Nats’ June in review
For the third straight month, the Nationals played mediocre and disappointing baseball in June. With a 13-13 record for the month, they ended the month the same as they started it, one game above .500. But the Braves went 16–12 in June, so the Nats slipped to 6-1/2 games behind. According to coolstandings.com, the Nats’ odds of winning the division have dropped to 7.9%, and of making the wild card to 19.9%.
On the injury front, Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos were out all month on the disabled list, and Stephen Strasburg missed the first half of the month. On June 4, the Nats did a minor roster overhaul, designating Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke for assignment and placing Danny Espinosa on the DL for his broken wrist, calling up Anthony Rendon to take his place at second. Jayson Werth returned from the DL at about the same time. A few days later, Rodriguez was traded to the Cubs, and Duke, after being released by the Nats, signed with the Reds.
The injuries and releases created opportunities, as relievers Erik Davis, Ian Krol, and starter Tyler Jordan each made their major league debuts in June. Ross Ohlendorf was also called up to make a start against the Rockies, and pitched so well that he was asked to stay as the long relief man.
The month began with the Nats playing the last two games of a series in Atlanta. They had won the first game on the last day of May, but lost the next two and the series. They returned home where they split two games against the Mets, slipping to third place behind the Phillies. The Nats then won two of three against the Twins, pulling back into second place.
Next came a 9-game road trip. The Nats won two of three against the Rockies, then lost two of three against the Indians. Going to Philadelphia, they lost the first two and dropped into a tie for second place with the Phillies, before losing the third game to move back into sole possession of second place.
Returning the Washington, the Nats split a 4-game series against the Rockies. They took the first two games against the Diamondbacks, but lost the third game in an extra inning heart breaker. The Nats then went to New York City to play the final series of the month against the Mets. In the first game, they were mostly shut down by Matt Harvey in the first part of the game, but were able to come back against the Mets’ bullpen for a come-from-behind victory. The second game, Jordan’s major league debut, was a sloppy game in which the Nats were killed by errors. But the final game on the last day of June was a long-awaited blowout, which the Nats won 13–2 behind four home runs and 7 innings of shutout pitching from Gio Gonzalez.
13–13 (3.92 R/G – 3.81 RA/G)
MVP for June:
Ian Desmond (.306/.355/.633, 26 G, 108 PA, 9 HR, 16 R, 28 RBI, 1.5 fWAR, 1.24 WPA, 13.33 RE24).
Most valuable pitcher:
Gio Gonzalez (2–0, 2.01 R/9, 6 G, 40-1/3 IP, 9.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 10.25 RE24, 1.6 rWAR). Honorable mention goes to Jordan Zimmermann (3–0, 2.83 R/9, 35 IP).
Most valuable reliever:
Tyler Clippard (3–0, 0.84 R/9, 10 G, 10-2/3 IP, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 5.1 H/9, 4.08 RE24, 0.72 WPA, 6 shutdowns, 0 meltdown). Close behind were Ian Krol (1.54 R/9, 5 shutdowns, no meltdown) and Rafael Soriano (1.64 R/9, 7 shutdowns, no meltdown).
Dan Haren (0–3, 9.82 R/9, 4 G, 18-1/3 IP, 29 H, 7 HR).
Best start this month:
Jordan Zimmermann (June 9, 7–0 win over the Twins at home in first game of a doubleheader). Zimmermann pitched 7 innings, gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and no runs, and got 8 K with a game score of 79.
Ross Detwiler (June 23, 7–6 loss to the Rockies at home). Detwiler pitched 3-2/3 innings and gave up 9 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk, and 2 home runs, while getting 3 K with a game score of 17.
Stephen Strasburg (June 16, 2–0 loss to the Indians in Cleveland). In Strasburg’s first start after returning from the DL, he pitched 5 innings and gave up 1 run on 1 hit and 4 walks, striking out 4, but received no run support and was charged with the loss. (Game score of 61)
Rafael Soriano (June 15, 7–6 win over the Indians in Cleveland). Soriano entered for the one-run save after Rendon hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth to put the Nats ahead. He struck out Giambi and Raburn, then gave up a double to Aviles before getting Bourn to line out to end the game. (Win probability added .195).
Henry Rodriguez (June 1, 2–1 loss to the Braves in Atlanta in 10 innings) entered in the bottom of the 10th in a 1–1 tie. He walked Gattis to lead off the inning. Gattis was replaced by pinch runner Schafer, who stole second, and after getting a foul out, Rodriguez walked Uggla. BJ Upton hit a one-out single to score Schafer, giving the Braves a walk-off victory. (Win probability added –.370) Fernando Abad also allowed a couple of walk off wins under similar circumstances, but I’m giving the award to Henry because his came against our divisional rival.
Anthony Rendon (June 15, 7–6 win over the Indians in Cleveland). In the top of the 9th with the score tied 6–6 and two outs, Rendon hit a solo home run—his first major league dinger—giving the Nats the lead and the margin for victory. (WPA .415)
Jhonatan Solano (June 16, 2–0 loss to the Indians in Cleveland) came to bat in the top of the 7th with no outs, the bases loaded, and the Nats trailing 1–0. He lined out, with Steve Lombardozzi doubled off second and no runners scoring (WPA –.290). Roger Bernadina followed with a ground out to end the inning without the Nationals scoring.