Category Archives: Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper hits a Friday night Monster Bomb at Nationals Park

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It appears that the Washington Nationals have found themselves a little bit, we would bet that the bullshit begins to come to an end with this team for the rest of the season. Tonight they beat the Phillies 7-2 at Nationals Park, and in Max Scherzer’s first win as a National, Bryce Harper hit a monster home run into that bullpen in center field. When you see one land in that pen, it’s a legit big league home run.

You’ll see in the footage above that Harper catches a 1-2 hanging breaking ball from Sean O’Sullivan. Let us make a quick point on the aforementioned O’Sullivan. We don’t know where the Phillies found this guy, and we don’t care to look it up. But this guy has to be one of the biggest ‘gimmes’ in the big leagues today. He’s sloppy. He hangs pitches that scream ‘hit me’. And he generally just can’t get anyone out.

This was Harper’s career home run number 58. The last two have come off O’Sullivan. You know these professional hitters wish they could face O’Sullivan every day.

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And what’s that we spy in Harper’s lip? We know what that is. It appears the last two games that young Harper has acquired a very bad habit – ironically enough just as we are trying to quit (once again).

Kids at home who see that – never start if you haven’t. It’s an awful habit, even if you’re hitting big league homers 410 feet.

There were parallels between Bryce Harper’s and Mickey Mantle’s 57th career home runs

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It has been said that Bryce Harper could end up the Mickey Mantle of his generation. Their 57th career homers have some career parallels, and I know this because I spent an abnormal amount of time studying The Mick’s baseball-reference page this weekend.

Harper continues to display his power to all fields – homering off some out of shape guy named Sean O’Sullivan to left center. Mantle’s also went to left center, off some guy named Mickey McDermott. Mantle’s came in a road win against the Red Sox. Harper’s came in a road win against Philadelphia. They were both hit in the first inning. Mantle was about a week from being 22 years old. Harper is 22 years old.

Here’s a look at the 57th career home run in the career of Bryce Harper:

I don’t know this to be fact, but I don’t think either guy was using batting gloves for number 57.

The Washington Nationals have major problems

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[Box Score]

As The Nats Blog pointed out, for the fourth time in four games to begin the season; the Nationals failed to score four runs.

Washington got a leadoff home run from nice looking young player Michael Taylor, and then didn’t score again for the rest of the game off Jerome Williams. Jerome friggin’ Williams! And thank goodness I did not have idle time before the games started tonight, because I was about to text my bookie (someone delete this guy’s number for me please) and involve the Nationals in a parlay that they would have doomed. This is because I figured the Nationals; who I have winning the World Series, could not possibly start the year 1-3. Well, they did.

The fact remains that the Nationals are leaving their superstar starting pitching staff with little to no margin for error. They ran out an offense that went Taylor, Yunel Escobar, Bryce Harper (struck out three times), stiff Ryan Zimmerman (he actually looks stiff in the box nowadays), Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Dan Uggla, Tyler Moore. That’s not scaring anyone.

Gio Gonzalez wasn’t awful, but had a little bit of a messy line. And the Nationals aren’t going to make this a fun experience from start to finish. They’ll likely get healthier and begin to peak later in the year as they’ve made a habit of the past several seasons, but right now they’re a below average team offensively and there’s really no solution in sight.

They’re going to need to battle and scrape for every run they get and continue to stress those arms in their rotation in the meantime.

Stephen Strasburg continues to be underwhelming

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After a big 2-1 win last night behind one of their true aces, Jordan Zimmerman, the Nationals and Mets played this afternoon on getaway day and grabbed a spot on ESPN because it was billed as Matt Harvey versus Stephen Strasburg. Two hard throwing big time shut down guys, right?

Not so. It became clear fairly early on that these are two completely different animals, even with Harvey making his first start since having Tommy John surgery.

Stephen Strasburg had the kind of start that he has far too often. He was throwing hard and dropping knee buckling breaking balls in the zone to hitters; but he didn’t look dominant. And then the trouble started.

Strasburg seemed to have no out pitch from the beginning, and allowed four runs in the third inning and also did damage to himself by walking three hitters. He struck out five in 5 and 1/3 innings and wasn’t the difference maker in the rubber game against the other team’s best pitcher. The Mets weren’t knocking fences down on Strasburg by any means, but they found a way to make contact and punch balls just beyond the grasp of infielders and single the other way with guys in scoring position.

Harvey on the other hand was a complete badass. I saw him blow away Bryce Harper three times with 97 or 98 MPH gas up in the zone and you look at his line; he walked one hitter on the day and struck out nine.

If you’ve watched a lot of the Nationals and Strasburg, you’ve kind of become used to these type of outings from Strasburg. It was an opening series 6-3 loss that drops them to 1-2 on the year; it’s not the end of the world.

But on a mostly quiet day in baseball, the biggest take home message is that it’s becoming more and more clear by the day that Stephen Strasburg is just a good pitcher who will get his strikeouts and never have too high an ERA; but he’s no stopper. He’s probably reached his ceiling and he’s nowhere near the level of a Jordan Zimmerman in a game that the Nationals have to have. I wouldn’t be surprised if people inside the organization feel this way as well.

Bryce Harper hits his third career Opening Day Home Run

[Box Score]

Spirits were high the morning fishwrap leading up to Opening Day in Washington, with talk of the ‘window’ to win seemingly going on forever into the future. The commish was on hand to throw out the first pitch in the wake of the official announcement that the Nationals would host the 2018 All Star game.

And then there was Max Scherzer. Boy, he was throwing pellets today. He sat down the first 15 or so hitters and then things got sticky. The Nationals only run on the day was the above swing of beauty by Harper that ended up in the seats. It would appear that Bryce Harper gets up to play on Opening Day; and Bartolo Colon was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I cannot believe that Bartolo Colon is still starting Opening Day games.

The Nats lost the game 3-1 because their middle infield tandem is Dan Uggla and Yunel Escobar. I should have thought long and hard about that before I said they would win the 2015 World Series.

Hopefully, this is the start of something beautiful that lasts 161 more games for Harper.

Bryce Harper is once again voted most overrated player by his peers

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Sometimes you have to be objective and just react to the news, even if it’s something you don’t fully agree with. Via the Washington Post, Bryce Harper has once again been voted baseball’s most overrated player in a poll of current MLB players.

Bryce Harper was voted the “most overrated player in MLB” for a second consecutive year. Harper received 41 percent of the vote, while Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was second , just as he was last season, with 15 percent.

The voting was much closer last year, with Harper (24 percent), uh, edging out Puig (21 percent) and Alex Rodriguez (14 percent). Incidentally, the Dodgers are projected to finish with the second-most wins in baseball this season (89). Perhaps MLB players are just jealous of success.

Not exactly the type of confidence-inspiring thing you want to learn as a player while enduring a spring training that you’re hitting .176.

Yes, Harper might be a tad overrated by the media and public. He’s also been a pretty good player when he’s been healthy. His Scott Boras saying things like Harper deserves some 12-year, $300 million dollar deal is asinine. It probably rubs some guys around the game the wrong way if they’re not outright laughing at it.

We are getting to a point where you hope that Harper begins to shed some of the overrated tag in 2015. But he’s definitely not locked in at the moment. Here’s to hoping for an April like the one he had in 2013.

Washington Nationals 2015 Team Preview

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We continue the 2015 Team Previews today with baseball’s mightiest team on paper for the upcoming year, the Washington Nationals. We love watching Washington because of all the young talent they’ve drafted and developed into Major League players. The nucleus is ripe, and there are a few new faces that dot a star-studded roster.

Last year’s postseason was a tough pill to swallow if you were pulling for the Nationals to finally get to the World Series. They ended the regular season peaking at the right time, they had their guys at full-health; the stars seemed aligned. And then a lesser team in the Giants promptly dismissed the Nationals in four games. In some ways, maybe it was the best thing that could have happened other than getting to the Fall Classic. They probably don’t go out and sign Max Scherzer if they win it all. Matt Williams needed humbled. Bryce Harper showed just enough dominance that he could be a major force in 2015. They’re arguably a better team today than they were ever in 2014.

This might not be the National’s last chance to win the whole thing, but they’ll arguably never have a better chance. This kind of has to be the year if this group is going to get it done. They’re truly at their peak, in our opinion. The Braves are weak, and the Marlins don’t have the firepower to pull this off quite yet. They should dominate their division and just maybe, they’ll show the world why they’re 7/2 Vegas odds to win the NL Pennant in the upcoming season. Vegas loves these Nats. It’s for good reason.

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The Washington Nationals are as ‘All-in’ as they’ll ever be

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The man we like to call ‘Low-Rider’.

There’s an increasing sense around baseball that the Washington Nationals have to win this year – and by ‘win’ which would include some gray area – people expect them to advance by winning multiple postseason series and getting to the World Series.

Anything less than that will be viewed as an immense disappointment.

Jordan Zimmerman reiterated that in an interview with MLB.com:

“If it’s going to be any year, it’s going to be this year and we all know that,” Zimmermann said after tossing two shutout innings against the Braves on Friday. “We’re all getting ready for a big year.”

Las Vegas oddsmakers love the Nationals, they’re 3 to 1 favorites to win the National League pennant. The Dodgers are second at 9 to 2 odds and the Cardinals and Cubs check in at 6 to 1 and 7 to 1 behind them respectively (listed on Bovada as of this morning).

The Nationals are officially no longer the hunters, they’re going to be the hunted in 2015. They’ll get every team’s best shot and if there’s an evil empire in baseball this season in terms of money spent and allocated for a 25-man roster, it’s no longer the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. When Max Scherzer signed, Washington became that team. Zach Wheeler of the Mets has made it his personal vendetta to make sure the Nationals miss out on a ring.

It’s tough to deliver in a season when everyone knows you’re the league badasses. All of the talk in Spring Training is about rings, several of the Nationals players have mentioned it themselves in quotes.

I think the Nationals are going to be the best team in the regular season, but they’ve been that before. It’s going to come down to how many times they’re the team that retires the opposition’s final three hitters in an October game. That’s what will define this team. And honestly, while the rotation is all-world and the starting lineup is at worst above average; the Nats may find between now and then that their bullpen needs shoring-up.

We’re personally really rooting on the Nationals. We’ve taken to them since they planted all these seeds as youngsters and would like to see some World Series games played in the Nation’s capital. It would just be good for baseball to have someone other than the Cardinals or Giants playing in the Fall Classic. But the Nationals have not done themselves any favors in making all these brash statements early on. A slow start in April would be a disaster from a PR standpoint, with Matt Williams scrambling for damage control far too early.

Bryce Harper still hopes to be a Washington National for life

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Per Mark Zuckerman over at Nats Insider, Bryce Harper would like to play his entire career in Washington. In other words, he’s standing by his words for now.

“If the Nationals let it happen, I’m all for it,” Harper said in a 1-on-1 interview with CSN. “I’ve always said that. I’ve said it since Day 1. Right when I was drafted I said, ‘If you look at the guys like Cal Ripken, [Derek] Jeter, Chipper Jones … you look at these guys who stayed with their franchise forever, they’ve been so good with their fans, they’ve been so good with their organization. I would love to do that. That’s something I would love to pride myself on and know that this team wants me here, I’ve been here since the beginning. I want to be here for 20 years.”

We would love to see this happen down the line. In regards to the Nationals ‘letting it happen’, there is no reason to believe that they won’t. They’re the new Yankees. I think Harper and Scott Boras are starting to realize that the Nationals can throw dollars around with the best of them. He’s just got to be worth that type of coin at some point.

Here’s the entire interview so you know the context:

Bryce Harper says he’s going to bring a title to D.C.

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You can never roll your eyes at the brash optimism of a young player in the spring. In one breath, the WaPo is calling Bryce Harper the next Dwight Evans. In another story, they’re interviewing him and he’s talking championships right now. Washington doesn’t know how the hell to handle a superstar in their town.

Bryce Harper, on Max Scherzer coming to Washington:

“Well the thing is, he’s a Boras client. So sitting there and I’m talking to Scott and I’m thinking, I’m asking him, ‘Hey, are we going to get Scherzer or what?’ Because I mean we had a great staff. … So to be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing. I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is. I mean, to add a Cy Young, to add a guy that’s unbelievable in the postseason — if you have to go into a five-game set in the postseason, looking ahead like I told you I wouldn’t, but if you have to go into a five-game set against a team, you’re going to have to face Zimmermann, Fister, Scherzer and Stras. I mean, good luck. Because that’s insane. Going into that, it’s just, I’m crying because it’s hilarious having to go in there and face them. It’s absolutely stupid. We have the best staff in all of baseball, I don’t care what nobody says, and the thing about our guys, they work. It’s not like it’s just ‘hey okay let’s just go out and play.’ They work, and they work hard. And to add a guy like Scherzer who’s a bulldog out there, who’s unbelievable in the postseason, who shows that fire and that emotion, it’s something that I’m going to enjoy watching this year. And I think our team in the outfield is going to do a lot of watch, because they’re going to be carving it up.”

Wow, where’s his ring? The Giants are wearing both of them. The one from 2012, and 2014.

But no seriously, we love Bryce Harper. Good to see him back in camp and bashing baseballs and saying the hopeful things that young players say.

On another note – we don’t really know what happened with his darling fiance. But Bryce man, this girl was a keeper. Whatever happened, we don’t care; but you better get her back and you better marry her. This sweet girl who happens to be an Ohio State University Alum like my wife favorited the sweetest tweet in the history of tweets coming from a baseball account tonight.

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The tweet was really designed to get my wife going. She says our daughter is NOT named after who we think will be the best young player of her generation. She says she thought of the name driving one night. This is not a true reflection of events. I thought of the name, for the obvious reasons; because of the outfielder for the Nationals who I have followed since he was about 14. My wife can re-write history however she wants. Our daughter has her name because of a baseball player.

And in closing, Kayla Varner is a sweetheart. No matter what Bryce hits this season he would be a tad better with her by his side off the field. Seems like a sweet girl and is every bit as pretty. Do the right thing Bryce! As Matt Damon says in Good Will Hunting, go see about a girl. Whatever is going on, fix it like a hitch in your swing, kid.

I’m Calling it Now: Bryce Harper goes apeshit in 2015

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We’ve made this proclamation before, but this year feels a little different. I don’t own him on any fantasy teams, so we can cross that mark of curse off the list.

Bryce Harper won’t be the MVP of the National League in 2015. But he’s going to stay healthy a full year and finally have a year worthy of him being in the discussion.

After reading a recent Q&A with Nationals beat reporter Chelsea Janes regarding all-things Harper, it’s important to remember that he’s just 22 years old and he’ll be that age all season. Most guys are wrapping up their times in the minors at that age and hoping to break into the big leagues. Harper already has four postseason home runs and has appeared in two All-Star games.

It’s not exactly like he’s done nothing. He just hasn’t been Mike Trout.

We still love Bryce Harper so much – even if at times he’s hard to love. We hope he doesn’t hold the Nationals over a barrel when the time comes to sign a long-term contract.

But this is going to be the year Harper stays healthy and plays in 150 games and makes the Nationals his team. He’ll become a household name and post near a .900 OPS and cross the 30 home run plateau for the first time. We suspect he’ll do all this because everyone will notice just a little bit less than they would have when he was 19, 20, or 21; and this will benefit him.

At the end of the day the cream always rises to the top. Harper has shown enough to show he has elite tools. He’ll play right field, which seems a more normal position for him than left; it’s a more organic place for a star to rise.

Harper will have some MVP awards in his future, we’ll say at least one or two; and it won’t be in 2015. But the Harper we saw in April of 2013 and in the postseason of 2014 will be around a lot more often in the season to come. It’s going to be glorious for those who own him in fantasy and for the ham and egg baseball purists who are dying to see this guy succeed.

Max Scherzer is honest; it was about the money

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Max Scherzer recently signed a mega-deal that seems to make the Washington Nationals frontrunners to win the 2015 World Series (they’re 11/2 odds on Bovada to win the whole damn thing). While we’re not ready to say they’ll win it – that seems too damn easy and any time it appears that way in sports it’s simply a mirage – there’s no doubting they’re a better club in 2015 than they were in 2014.

Scherzer opened up in an interview with MLB.com today on why he signed with Washington:

“It’s the business part of the game. The business part of the game is ugly. I mean, look at it from the other side. I’ve seen so many of my friends get cut and released and all taken advantage of because at the end of the day, we say it’s the business part of the game. I just took advantage of the business side of the game to benefit me.”

It’s alright, Maxxy. The game takes a piece of you at the professional level you can never have back. From the owners, to the agents, to the fact your right shoulder is going to sound like shit when you rotate it when you’re 50; you deserve your cut and you reserve the right to get the most you can when you’re eligible to do so. I stopped faulting players long ago for taking the biggest offer they can get from whatever suitor tables it.

I still respect the guys who are willing to sign for less to stay with the girl that brought them to the dance their whole career, but I don’t fault Scherzer and it’s actually refreshing for a guy to come out and say ‘hey look, I did it for the money’.

The Nats will still prove the age-old adage that you can’t buy a championship in this game and sometimes when that type of money gets thrown around and other guys are due for a similar payday in the not-so-far future (cough, Strasburg and Harper), egos will take a hit. Everyone is concerned with if they’re going to get theirs. They’ll still lose to a lesser team with a lesser payroll and not as talented of a roster in October because that team is hotter and wants it a little more than the assembled squad of hired guns.

The Nats aren’t winning this shit in 2015, okay? No matter how cool it would be.

Bryce Harper’s last blast of 2014 was an epic, clutch, historic clout into McCovey Cove

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Game four of the NLDS, and Bryce Harper may have cemented his legend in baseball once and for all.

It was evident that Harper was still locked in from the early going, as he missed a home run to center in his first at bat by a narrow margin. In his second trip to the plate he doubled in the Nationals first run with a great at bat.

In his third at-bat, he took nasty Hunter Strickland into McCovey Cove to tie the game in epic fashion. It was a moment for the ages in postseason baseball.

Baseball can be beautiful, but sometimes it also has a way of showing us that the heroes die in the end. The Nationals would fall 3-2 to end their season.

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An Ode to the 2014 Washington Nationals

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Welp, that’s a wrap. For all intensive purposes, baseball season ended for us tonight a bit prematurely. In a matter of hours, two teams we love to watch completed the foursome of elimination in the League Division Series with the Cardinals getting past Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers and the Giants breaking the hearts of the Nationals out in the Bay Area.

I never dreamed when this postseason started that a World Series would exist without at least one of these two teams. It almost seems unfair – but it’s not. The Giants and Cardinals took the fight to these teams. They just went out and took it, with the help of a little more clutch hitting and better management.

I spent a TON of time watching Washington and Los Angeles this season. They were entertaining, yet flawed teams. Until the spring comes, I won’t see them again. If you want to see the remaining teams left in the playoffs, find and buy sports tickets to do so.