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Let's Play Two...

The infield is currently being manicured at Nationals Park and John Lannan is running poles in the outfield. The field will be worn or wet -- and possibly both -- by the end of today's two scheduled games between the Nationals and Phillies. The NatCast from the Capital Weather Gang warns of thunderstorms, so it will be interesting to see if they can fit (at least) 18 innings in today.

Fifteen hours at the ballpark provides much material to test the bandwidth of Nationals Journal, so stay tuned here. In the mean time, here are few important notes from the clubhouse after last night's 10-6 loss in 12 innings:

-- Elijah Dukes left last night's game in the seventh inning with a left hamstring strain. It did not happen on one particular play -- he experienced cramps throughout the game -- but it appeared to intensify after chasing Ryan Howard's three-run home run.

Dukes is listed as day-to-day, although in the immortal words of Dan Patrick, aren't we all?

More to come after Manager Manny Acta speaks this morning about whether Dukes can be used in today's games.

-- Even though the Nationals exhausted their bullpen last night, Acta said every reliever except Kip Wells will be available to pitch today. However, it is crucial that the Nationals' starters do not get knocked out of the game early. That is easy to say, except Daniel Cabrera pitched through six innings just twice this season.

-- The Phillies will promote Andrew Carpenter from Class AAA Lehigh Valley to start the second game of the double header. Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel used scheduled starter J.A. Happ in the 11th and 12th innings last night. Carpenter has a 4.72 ERA in six starts with Lehigh Valley. He has pitched one scoreless iinning with the Phillies last August. That was Carpenter's lone foray into Major League Baseball.

The pitching matchups...
Game 1 (1:05): Scott Olsen (1-3, 7.00 ERA) vs. Brett Myers (2-2, 4.81 ERA)
Game 2 (7:05): Daniel Cabrera (0-4, 4.98) vs. Andrew Carpenter (2009 debut)

By Zach Berman  |  May 16, 2009; 9:41 AM ET
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Next: Game 1 Lineups


Well, both of those starters are terrible -- it's not like they're going to win anyway. Just leave them in until they hit 120 pitches then pull them. If that's in the 3rd, ok. If that's in the 8th, that's better. It's a crappy, rainy day anyway, and anyone who can't find an excuse to avoid this game deserves to watch 40 walks anyhow.

Posted by: Section406 | May 16, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Walk This Way" seems to be the theme of the day for the Nats.

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 16, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Is there any way that Rizzo/Acta would consider sending Cintron back to SYR & calling Bergmann up? Bergmann could probably catch a flight & be in DC for the 2nd game (where he'd be most needed).

Posted by: BinM | May 16, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Zach, this has been going on too long. You HAVE to ask the Bergmann question. This bullpen is too desperate to be thinking only of options here.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 16, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Well, in case anybody was hoping for Stammen (like me), he threw 96 pitches last night. Bergmann threw two scoreless innings and has an ERA of 1.17. I believe the brass is preparing to make moves. Options or not, Bergmann has paid his dues and should be brought back. Can't be worse than what we already have.

Posted by: Roscoe4 | May 16, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Please let Bard be behind the plate for Olsen in the opener - I dread what would happen if he tries to handle DCab in the 2nd game.

Posted by: BinM | May 16, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Willingham & RZim historically feast on Myers - I'd like to see an OF of Willingham /Harris /Dunn for game 1, Bard behind the plate, and an IF of NJohnson, Hernandez, Guzman & RZim.

Posted by: BinM | May 16, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Our friend Slow Pitch will like the title of this thread.

I second that on Bard, BinM. Manny is stoic but could a Bard-Cabrera battery make him cry?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 16, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Zach can answer this question and I mean it in all seriousness: if we have to use a position player to pitch, who would it be? I'd vote for Kearns.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 16, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera...Tired bullpen...Thunderstorms... Hordes of drunk Philly fans... Sounds like the nightcap could be quite an adventure. We need bats and defense today, big time.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 16, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Cabrera...Tired bullpen...Thunderstorms... Hordes of drunk Philly fans... Sounds like the nightcap could be quite an adventure. We need bats and defense today, big time.

Posted by: Kev29

Can I assume by "we need bats and defense" you mean in the stands?

Posted by: eddinska1 | May 16, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Though his tone is perhaps a bit more strident than I would choose, I agree with something Brue said in the prior post. While Acta's instinct to have his young starters leave on a good note is laudable, it seems like it's time to start asking more of them. At this point, I can't trust the relievers, but the young starters (Lannan especially, but also Martis and JORDAN) have earned the right to fail.

Though I don't like using won-lost as a measure of pitchers' ability, it truly is a starting pitcher's job to win ball games. When Lannan is staked to 4 runs, he deserves a chance to show he can make them stand up.

(Oh, and which position player would pitch? SuperWillie, of course!)

Posted by: Scooter_ | May 16, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse


No, he'd probably just go into the fetal position on the bench & start slapping his temples, shouting "What was I thinking" - those of us in the NJ universe would be the ones shedding tears.

Posted by: BinM | May 16, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The position player question occurred to me last night, seriously, though by then the bench was pretty much exhausted.

Maybe we could trade for Nick Swisher? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 16, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Dunn will also be going into the fetal position later, according to his quote in the gamer (at least, I think that's where I read it).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 16, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse


I totally agree with the idea of leaving in effective starting pitchers. Back in the days when winning ballgames mattered a starting pitcher wanted to finish his day's work. In the case of the Nats, there is not one single relief pitcher that is better than Lannan, Martis or even Zimmermann in a clutch situation. If Olsen or Cabrera are pitching then replacing them with an equally ineffective reliever makes little difference. So, if Cabrera's starts are regarded as auto-losses by management then you might as well have your worst relievers lined up on his days as well. All in all, when the bullpen is this disgustingly bad you might as well have a sixth starter on the team and use him for those games when the starter should be yanked in four innings.

Posted by: driley | May 16, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Scooter (& Brue):

Valid point - Lannan, Martis, Olsen & JZimm should all be let off the 100-pitch / 6-inning leash occaisionally. That could serve to save or shorten the bullpen/"gastank"/"bomb squad" from a staff of seven down to two or three relievers who are most likely effective.

Wait a minute, who am I kidding - "likely effective" bullpen pitchers? HAH! The key point to the current reliever situation is to bring them on & let them finish the inning, unless they can't throw strikes. The only pitcher who should be considered "situational" is Villone (LH specialist); but even he could be left in IF he gets his first batter out - e-x-t-e-n-d the bullpen, don't shorten it.

Posted by: BinM | May 16, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You see where the Phillies not only brought up the guy (yesterday) that finished the game last night from the minors, but they ALSO brought up another guy for today's game. Guess how many the Nats brought up? Yeah that's right - zero.

It wouldn't be so bad if Acta could actually explain his rationale like maybe Dave Trembley or something, but he can't even express what went wrong and how they're going to go about fixing it. There's no change in methods, the only thing they change is players. Maybe having a closer is overrated, but he's got guys that could go anywhere from long relief to a closer's role on a day-to-day basis. What is Beimel's role? What is Hanrahan's role now? Kip Wells used to be a sixth-inning guy, now he's closing when he's available. What the hell is going on? Nobody knows. Do they pitch to one batter, or two innnings? Hell, maybe they can sit there in the bullpen and try to figure out when they'll get called, and then worry about throwing balls and get cut.
I don't get the whole Acta thing, unless the organization is feeling guilty about not giving him enough players the last three years. Well, he's got some players now, and he still doesn't respond. If the organization is feeling that way, they need to get over it. Fast.

Whoops - Ibanez starts off with a blast to dead-center helloooo

Posted by: Brue | May 16, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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