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An important weekend for the Nationals

The Nationals have an important series this weekend, which begins tonight in Baltimore against the atrocious Orioles. The Nationals, despite their dispiriting, 1-0 loss Wednesday to the Royals, won the series. To give you an idea how bad the Orioles are, the 20-52 record actually puts them two games behind the pace of last year's Nationals. They have an opportunity to string together some victories and put their June swoon behind them.

The most important thing that happens tonight, though, may come a few hours away in Harrisburg, Pa., where John Lannan will make his first minor league since the Nationals demoted him to Class AA. It was not a demotion in a punishing way, but in a rehabilitative way. They need Lannan, with help from Class AA Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin, to fix himself. The sooner, the Nationals say, the better.

"I hope very much it's short-term, because John is very important to our staff," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "His performance down there will have something to say about that, but mainly not so much in terms of the statistics. More so in whether he's getting groundballs or not. If they're hitting the ball on the ground against him, we'll feel like we can bring him back up here and he can have success. If he's not having success, then we'll wait 'til he is getting balls on the ground. I'm hoping it will be soon that he's back."

As Lannan starts to figure it out, the Nationals offense will have to do the same. Their problem is one of the most essential parts of baseball: They are not putting the ball in play or getting on base enough. In June, they have 157 strikeouts, sixth most in the majors, and 52 walks, fifth-least in the majors. Not surprisingly, their 3.29 runs per game in June is least in the National League.

The Orioles, naturally, could provide an elixir for that problem. Their staff's 1.76 strikeout-to-walk ratio is third-worst in the majors. The season is not yet half over, and getting close to contention is still possible. There's no better chance for the Nationals to get there than right now.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 25, 2010; 1:59 PM ET
 
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Comments

Primo. (hehe)

Good luck, Johnny. (Oh, and go NATS!)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Contention?

CONTENTION?

Please.

Look, they were 44 games under .500 last year. If they manage to cut that to ten games under this year, that's an improvement of 34 games, and anyone who isn't happy with that would probably find something bad to say about getting Ubaldo Jimenez and Albert Pujols in a straight-up trade for Willie Harris.

And if they could improve by 34 games two seasons in a row...

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 25, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

You mean there are 5 more teams with more strikeouts this month? I didn't think that could be possible! Last week alone was atrocious (granted Detroit's tough staff) but we don't make any adjustments.

We don't shorten our swings against flame throwers (like KC did against SS) or protect the plate on 2 strikes (something that's been basic for over 100 years, but is happening around MLB). We probably have the least 2-strike foul balls of any team... fouling off tough pitches to stay up there to hit a better pitch.

If the ump is calling the outside pitch a strike, we don't adjust and swing at the close ones.

The Ks are killing us, and also leading to fewer baserunners and solo HRs. Even though Ks take at least 3 pitches, by not protecting, we all for deeper innings from opponents' starters, which adds up even more over the course a series (reduced use of bullpen, etc).

I'd love to see fewer Ks, but I'll settle for some 2-strike adjustments as a start!

------------
In June, they have 157 strikeouts, sixth most in the majors, and 52 walks, fifth-least in the majors. Not surprisingly, their 3.29 runs per game in June is least in the National League.

Posted by: mo_dc | June 25, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Slightly off-topic, but to quote former NFL coach Jim Mora: "Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? PLAYOFFS? I just hope we can win a game!

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | June 25, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Agree with mo_dc. Wonder if protecting the plate with two strikes is one of R. Eckstein's areas of emphasis.

And please, Adam, can you not use the word "atrocious" in describing our worthy opponent tonight? We did take 2 of 3 from these guys last month, but we're not exactly the '27 Yankees. I'm going to the game tonight and I don't want any bad juju.

Interesting the split in NJers between glass is half full and glass is half empty types. Is there a correlation between this and our reaction to our loser theme, "Everything's Gonna Be OK"? When you're serenaded by this leaving the park, do you smile ruefully in a Ned Flandersesque-like way, or does it raise your blood pressure a few points? (Or are you totally oblivious to it?) Myself, I feel like Nurse Ratchit is trying to make me take my meds in the dixie cup, and I'm refusing to swallow.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 25, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, "Everything's Gonna Be Alright."

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 25, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, Cap, as Ron Luciano used to say, "But Earl, it's ONLY A GAME."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 25, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

granted, he said it to get Weaver to go ballistic.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 25, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sec3,

Yep, guess we know which category those two guys fell into!

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 25, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but still. "Possible" is a big place.
A man's reach should exceed his grasp, an' a' that.


**************
Contention?
CONTENTION?
Please.
Look, they were 44 games under .500 last year. If they manage to cut that to ten games under this year, that's an improvement of 34 games, and anyone who isn't happy with that would probably find something bad to say about getting Ubaldo Jimenez and Albert Pujols in a straight-up trade for Willie Harris.

And if they could improve by 34 games two seasons in a row...

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 25, 2010 2:32 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 25, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

What is the point of anything, really, if your manager takes the opportunity of being in a AL park and uses it to insert Willie Harris in the lineup?

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | June 25, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm GHF all the way, but I'm not partial to that exit music, Cap (nor am I a Maude Flanders type). I second you re. not looking past our opponents, no matter how atrocious they might be.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 25, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

They need DFA Willy Harris in a nice rehabilitative way.

Posted by: tailwagger | June 25, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Even though I agree with the complaints about Harris in the lineup, I hope he homers with a couple of guys on tonight. I'd gladly eat crow for that.

Posted by: nats24 | June 25, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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