Was 9 22 2
Bos 26 46 0
- Brian Schneider cannot tell a lie: "We came in here and got our butts kicked pretty bad," he told reporters after Wednesday night's 9-3 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. If the three sounds familiar, it's the same number of runs the Nats scored in all three games---not nearly enough, as it were. If the nine sounds apt, that's because it is---pretty much the mid-point of the three-game pounding the Sox inflicted, in which they averaged 8.67 runs per contest. The Nats have put a lie to the concept of momentum; they've lost eight of the last ten, and the only two victories are the dramatic comebacks over the Yankees this past weekend.
There were two stories of last night's game: (1) Jon Lester's ability to shut down the Nats, and (2) Shawn Hill's inability to keep the Nats in the game. Hill's line (5.2 innings, 12 hits, eight runs) was ugly, and while those with the ability to watch the game commented that Hill was not helped by the defense behind him, Hill nevertheless couldn't alleviate the strain put on the bullpen. Hill made one "don't go there" pitch in the second (a David Ortiz granny) and couldn't get out of the sixth. Fortunately, it was a road game and there is a much-needed off day occurring today.
- A few days ago, Dodger Thoughts created a fascinating table detailing the percentage of starter innings pitched by those with earned run averages below 4.75. The Nats ranked third-worst in the National League at fifty-two percent. That might not be as bad as it looks at first blush (the bottom two, the Cubs and the Phillies, were way low; for instance, the Phils were at 23.6 percent, though keep in mind these numbers aren't park-adjusted), and even the Nats' ability to break even in that department so far is a testament to a pre-implosion Tony Armas and the unexpected contributions of Mike O'Connor (who wasn't even on the organization's radar) and, prior to last night, Hill (who missed all of last season recovering from surgery). Keep in mind that many innings have been eaten by Livan Hernandez and Ramon Ortiz, both of whom have only barely and briefly dipped below a five ERA this season.
- Hopefully, that figure will rise with the return of John Patterson on Friday. As we all know, Patterson has been out of action since April 21 with a "right forearm strain," and his convalescence has been either patient or frustrating---or both---depending on your point of view. Patterson is hopeful:
"I feel good; I am anticipating coming back," he said. "I've been scouting Baltimore, getting prepared to pitch. I feel like I'm ready to go. I have that anxious feeling to get on the mound. My arm feels good, which is what we wanted. When I come back, they want me to be 100 percent. I feel I'm at that point now."
Patterson's return was delayed by an extra rehab start, which was used to shake some rust off his curveball---something to keep in mind tomorrow night.
- Not synovitis!!! The wages of this ailment---forearm swelling, it would appear---could land Armas on the disabled list, the Times reports. According to the notes article, the team will wait a couple days to make that determination, even if it means carrying thirteen pitchers over the weekend. Also noted: (1) Nick Johnson's MRI on his back came up negative, which of course means positive, and he hopes he'll be in action this weekend, which means he probably won't be; (2) the team has no idea what's bothering Livan; and (3) Curt Schilling made a very nice gesture in appreciation to Frank Robinson, his first big league manager.
Capitol Punishment provides a review of the Nats' second, short, left, and center defense using a variety of advanced metrics, a review as comprehensive as it is helpful. The review notes that the least sophisticated of these metrics, "Range Factor," regards the surveyed outfielders---Soriano, Jackson, and Byrd---as exceptional, whereas most of the other metrics do not. I'd surmise that range factor overrates these players, and it does so because the following is not captured:
Cat. Nats NL AVG
GB 807 873
FB 838 702
GB/FB 0.96 1.24
In short, range factor is blind to several contours of individual pitching staffs, such as strikeout rates and, as seen here, groundball-to-fly ball ratio. As demonstrated by this chart (data from BaseballDirect.com and current through the games of June 20), Washington pitchers have surrendered well over a hundred more fly balls than the National League average. It stands to reason that if your pitchers' tendencies give you more fly balls to get to, you'll get to more fly balls, no matter how inefficient you are at getting to fly balls. (Conversely, if your staff is yielding very few groundballs, you'll get to very few groundballs, no matter if you're good at getting to groundballs or not.)
- Piggybacking (ugh, I hate that term) on an idea from Beltway Boys, OMG takes a look at the keep-or-trade question. Harper's criteria are well-considered, in my opinion:
1) What can we expect from them in the future?
2) For how much?
3) How would the Nats replace them?
4) Can we even get anything worthwhile back for them?
Harper looked at the infield yesterday, and he'll get to the outfield today. Worth a look.
Also check out OMG to see what has become of former Montreal prospect (and flop) Peter Bergeron.