Nationals Baseball: April 2022

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Fancy fancy stats

Many players in the Nats offense are not doing as well as we thought they might. Ruiz can't seem to get those balls in play to go through enough. Hernandez is having a rough start. Lane Thomas and Robles are fighting to be out of the lineup. Cruz looks like he's aging every time up. Escobar looks dead. Even Soto isn't SOTO - though he's still hitting with power and walking a ton. 

Which of this is real and which is illusion? Well we'll look at some fancy stats and see what we can parse out. 

K-Rate (If you're K-rate is too high - not much can be done. You aren't hitting the ball)

Lane Thomas (35.6%) Victor Robles (30.6%) and Escobar (27.4%) have K numbers too out of whack.  Maybe you let Escobar's go for a pure power hitter but guess what... Alcides ain't that. 

Ruiz (9.3%) and Soto (14.9%) are not missing pitches

Riley Adams is the worst at 42.1% but not getting regular ABs I give him a pass and not bring him up again.

BABIP (hitting the ball where they ain't is hard Wee Willie) 

Yadi (.375) Bell (.353) and Franco (.333) are probably getting a bit lucky. That's to be expected for the unusually hot Yadi and Bell. For Franco that's troubling

Escobar (.175) Cruz (.185) Robles (.214) and maybe Soto (.269) are getting unlucky... maybe. We do have to see HOW they are hitting it. Hard LDs? This is very unlukcy. Soft GBs and FBs? Completely understandable

LD-Rate/GB-Rate/FB-Rate (the injured Ryan Zimmerman rule - it doesn't matter how hard you hit the ball that first lands 3 feet in front of home plate)

Robles (28%) Escobar (25%) Bell (24.5%) Yadi (24.2%) and Cesar (24.2%) are in good spots for LD. Cruz (17.9%) Thomas (14.7%) and Soto (14.5%) are not. 

Where LD-rate is easy (more is better) GB-rate and FB-rate is harder to gauge and is more "off your usual". For GB-Rate Robles (60%) that's too much. Cruz (50%) is much higher than his normal For FB-rate Escobar (42.5%) shouldn't be hitting that many in the air and in contrast Cruz (32%) probably needs to hit MORE in the air.

HR/FB (Hitting it over the short porch or into Death Valley evens out in the end but not in April). 

Cruz (11.1%) is probably low for him - again gotta see how hard they are hitting. In aggregate all the guys at 0% are unlucky but individually none of them are homer hitters. 

Hard%, Avg EV (Ok so how hard) 

Escobar (5%!!! 79MPH!!!) is literally the weakest hitter in the league.  He's hitting LDs but they are like thrown balls.  Hernandez has mixed numbers (31.9% 84MPH) which might suggest killing some pitches and getting completely fooled on others. Would need a deeper dive. Thomas (29.4%) and Soto (25.5%) are hitting far too much soft.*

Franco isn't hitting anything soft (12.5% Soft% 90MPH)

Other stuff - Barrells (basically where the stats say "oh that should be a hit") and launch angle. I'll just make this relative.

Yadi leads the team in Barrell % and Soto and Cruz isn't far behind but they aren't close to the top of the league. Escobar is near the bottom while  Cesar, Thomas, Robles, and Ruiz and Bell? aren't far behind.  All in the bottom 25% 

Soto is hitting the ball a little too low by launch angle, but so is Yadi so I don't know. It's basically Soto's LA every year.  Escobar is hitting it up too far as we saw with FB-Rate.


Escobar is hitting like trash and it's no accident. The guy is hitting weak FBs and weak LDs when to be successful he needs to be a hard GB hitter. He's not getting unlucky then. Combined with the strikeouts this guy is just not a major league player

Ruiz and Soto seem more like guys just needing to dial in where they need to be.  Soto needs to hit the ball harder, but it may be hard getting pitched around constantly. Ruiz probably needs a bit fewer FBs. But this is could also be vagaries of early stats. 

Thomas is hitting the ball worse than Robles, even if he's eeked out a hit or two more. Robles should be starting even though if things even out he's still probably well under average given those Ks. 

Yadi is getting lucky but is also hitting the ball pretty well. Bell is getting lucky and may not be. Bell will be interesting to see how it progresses as they stop pitching around him as the only other name hot hitter on the team.

Franco is probably about where he should be. If he can step it up a bit that makes him a decent trade guy. If he regresses a bit then he's not.  Given his history the latter is more likely but that's the gamble you took.

Cruz  needs to hit more FBs. It's pretty simple. That's how he hits it well and that's what he's here for.

I'm unclear about Hernandez.

Soto's Soft % the past three years - 12.5%, 15.1%, 15.9%. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Escobar over Garcia is a bad sign.

That was a bad loss.  The Gray Ace didn't pitch too poorly, arguably one pitch from a much better result, but also arguably exactly where he should have been giving up 7 hits and three walks over 5 2/3rds.  The Nats didn't hit too poorly either - the first seven batters all got hits and they managed four walks as well. However they were all singles except for one double (by guess who... ok I'll tell you - Juan Soto) and spread out so they didn't amount to much. The last two batters, Robles and Escobar, didn't get hits and it's starting to get VERY silly that the latter is still playing. Let's recap 

Alcides Escobar was a glove first very healthy SS who manned the position for the the Brewers than the Royals for 1390 games over 9 seasons (that's over 154 games per). The problem was he hit terribly. The no power (41 homers for his career through 2018) wasn't surprising, but when coupled with no walks (about 25 per season) meant he was giving you nothing unless he happened to slap enough balls through holes. He rarely did and by the time he was in his late 20s he was putting up seasons that would be among the worst full time ones in baseball. 

2015 : .257, 26BB (.293 OBP), 3 homers, 20 doubles

2016 : .261, 27BB (.292), 7 homers, 24 doubles

2017 : .250, 15BB (.272), 6 homers, 36 doubles

2018 : .257, 29BB (.279), 4 homers, 22 doubles

Really what justified playing him was his defense and a little bit his speed.  You could argue he was the 2nd best fielding SS in baseball in the early to mid 2010s, but as he aged these things went away. 17SB became 4 and 8. The plus defense became average at best. There was no reason for the Royals or anyone to keep playing him, so after no bounce back in 2018, the Royals let him go and he never made it to the majors again... until 2021

Escobar had been toiling in the minors and in Japan and was back in KC's system when the Nats traded for him and stuck him in the lineup. He immediately did well and in about half a season Escobar put up a his best numbers of his career, although the top-level defense did not return.  You can see given that why the Nats might sign him to back up their SS to be Luis Garcia but instead he was put in as a starter. A 35 year old with middling defense, that not even the worst teams wanted in the majors since 2018, who swung a bat who's history of being good amount to a half-season since 2014.  That's who the Nats made a starter. 

This is even more absurd given their most ready prospect is a MI, who is major league ready. Luis Garcia did not do well at SS last season, we won't try to pretend he did, but at 21 he held his own in a way that made you interested in seeing what he might do this season. He also spend a decent chunk of 2021 in AAA hitting to a .303 / .371 / .599 line which suggested he might not have anything left to prove there. The decision was simple. But again they started Escobar and sent down Luis and told him to work on his defense which admittedly is not great for a SS (he should be at 2B in my opinion) but given the Nats weren't replacing him with a great or even good defensive SS didn't seem to make sense

Garcia is hitting .360 / .407 /.613 in AAA right now.  

I don't care how bad his glove is, he needs to be in the majors. 

I don't care how good Escobar's glove is (and all indications is it's not very), he needs to be off this team. 

This ain't hard. 

So why is Garcia still in the minors? All I can think is that it IS service time manipulation. But as we know Rizzo isn't keen on that, then it would be a call from above, telling him to keep an asset as valuable as possible for the next set of owners. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this. I don't know. But it's an inexplicable decision on a baseball level. 

Other Nats Top Prospects (not traded for last year division) 

Cavalli  - rough start, carrying a 9.00 ERA and it's been consistent poor outings. 

House - crushing Low-A (.386 / .463 / .529), he'll be up in H-A soon

Henry - Looks unhittable in AA so far (3H 2BB, 12 K in 9IP) but they are being very careful with him (hasn't gone past 3 innings in a start) so he'll stretch out first

Rutledge - hurt still

Vaquero - 17yo Int'l signing will play rookie ball... sorry "Complex League" and that hasn't started yet

Lara - Great 1st start in Low-A but not good since. Sitting on a 6.52 ERA

DeLa Rosa - Pretty solid Low-A start (.292 / .395 / .492)

Antuna - OK in High A  .261 / .435 / .370  - eye looks great but was loved for his power-average bat so this is an interesting start.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Monday Quickie

 Things went from meh to terrible this weekend as the Nats finally played a second good team and got trounced. They lost the weekend 24-6 in aggregate, neither hitting nor pitching well. Corbin looked incredibly bad, not making it out of the second. Joan Adon, who just celebrated his first major league win giving the Nats clubhouse a little something to smile about, got rocked looking like the AAA pitcher he is. Cishek, who is supposed to be the good arm in the pen gave up 5 hits and 1 walk in an inning and a third. Josh Bell hurt his other knee. Alcides Escobar went 0-series and dropped his OPS to .358.  Nelson Cruz went 0-series and is now hitting .169.  It was the type of performance that would make you sick <insert obligatory Lucius Fox joke here>

Here is where the Nats stand at the moment. 

Their big FA move is crashing. Their other good non Soto hitter is hurt. Their 2018 CF of the future can field but really can't hit, but they can't replace him with the other guy, because the other guy can't hit either. They have a 35 year old at SS who can't hit. Their below average 3B is getting to average, but their average 2B is hitting below average so that evens out. They have one bright spot which is a Cuban hitter brought in 5 years ago finally finding his swing in the majors.  Unfortunately he is 34. 

Their starting rotation is one pitcher deep, making a rookie the defacto ace. Their best early reliever is down for weeks, leaving the pen structure a mess and filled with arms no one would call quality.  

They are the second worst team in baseball and after a brief stand at home against Miami they'll go on an extended West Coast swing playing the team that just humiliated them and a couple surprisingly good teams.  If they can't win this series against the Marlins they are a pretty good bet to be looking at a 10-20 start.

How is the season already long?

Friday, April 22, 2022

Trade Early Returns

Last year the Nats sold. They traded Max and Trea and a handful of other players with the hopes of fortifying this team a bit for the future. While these things are judged over time frames of more like 3-5 years it doesn't hurt to see if for the three months the Nats had these guys (2 last year, 1 this) to see if anything is going surprisingly well or terribly terrible. 

Aldo Ramirez (Schwarber) - SP - Nats put him in Rookie ball and he broke. Elbow stuff. Still hasn't seen the field this year

Riley Adams (Hand) - C - In the majors as a back-up C for some reason where he barely plays and hasn't been good, but I mean let him hit everyday somewhere. 

Richard Gausch (Gomes/Harrison) - SP - Wasn't particularly good in A+ last year but moved to AA anyway, and... nope. He's probably at the "ok try him as a reliever now" phase of his career.

Drew Millas (Gomes/Harrison) - C - the slap-hitting, high-contact, low-power guy did ok in A+ but has an intercostal strain and hasn't played this year. 

Seth Shuman (Gomes/Harrison) - SP - was pretty bad in A+ so didn't cross whatever threshold Gauch did and he is still there.  Nothing exciting this year so far. 

Gerardo Carillo (Scherzer/Turner) - bad in AA, so stuck there but the Nats did transition him to a reliever. It has not worked out so far. 

Donovan Casey (Scherzer/Turner) - OF - Donny K-See finished well for the Nats last year in AA and struck out a lot less. That has not been the case this year in AAA. But the man does swing a heavy bat. 

Josiah Gray / Keibert Ruiz (Scherzer/Turner) - you know these guys. Both are doing ok, not great. 

Lane Thomas (Lester) - playing regularly in the majors he looks like he shouldn't be

Mason Thompson (Hudson) - Also in majors and had a couple bad outings before getting hurt. 

Jordy Barley (Hudson) - bad in A ball, moved up to A+ where he's just been terrible. He's been a "if he gets it" guy and it looks like that isn't happening. 

It's too early to say anything definitively here we'll circle back say... June?  If you want some vague early takes there is nothing surprisingly good happening. Barley looks very questionable as a player and Gausch as a starting pitcher. But given the numbers brought in two failures in 12 players right away doesn't seem crazy.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Fedde is Fedde

 D-Backs still stink but Bad Fedde stinks more. 

Fedde who is 29 has survived by simply being here and available and cheap. I often say health / availability is something to be understood to be a positive not just tossed aside in favor of a slightly better player who can't stay on the field.* But Fedde was below average at 25 and 50 starts since have shown no improvement. He's maybe the 5th man on a bad team. Lucky for him the team became bad around him so he IS the 5th man on a bad team now. 

Anyway. The bigger news from yesterday is Doolittle is hurt. Elbow stuff. Probably gone for a while. This stinks because when right he's very good and he was basically perfect this season. And going forward, the better he was the better the return would be on a trade. And also people like him. So hopefully he's back right quickly and looks as good. 

Also Josh Bell went out.  He hasn't been carrying the team, but he's been the Sundance Kid to Juan Soto's Butch Cassidy.  It's been asked in the comments what I think about Bell and if he can really hit and I think so. I think the "alternating year" thing isn't a thing, not really. It speaks to inconsistency but not a pattern. When you look at it closer that 2018 PIT year, which was meh at the plate, had him learning patience but it not coming through thanks to an unusual drop in HR/FB rate. That hasn't been repeated. The 2020 PIT year, with it's big drop in BB rate, big increase in K rate seems completely an anamoly as if he was trying to do something or be something and lost his way in the process.  I think you have to take his average stats and assume that's what he is. Ok average, OK patience, pretty decent power, doesn't strike out too much.  A good bat. Not the worst fielder at first. His start is a fluke, and there are plenty of 1B who can hit but he's a decent player and the Nats are getting value from him. Nothing wrong with that. Looking at the lineup who else can you say for certain should be a decent bat this year except Soto and Cruz?

But to recap the Nats lost their best reliever to start the year and might have lost no less than their 3rd best hitter and they were already bad.  They weren't the worst team in the NL as of Tuesday Night. But maybe now they are? Who's up for 6 against the Giants in the next 9?

*Yes I did say Don't sign Aaron Hicks long term. What about it? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Technically Second

Arizona is bad. Like really so. Like one guy in the lineup hitting over .200 bad. If they scored a bunch of runs that would have been a black mark on the Nats pitching staff. That they didn't is nothing special. 

But good! The Nats are not the worst team in the National League (and by extension in baseball).  In fact they are tied for 2nd in the NL East!  Have they played a slightly easy schedule, gotten a little lucky, and benefitted from bad starts from ATL and PHI? Yes, yes and yes! Are we still talking about a 6-7 record here? Yes! But take what you can get. 

Notes :

  • After starting hot Keibert has just stopped hitting. Like at all. Given he has not yet shown patience or power that's not good. 
  • Riley Adams, Lane Thomas, Cruz and Robles are still terrible.  The replacement level MI is replacement level, which is better than terrible I guess.  Soto, Bell, and Yadi Hernandez are the only guys hitting.
  • The Nats have one homer in the last week. 
  • After a rocky first start Gray handled his next two games. I've said he's a valid ML pitcher, just not sure where in the rotation.  However, for this rotation now... he might be the ace? 
  • Bullpen is ok - or at least "better than Pirates and D-Backs offenses" level. so that's something.  Remember kids it can always be worse.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Monday Quickie - No rest for the weary (the weary being Nats fans)

The Nats teased a better outcome than they got and ended up losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates over the weekend. At no point during this weekend did the Pirates look sneakily better than we thought they would be meaning a question I posed before these two series (PIT then ARI) might have an answer. Are the Nats more 60 win bad or 70 win bad? It looks like 60 win bad. 

Still they could sweep the D-backs, currently one of the worst teams in baseball and completely deserving of that record scoring a measley 21 runs in their first nine games, tied for worst in the majors with the lowly Orioles and 2/3rds of a run behind team 28.  Let's preview them shall we? 

Basically the team is all slumping with the exception of fun-named DH Seth Beer. He was a late 1st round pick for Houston, hit in the minors, got to the D-Backs in the Greinke trade. While kind of athletic actually he does not field well and DH suits him.  The other hitter on the team Ketel Marte, matured into a star over the past few years hitting for average and power, is slumping to start the year.  As for the rest of the team... well they are mostly young (out of the 14 hitters on the team, nine are 26 or younger, only one is over 28) and they shouldn't be THIS bad. Carson Kelly and Pavin Smith were prospects that ended up average, they've been hideous.  Geraldo Perdomo and Daulton Varsho ARE prospects that are currently terrible and below average in their first real time up. So they should hit much better just because average is much better than what they are doing right now. But the remaining 3 bats include the never good Christian Walker, the aging David Peralta, and the just there Yonny Hernandez - all of which could be bad, along with a bench you can figure out the quality level based on having these guys all start. The upshot? This team should score more runs but should also be one of the worst hitting teams in baseball. The Nats should hold this team down. 

Pitching wise - the starting pitching might be ok? Might? Zac Gallen had a couple of good half-seasons before a very average 2021. Bumgarner is probably no longer Bumgarner but he is still only 32. Merrill Kelly is perfectly ok. If all three do as well as they can that's an average 1-3. 4 & 5 will be a mess though.  Zach Davies is just a guy and anyone else (currently Humberto Castellanos) is just filling space.  Nats miss Gallen and Castellanos. The relief pitching is decent. Old friend Mark Melancon is hanging there now until he gets traded later. Noe Ramirez is a guy hard to square up. Martin and Nelson are live arms. Poppen and Mantiply are dead GB guys that keep the ball in play.  It's a hard bunch to get that big XBH off of. You have to work them. You can do it, sure. This isn't a shut down group. But there are easier pens to score from. 

The Nats pitching should look really good this series. The hitting should be enough. This team is worse than the Nats. The Nats are home  Really 2 out of 3 is expected.

We are 3 series in now so we can start making some notes. Nothing more than that but we can start forming the kernel of ideas that in another 2 weeks time might form our first hot takes of the season.

AL East - it is the big mess that everyone expected with the Os on the bottom. No one is standing out though. The Blue Jays are having trouble pitching - Berrios has been terrible.  The Yankees are weirdly the best pitching team in the AL and the 2nd worst scoring team. Unsurprisingly IKF + old Josh Donaldson does not equal Carlos Correa. 

AL Central - Another as expected division. The White Sox with the solid lead.  Honestly though the Guardians should be better. They are getting some ridiculous hitting performances, Myles Straw OPS+ 173, Steven Kwan 227, Jose Ramirez 308, Owen Miller 344!  That's a .500 / .545 / .964 line. Pitching still young and good. Good manager. If the AL East beats itself up Cleveland could sneak in. Minnesota's plans are not working.  Correa IS hitting like IKF + old Donaldson early.

AL West - Angels are on top? Can they do it?  The West looks like the east - all bunched up. But the Rangers here aren't Orioles bad. Oh they can't pitch but they can score runs. Astros are struggling offensively without Correa but his replacement is doing fine and Verlander has started off hot after his loooong break. 

NL East - Mets have broken away from a disappointing pack hitting well and pitching great and that's with Scherzer being merely very good and deGrom out. Phillies aren't scoring like we thought they might (though peripherals look better than that). Braves look lost with most of the starters being knocked around. Marlins pitching does look pretty good. 

NL Central - Cardinals riding a white hot pen and some unexpectedly good performances at the plate (Pujols!) to first. Brewers are built around the idea Yelich is their star and he may not be anymore. Seiya Suzuki the star we hoped he might be and it's keeping the Cubs interesting. 

NL West - The Giants were real?  Looks like it. The pitching is again amazing with Carlos Rodon looking unhittable. The Dodgers are doing what we thought they would. The Rockies are above .500 and it's not luck? I'll with hold judgment there. 


Along with the people we've named and some flukes that always happen we have MVP starts from Arenado and Jose Ramirez. Matt Olson is doing great replacing Freeman. Don't worry Soto is doing fine and by that I mean really really good. Just not having one of those crazy stretches. CJ Cron (5 homers) is a big part of why Rockies are starting hot. Luis Robert has 5 SB to lead the majors. That's more impressive when you find out he's only been on base 6 times from hits and walks. Joey Votto probably the star struggling the most early


Real early as one great/terrible start can make or break a guy. Rodon, Andrew Heaney, and Harper's personal favorite Nestor Cortes have been great. Manaea and a the Mets non star trio (Bassitt, Megill, Carrasco) also deserve nods. Mariners reliever Andres Munoz has been all Ks. Holding off for a couple more starts before declaring trouble but these names have yet to throw a quality start and have looked bad while not doing it - Berrios, Corbin, Wheeler, Ohtani, DeSclafini

Friday, April 15, 2022

Missing players! Bad pitchers! Bad players! Missing pitchers!

Nats lost a garbage game. Adon, who is not a major league starter, was pounded and deservedly so. While he was initially in the rotation and Rogers out, one has to think it's the other way around now, and when Anibal returns he'll be down to AAA. Where is Anibal? Hurt his neck and is out... indefinitely. Cavalli isn't ready.  Next up would either be retread Aaron Sanchez or "let's see" with Jackson Tetreault.

They followed Adon with their B Bullpen which should be the L bullpen, am I right??!?

(pause for laughs) 

The Nats don't go deep so if you are losing you probably should throw these guys out there. Don't waste a Doolittle or Cishek or Rainey?!* outing on that.

The hitting was fine. Ruiz keeps on singling and Yadi is making the most of his opportunity so far. Unfortunately for the Nats the CF issue is not clear at all as both Robles AND Thomas aren't hitting. If that's the case you play Robles, but they seem to be mad at Robles for not hitting while for Thomas they are hoping he works out of it.  Thus is where their reputations stand right now.  Meanwhile Escobar isn't hitting which ANYONE WHO FOLLOWS BASEBALL AT ALL COULD HAVE TOLD YOU WOULD HAPPEN.


There was a chance Dee S-G was going to take over in CF if only because he IS hitting but he is... sick. Or something. Davey didn't want to say. COVID? Hungover? Something completely different? We'll see if we get more information about it today.

*I mean until he inevitably blows up

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Series win - Pirates Preview

And you call yourselves Champions. tsk tsk. 

One more series and we start to talk numbers, albeit extremely informally.  

The Nats have a very interesting schedule in that next they play the Pirates for 4, then host the D-backs for 3. Conceivably since these are both bad teams, the Nats could win like 5 of 7 and come out of this 8-6 and like tied for first in the NL East.  This would briefly set off a "Maybe they are actually good" storyline that I would absolutely hate. This would not be a surprise.

Of course the Nationals are also a bad team and on the flip side if the Nats stumble and go 2 of 7 against these guys then they find themselves 5-9 and this long season just feels a lot longer. 

 We can start doing some previews though - 


Nutting's investment fund masquerading as a baseball team has played STL and PIT so far and is 2-3.  Lineup wise they've gotten some good performances but it's all early season small sample size stuff. And even then they haven't overwhlemed.  A lot of hits but not a lot of homers and not a lot of walks. It's not a good offense with two good bats (K'Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds) and one decent guy (Ben Gamel).  The most interesting guy is probably DH Michael Chavis who was once thought of highly in the Boston system, reaching AAA at 22, but not doing well since. He might be something. Of course this is 4 bats. The rest are just guys filling spots, even the young guys.

The staff is Jose Quintana trying to find redemption after being mediocre for the Cubs and bombing with the Angels and Giants last year, three Erick Feddes and an actual prospect, albeit an up and down one, in Mitch Keller. The Nats miss Zach Thompson - which is a shame because he's probably the worst of the Feddes - the version that shouldn't be in the majors.. JT Brubaker is the Fedde that is a bad, but if you have to use him you can, number 5.  Bryse Wilson is the Fedde that skirted the Top 100 who relied on not giving up homers and hits to look good in the minors but can't replicate that in the majors. (FWIW - Fedde strikes out more, Wilson has better control).  Worst case there's at least two guys the Nats should be able to pound, probably three. 

Relief wise the Pirates turned former Nat SP failure Wil Crowe into a closer and the immediate, 3 game, returns are great. But as this is his first time here you can't say much. David Bednar got a ROY vote and did look honestly good last year. Roansy Contreras has got a live arm and is expected to be really good but is still green. Chris Stratton is a solid arm.  The rest are guys that couldn't find better jobs elsewhere or are just being tried out. Looks like a pen that can close out the rare late leads the Pirates find themselves with but isn't going to be able to hold anything close mid game.

Even at the Pirates and knowing the Nats are a bad team, not at least splitting against these guys seems impossible. Then again while the Nats have a better offense, I can't say their starting pitching is better and their RP is about the same in the "hey the back end might be pretty good and every thing else might be trash" way.  I think it'll come down to how Pittsburgh hits the Nats starters.  The Nats will score some runs. Will Pittsburgh score enough that they can close it down? 

Anyway - treating this like any season that matters until it doesn't anymore. Let's get that split.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Team for Sale!

 I forgot about the bombshell news! This is what happens when you don't actually live in the area of the team you are writing about.  The Nats are for sale!

The post is going to cover this WAY better than I can.  Barry's just completed Q&A is great. So don't come here for news or anything.  If you want a short paragraph summary here goes : 

The Lerners, that group is Ted & Wife, and Kids and Spouses (Mark you know, plus two sisters you may not), said they weren't planning to sell the Nats.  A few years passed. They are selling the Nats. 

The phrasing they've given us is all legal speak and hedging but if you want to parse out some feelings from it this is what I gleam (and Barry and others agree on some points) :

  • The ownership makes decisions as a group but it was explicitly said the "next generation" is ready to step in. So it's likely not everyone agrees with the sale, only enough to outvote the others. 
  • If you were going to guess which person is against the sale Mark makes the most sense, given his role and constant presence. However it could be that the grandchildren want to keep it and the children don't.  We don't really know. 
  • I do think it's really likely Ted is at least at peace with it because man it seems cruel if he wasn't and the children would sell anyway. 
  • Is this why the Nats sold off in 2021? Probably unlikely. Trading Max / Trea, guys with expiring contracts heading into lean years, to rebuild a sparse farm system made sense unless the Nats were willing to go Dodgers, and there is no indication they were
  • Is this why the Nats didn't buy in 2022? You can certainly read it that way. There's a decent argument for getting a SS now with the glut of available guys, setting up the next window.  A Werth like deal. Didn't happen. 
  • It seems likely someone wants money for something but to keep the real estate stuff going... I don't see it. I'm sure the Lerners took a hit real estate wise because of the pandemic. I'm also sure the Lerners are still quite wealthy. Is it possible they need cash now to do something? I guess so, but I don't see where. But I'll admit I'm not a real estate guy.
  • Don't buy any "team value" talk. The value never goes down. Well not never but people have been speculating on value crashes for decades. It's not going down anytime soon enough to force this.
  • The Nats probably won't be sold locally, unless that local buyer is the highest bidder. They want as much as they can get.
  • The Nats won't be moved. Not unless the buyer makes a real compelling argument (re: $$$$$). MLB likes baseball in DC. There are other teams to move. The park is fine. The area is fine. 

Is this bad for the Nats?  My gut thinking is yes. I think it'll be hard for the Nats to make any big commitments while setting up for sale. It's too appealing to a number of buyers to have the team as cheap as possible going in and let them do what they want. If this drags it could very well run into the "gotta sign Soto" time frame and that means you trade Soto.  

Also it's bad because the Lerners were ok. Do I think their complete belief in Rizzo has exacerbated Rizzo's own issues (can't build pitching, too short a manager leash on some too long on others)? Yes. Do I think they are overly cheap when they are not good? Yes. Do I think they are pound wise and penny foolish when they are good? Yes. But a lot of owners are just foolish and a lot more don't even have a pound descriptor because they don't spend money. The Lerners spent money. The Lerners committed to being good when it made sense and stuck with it through peaks and valleys. They committed to the city to some degree. You believed they did want to win. Maybe not as often and as much as you did but they weren't out to bilk a fanbase out of cash for decades. They might not have been great owners but they were good ones. The next ones will just be the richest ones available. Great, good, or  bad ownership type does not come into play. 

This drama will play out for a while so there isn't reason to focus on it until there is actual news. Right now there isn't anything but speculation. I'd say don't get caught up in it but it's not like the season will be compelling.

Why you watch

The Nats are not as good as the Braves. They will likely win 20-30 games fewer than the Braves this season. Yet, last night the Nats pitching executed and their hitting executed and they got lucky and they won going away 11-2. Such is life in a sport when the worst team wins 40% of their games and the best team 60%. 

Rogers pitched well but given that he doesn't miss bats and isn't particularly great with control, he is basically at the mercy of the baseball gods every time out. They will put the ball in play. Will it go at someone or not? When one does go through will it be after the guy I put on with a walk or before? There's no reason to believe this is sustainable UNLESS he can keep the ball in the park at a crazy rate. However, the Nats don't really have better options. Arano and Harvey pitched well. Cesar and Yadi and Franco and Lane went a combined 10-18 with two walks and two doubles and a homer.  Yes, the Nats will win games when that happens. 

Arguably tonight is the first game with any sort of import the Nats will have this year, though it's of the "Huh. Not sure what's going on. We should win this game" variety.  The Braves know they should pick up wins against teams like the Nats, especially at home.  A loss drops them to 2-4, has them no better than splitting the series against DC, and could put them 2.5 behind PHI and in last place depending how the night goes.  None of that REALLY matters. They could be in first place by the weekend. But it doesn't feel right, and the Braves are a team right now that want to feel right given that their iconic player left because they didn't want to pay him. They don't want that to be a thing.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Monday Quickie - Get used to it

The Nats had a weekend that you should come to expect. They lost more than they won and didn't look particularly good doing it. The win helped keep them from being the worst team in the league right now but the future doesn't look bright. 

This time of year is always the toughest.  Unlike Spring, which can be ignored, theses stats matter. But because they are the only stats we have they have an outsized influence on our perceptions.  We say this every year but will repeat. Wait until Memorial Day. That's tough. I won't always follow it myself, but let's try do it. Waiting until Memorial Day gave us the first sense that Josh Bell might be ok for example.  

What to make of stats until then? Impressions like a Monet canvas. Wait... yes he was an Impressionist.  Listen, art isn't my strong suit. 

What impressions do we have so far? 

Keibert Ruiz looks good.  A lot of contact with lower K numbers.  He's hit it hard.  He's also thrown out a guy. 

Josh Bell, Juan Soto, and Nelson Cruz all have homered. If the Nats are going to have an average offense it's coming from these guys doing this. 

But everyone else looks bad. Hernandez a few singles, no walks, 4 Ks in only 16 PA.  Franco one single, no walks, 4 Ks in only 13 PA. Lane Thomas has a walk! But no singles and 4 Ks in only 8 PAs. Robles has nothing but 4Ks in 9 PA. 

I must single Escobar out. One single in 10 PA and 5 Ks. That's a strikeout every other at bat for a guy who doesn't generate any power (45 homers in a 13 season career). I said "wait until Memorial Day" but there's a good chance this guy isn't here then.

The bench Yadi, DSG, Fox, and Adams. 1 single in 16 PA, no walks, 6 Ks. TBF neither Soto nor Cruz are hitting too much either but guys who HAVE hit get more benefit of the doubt.  Certainly one series is not any reason to worry. 

This is kind of what we expected to see right? Maybe Ruiz is good. The offense will run through Soto, Bell and Cruz. The rest of the offense will determine if the Nats are ok or terrible and right now they are not hitting, not hitting for power, not patient, and striking out too much. And it's not just one of them it's all of them.  Bad tidings. Bad tidings. 


Fedde has a decent start. Which if he didn't have 5 years of stats behind him might get you thinking he could be ok. He's maybe a 5th that's it, but hey I'll take a 5th if he can finally put together a full season of not sucking. Corbin started ok, then struggled. Adon looked bad, but he's not a major league starter. The one you really look at is Gray who did manage not to give up 3 homers (only 1), but got hit around. As a guy the Nats want to fill the middle of the rotation I'll be paying attention to every start of his. 

The pen? It was fine. Doolittle looks right. And a couple other guys (Rainey, Finnegan) looked like they might work somewhere. Where as Arano and Voth did not.  Given the history of Voth I'm fine if the Nats have a short leash with him, though they might not now with Mason Thompson hurt. For relievers though waiting is almost certainly necessary. It's also something we never do. Because when they are bad it matters a ton and is very visible. 

Other NL East teams? Basically they all got off to starts we expected. No point picking apart staffs and batters when they've only faced one team, they have limited stats, AND we didn't even follow them to make impressions. We'll see if the other Mets starters and their relievers are good... or just faced the Nats bats. If the Phillies are going to homer at a crazy rate... or just faced the gutted A's pitching. If the Braves pitching will strike out a ton of guys... or just faced the Reds bats.  If the Marlins continue to be what we thought they'd be - a great pitching team with a terrible offense that the pitching can't cover.

Friday, April 08, 2022

The first loss of many!

Granted that's true for every team but more so of the Nats! 

Quick take :

  • Corbin looked ok. His stuff wasn't great but it was mostly down and mostly inside to righties. With a little luck that got him through 4 scoreless.  I wouldn't expect the same results from the same pitching next time but hopefully we'd see continued improvement.
  • The pen looked terrible - that's what you get having one good arm!  WE WANT CLIPPARD (who is no savior but is better than these jabronies).  If anyone tells you to get excited about a 22/23 year old at the end of Top 100 prospect lists - that was Voth. This is how they usually end up. 
  • Mets lineup doesn't have a big peak but it is long.  The Mesa lineup. Cahna / McNeil / McCann is a solid 7-8-9 and doesn't really give a team a break time. Franco / Escobar / Robles on the other hand...
  • Escobar is getting old and slow in the field but I will admit the man can still do a relay.  Fantastic work there.  
  • Two hits for Ruiz! Homer and walk for Soto! Rest of the team on base 5 times that includes an error! 

Tonight is the Free Apple TV game. Watch Max vs the Nats while Josiah Gray tries not to give up 3 homers.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Opening Day... I mean Night

Nats game pushed back to 7:00 to avoid the rain. Tickets still available to see Juan Soto and and the Sotettes.

The Nats stink. 

That's just a fact. 

  • Their best starter has a bad shoulder which is usually very bad news, and won't pitch until probably Memorial Day.
  • Their Opening Day pitcher might have been the worst full season starter last year. 
  • Their #2 gives up homers at a prodigious rate, 19 in about a third of a season last year.  
  • Their #3 is a guy they had high hopes for years ago who sticks around now because there is no one better. 
  • Their #4 threw to a 6.62 ERA in 2020 and didn't pitch in the majors last year. 
  • Their starting SS hit to a 67 OPS+ (.257 / .284! / .337!) over his last four years before being driven out of the game. That was in 2018.  He was once a plus defender but is 35 and decidedly not anymore. 
  • Their starting 3B hit .210 / .253 / .355 last year and was released by the worst team in baseball. 
  • Their starting CF has hit .209 / .304 / .302!!! over the past two seasons and was demoted in part because of a bad attitude.
  • Their bullpen features guys that pitched to ERAs of 4.53 (Doolittle) 5.30 (Murphy) 5.34 (Voth) and 7.39 (Rainey). The guys that managed to pitch to better ERAs probably didn't deserve them with FIPs of 4.46 (Espino) 4.52 (Finnegan) and 4.63 (Machado). 
  • Their 5th starter is just a random young 5th starter on a bad team. Their 2B is just an average 2B on a bad team. Their LF is just an average young 3rd/4th OF on a bad team. 

What does this leave that feels both secure and good? A decent 1B in a league lousy with decent 1B. A very good DH.  A solid though unspectacular closer.  A very good C prospect. Probably the best hitter of his generation still only 23.  This is the thin line between bad and OMG they are winning 50 games terrible. 

Of course we know this. This isn't what was agreed to but it was always a possibility if players didn't develop into stars (Kieboom), if injuries happened (Strasburg), if a long term FA contract finally didn't work (Corbin). This set up a team that couldn't be saved by holding onto a player or two. So instead they went and we're left with... this. 

What is there to look forward to then?

  • Juan Soto's quest for an MVP.  He's likely the best hitter in the game. So good that he can win the MVP without being anything more than a ok baserunner and not embarrassing fielder. So good he can win the MVP for a terrible team. He's 23.  He's peaking. This time has come. 
  • How Keibert Ruiz develops. He's also 23. He makes insane contact with about 180 Ks in the equivalent of 3 150 game seasons in the minors. If he can just hit for average he'll be a solid starter. If he can develop patience or power or a little of both he could be a star.
  • Just watch Cruz homer. It's fun. Hopefully this won't be the year he ages. 

What about things to maybe not enjoy but to watch for?

  • Are Strasburg/Corbin are ok. They don't have to both be great, though that would be nice. One though has to be good, the other... let's just say mid-rotation usable. The Nats might have cash to add another pitcher to keep Soto happy. Stras and Corbin filling in two spots from 2 to 4 in the rotation and feeling good for a few years is vital. If neither look good... let's just not think about that. 
  • Josiah Gray. Rushed up to AAA and the majors it's hard to figure what to make of him. His limits do seem to suggest he's both not an ace but definitely a major league pitcher of some sort. Where he falls from 2 to in-and-out 5th will make a big difference for the Nats. 
  • Lane Thomas. Is he something? Probably nothing more than a 4th. But STL is lousy with OF and Thomas did ok in minors and is not old so kick the tires. He seemed more like a 3rd OF with the Nats last year. Maybe you get that for a few years allowing the Nats to put some money elsewhere in the "rebuild to keep Soto" future. 
  • Victor Robles bounces back. Speaking to that effect. Robles was a top notch defender who hit well enough to start. The hope was he'd hit slightly better and the Nats would have a plus player. That didn't happen. He hit worse. If he just gets back to where he was - again the Nats have a decent starter and can put money somewhere else for a couple years.
  • Luis Garcia. The guy should be up in the majors but isn't.  A little overwhelmed playing for the Nats last year he raked in AAA. But it was less than 40 games, so we need to see him do it again. That would show you're at least a starter in the majors for 2023.

In the minors 

  • Cavalli, Rutledge, Henry.  All look like they'll be ready for some major league time over the next two years. Can someone take a step up to look like a potential top of the rotation guy? How many will look like good rotation starters - like better than Fedde/Ross looked? 
  • House development. SS of the future? 3B of the future? The future is coming quick for a team looking to keep Soto here beyond 2024 so the faster you can develop the better.
  • Who do the Nats draft with their high pick?  

The Nats have a ton of holes and question marks looking to that key year of 2024. All the infield, 2/3rd the OF, the entire rotation.  What they desperately need isn't minor league development in all those places or good play this year.  What they need are answers. Enough answers for 2024 that they can figure out solutions for the remaining questions. They need a rotation to come together that looks at least 3 deep from 1-4. (Finding 5 is a perennial issue for every team) They need and OF and a couple IFs to look decent so they know what they need to target - corner OF or CF? SS or 3B? They need to come out of this year with a good idea on where the money will go before 2023 and 2024 to keep Juan Soto here. Because keeping Juan Soto is ultimately THE answer for being competitive in the near future

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

NL East

About now is usually when I would go through the predictions on line and tell you how many like the Nats for a division title or a WS appearance.  I don't think that's necessary.  Yesterday I put the team at 69 wins and the word on the street is everyone feels about the same. This is not a playoff contending team.  The left side of the IF being Maikel Franco and Alcides Escobar should have told you. 

But what about the rest of the NL East? Where does the Nats 69 fit in? Worst in the division? Or do they sneak into 4th? 

Braves / Mets / Phillies

Each of these teams made major moves and how they finish is up in the air.  

The defending champs Braves are still without Acuna (until later in April) and lost their heart and soul in Freddie Freeman.  Free swinging temporary power threat Jorge Soler also moved on. But Freeman was replaced by almost as good Olson and Acuna should bounce back and play more than last season (82 games).  Chances are the offense stays pretty stable. The pitching staff is pretty much as is.  The bullpen with dominant set-up man Luke Jackson out at least half the season, has added dominant closer Kenley Jackson. All in all expect a similar result to last year except not unlucky. 90-95ish wins. 

The Mets made the splashiest moves adding Max and Chris Bassitt to their rotation. deGrom is out for at least a couple months, but he missed half of last year so it's a push if he comes back as dominant. Stroman is gone and had a very nice year but expectations would be for Max to at least match that. Bassitt is better than the other guys who ended up starting. It's at least better even with deGrom hurt. If Carrasco is any good it could be dominant. The bullpen lost the surprisingly dominant Loup to FA. They brought in a couple of arms to replace him but that's a season that doesn't get replicated. It's a push there at best. At the plate Villar is replaced by Eduardo Escobar, maybe a slight improvement and Conforto is out for Cahna, who isn't much better production wise but gives the impatient Mets a guy who will take a walk. The big move is Marte coming in who will bump up production. This may get undone though by a questionable DH pairing of Cano and Dom Smith. Maybe these guys too old to be in the field become great DHs.  Maybe these guys who look meh at the plate at best stay that way.  The key to this team getting a lot better was deGrom and Max for 40% of the starts. With deGrom hurt the improvement here is minimal - more like a 500+ team. But like a flipside Nats I think they have a lot better chance to be much better than much worse. These bats could have some very good years and if a few line up, watch out. Like a 79-93 range but the average being around 83. 

The Phillies couldn't fix their main problem - a middling rotation and pen with no reliable arms - so they doubled down on what was their strength - a solid offense. Out is great but aging Cutch.  In is the AS type Nick Castellanos. In is last year's hotness Kyle Schwarber.  That's a lot of Ks but also they could have 4 guys hit 30 homers. Plus Didi and Segura are contact guys to average things out. The offense should be up at the top of the league fighting for 2nd behind the Dodgers. The rotation is better than last year - if only because last year was relying on a 4 and 5 that probably shouldn't have been in the league.  Gibson is solid. Suarez... who knows but it'll be hard to be worse than Velasquez/Moore. The pen brought in Familia, Hand, and Knebel who are all "could be good, could be bad" guys. It doesn't set up for major improvement although that's possible.  The Phillies should be better by a few games. Something like 84/85 maybe better if Nola is really good or the bullpen clicks (but probably not) 

The Marlins?  They are all about young player improvement.  Can the rotation mature even more?  If so they could have a dominant Top 3 and maybe a 1-5 that challenges for best in the league. If that's the case they could compete. If not, the bullpen was surprisingly good last year. With no big moves it's hard to see it get any better. Their big issue was scoring runs and they did add Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler but they replace the very good Marte and decent Duvall/Dickerson mix. That's not a big jump Wendle is in, the underrated Anderson is out. It's an improvement but again not much.  The offense is likely to struggles unless the young guys, Chisolm, Sanchez, really break out. A better team with maybe real movement to like 77/78 wins but they need that star bat to make that next move. 

This would put the NL East in my mind at 

ATL 93

PHI 85

NYM 83

MIA 77

WSH 69 

I think ATL, MIA and WSH are pretty set (it's sports. very little is certain) Mets/Phillies could easily flip flop.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Baseball is Coming - My win prediction

And like Winter is Coming in Game of Thrones it portends doom for some*. Like Nats fans!

A couple weeks ago I put in how I thought the Nats might get to the very edge of contention.  It was a non-crazy but everything goes right plan that was helped into play by the expanded playoffs.  Then immediately something went wrong - Strasburg was not ready for a full season - and the plan fell apart.  Oh well.  It's not like anyone here is planning to watch the Nats in the playoffs this October. 

But that begs the question - how do I think the Nats do this year? When I floated the numbers out there I started with the Nats as a 65 win team. We'll start from there

Strasburg obviously isn't peak Stras. He's probably not even half that either in production or number of starts. I'll say he's worth 2 wins this year.  Can Corbin be better? Yes. Around 2017?  Eh, let's cut the difference and say 2 wins too. That's a low bar for someone expected to throw 180 IP. Only three pitchers last year who threw 170IP didn't hit that level - Kyle Hendricks, Jordan Lyles, and yes Corbin. Does Max get replaced by someone ok? Probably not. Let's say they cobble one win together (and the rest of the rotation is about the same).  That gets the Nats to 70.  

Cruz gets you that 1.5 bump over other DHs. Keibert is respectable but not ROY level - another 1.5.  The other replacements are close to a wash 0.5 wins. The bullpen is better but only by the randomness of luck. The talent still stinks. So... 74 wins?  Feels high. 

I said last year's team was a unlucky 75 win bunch. Is this team really only 1 game worse? Taking a look I probably undersold the losses in terms of who left in trying to get the Nats in, but only by a couple games at most. 72 wins? 

Pitching wise it's easy to see what's going on. Yes Max is gone, but he was gone 1/3 of last year too.  Strasburg wasn't here either.  His return - I'm assuming for a decent amount of starts and doing ok, would cover part of Max's departure. Corbin was unusually bad. I'm assuming he's a decent pitcher. That makes up the rest. The rest of the rotation is a mess but it was a mess last year.  The bullpen is trash but the pen was trash last year. It's pretty even.

Offensively the team loses Trea, Schwarber's extremely big burst, Gomes, Harrison and Zim.  Ruiz should cover Gomes. Cruz's advantage over the typical DH gets you back the Schwarber Month of Crushing Awesomeness. Cesar isn't bad. I'm assuming Kieboom, who hurt the team a lot, won't play that much again if he's that bad. I'm assuming Robles isn't a detriment like last year.  Those things kind of make-up Harrison and Zim so really it's only a Trea loss.

I should probably factor in some D issues and certainly worse baserunning.  71 wins? 

It doesn't make much sense but you have to take into account two things. 

  1. The Nats were unlucky last year in closer games and "sequencing"**. If that's even they finish with 75 wins.
  2. The Nats had some unusually bad performances and injury issues and those are no guarantee to be repeated. Kieboom, Robles, Corbin, Strasburg? They won't do that again (probably)

OK looking at it while there wasn't standout good luck things there probably were a bunch of little good lucks that also won't be repeated. Escobar and Barrera and Riley Adams.  Fine.  I'll go another game down. 70 wins. But that's as far as I can take it without completely going on emotion. 

70 wins

Can they do better? with the guys they are putting out there not much.  Ruiz could do something special. I guess Thomas can be decent. Gray.  They could find themselves in the mid 70s in wins. 

Can they do worse? Oh God yes. 3/4 of the IF could give you less than nothing. Robles and Corbin could be far closer to 2021 than I'm assuming (they certainly looked like it in the Spring). Cruz is ancient and someone is going to catch his bad year. Thomas could bust (I suppose Ruiz could too but I like that guy).  Strasburg could never come back or come back not right. And of course an injury to Soto (or Cruz or Bell) and the offense is non-existant. Plus anyone that's ok proably goes at the trade deadline. Ok wait - didn't think about that. Let's take another game away for the inevitable trade of Cruz and whatever vets are ok in the pen or MI. 69 wins. But more importantly, there's real bust potential here for 100+ losses.

69 wins. 

People hail Davey as a genius for basically doing nothing but watching luck even out in front of him. I get angry. The team doesn't look all that better going forward up here and what will matter is what's going on in the minors. How's Cavalli look? House? Expect a long year.

*I think.  I didn't watch the show.  Fantasy isn't my thing, even if you throw in boobs and blood. 

**think of it as "when you get your hits" Part of that is luck - that the balls find holes all in the same inning rather than spread out.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Monday Quickie - Baseball this week!

 The Ntas roster continues to round into final shape including...

  • Stevenson got outrighted. This is because he is out of options and the Nats preferred Yadi Hernandez, who might DH here and there, up first. There were no particularly promising other options so Stevenson came back and will be in the minors to start.
  • Luis Garcia going to minor league camp.  We talked about this before but there isn't a GOOD reason for this.  There's a poor one involving trying to see if Cesar Hernandez can be decent enough to turn into a 21 yo former 4th round HS draftee converting himself into a reliever with some conflicting stats in Low A.  Along with him is Cavalli who got a chance to force the issue in the Spring, but didn't.  That move is fine. 
  • Ol' Friend Clip will also start in the minors to throw some more. Barrera will be there too and Parra, which why? The guy has got nothing left but nostalgia. 
  • The Barrera move leaves Riley Adams back-up C (instead of getting ABs in AAA - honestly not sure which is best)
  • Robles is unburied (in part by necessity - I mean you are forcing someone else into this role if not him) and will play CF and avoided arbitration by signing a deal which I'm sure was unrelated. Lane Thomas, current great crazy Nat hope*, will be in LF. 
  • Ehire Adrianza, back-up extraordinaire got hurt (quad), Lucious Fox might be the temporary replacement.
  • Dee Strange-Gordon made the team as a MI/OF guy with a hot spring.  SPRING TRAINING STATS MEAN NOTHING. But I guess it's slightly better than picking at random which is kind of what you would be doing with this bunch of cast-offs.
  • For the rotation - Corbin will start Opening Day. Fedde has a slight injury scare but seems on target to start as expected. Gray is going to start. Is any of this good news?
  • Carter Kieboom still out, not close, for those that care. 
  • Stras is still rounding into shape. With deGrom and Max hurting, Mike Soroka out and Sixto Sanchez returning from injury the NL East has a dominant championship rotation on the IL. 

The not mentioned yet depth chart question marks that have been all but officially answered :

  • Cesar Hernandez IS going to start at 2B. Alcides Escobar at SS. Maikel Franco will be 3B
  • Anibal Sanchez is the rotation fill-in guy 
  • Doolittle will be in the pen.

*meaning a guy with a little bit of success Nats fans are thinking "Hmmmm, maybe we got something here" where you almost certainly don't.