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.
Some Interesting Things to Come
This weekend, the Nationals travel to Citi Field to play the Mets. It should be interesting as many people think the Mets aren’t going to be very good this year. Perhaps that has something to do with the starters they’re throwing out there (well, the ones not named Santana). Friday the Nats face Mike Pelfery, who last year had a 3.72 ERA in the friendly confines of Citi (not bad for a huge field, but not super impressive) and a 6.72 ERA away. Saturday the Nats get Oliver Perez, who has a similarly bad 6.42 ERA away from home… and a 7.26 ERA in Citi. So they should probably hope they can beat up those guys before facing Johan, who managed a 2.43 ERA in his home park.
One of the more intriguing stories of this weekend is the head to head matchup of perhaps the two best third basemen in the National League. Zimmerman is the better fielder, Wright is the better hitter, but they are both good enough at the other’s specialty to be in the running for best overall. Zim’s bat last year beat out Wright’s, and with his fielding he was easily the more valuable player. But Wright’s bat was good enough in the past to push his value way up. Going with fangraph’s WAR value, we can see that Wright has been better over their careers
Remove Zim’s 0.7 in 2005 (which was actually pretty good considering he only had 62 PAs) and Wright 2004 (only 1/3 of a season), we can see that Wright has still been more valuable. But if Zim can continue to hit as he did in 2009, he’ll definitely give Wright a run for his money. Not that these two will literally be going against each other, but the battle for NL hot corner supremacy will play out some this weekend. Unless Pablo Sandoval has something to say about it.
Another intriguing side story will be Jose Reyes, who is expected to return to the field on Saturday night. Without him, I don’t think the Mets stand a chance this year. With him, they might not stand a chance anyway, but without him, they’re cooked. But he is an exciting player to watch, and hopefully he’ll come back healthy and play the full season. Hopefully, with the Mets in last place the entire time.