Dan looks at the Nationals' bullpen situation following the surprising signing of Rafael Soriano.
Rafael Soriano| Nationals Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): Fringe NL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
The Nationals aren’t shy about padding an area of the roster that’s already deep, apparently. To the surprise of many, yours truly included, the Nats inked Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28 million deal last week despite the presence of high-leverage relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Interestingly, General Manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t coy about Soriano’s role: the right-hander, who spent the past two years with the Yankees, was named Washington’s closer, presumably leaving Storen and Clippard to duke it out for the seventh and eighth innings.
When we talk about "impact" rookies, it's important to note that several rookies will be getting the call to the majors and failing to help their team in any way shape or form. Coming up with a few big hits or making a couple of quality starts, however, could make a big difference at the end of a 162-game season. Beginning in the NL East, I'll be taking a look at each team and picking out some rookies who I think will make an impact on their team's success in 2013.
A look at the ten most likely places for a new MLB club
It seems that nearly every week, articles surrounding the potential relocation of the A’s and Rays surface. A panel looking into a potential San Jose relocation for the A’s has been gridlocked since 2009 (and remember, the A’s have been looking to move to San Jose for a heck of a lot longer than that). The Rays haven’t been far behind in their efforts to get out of Tropicana Field. Whether it’s the commute for fans to get to the domed stadium, the aesthetics, or the need to be closer to an urban core, it seems that Tampa Bay has been seeking a new ballpark for just as long. Relocation for these two clubs is crucial.
Another thing that comes up less frequently but has extra meaning going into 2013 is expansion. With the Astros moving into the AL West, the American League and National League will now be balanced at 15 clubs a piece. The problem is that 15 is an odd number, and as a result, interleague will become a daily affair. It’s unlikely that’s something that the league wanted, so getting to 32 clubs would take care of that matter. That would mean revenues spread thinner with two extra mouths to feed. Additionally, it’s no given that one or both wouldn’t be revenue-sharing takers, and trying to get ballparks built is no easy feat in this economy. So, 30 is a number that seems to suit the “Big Four” sports leagues in North America. The NBA has it. Ditto for the NHL. Currently, only the NFL—which has the advantage of being highly centralized (revenues are shared more evenly across the franchises) and exceptionally popular—is the exception at 32 clubs.
PECOTA prefers Stephen Strasburg were going, but the Nationals will instead hopes a different ace can bounce back from a wild outing.
Four division series, four Game Fives, and this one between the Cardinals and Nationals should decide the last team to advance—unless, of course, the Yankees and Orioles play extra innings again. If the Cardinals win, the no. 2-seeded Giants will enjoy home-field advantage in the NLCS; if the Nationals win, they will host Game One on Sunday as the senior circuit’s top regular-season team. First things first, here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for this evening’s contest:
A lackluster series gets serious in the span of one (very long) at-bat.
Game Four between the Cardinals and Nationals gave the people what they wanted: a lengthy, dramatic, Hollywood-inspired at-bat that ended a postseason game with an exclamation point. Earlier in the day, Jay Bruce delivered the first half late in the Giants-Reds series, but failed to punctuate. Walk-off home runs are exciting regardless of the at-bat length; however, there’s just something magical about seeing a pitcher and hitter going at it for 10, 11, 12 pitches before reaching a conclusion. Jayson Werth and Lance Lynn did one better: they dueled for 13 pitches.
A look at the Stephen Strasburg situation in Washington and what the Nats could have done to avoid this media nightmare.
The countdown had been coming for months. It was just a matter of what would happen when it ended. We’re of course talking about the Washington Nationals’ declaration that they would shut down starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg at 160 innings pitched, something that the club had said they would be doing after the no. 1 draft pick and Scott Boras client had Tommy John surgery in 2010 to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
We counted. We watched. We never made it that far.
The National League East could come down to baserunning. The Nationals have the edge in the standings, but the Braves' baserunners have kept it close.
On Wednesday night, the Braves shut down the Padres behind another strong start by deadline trade target Paul Maholm. Thanks to a 27-13 run since the start of July, Atlanta’s record stands a season-high 18 games over .500. However, while the Braves have nipped at the first-place Nationals’ heels—at times this month, only two games have separated the NL East’s top teams—they haven’t been able to close the gap completely. The Nats, who won their own game Wednesday on the strength of six precious innings from Stephen Strasburg’s dwindling supply, have matched them win for win.
However, while the Nationals own the NL’s best record, they haven’t yet locked up a division title. Washington won’t have Strasburg on its side for much longer, and the Braves will be right behind them, waiting to capitalize on any sign of weakness. Both teams boast playoff odds north of 90 percent, so neither is likely to miss the postseason (though after the way things went for the Braves last September, they probably aren’t taking a trip to October for granted). But the real prize—a first-place finish, and a guaranteed ticket to the first round of the playoffs—remains at stake. The Nats have the better pitching staff and defense, and both teams are evenly matched on offense. But the Braves do have a sizeable advantage over the Nats in one often-overlooked area: baserunning.