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The No. 4 and No. 5

The day begins with the future. Wait -- that sounded a bit too much like something from a campaign trail. What I meant to suggest was, the day's reading begins with stories about a pair of 22-year-olds -- Shairon Martis, who will pitch today, and Jordan Zimmermann, who pitched yesterday in Syracuse. Just a week or so from now, that's the back of your Nats rotation.

Shipley has the feature on Martis, and the efforts to boost his control.

Zimmermann, who will be promoted to the big leagues on April 19, went 5 1/3 innings and gave up four hits and three runs, all earned. Rochester hit two solo homers against him in the fourth inning. The Chiefs ended up losing 7-4.

Here was your Opening Day Chiefs' lineup...

Bernadina - LF
Cintron - SS
Eldred - 1B
Langerhans - DH
Maxwell - RF
Casto - 3B
Patterson - CF
Montz - C
Orr - 2B

By Chico Harlan  |  April 10, 2009; 8:15 AM ET
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Next: Mid-Morning/Rain Delay (?) Reading


4 hits? 3 runs? From JZimm? We ARE in trouble...

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 10, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Caught the Sky Chief's home opener yesterday, you can check the boxscore, just a few comments:

Other than the back-to-back homers Zimm gave up, looked good, but not amazing, was ahead of most hitters, 1BB:4K. Movement on ball didn't look like anything special, was a cold, windy 50 degrees. One bright spot: the dude can defend! very nice snag on a shot back up the middle.

Other highlights, everyone's favorite, K. Casto was on fire, 4 for 4, HR, 3 RBI. J. Maxwell in his first AAA game, not so much, 0fer5, mostly weak grounders, at least he didn't strik-out.

Was nice to see someone in CF that makes it look easy.

Posted by: IthaNat | April 10, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if Obama will be throwing out the first pitch at the opener? Post (Marc Fisher) says yes. Times (Mark Zuckerman) says no. Which is it?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 10, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

So, we aren't going to have Johnson next year. He wants to win, and we can't offer him that. So we should get something for him now. He will probably get injured so we would be making a trade for a prospect for between 20-80 games of Nick Johnson in a transition season. And this is a transition season. There was always going to be one after Bowden left even if Bowdens last season was transition season.

So why not have an outfield of Dukes in right (you have to play him there. He is the heir apparent to that position for our proposed World Series push in the year 20xx and one of the most talented RF's in the game), Maxwell in center (he may not be great with the bat but he will get on base, steal and won't embarrass himself in center until he develops/we find someone permanent), and platoon Milledge and Willigham in left. Kearns can be first off the bench if we need defense, Willigham if we need offense. If Willigham gets his trade then we get use Bernardina as late inning defense and Kearns as late inning offense. This gives us trade chips massively improves our defense and only hurt our offense a bit.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 10, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I was hoping to see better number for JZimm in his first start at Syracuse, but I'm not overly discouraged by his outing. 4 H, 1 BB, for a WHIP of just under 1. I'll take that WHIP any day of the week.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 10, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Bergmann had a nice outing: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB.
Bring him up!!

Posted by: usmc53 | April 10, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

usmc53: You're breaking my heart here. Bergy had a 0.00 ERA for ALL OF SPRING TRAINING. His performance wasn't the point. It was his options.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 10, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The bullpen hasn't been a problem so far, it's the starters who have sucked. Bergmann's not a starter.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 10, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The 2 HRs were back to back and aided by a wind

Who knows if that means Zimmermann's fine or if he was actually bad. Other than those 2 ABs, he pitched a great game. First AAA appearance, too, I don't expect a no-no.

Posted by: CharlieF | April 10, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I hope the Nationals are catching the frustration that is building in their fan base.

I could care less about the starting pitching -- that will right itself sooner or later.

What they are doing with the outfield, however, could leave lasting scars.

Josh Willingham is now having meetings with Mike Rizzo and Stan Kasten. He's unhappy. Elijah Dukes is expected to fight his way out of his slump but is on track to get, what, 5-8 at-bats per week?

True, Kearns is looking better, but he'll be gone when his contract runs out this year. Same thing with Nick Johnson.

I can understand if Mike Rizzo is waiting for the right deal, but it won't be long before the damage done by benching two starting outfielders will be permanent.

When I read a story about the Nationals these dsya, their 0-3 start takes a back seat to "The Nationals have to start Josh Willingham and Elijah Dukes, what are they thinking?"

And, they're right of course.

I have always believed that, in time, Lastings Milledge would learn to play an adequate center.

No more.

And to make it all worse, Shawn Hill is the Padres' #5 starter.

Sigh ....

On the bright side, Steven Strasburg pitched well last night against UNLV, pitching 6 innings, giving up 7 hits and 1 run, striking out 13 while walking 1.

Posted by: rushfari | April 10, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Your previous post was outstanding. Please continue to take the risks and let us know what you think and feel about our favorite sport.

I think it was Red Smith who said,"Writing is easy. You just sit down in front of a typewriter and open up a vein."

No matter what you do or how well you do it you will be criticized.

To paraphrase Joe Torre, I don't know the secret of success, but I do know that if you try to please everyone, you will fail.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | April 10, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse


Going back to last month's conversation about the difference between the Minor League ball and the Major League ball, can you ask some of our AAAA bull-pen guys who've been up and down if the change in ball makes it difficult for a pitcher to jump back and forth between the two levels? For example, JZimm spent all spring getting outs with the MLB ball and now he's letting guys go yard with the Minor League ball. It's a flimsy explanation I know, but interesting nonetheless.

Posted by: MBUSA | April 10, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

our pitching is abysmal. braves and marlins are years ahead of us with pitching and prospects. phillies and mets have trios of superstars and offense to spare.

i don't think there are any good 1b free agents coming out this year. we will have to trade for one, resign nick, or live with dunn at 1b.

2b is a hole.

3b won't set his feet to throw. but i'm hopeful.

ss peaked a while ago. no backup plan.

lf has enormous power and is on an island without help from cf.

cf believes he should be overly aggressive at the plate because he we have no other leadoff man and shows few instincts in the field.

rf is a round robin sales pitch begging for a trade.

c i remain hopeful.

our majors is overloaded with outfielders and the best talent we have in the minors is outfielders.

longterm just got longer.

Posted by: longterm | April 10, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

rushfari, what's your source on the Willingham meetings with Rizzo and Kasten? Didn't see anything about it in the Post.

Also, the Post's Marc Fisher says again today in his Raw Fisher blog that Obama is coming to the opener. Times's Zuckerman says he is definitely not. Who is right?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 10, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I hope Marc Fisher is right. I may not be on President Obama's side of the aisle but, I do think it is very important for the President to throw out the first pitch, IMO.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 10, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"Also, the Post's Marc Fisher says again today in his Raw Fisher blog that Obama is coming to the opener. Times's Zuckerman says he is definitely not. Who is right?"

Seeing as how Obama's hosting the visiting Phillies at the White House on Tuesday, it would seem to behoove him to show up at the home opener of the home team whose city he now works in.

Posted by: Hendo1 | April 10, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse


notice anything familiar about our new poster (boy)?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 10, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The Lastings Mendoza Watch:

4 for 47

15K, 2 BB, 2R

.085, since the announcement of him as the choice for leadoff. He earned it! Sorry Willingham ya bum ya! Dukes, you dead dawg!

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 10, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

props to chico for previous post.

Posted by: longterm | April 10, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

if LM is benched, we can use him as a PR and late-inning defensive replacement.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 10, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

What would it say if the Phillies fans accept Kasten's invitation to Nationals Park but Obama doesn't?

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 10, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Chico, let me join the chorus - last post was great, quite insightful.

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 10, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

anyone see the masn commercial yesterday that was dukes and only dukes? left hand/right hand expectations/comunication.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 10, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

You guys are right, Milledge clearly shouldn't be playing CF or leading off. But PR? I thought we wanted Frank Howard for that.

Posted by: DCCapsFan | April 10, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse


Yes, I think I have seen this movie before.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 10, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Me, too. Glad that I didn't pay theater prices for it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 10, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Based on what you're saying, maybe we should trade Kearns and Johnson for some starting pitching. Then we can play Dunn at 1B, Willingham in RF, Dukes in CF, Harris in LF.

Looks okay to me.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 10, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

re: Wind. Here is what Rotoworld said...

"Jordan Zimmermmann yielded three runs in 5 1/3 innings Thursday in his Triple-A start for Syracuse.

Two of the four hits he allowed in the contest went for homers, but that might have had something to do with a 14-mph wind out to center field. Zimmermann will make one more start for Syracuse before joining the Nationals' rotation on April 19."

Posted by: dclifer | April 10, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Getting back to our rotation: It is said that Martis has a changeup? I saw him for the first time last Saturday and couldn't tell. If he can't change speeds, all those straight fastballs will go flying over the fence--unless the game is rained out and we're back to Lannan tomorrow.

Posted by: paulkp | April 10, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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