Nats’ Notes- September 9, 2017

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Michael A. Taylor celebrates his inside the park grand slam home run in the Nationals’ 11-10 victory over the Phillies at Nationals Park on Friday September 8th.

The Nationals stand at 87-54 and 19 games up in the National League East with only 21 games left to play in the 2017 regular season. Here’s a look at a few interesting notes coming out of the Nats’ recent games.

JUST CAN’T WAIT TO GET ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Washington has won a Major League high (tied with Houston) 45 road games this year. With road series’ against the Braves, Mets and Phillies yet to be played, the team is only three wins away from its team best 48 victories in enemy ballparks.  If the Nats go at least 5-4 on the final road trip of the year, they will become only the third National League team since 2000 with at least 50 road victories in a season.  The 2005 St. Louis Cardinals and the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies had 50 road wins each.

The National League record for most road wins in a season is 53, last achieved by the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants who won 53 each in the 1993 season.

STERLING STARTS

The Nationals have a Major League high 67 games this season in which their starting pitchers have thrown at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs.   The Cleveland Indians are next in this category seven games behind the Nats at 60, and no other team is closer than 12 games away from the Nats’ mark (Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers have 55 such games each).

Cy Young Award candidates Gio Gonzalez (17), Max Scherzer (16) and Stephen Strasburg (13) have the most six innings plus, two or fewer runs allowed game for the National League East leaders. Tanner Roark is next with nine games, followed by Joe Ross and Edwin Jackson with five each and A.J. Cole with two.

NATS’ BATS

The Nationals have not only been superb at preventing runs from scoring in 2017, they’ve also been great at scoring.

Last night’s 11-10 victory over the Phillies gave the Nats a Major League high 21 games in 2017 where they’ve scored 10 or more runs.  Cleveland and Texas are next with 17 such games each.  Colorado, with 15, is second in the National League.

The Nationals’ 21 10 plus runs scored contests has shattered the team mark of 14 such games, set in the 2016 season.  The only other seasons in which Washington has had at least 10 games with runs scored in double figures are 2015 (11 games), 2012 (11), 2009 (10) and 2008 (10).

MILESTONES IN REACH 

Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit his team leading 30th and 31st home runs of the season this week, putting him only two round trippers behind his personal best the  33  he hit in 2009.   Zimmerman also has 95 RBI, and he appears primed to post the third 100 plus RBI season of his career.  Zimmerman’s best RBI mark was 110 set in his rookie year of 2006. He drove in 106 runs in the 2009 season.

The notoriously streaky hitter has also shown signs that September might be a month to remember for him. In 27 at bats so far this month, Zimmerman has hit .370 with two homers and seven runs driven in.

HOME RUN HIGHLIGHTS

Trea Turner’s ninth home run of the year against the Phils on Friday puts him one blast away from joining the Nats’ 2017 ten plus home run club. Seven Nationals (Zimmerman with 31, Bryce Harper with 29, Anthony Rendon with 23, Daniel Murphy with 22, Michael A. Taylor with a career high 15, Brian Goodwin with 13 and Adam Lind with 11) have already put up double digit numbers in home runs.

Turner, Matt Wieters and Jayson Werth have all hit nine round trippers so far this year. If at least two of the three get to 10 or more home runs on the year, the Nats will set a record for the most double digit home run hitters in team history. The 2015 and 2016 squads both had eight players with 10 or more homers.

Michael A. Taylor’s inside the park grand slam home run on Friday was the fifth in Nats’ history, and the first with runners aboard.   Austin Kearns (May 12, 2007 against Florida), Willie Harris (September 24, 2010 against Atlanta), Zimmerman (May 15, 2016 against Miami) and Stephen Drew (May 31, 2016 at Philadelphia) are the other Nationals who have hit inside the park homers.

LEADING BY A LOT

If the Nationals hold or improve on their current lead in the Nationals League East, they will become the first team since the 2008 Los Angeles Angels to win its division by at least 19 games.  The 2008 Angels won their division by 21 games in that season.

11 teams have won their divisions by at least 15 games since the current divisional format was adopted.  A word of caution for those thinking a big lead a team will be playing until the week of Halloween; before the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last year, the six previous teams (including the 2014 Nats) who won their division by such a margin all lost in the Divisional Playoff round).

Here’s a look at the 11 teams who cruised to a divisional win, with a list of what  happened to them in the post-season:

1995 Atlanta Braves  Won NL East by 21 games-  Won World Series

1995 Cleveland Indians Won AL Central by 30 games- Lost World Series to Atlanta

1998 Atlanta Braves  Won NL East by 18 games-  Lost in NLCS to San Diego

1998 New York Yankees Won AL East by 22 games- Won World Series

1999 Cleveland Indians  Won AL Central by 21.5 games- Lost in the ALDS

2002 Atlanta Braves  Won NL East by 19 games-  Lost in the NLDS

2003 San Francisco Giants  Won NL West by 15.5 games- Lost in NLDS

2008 Los Angeles Angels Won AL West by 21 games- Lost in ALDS

2011 Detroit Tigers  Won AL Central by 15 games- Lost in ALDS

2014 Washington Nationals Won NL East by 17 games- Lost in NLDS

2016 Chicago Cubs  Won NL Central by 17.5 games- Won World Series

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The Five Biggest Pleasant Surprises for the 2017 Washington Nationals

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals

Gio Gonzalez’s re-emergence as a All-Star level starting pitcher has helped the Nationals solidify their position atop the National League East.

When a team has practically clinched its divisional title and we’re still 20 or so hours from Labor Day, a lot of things have gone right for that squad.  Going into the 2017 season, the Nationals knew that they could count on Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to be top of the rotation starters and Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon to be offensive forces.  Those players have not disappointed, as Scherzer, Strasburg, Harper and Murphy made the All-Star team and Rendon deserved to be there as well.

However it takes more than five stars to create a team with championship potential, and Washington has benefited from having other players step up and be major contributors when perhaps they were only expected to be role players.  Here’s a look at my five top most pleasant surprises for the 2015 Nats.

#5- WELCOME BACK

Young starter Joe Ross saw his season ended early by injury, leaving a void for the Nats in the fifth starter position of their talented rotation.  Into the breech stepped a figure from the past, who has stepped in and solved what could have been a major problem.

In 2012, Edwin Jackson won 10 games for a division winning Nats’ squad.  He had some great games, including a complete game two hitter to beat Cincinnati 4-1 on April 14th, but had some duds (nine runs allowed in 1.1 innings pitched at St. Louis on September 28th) as well.

The 2017 version of Jackson has been consistent, as he’s thrown at least five innings in all eight of his starts for Washington while allowing no more than four earned runs in any of his starts.

#4- TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

If we were to go back in time to mid-July and listen in to virtually any programming related to Major League Baseball, discussions of the Nationals’ bullpen woes would be prominent.  Six weeks later, the Nats remain firmly entrenched as one of baseball’s top teams and their reshaped bullpen appears to be equipped to do the job into October.

The surprise here is not that veterans Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler have had success in DC, but rather that Washington GM Mike Rizzo was able to resolve what may have been a fatal defect without giving up any of the team’s prized prospects.  The Nats’ three headed monster at the back of the bullpen has been dominant, and the acquisition of those hurlers has allowed Matt Albers and Oliver Perez to thrive in lesser roles.

#3- YOUTH IS SERVED

The 2017 Nationals have been one of baseball’s best teams despite their having more than their share of crucial injuries.  A big reason for that has been the play of a trio of young players who have contributed more than expected this year.

Following the 2016 season in which he struggled mightily, Michael A. Taylor’s career with the Nationals seemed in jeopardy.  An early season injury to starting centerfielder Adam Eaton gave Taylor another opportunity to play, and he has not disappointed this time.  Taylor has hit .269 with 13 home runs and 39 RBI and has provided top level defense in the middle of the Nationals’ outfield.

Another young outfielder also stepped up and contributed mightily for the Nats this year. Left-handed swinging Brian Goodwin suffered an injury of his own about a month ago but before that, the powerful first year player had 13 homers in 251 at bats and showed an ability to play all three positions in the outfield.

Wilmer Difo’s emergence has been a shot in the arm for a Nats’ team that battled through injuries to starting shortstop Trea Turner. The energetic Difo has hit .289 with a .341 on base percentage,  has hit five home runs, stolen eight bases and played solid defense at a variety of positions.

#2-  STILL THE FACE OF THE FRANCHISE

The toll of suffering numerous injuries took Ryan Zimmerman from being an All-Star level player to one who to some seemed incapable of recapturing his old form.  In 2017, Zimmerman has gone a long way toward showing his skeptics the errors of their ways.

A blistering start to the season has helped Zimmerman put up vintage Zim-like numbers (.300 average, 29 homers, 89 RBI through games of Sept. 2nd)  that have given Washington’s opponents another bat to worry about when facing the Nats’ powerful lineup.  Zimmerman has also done a sterling job in the field at first base, showing an ability to deal with wild throws and turn potential errors for his teammates into outs.

#1- AN ACE AGAIN

From 2014 through 2016, Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez had a combined WAR of 5.9. So far in his amazing 2017 campaign, Gonzalez WAR is at 6.5.

Gonzalez has won 13 of his 19 decisions with a 2.58 ERA and a career best 1.139 WHIP so far this year.  With both Scherzer and Strasburg missing time with injuries, Gonzalez has been the anchor for a Nats’ rotation that is among baseball’s best.

Nationals by the Numbers- July 2nd

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Gio Gonzalez allowed only one run on two hits in seven dominant innings at St. Louis last night, but was a hard luck loser as the Cardinals defeated the Nationals 2-1.

This week, we look at a less than stellar month for the first place Nats, production at home from many of the team’s key hitters, some tough luck for a starting pitcher who might be an All-Star and some team record-setting thievery on the basepaths.

.500

The Nationals finished an up and down month of June with a .500 record, going 14-14.  If the Nationals hold on to win the 2017 National League East crown as most expect them to do, June 2017 will be the second worst month for any division winning squad in Nats’ history.  In May of 2014, the Nats struggled to an 11-15 record but went 69-39 over the season’s final four months to cruise to their second National League East crown.

1.000

An OPS mark of 1.000 or higher is an indicator of top-level offensive production. So far in 2017, the Nationals have a solid group of players who have beaten that mark in games played at Nationals Park.

Rookie Brian Goodwin has posted a 1.117 OPS in home games in 53 at bats, with bench stalwart Adam Lind checking in at 1.088 in 50 at bats at home.  Among regulars, Michael A. Taylor is at 1.030, Anthony Rendon has put up a 1.027 mark, Ryan Zimmerman is at 1.025 and Bryce Harper has a 1.019 home OPS figure.  Prior to suffering a significant knee injury in the season’s first month, outfielder Adam Eaton’s OPS in home games was 1.011.

So far in 2017, Gio Gonzalez has recaptured the form that made him one of the National League’s best pitchers in 2012.  In recent games however, the left-hander has been the victim of some misfortune.

Last night at St. Louis, Gonzalez took the loss in a 2-1 Cards’ win despite allowing only one run on two hits while striking out nine.  This comes on the heels of an outing five days earlier at home against the Cubs, where Gonzalez lost while giving up only a single run in six innings pitched.

The back to back tough luck losses marks only the third time in Nationals history where a pitcher has lost back to back starts despite allowing only one run in each game.   In 2010, Jason Marquis lost 1-0 to Phiadelphia on 8/20/10 and 4-0 to the Cubs on 8/25/10 while allowing only one run in each contest.  In May of 2011, Livan Hernandez dropped a pair of 1-0 games in consecutive starts (May 14th against Florida and May 19th against the Mets).

5.147

Nats’ ace Max Scherzer is the front-runner to start for the National League in this month’s All-Star game, and is on track to be at the top of the list in the Cy Young balloting later this year.  He also may be on the verge of a season for the ages.

Through 16 starts this year, Scherzer has allowed only 5.147 hits per nine innings pitched. Since 1901, no pitcher who qualified for the ERA crown has allowed fewer than 5.26 hits per nine innings. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan put up the impressive 5.26 mark in 1972 while pitching for the California Angels.

The best mark ever for a Nationals’ pitcher in the category is Scherzer’s 6.5 that he achieved in 2016.

10

Anthony Rendon has a team leading 10 home runs at Nationals Park so far this year.   The Nats’ mark for home runs in games in DC is 24, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006 while the Nationals played home games at RFK Stadium. At Nationals Park, Bryce Harper’s 23 round trippers in 2015 is the top mark.

13 

With his victory over the Chicago Cubs this past Wednesday, Stephen Strasburg now has victories over 13 of the 14 National League teams who do not play in the Nation’s Capital.  Strasburg will likely get a chance to make it 14 out of 14 later this year when the Nationals play the Brewers at home from July 25th through 27th, and in Milwaukee from August 31st through September 3rd.

The Nats’ righty’s top mark for wins against an opponent is 13 against the Marlins. Among non-National League East squads, Strasburg’s six victories against his hometown Padres is his high mark.

18 

Since the Nationals started playing in DC in 2005, there have been 18 Major League teams with seven or more stolen bases in a single game.

Washington achieved that mark for the first time this past Tuesday in a win over Cubs, as Trea Turner stole four bases, Michael A. Taylor swiped two and Anthony Rendon added one.   The Nats became the second Major League team with at least seven steals in a game in 2017 (the Dodgers stole seven bags in a victory over Milwaukee on June 3rd).

The Nats’ win against the Cubs marked the sixth time in team history where Washington has had more than one player with multiple stolen bases in a single game.  On September 26, 2011, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth had a pair of steals each in Washington’s 6 -4 win over Florida.   Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina and Bryce Harper swiped a pair each on July 8, 2012 in a 4-3 loss to Colorado.   Denard Span and Anthony Rendon had two steals each on June 18, 2014 in a 6-5 victory over Colorado, and Rendon and Werth did the same in Washington’s 6-4 win over the Dodgers on September 1st of the same season. Prior to Tuesday, the most recent game in this category came on April 11, 2016 when Harper and Michael A. Taylor registered two steals each in the Nats’ 6-4 win against Atlanta.

41

Later today Ryan Zimmerman will be selected to his second All-Star game, probably as the National League’s starting first baseman.

Zimmerman leads the Nationals with 41 extra base hits (22 doubles and 19 home runs) so far this year, with Daniel Murphy’s 40 (24 doubles, two triples and 14 home runs) right behind Zim.  Zimmerman’s career high for extra base hits in a season is 73, set in 2009 when he made his first All-Star team.

Washington’s mark for extra-base hits in a season is 89, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Bryce Harper had 81 in 2015, Murphy had 77 in 2016 and Adam Dunn registered 76 in 2010.

 

Nationals by the Numbers- June 25th

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Trea Turner was dynamic out of the leadoff spot in Saturday’s 18-3 Nats’ win over the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Turner had a career high five hits and scored four runs to pace Washington’s dynamic attack.

In this week’s Nationals by the Numbers, we look at outstanding efforts by a couple of Nationals’ starters, some monumental achievements by key players in lineup and a hot stretch by a potential emerging star.

.395

While 2016 was season to forget for Nationals’ outfielder Michael A. Taylor, he’s making 2017 memorable.   Particularly over the past several weeks, Taylor has shown the skill level that has fascinated team management since the Florida native was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 MLB draft.

Since June 10th, Taylor has hit .395 in 38 at bats with 12 runs scored, six doubles, four home runs (including his second career multiple home run game on June 24th against Cincinnati), nine RBI and three stolen bases. After posting a feeble 71 OPS+ in 2016, Taylor’s mark stands at a healthy 107 so far this year.

1

There’s no doubt that offensive numbers are up in 2017, and that is especially true for the National League East’s top team.  With their 13th double digit run game of the year on Saturday against the Reds, Washington is one game short of the Nats’ record of 14 10+ run games in a season.

On Saturday, the Nationals became the first National League team since 2010 to have two games with 18 or more runs scored in a season.  In 2010, the Brewers defeated the Pirates 20-0 on April 22nd and thrashed the Cubs 18-1 on August 2nd.

If the Nationals can crack the 18 run mark one more time this year, they’ll be the first National League team in 74 years to do so.  In 1943 the Brooklyn Dodgers scored 18 runs in wins over the Phillies and Cubs in May and June, and then tallied 23 in a rout of the Pirates in July.

Max Scherzer’s outing in Miami on Wednesday ultimately ended in frustration, but there’s no denying that the reigning Cy Young Award winner showed his top level form in the contest. Scherzer fanned 11 Marlins on the game, giving him nine double digit strikeout games so far in 2017.   In his time with the Nationals, Scherzer has 33 such games including 13 last season.

13

Scherzer is not the only Nats’ starter doing special things so far in 2017.

With his seventh win of the year on Tuesday against the Marlins in his hometown of Miami, lefty Gio Gonzalez allowed three or fewer earned runs for the 13th time in his 15 starts on the season.  Gonzalez’s 3.0 WAR is the ninth highest total in the National League this, and the fourth highest among pitchers.  Only teammate Scherzer (3.9), Robbie Ray of Arizona (3.5) and Clayton Kershaw (3.2) lead Gonzalez in that category.

14

Trea Turner had five hits, scored four times and drove in two runs in the Nats’ rout of the Reds on Saturday. The game marked the 14th time a Nationals’ hitter has had five hits in a game.  Only Yunel Escobar (with three, all in 2015), Ian Desmond and Denard Span have had more than one five hit games in their time wearing a curly W.

25 

The Nats lost two out of three games in Miami last week, but they still have a National League high (tied with Colorado) 25 victories on the road so far in 2017.

The Nats’ road winning percentage stands at .625 on the year. If Washington can maintain that pace, the 2017 squad will shatter the 2012 team’s .593 percentage (48-33 record) in games played away from home.

38

If you blinked while watching Friday night’s Nats’ win over the Reds, you may have missed Daniel Murphy’s laser shot home run in the sixth inning of that contest.

The home run was the 100th of Murphy’s career, and the 38th in 802 at bats as a National.  In his time in Washington, Murphy has hit a home run every 21 at bats. In 3,354 career at bats as a Met, the sweet swinging second baseman averaged a home run every 54 at bats.

78 

Washington’s recent trip to New York was a smashing success, as the Nats won three out of four games to reaffirm their dominance against their divisional rivals to the north.

The Mets were able to win the finale of the series, but it took a sterling effort by starting pitcher Jacob deGrom to do so. deGrom allowed three hits and one unearned run in eight strong innings to beat Washington 5-1, posting a 78 pitching game score in the process.  deGrom’s gem gave him the highest pitching game score by any Nationals’ opponent so far this season.

451

Anthony Rendon is a five tool player, and he’s having a top level season so far in 2017.  The smooth swinging infielder has hit .296 with 14 homers, 47 RBI and a .948 OPS so far.  On Friday, Rendon took his power to another level with a career long 451 foot home run blast to left center field in Washington’s 6-5 win over the Reds.  Only Ryan Zimmerman, with a 455 foot round tripper on April 29, 2017 at Nationals Park against the Mets, has hit one farther so far this year.

Nationals by the Numbers- May 21st

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Pittsburgh rookie Josh Bell homers against Washington’s Tanner Roark on May 18th at PNC Park to lead the Pirates to a 10-4 victory over the Nationals. The home run was one of ten hit against the Nationals so far on their road trip to Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

A Major League baseball season is full of peaks and valleys for all teams, and the Nats experienced some valleys over the past week. This week’s “Nationals by the Numbers” looks at some of those unsightly results, the work of a Nationals stalwart who is aging well and the top level performance Washington is getting from its best hitter off of the bench.

.170 

The Nationals are 1-4 so far on their road trip, and the team has struggled in many facets of the game.  The poor record on the trip is not hard to understand when one looks at how three important Nationals players have fared at the plate in those games.  Bryce Harper (3-20), Ryan Zimmerman (4-18) and Anthony Rendon (2-15) are hitting a combined .170 in the five contests, with only four extra base hits and four RBI between them.

.354

One Nationals hitter who is not slumping recently is centerfielder Michael A. Taylor. Despite going 0-4 in yesterday’s contest, Taylor is hitting .354 with two doubles, two homers and five RBI over his past 31 at bats.  Taylor is still striking out at a high rate, however.  Among players with fewer than 100 at bats so far this year, Taylor’s 36 strikeouts in 90 at bats is the fourth highest total in the Major Leagues.  Only Tampa’s Rickie Weeks (40 strikeouts/77 at bats),  Matt Davidson of the White Sox (39 strikeouts/98 at bats) and Kansas City’s Brandon Moss (38 strikeouts/96 at bats) have worse results than Taylor in this category.

.869

Jayson Werth turned 38 on Saturday, but his .869 OPS so far in 2017 shows that he might be getting better as well.   He’s put up a higher OPS figure than that number only three times in his long career.  Werth’s career best was a .931 mark that he had for the Nationals in 2013.  While playing for the Phillies, Werth had a .921 OPS in 2010 and a .879 OPS in 2009.   So far in May, Werth has been red-hot.  He has hit .315 with a .422 on base percentage and a .519 slugging percentage figure for an impressive .940 OPS.

1.04

Weather permitting, Washington’s Stephen Strasburg looks to end the Nats’ skid today against the Braves in Atlanta. If the Nats’ all-star’s last four games in Atlanta are a guide, we very well may see a curly W being put in the books this afternoon.  In those four starts, Strasburg is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched.

3

While Harper, Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy have grabbed most of the headlines associated with the Nationals’ hot start at the plate in the 2017 season, the contributions of bench player Adam Lind should not be overlooked.  Lind, with three, is the only player in the Major Leagues with more than one pinch-hit home run so far this year.  He is hitting a robust .333 in 45 at bats, with four doubles and 14 RBI (the seventh highest total on the team) to go along with his three round-trippers.

4

Saturday’s loss was Washington’s fourth in a row, the longest losing streak through the first quarter of the year for the first place Nats.   While some overly nervous fans may be ready to push the panic button, such streaks are common place even among top level teams.  In their 2016 National League East championship year, the Nats had four streaks of four or more losses in a row. Washington dropped four straight at Wrigley Field against the Cubs from May 5th through May 8th last year.  From June 18th through June 25th, the Nats lost a season high seven games in a row on a road swing to San Diego, Los Angeles and Milwaukee.  In August Washington dropped four straight games against Atlanta and Baltimore, and the Nats also finished on the wrong end of the scoreboard four in four straight games in September while facing the Braves and the Marlins.

59 

With 10 home runs allowed in five games on their current road trip, the Nats have allowed more home runs this year than only two National League teams (the Phillies have permitted 62 long balls, with San Diego surrendering 60).  The National League average for home runs allowed this year is 50. The last time Washington was not above league average in home runs permitted in a season was back in 2010, when the Nats permitted 151 home runs against a league average of 150.

68

Their has not been a lot of top level starting pitching on display during the Nats’ road trip, but an exception to that rule came on May 18th in the Pirates 6-1 victory over the Nats.  Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole allowed only one run and three hits in seven dominant innings to pace the Pirates to victory. Cole’s pitching game score of 68 in the contest was the second highest of the year so far against the Nats, trailing only Mike Leake’s 76 from St. Louis’ 6-1 victory over Washington on April 12th.

Nationals by the Numbers- May 14th

Another dramatic Bryce Harper home run against the Phillies gave the Nats their second straight walk-off win in Washington’s 6-4 victory on May 13th at Nationals Park.

The latest “Nationals by the Numbers” highlights late inning heroics by members of the Nats’ powerful lineup and some positives coming out of what has been to date a much maligned Nats’ bullpen corps.

6

Bryce Harper contributed to Washington’s game winning rally on Wednesday with a double to left field off of Baltimore’s Brad Brach.  Six of Harper’s nine doubles in the 2017 have been hit to the opposite field.

7

In Washington’s comeback win over Baltimore on Wednesday May 10th, catcher Matt Wieters went 3 for 5 and drove in the winning runs against his former teammates.  The game was Wieters’ seventh multi-hit game of the 2017 season.  Only three catchers (the Giants’ Buster Posey with 11, Miami’s J. P. Realmuto with 10 and Brian McCann of Houston with 8) have more multi-hit games than Wieters.

9

Wieters’ heroics on Wednesday might not have been possible without some assistance from Nats’ centerfielder Michael A. Taylor, whose eighth inning two run home run off of Baltimore’s Alec Asher drew Washington within two runs at 6-4.   Taylor’s laser blast came on the first pitch he saw from Asher, marking the ninth time in his 23 homers that he has gone deep on the first pitch of an at bat.  20 of Taylor’s home runs have come when he’s been ahead in the count.

12.3

Nats’ reliever Shawn Kelley got the win in Saturday’s game, throwing one inning and fanning two batters in the process. Kelley now has 15 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched on the year for a 12.3 SO/9 ratio. That number almost equals his career best 12.4 mark set in 2016 when Kelley was the Nats’ primary set-up man.

31

Stephen Strasburg struck out nine Orioles’ batters on Wednesday night, giving him 31 career games at Nationals Park with nine or more strikeouts. In those 31 games, Strasburg has posted a 17-5 record with the Nats winning six of the nine contests where Strasburg did not figure in the decision.  The nine strikeout game was Strasburg’s first at home since July 21, 2016, when he lost a 6-3 decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

32

Reliever Matt Albers struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s win over Baltimore.  Albers’ effort marked the 32nd time in team history that a Nationals’ reliever has struck the side without allowing anyone to reach base.  Washington had only one such performance in 2016, and it came in a losing effort. On September 20th, Rafael Martin fanned all three Diamondbacks he faced in the ninth inning of Washington’s 14-4 loss at the hands of Arizona.  Drew Storen is far and away the Washington leader in this category with nine such games. Henry Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard tie for distant second with three games each.

33

Harper’s walk-off two run homer against the Phillies on Saturday night was the fifth of his career, and the 33rd in Nationals’ history.   Six of those have come against Philadelphia, the most among any opponent.  Harper and Ryan Zimmerman (with 10) are the only Nationals with multiple walk-off home runs in their careers in Washington.