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Washington Nationals

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On June 16, 2009 @ 5:55 pm In Cliff Corcoran,Game Thread,Series Preview | Comments Disabled

Washington Nationals

2009 Record: 16-45 (.262)
2009 Pythagorean Record: 23-38 (.377)

2008 Record: 59-102 (.366)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 62-99 (.385)

Manager: Manny Acta (for now)
General Manager: Mike Rizzo (acting GM)

Home Ballpark (Park Factors): Nationals Park (101/102)

Who’s Replacing Whom:

  • Adam Dunn replaces Lastings Milledge (minors)
  • Corey Patterson is filling in for Josh Willingham (bereavement list), who replaces Wily Mo Peña
  • Nick Johnson reclaims his playing time from Aaron Boone
  • Josh Bard is filling in for Jesus Flores (DL)
  • Anderson Hernandez replaces Felipe Lopez
  • Alberto Gonzalez replaces Emilio Bonifacio
  • Jordan Zimmermann replcaes Tim Redding
  • Shairon Martis replaces Odalis Perez
  • Ross Detwiler replaces Shawn Hill and Collin Balester (minors)
  • Craig Stammen is filling in for Scott Olsen (DL), who replaces Jason Bergmann (minors) and Matt Chico (DL)
  • Joe Beimel, Ron Villone, Kip Wells, Julian Tavarez, and Mike MacDougal replace Jon Rauch, Luis Ayala, Saul Rivera (minors), Garrett Mock (minors), Steven Shell, and Charlie Manning

25-man Roster:

1B – Nick Johnson (L)
2B – Anderson Hernandez (S)
SS – Cristian Guzman (S)
3B – Ryan Zimmerman (R)
C – Josh Bard (S)
RF – Austin Kearns (R)
CF – Elijah Dukes (R)
LF – Adam Dunn (L)

Bench:

L – Willie Harris (UT)
R – Ron Belliard (IF)
R – Alberto Gonzalez (IF)
R – Wil Nieves (C)
L – Corey Patterson (OF)

Rotation:

L – John Lannan
R – Craig Stammen
R – Jordan Zimmermann
L – Ross Detwiler
R – Shairon Martis

Bullpen:

R – Joel Hanrahan
L – Joe Beimel
R – Julian Tavarez
L – Ron Villone
R – Jesus Colome
R – Kip Wells
R – Mike MacDougal

Bereavement List: OF – Josh Willingham (R)

15-day DL:

LHP – Scott Olsen (shoulder tendonitis)
RHP – Kip Wells (strained adductor)
C – Jesus Flores (fractured shoulder)
1B – Dmitri Young (back)
OF – Rogearvin Bernadina (broken ankle)

60-day DL:

LHP – Matt Chico (elbow soreness)
RHP – Terrell Young (shoulder inflammation)

Typical Lineup:

S – Cristian Guzman (SS)
L – Nick Johnson (1B)
R – Ryan Zimmerman (3B)
L – Adam Dunn (LF)
R – Elijah Dukes (CF)
R – Austin Kearns (RF)
S – Josh Bard (C)
S – Anderson Hernandez (2B)

Let’s make this quick. The Nationals are the worst team in baseball. They had the worst record in baseball last year, and this year they’re 8.5 games behind the second-worst team in the majors. Their current .262 winning percentage is worse than that of the 119-loss 2003 Tigers and would be the sixth worst [1] since 1901 if they were to maintain it throughout the season.

What makes the Nationals so bad is their inability to prevent their opponents from scoring. They have the worst defense in baseball (by defensive efficiency) backing up the worst pitching staff in baseball (by ERA). They’re allowing a whopping 5.81 runs per game. Their starting rotation consists of four rookies and 24-year-old sophomore John Lannan, who faces Chien-Ming Wang tomorrow night. The rookies are not untalented, 22-year-old WBC no-hit artist Shairon Martis of Curaçao (who starts tonight) and 23-year-old Jordan Zimmermann appear to have bright futures, but only Lannan currently sports an ERA below 5.00, and Lannan backs up his 3.51 mark with a dismal 1.23 K/BB.

The bullpen has been worse. Largely stocked with veteran retreads such as Julian Tavarez and Kip Wells, both of whom have had their chance to close games, the Nat’s pen has posted a collective 5.59 ERA. The only bullpen in baseball with a worse mark is that of the Angels. The Rockies relievers, who are third worst, have an ERA a full 0.7 runs better than that of the Nats corps. The Nats’ pen leads the majors in blown saves with 15 in a mere 24 chances for a devastating 38 percent conversion rate, and has a collective WXRL of -3.36, which is 2.5 wins worse than second-worst Cleveland.

It’s a good thing the Nats can hit. Their 4.47 runs scored per game is right around the NL average thanks to strong seasons from franchise player Ryan Zimmerman and late-winter free agent signing Adam Dunn, and the surprising health of OBP Jesus Nick Johnson. Those three bat in the two-through-four spots in the lineup. Cristian Guzman has hit .319/.351/.447 since missing all of the 2006 season and is maintaining that level of performance out of the leadoff spot despite drawing just six walks. A league average performance from oft-injured center fielder Elijah Dukes (a.k.a. Milton Bradley 2.0) give the Nats a solid top half of the order, which helps explain that league-average performance overall.

As for the Yankees, Brian Bruney is back from the DL and Jose Veras has been finally, mercifully designated for assignment. Standard lineup tonight to face Martis, whose strikeouts have gone missing this season. CC Sabathia takes the mound for the Yankees, but doesn’t promt any significant lineup shifts for the Nats. Guzman will DH while Alberto Gonzalez plays shortstop.

Trivia: the Nats have six former Yankee minor leaguers on their 25-man roster: Nick Johnson, Cristian Guzman, Alberto Gonzalez, Wil Nieves, and Ron Villone are five of them. Who is the sixth?


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[1] sixth worst: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2006/05/26/kansas-city-royals/

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