Lots of storylines here. JimBo faces his old mates in his new digs with a team in disarray. The youth movement is underway. FLop and PLod are mercifully gone. Dukes is back, and E-Bone and the AG are in.
But all those distractions won't hide that the Nationals are now on pace for 105 losses. Here again is the list of the worst teams since MLB went to 30 teams:
2003 Tigers--119When I posted this list a week ago, I said that there was no chance we'd catch the Tigers or the D'Backs. I stand by the first thing. I can no longer say there's no chance we catch the D'Backs.
2002 Devil Rays--106
Here's my take on game 1.
Homer Bailey: He's 22, has John Lackey's arm with Endy Chavez's coachability. Long known as an arrogant jerk, Bailey has been unwilling to listen and learn and it's catching up with him. He had a 5.76 ERA last year, and this season it's worse, up to 6.52 in 29 IP. He has a great mid-90s fastball, a plus curve and a good change, and also throws a slider. But given all that his K rate in the bigs is miserable--just 7.8% this year (league average is 16%). He's been a bit unlucky on flyballs, with 20% this year leaving the yard, but chalk that up to sample size and even after it evens out his ERA will star. Seems like a bad plan, but with his talent he has a long way to go before he'll stop getting chances.
Odalis Perez: If you are making a list of hothead veterans whose attitude is doing more harm than their play is doing good, Perez could be the next name on the list after Lo Duca and Lopez. I don't think arguing with umps, getting thrown out of games, and diving head first into first base is what Manny's looking for in veteran leadership. He's been reasonably effective this season and a good signing overall, so he's probably not going anywhere, but he's been terrible in his last two starts. And I have a feeling that the potential for an attitude meltdown is there, and that an unconditional release could be in his future too. Of course, that means a rotation spot for Mock or Clippard. So maybe the attitude isn't so bad.
What To Look For
I sure got the shake-up I was looking for. The big thing I want to see is a change in attitude. Everyone running everything out. Kearns has got to stop sulking. Lots of energy from the kids, and if nothing else some fantastic middle infield defense. The team is quitting on Manny, and if that happens we could be looking at one 9-game losing streak after another the rest of the way.
Odalis's reaction to the youth movement. Does he act out in rebellion? Or does he take it as a sign he needs to be on his best behavior. Who knows with that guy? But it won't be hard to tell. He'll either be pitching well through 6-7 or ejected after one.
Was Elijah rushed? Sure seems like Milledge was. Let's hope he's more comfortable in the box and makes good contact. If he seems to be favoring the knee at all, I'll be very disappointed.
I assume Zimmy won't play for at least the weekend, and if Guzzy isn't DL-ed, Manny will be playing with 23 available. I guess you play Belly at 3rd and Casto at first. We need better from Casto, but he's looked good at third so I don't see any reason why he can't be good at first with some reps. (Of course I'd rather have a 1B, any 1B, in case you haven't heard me say that enough yet.)
No one on the Nationals has ever faced Bailey. Adam Dunn has done squat against Odalis, and the rest of the Reds have barely seen him.
What to Root For
E-Bone and the AG! What else?
What to Feel Good About
Lo Duca gone! Felipe gone! What else?
(Season record: 6-3, one bull's eye)
Reds, 7-2. Sorry.