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.
Nats called up Ron Villone from the minors. It’s not the most exciting news, just the song plays in my head every time I hear his name, so I really wanted to write something about him. They dropped Mike Hinckley down, probably due to intense amounts of suckiness.
First, on Villone. What the lefty does very well is pitch to other lefties. Righties, on the other hand… oh there’s a pun there! Hi-larious. But people, there’s nothing funny about the way he pitches to righties. Here’s his career and the last 5 years:
Since it’s only been one night, we don’t know what we have. Julian Tavares as closer? Closer by committee? Garret Mock as relief ace? We’ll know in a couple of games, assuming they are ahead, what Manny has planned. And if it’s successful. But enough speculation, what do you WANT to see?
If you didn’t get to watch the game, or weren’t one of the dozens of people at the park yesterday, Jordan Zimmermann looked pretty impressive. Unflappable may be a better word. The 2 hour rain delay didn’t seem to be a problem, for him at least. He was solid, and even in the inning where he actually gave up runs, he almost got out of a no-out triple to Chipper. Even after giving up the HR to Diaz, he seemed calm, and settled down to pitch two more great innings. The line looks nice – 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. How about 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA to start out a career? But that’s not what caught my eye. Read the rest of this entry »
In case you missed it this weekend, the Nats lost 3 games in a row. To tack on to all the other games in a row they lost. So that fact that they lost doesn’t seem that significant, except for the way that they lost. In all three games they were up late, and in all three games, the bullpen blew it. On Friday, they were up 2-1 going into the 9th inning. Hanrahan blew the save, then Saul Rivera got the loss in the 10th. On Saturday, they were up 6-3 going in to the 9th inning, and Hanrahan blew it again. This time it was Julian Tavarez who got the loss, in the 11th. Sunday, the game I attended, they once again took a lead into the 9th inning, and once again blew the save. This time, since Hanrahan was tired of blowing daves, Saul Rivera took credit for both the blown save and the loss.
What’s important to remember here is that, despite the bad bullpen, the team played pretty well. Lannan and Olsen gave them very good starts, and Cabrera pitched very well, too. The offense wasn’t great, but it did enough to win all 3 games. These losses rest squarely on the shoulders of the bullpen. What to do? What to do? What’s most amazing is how difficult it actually is to blow 3 saves in a row. That takes a special kind of ineptitude. Read the rest of this entry »