wasn’t as impressive. His numbers, other than the walks, have been similar over the last two years, .264/.375/.460 last year and .268/.337/.464 this year. He also hit 22 HRs this year in the minors, but enough about the numbers. He is going to be a potent member of a strong middle infield combo, and whenever his bat is major league ready, be it today or next year, he shores up what’s been a gaping positional hole in the lineup for many years.