Now that was a lot like last year. Gausman is obviously not ready for prime time and the Nats punished him for reaching for more. The Nats offense was never a juggernaut but it could beat up a terrible pitcher and Gausman, right now, is a terrible major league pitcher. Four homers? One from Moore and one from Bernadina? If that doesn't earn him a ticket back to AAA, the O's haven't been following baseball at all this year.
Of course Nate Karns wasn't much better. Sorry, standing O people, but he was actually pretty bad. He gave up 3 long balls and put 7 guys on base in 4 and 1/3rd. He did come up "big" in one spot striking out Yamaico Navarro and an AL pitcher to end a rally but that's near the minimum of what you'd expect from a pitcher. He got lucky (every ground ball hit resulted in an out, Duke got a DP to immediately wipe out his baserunners) and still his stats don't look good. Of course I'll take the bad over the terrible every day.
ZNN should win tonight. The Orioles aren't a patient team, ZNN doesn't walk anyone so unless they are the team to hit him hard they aren't scoring more than a couple off him. After that you get an off-day from watching baseball as Dan Haren takes on Freddy Garcia and you have better things to do with your life than watch that.
What's up with Ian?
While we've run roughshod over nearly everyone on the team so far this year, Ian Desmond has mostly escaped our wrath. Sure his hitting isn't exactly like last year's but it was still over average and good for a short stop. And yes, his fielding isn't exactly like last year's either but that fault is in ourselves. True fluke defensive years happen all the time. Adam Dunn ruled first base for the Nats in his last season. You need to very much be on guard about anyone having a particularly good singular year after years of mediocrity.
But recently he hasn't been hitting, and if he isnt' hitting and isn't fielding... well that matters. A .209 / .263 / .337 line in the past 28 days, .150 / .205 / .200 line in the past 2 weeks. It could just be a fluke of the BABIP. That has dropped from a too high .373 to a too low .239 from April to May. But the power has dropped too, while the walks have gone up (yes it would have been hard for them to go down). This suggests something else might be going on.
One of the things I've said about Ian Desmond over the past 2 years, is I wonder why anyone would throw him a strike. He doesn't walk. Last year he was 22nd "worst" in the league at drawing walks, and this year he currently sits at 24th "worst". Did pitchers finally catch on?
The zone% data confirms that he's seen fewer pitches in the zone in May than in April. Down from 49.2% to 44.3%. You can see from the charts below showing the type of pitches he took in May and April, that they are working the outside of the plate more in May, as opposed to trying to hit that corner, just missing it all together and seeing if Ian can adapt.
The good news is that he doesn't seem to be swinging at a lot of those bad pitches. I don't see anything below particularly worrying
And what we see from the numbers looks like Ian is adapting. He's swinging at slightly fewer balls out of the zone and more balls in the zone. However, that can be misleading. He's getting more junk thrown at him. If they are letting the straight fastballs go out of the zone and giving him offspeed stuff in it, that may explain a loss in BABIP as well. The contact he's making isn't on the same type of pitch and thus isn't giving him the same hard hit balls as before. But the numbers don't seem to really go with that. Line Drives are up slightly. Of course there are line drives and there are LINE DRIVES so it's all subjective. What we do know is his contact outside of the zone is up, while inside its about the same.
To sum it up, even though he's recognizing the balls and strikes better, he still isn't doing a great job at it and he's not getting the same types of balls and strikes that he had been so when he does swing he's not getting the same result. I'm not getting worried about Ian just yet. It could easily just be an off month or a better quality of pitcher. Or, if you want to be an optimist, it could be a bump on the road to an even greater improvement. He does need to recognize balls and strikes properly in order to keep hitting like he did last year and at least in May the movement in that direction is there. This is something to keep an eye on though.