Games 144-146: Nats at Braves Series Preview

Amidst all the commotion over the Washington Nationals’ controversial decision to shut down ace Stephen Strasburg, John Lannan has quietly resumed business as usual. For the third time this season, Lannan was asked to make a start, and filled in admirably. But with the shutdown of Strasburg, Lannan is no longer simply a fill-in. The crafty lefty is now being counted upon to fill a rather large hole in the Major League’s best starting rotation. His veteran presence will be relied upon as the Nats attempt to clinch their first division title since they moved to Washington. With a sterling 2.41 ERA in his three starts this year, Lannan has proved that he is still a very capable Major League pitcher.

Following their sweep of the New York Mets in New York, the Nationals travel to Atlanta for what may be their most important series thus far in the season. At first glance, the Nationals’ 8.5 game lead over the Braves may look like a secure place to be this late in the season, but one must only look at the historic collapses of the Braves and the Red Sox last September to see how easily a late season collapse can doom a team. Therefore, this series will likely play a large factor in the shaping of the final few weeks.

In the first game of the series on Friday night (7:35pm), fans will be treated with a wonderful pitching matchup. The Nats will send out Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23 ERA), and the Braves will counter with Kris Medlen (8-1, 1.64 ERA). As a whole, the Nationals have struggled mightily against Medlen in the past, managing a meager .566 OPS against the promising young starter. The lone standout would be SS Ian Desmond, who in six ABs versus Medlen, has three hits, two of which went for doubles. Detwiler has struggled against the Braves lineup, specifically utility man Martin Prado, who boasts a 1.547 OPS with five doubles in nineteen ABs. The Braves have won the last 19 games that Medlen has started for them. Back on August 22, Detwiler and Medlen dueled it out on the mound in Washington, and Atlanta walked away with a 5-1 victory.

Ross Detwiler vs. Current Braves

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Martin Prado 20 19 11 5 1 0 4 1 1 .579 .600 .947 1.547
Chipper Jones 17 16 5 1 0 0 2 1 1 .313 .353 .375 .728
Freddie Freeman 16 14 2 0 0 0 1 1 3 .143 .250 .143 .393
Michael Bourn 14 13 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .077 .071 .077 .148
Jason Heyward 13 11 4 1 0 0 1 2 3 .364 .462 .455 .916
Brian McCann 13 12 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 .167 .231 .250 .481
Dan Uggla 11 8 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 .000 .273 .000 .273
Reed Johnson 9 9 5 1 0 1 1 0 0 .556 .556 1.000 1.556
David Ross 8 6 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 .500 .625 .500 1.125
Paul Janish 8 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 .125 .125 .125 .250
Jeff Baker 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .200 .400
Andrelton Simmons 4 4 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .250 .250 1.000 1.250
Kris Medlen 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500
Tyler Pastornicky 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 150 131 38 10 1 2 12 13 20 .290 .361 .427 .788
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

Kris Medlen vs. Current Nationals

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Jayson Werth 11 10 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .273 .300 .573
Adam LaRoche 9 9 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .222 .222 .333 .556
Ryan Zimmerman 9 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .222 .222 .222 .444
Danny Espinosa 7 7 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .286 .286 .286 .571
Ian Desmond 6 6 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .833 1.333
Mike Morse 5 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .250 .400 .250 .650
Bryce Harper 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jesus Flores 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Kurt Suzuki 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Chad Tracy 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 1.000 1.500
Steve Lombardozzi 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Tyler Moore 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Ross Detwiler 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 71 68 16 5 0 0 4 1 18 .235 .257 .309 .566
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

Saturday (4:05pm) will feature Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.85 ERA) and Tommy Hanson (12-8, 4.35 ERA). While the Nationals have enjoyed only relative success against Tommy Hanson, Michael Morse sports a 1.323 OPS with two homeruns lifetime against Hanson. Edwin Jackson has held Atlanta batters to a meager .212/.306/.322 slash line over his ten year career. In thirteen ABs against Jackson, 2B Dan Uggla remains hitless with six K’s.

Edwin Jackson vs. Current Braves 

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Lyle Overbay 34 30 4 1 0 1 3 4 4 .133 .235 .267 .502
Eric Hinske 15 12 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 .000 .200 .000 .200
Dan Uggla 14 13 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 .000 .071 .000 .071
Michael Bourn 12 12 5 0 1 0 0 0 2 .417 .417 .583 1.000
Brian McCann 10 8 3 1 0 1 3 2 0 .375 .500 .875 1.375
Jason Heyward 10 8 2 0 0 0 1 2 3 .250 .400 .250 .650
Chipper Jones 8 7 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .143 .250 .143 .393
Juan Francisco 6 6 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .667 1.167
Freddie Freeman 6 6 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .500 .833
Martin Prado 6 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667
Reed Johnson 5 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 .250 .400 .500 .900
Paul Janish 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Randall Delgado 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 134 118 25 5 1 2 9 16 28 .212 .306 .322 .628
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

Tommy Hanson vs. Current Nationals 

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Ian Desmond 26 23 6 0 0 1 3 3 1 .261 .346 .391 .737
Ryan Zimmerman 26 23 4 2 0 1 6 1 7 .174 .231 .391 .622
Jayson Werth 17 13 5 3 0 0 0 4 5 .385 .529 .615 1.145
Adam LaRoche 17 16 2 1 0 0 0 1 5 .125 .176 .188 .364
Mike Morse 15 13 5 1 0 2 7 1 4 .385 .400 .923 1.323
Danny Espinosa 12 10 4 1 0 0 1 1 3 .400 .417 .500 .917
Roger Bernadina 12 12 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333
John Lannan 11 9 2 0 0 0 2 1 4 .222 .300 .222 .522
Chad Tracy 8 8 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .500 .750
Bryce Harper 6 5 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 .400 .500 1.200 1.700
Steve Lombardozzi 6 6 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 .333 .333 .833 1.167
Jesus Flores 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400
Total 169 149 37 11 0 6 21 13 40 .248 .307 .443 .750
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

In the series finale on primetime Sunday Night Baseball (8:05pm), Gio Gonzalez (19-7, 2.93 ERA) will go toe to toe with Mike Minor (8-10, 4.42 ERA). The Nationals have enjoyed good success against Mike Minor in the past as evidenced by their .823 OPS against him. Despite the team’s good success, star 3B Ryan Zimmerman is only 2-for-11 (.539 OPS) with 3 strikeouts versus Minor. Gio Gonzalez has shut down the Braves lineup throughout his career, allowing them only a .224/.350/.373 slash line. Jason Heyward has only a .667 OPS with two career RBI against Gonzalez.

Gio Gonzalez vs. Current Braves 

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Michael Bourn 9 8 3 0 1 0 0 1 4 .375 .444 .625 1.069
Dan Uggla 9 5 1 1 0 0 1 4 1 .200 .556 .400 .956
Jason Heyward 9 9 3 0 0 0 2 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Martin Prado 9 9 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 .111 .111 .111 .222
Freddie Freeman 6 6 1 0 0 1 3 0 2 .167 .167 .667 .833
Lyle Overbay 6 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 .000 .500 .000 .500
Jeff Baker 5 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .250 .400 .250 .650
David Ross 4 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .667 .750 .667 1.417
Andrelton Simmons 4 3 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 .333 .500 .667 1.167
Chipper Jones 3 2 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 .500 .667 1.000 1.667
Reed Johnson 3 3 1 0 1 0 2 0 2 .333 .333 1.000 1.333
Tyler Pastornicky 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Eric Hinske 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Paul Janish 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 82 67 15 3 2 1 11 13 21 .224 .350 .373 .723
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

Mike Minor vs. Current Nationals 

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Ryan Zimmerman 14 11 2 0 0 0 1 3 3 .182 .357 .182 .539
Ian Desmond 13 12 3 2 0 0 0 1 1 .250 .308 .417 .724
Mike Morse 11 9 4 2 0 0 1 2 1 .444 .545 .667 1.212
Danny Espinosa 11 11 3 2 0 1 3 0 4 .273 .273 .727 1.000
Adam LaRoche 6 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 1 .333 .500 .667 1.167
Bryce Harper 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .200 .333 .200 .533
Jayson Werth 5 5 2 0 0 1 3 0 2 .400 .400 1.000 1.400
Jesus Flores 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .333 .500 .333 .833
Tyler Moore 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 82 70 19 7 0 2 10 11 16 .271 .366 .457 .823
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

The Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman is currently riding a 16-game hitting streak, as well as a 9-game streak in which he has driven in at least 1 RBI, the longest such streak in Expos/Nationals history. Zimmerman has been on a ridiculously hot tear at the plate since the All-Star Break, boasting a very impressive .341/.408/.598 slash line. When combined with a healthy Jayson Werth that has become an automatic on-base machine, rookie phenom Bryce Harper who is launching a late-season surge to push himself back into Rookie of the Year conversation, a lineup filled with power bats top to bottom, a bench that has been extremely clutch all season, and a stellar bullpen, you are looking at a team built for going deep into October, even without Strasburg.

But you can’t win in October if you don’t make it through September. Even a simple 2-1 series win over Atlanta would push the Nats to a 9.5 game lead with only 13 games remaining on their schedule. Each game has great meaning during this final race to the finish line, and this weekend series against Atlanta will set the tone for the rest of the season for both clubs. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s