2017 Spring Training Thoughts

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training today, but as you might imagine, the signing of Adam Lind has further depressed the chances of any of “our guys” making the big club.

Not that it was all that likely anyway. Don’t get me wrong: When a lot of young players have a good chance of making the Opening Day roster, it’s usually not for a contender, which the Nationals are and have been for several seasons now.

This is the eighth spring training since the site began in late 2009, and it seems like I keep writing that it’ll be a shorter time covering spring training than the year before.

I’m not alone in thinking this, though. Todd Boss has painstakingly analyzed the non-roster invitees and come to a similar conclusion: It doesn’t look good for anyone not already on the 40-man roster.

So once again, I’ll post about Nationals spring training for as long as it’s both reasonable and feasible. That’ll probably work out to about mid-March, after they’ve played about 17 or 18 Grapefruit League games.

But those don’t start for another 11 days, so we’ll have to work through stories about the new digs and Dusty Baker rolling off clich├ęs about who will pitch the 9th inning.

Finally, for your reference, when the Nats will be on TV and/or radio this spring.

Shifting Gears

Shifting-GearsI’ve been putting this post off in the hopes that something more obvious would occur, but the combination of the rainout, another small set of cuts, and that we’re down to just two watchlist players in the MLB camp (Giolito and Turner), is enough to make the call.

Whether that it’s the first day of spring is ironic or coincidental is beside the point; it’s time to revert to offseason mode and wait for the minors to start up.

The Sickels book came in the (e)mail yesterday, so I’ve updated the “Report Not Yet Written” entries on the 2016 Watchlist and will use it as the peg for some posts this week.

I was a little bit disappointed in what Sickels had to say for the players I was holding out on, but that may very well be a factor of hoping he’d have something different to say. (Still not getting how Kieboom is pronounced, BTW).

Anyway, enjoy your Sunday… and thanks for stopping by.

Giolito Throws Two Strong Innings in Nats 12-7 Win

Lucas Giolito got the start yesterday against the regulars of the defending N.L. Champs and did not disappoint: two scoreless innings, two baserunners, and a whiff of David Wright as the Nats beat the Mets 12-7 for their fourth straight win.

Despite the lack of accomplished starters in camp, it does appear that the 21-y.o.’s time in major-league camp is coming to a close soon. Coupled with the news that Bronson Arroyo’s MRI may have been misread (although the Nats are disputing that story), Giolito’s next appearance may be in minor-league camp.

If so, he may be throwing to Pedro Severino, who was optioned to Syracuse yesterday, reducing the number of watchlist players in the MLB camp to two.

The other one, Trea Turner, came off the bench in relief of Danny Espinosa and struck out in his only at-bat in the 9th. Isaac Ballou also appeared as a sub in LF and grounded out to 1st in the 7th.

The Nats play host to the Mets today at Space Coast this afternoon. The game will be broadcast on both MASN and 106.7 FM.

Nats Walk Off in the 9th for Third Straight “W”

After blowing leads of 2-1 and 6-4, Chris Heisey’s three-run HR secured a 9-7 walkoff win for the Nats’ third straight win.

It was the fourth longball overall as Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Wilson Ramos also went deep.

Stephen Strasburg made the start and was dinged for two runs on five hits and two walks over four innings. Jonathan Papelbon got the win as he induced three Braves reserves to fly out in the top of the 9th.

The appearances for “our guys” are dwindling, with just two watchlist players seeing time yesterday. Trea Turner started at SS and went 0-for-2 with a whiff while batting ninth. Pedro Severino replaced Ramos at catcher and grounded out in his only at-bat in the 8th.

Tonight, the Nats travel to Port St. Lucie to visit the Mets. The game will be broadcast on MLB.tv with the away feed.

Nats Extend Unbeaten String to Six

The Nats’ four-run 3rd was enough to double up the Marlins, 4-2 and extend Washington’s unbeaten streak to six games.

Blake Treinen got the start in place of Bronson Arroyo, whose career is likely over with the diagnosis of a labrum tear. Treinen tossed two scoreless innings with two baserunners allowed (one hit, one walk) while striking out four.

Michael Taylor was responsible for three of the four runs with an Earl Weaver special off former Oriole Bruce Chen while his competition for the starting CF job drove in the other with an RBI single.

Pedro Severino was the sole watchlist player to play in the game, replacing Jhonatan Solano behind the place but going hitless in two trips to the plate.

The Nats return to Viera today to host the Barves. The game will not broadcast on TV or radio, thanks to the second-largest gambling event of the year most likely due to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Nats Rally in the 9th for 6-4 Win

After Lucas Giolito was lit up for a pair of runs in his second inning of relief in the 8th, the Nats took him off the hook for the loss with a three-run rally in the 9th for a 6-4 win over the Astros.

The comeback gave Michael Brady the win. The architect converted IF got the last out of the 8th while stranding two runners. Aaron Laffey retired the side in order in the 9th to earn the save.

Gio Gonzalez started and struggled again with his control, walking four batters in four innings while giving up a run on a leadoff HR in the 4th. He allowed three hits total and struck out four.

Giolito came on in the 7th and gave up a leadoff single, but then retired the next three batters on flyballs. In the 8th, he struck out the first batter before walking the second. After another whiff, it looked like the 21-y.o. would escape but he then walked a second batter before giving up back-to-back singles that plated both baserunners and ended his outing.

Giolito’s final line: 1⅔ IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2K. No word on how many cakes, pies, or breads baked.

Trea Turner helped spark the 9th-inning comeback with a one-out double, then scored on Clint Robinson’s two-run two-bagger. The 22-y.o. watchlist SS finished 1-for-2 to improve his spring average to .190 in relief of Danny Espinosa, who has as many hits in 2016 as most of the people reading this do.

Pedro Severino got the start at catcher and was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Isaac Ballou came off the bench and played RF and was 0-for-1 with flyout in the 9th ahead of Turner.

The Nats stay on the buses for another road trip this afternoon to visit the Marlins. Bronson Arroyo is expected to start and the game can be heard on MLB Radio.

Nats Tie Again, 1-1; Third Set of Cuts

For the second straight game, the Nats neither won nor lost as they tied the Astros, 1-1.

Joe Ross got the start and gave up Houston’s run on two-out solo shot in thr top of the 1st. He let up five hits total, walked two, and struck out three over four innings.

Just three watchlist players saw game action:

  • Matt Skole walked three times and scored the lone Washington run as Anthony Rendon’s sub at 3B
  • Trea Turner went 0-for-2 with a strikeout after replacing Brendan Ryan at SS
  • Nick Lee worked around a walk and his own error while pitching another scoreless inning

Following the game, the Nats announced another round of cuts, which will likely put an end to our spring training coverage very soon:

  • LHP Sammy Solis and OF Brian Goodwin were optioned to AAA
  • LHP Nick Lee, C Spencer Kieboom, and IF Christopher Bostick were optioned to AA
  • IF Matt Skole and OF Logan Schafer were reassigned to minor-league camp

The Nats travel to Kissimmee this afternoon to visit the Astros with Gio Gonzalez expected to start. The game will broadcast on MLB Network.

Nats, Cards Play to 4-4 Tie

Pedro Severino’s RBI single in the bottom of the 8th offset the bullpen coughing up three in the top of the 8th as the Nats and Cards played to a 4-4, nine-inning tie.

Max Scherzer, Washington’a probable Opening Day starter, struck out five over four innings and gave up a run on two hits and a walk. The blown save went to Erik Davis, who let in three runs on three hits and a hit batsman, though he was “helped” with a pair of throwing errors by Jason Martinson and Michael Taylor.

Severino (1-1, RBI) was joined by fellow watchlisters Brian Goodwin (1-2) and Trea Turner (0-1) as replacements for the starters, which included both Ryan Zimmerman (albeit as the DH) and Jayson Werth (LF) for the first time this spring. Goodwin and Turner each stole a base while Severino failed to throw out both runners who attempted to steal on him.

The tie puts Washington’s record at 8-3-1 after 12 games. They’ll host Houston for the second time this spring with a 1:05 p.m. start tomorrow afternoon.

Nats Pummel Braves, 11-1

The Nats scored in seven of nine innings against the Braves to take their eighth win of the spring, 11-1.

Tanner Roark became the first starting pitcher to go more than than three innings, giving up the lone Atlanta run on three hits over four frames. He fanned three and walked none.

Sammy Solis was the sole watchlister of the five relievers to appear after Roark and turned in 1-2-3 eighth with one whiff.

Trea Turner started at SS and led off and was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, which improved his spring BA to .188. Christopher Bostick replaced him atop the lineup and at short and was 1-for-3 with two RBI.

Brian Goodwin and Matt Skole came off the bench to sub for Chris Heisey in RF and Jason Martinson at 3B, respectively. Goodwin went 0-for-2 with a walk while Skole struck out twice in two trips to the plate.

The Nats host the Cards this afternoon in Viera. The video can be seen on MASN, while the audio can be heard on 106.7FM and 1580AM.

Nats Rebound for 9-5 Win; More Cuts

The Nats reserves rallied for three in the 3rd and five in the 8th as they pummeled the Mets, 9-5 to snap a two-game slide.

Stephen Strasburg made the start and gave up a run on three hits and two walks over three innings. He was awarded the win.

Manager Dusty Baker went Little League as he emptied the benches and trotted out relievers en masse as a total of 22 position players and eight pitchers were used in the game.

Six watchlist players and two pitchers appeared in the game. Here’s how they did:
• Brian Goodwin singled in Danny Espinosa to tie the game as Bryce Harper’s pinch-hitter in the 3rd. He singled again in the 5th to finish 2-for-2.
• Matt Skole subbed for Tyler Moore and went 0-for-2 with a walk and whiff.
• Pedro Severino replaced Wilson Ramos behind the plate and went 0-for-1.
• Spencer Kieboom followed Severino and was 0-for-2.
• Trea Turner subbed for Espinosa and went 0-for-2 with a run scored, a stolen base, and an error.
• Christopher Bostick doubled in the 8th and scored as he pinch-hit for Scott Sizemore and finished the game at 2B.
• Nick Lee spun a perfect 8th inning and earned a hold.
• Tyler Mapes let in one of two runners inherited from Jonathan Papelbon, “thanks” to Turner’s error but got the last out of the 9th.

The second cuts came just a day after the first with RHPs A.J. Cole and Abel De Los Santos optioned to Syracuse and RHPs Austin Voth and Wander Suero reassigned to minor-league camp.

The Nats head to the House of Mouse to visit the Atlanta Braves tonight. Tanner Roark is expected to start. The game can be heard locally on 106.7 FM.