Nats Fall to the Twins, 5-2

Minnesota jumped on starter A.J Cole for four runs in the 2nd and cruised to a 5-2 win over Washington.

Cole faced 10 batters but retired just five of them, giving up four runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two (both looking) over an inning and two-thirds.

Offensively, the Nats were a woeful 0-for-11 with RISP and managed just five hits total. Eleven men were stranded on the basepaths.

Here’s a rundown on how the watchlist players performed:
• Erick Fedde was easily the most effective pitcher of the game, with six and up and six down and two whiffs over two innings (5th & 6th).
• Austin Voth pitched around a leadoff single during a scoreless 8th innings.
• Matt Skole was the starting DH but was 0-for-2 with a K.
• Brian Goodwin started in RF and was also 0-for-2 with a K.
• Andrew Stevenson pinch-hit for CF Michael Taylor and drove in the second DC run with an RBI groundout in the 9th. He was 0-for-3.
• Drew Ward was the second DH and went 0-for-2 with a K.
• Rafael Bautista subbed for Goodwin in RF and scored the second run after a leading off the 9th with a single, taking third on a subsequent safety by Emmmanuel Burriss, and scoring on Stevenson’s groundout. He finished 1-for-2

The Nats complete their three-game road trip to start the 2017 Spring Training with a visit to Jupiter to face the Cardinals. The game will be broadcast on MLB Radio (St. Louis feed).

Nats Go Deep Four Times, Win Grapefruit League Opener, 8-6

The barrage began with a long home run by Bryce Harper in the 2nd, continued with two-run blasts by Neftali Soto (5th) and Andrew Stevenson (6th) and finished with Matt Skole’s solo shot as the Nats totaled four long balls in an 8-6 win over the Mets in the 2017 Grapefruit League opener.

Beginning with Gio Gonzalez, the Nats paraded seven pitchers for an inning apiece before Austin Adams and Derke Eitel imploded in New York’s three-run 8th, and Mike “No Relation to Larry” Broadway coughed up two runs in the 9th.

The “W” was credited to Matt Albers and an “H” went to Eitel despite letting in two of three inherited runners. The Nats pitchers walked nine total and struck out six.

Here’s a rundown on how the watchlist players fared:
• Rafael Bautista followed Adam Eaton in CF and went 1-2 with a run scored before he was replaced by Brandon Snyder
• Brian Goodwin subbed for Harper in RF and was 0-for-2
• Skole also walked in relief of Adam Lind at 1B to reach base twice
• Drew Ward took over for Neftali Soto at 3B and went 0-for-1 with a walk
• Raudy Read pinch-hit for DH Clint Robinson in the 9th and grounded into a 5-4-3 DP

Tomorrow, the Nats visit the Twins in Game Two of the three-game road trip to open the 2017 spring training schedule.

Morning Reading

No, the site hasn’t gone dark. It’s just been slow on the minor-league front.

To be honest, it’s been slow on the major-league front, too. Maybe there are some folks who care about Adam Eaton’s choice of t-shirt or which hat Bryce Harper wears, but I’d rather pass along something more meaningful, albeit tragic.

The folks over at TalkNats.com have an interesting rundown of the current slate of Nationals blogs and podcasts. There are a lot more than you may realize, or at least I was surprised. Who knew there was a Nats blog in Japan? Well, now you do, too.

My fellow “single author blog that focuses on a niche,” (I believe both of us are married, FWIW) Todd Boss is at it again with a post that breaks down the option status of the 2017 Nats. If you’re wondering why I’m feeling like this spring training will be especially specious for me to post about, this is why.

That’s about all for now. T-minus four days until the games begin.

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 clichés 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.