Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scouting Report: Phillies at Nationals (5/17)

Nationals try to avoid the sweep after a disastrous Olsen-Cabrera bumble-header that was every bit as ugly as it was cracked up to be. Actually, it could have been worse. An uncharacteristically long hook from Manny, three generally ok innings from Garrett Mock, and Mother Nature saved the bullpen. A decent start today from Zimmermann, and we'll be pretty well rested.

The Nationals now are 11-24. They're on pace for 51-111, which would tie them with the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks for the third-worst record in MLB since the 1962 New York Mets lost 120. Only the 112-loss 1965 Mets and 119-loss 2003 Detroit Tigers were worse. Only 15 teams in the century-plus history of MLB have lost 111 games or more in a season.

The worst team in the history of the Natspos franchise was the 1969 expansion team, which lost 110. The worst team in Nationals/Senators Washington baseball history was the 1904 Senators, who went 38-113. If you're wondering about the very worst team ever, there's no chance. The Cleveland Spiders of 1899 went 20-134, a .130 winning percentage. Ten Eleven more wins, and we got that beat.

OK here's my preview of the Phillies starting pitcher and prediction for the finale.

On the Mound
Chan Ho Park: The pitcher who always makes me think of Ponch and John and the good old days of the California Highway Patrol isn't having such a good season. Park arrives with a 6.00 ERA and has just 19 strikeouts against 13 walks in 33 innings.

Last season was a comeback year for Park, who previously seemed like he was probably done as a major leaguer. He saw his fastball velocity suddenly jump up to 92 after spending years operating around 89. This year, he's back at 88, and moving from the pitcher's park in L.A. to Citizens Bank isn't helping much either. (Sound familiar Ranger's fans?)

Even in his salad days he was never a big command guy, but if he keeps the ball down and pitches to contact he might be able to provide replacement-level performance, the theory goes. Look for a lot of off-speed junk and hard-hit liners.

Fearless Prediction
Season Record: 23-12
At blogger night yesterday at Nationals Park I heard some concern about Jordan Zimmermann and his 5.90 ERA. Fear not, Scats fans. We knew there would be some bumps. Here are the numbers you should be looking at: 26 Ks and 8 BBs in 29 innings.

He's getting hurt on the long ball, and part of that is learning to pitch. But it's a good sign that he's attacking big leaguers and showing no fear. His strength is that he has four very good pitches. None of them are dominating though, so even more than most pitchers, he needs to learn how to pitch, not just throw. Unlike a David Price he can't just go out there and rely on one or two deadly pitches. But that's ok. Zimmermann's repertoire will hold up as well or better over the long haul as he figures it all out.

The Nationals should win this one fairly easily, as Zimmermann is overdue for some better luck and Park is as hittable as they come. And it's looking like we even have some nice northern Wisconsin weather for Flash Jordan. I'm calling a 9-4 Nationals victory.


Michael said...

To be better the 1899 Spiders, the Nats will need actually 11 more victories to have a higher winning percentage. To have fewer loses, the Nats will have to win 29 games total. While we're not on track to take the all time single season loss crown, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Steven said...

You're right. 10 wins to tie, 11 to beat the Spiders.

Michael said...

We wouldn't have to take the title only to have an asterisk by it, now would we?

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