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August 2, 2011 / Nat Anacostia

Nats’ July in review

July was a rough month for the Nats. The pitching was shaky throughout the month and several times imploded, while the offense continued to struggle. The team began the month having a plausible case for a wild card run and ended it five games below .500.

Except where noted, all statistics are for the month of July only.

Record:

11–15 (.423) for July – ending the month at 51–56 (.477) for the season.

Pythagorean Record:

10–16 (3.81 R/G – 4.73 RA/G).

MVP for July:

Tyler Clippard (0-0, 0.57 ERA, 12 G, 15-2/3 IP, 9.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, 0.64 WHIP, 0 of 4 inherited runners scored, 2.61 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 1.0 rWAR, 8 shutdowns, 1 meltdown).

Most valuable position player:

Michael Morse (.344/.400/.533, 24 G, 100 PA, 2 HR, 12 R, 13 RBI, 159 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR). Wilson Ramos (.286/.348/.508) was also a candidate.

Most valuable starting pitcher:

Yunesky Maya (1 GS, 1–0, 0.00 ERA, 5-1/3 IP). Ok, I’m being facetious, but none of the regular starters did very well this month—John Lannan had the best ERA of Nats pitchers with two or more starts with 4.18 (the NL average this season is 3.81).

Best start this month:

Jordan Zimmermann (July 10, 2–0 win over Colorado at home, 6-1/3 innings, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 SO, Game score of 71).

Worst start:

Jason Marquis (July 3, 10–2 loss to Pittsburgh at home, 1-1/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO, Game score of 12).

Best shutdown:

Tyler Clippard (July 20, 3–2 loss to the Astros in Houston). Clip came into the game in the bottom of the eighth with the game tied 2–2, runners on first and second, and no outs. After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, he got the last two outs on a foul popup and a strikeout. He then pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out two (win probability added of .380). Two innings later, the Astros scored the winning run off Todd Coffey.

Worst meltdown:

Henry Rodríguez (July 7, 10–9 loss to the Cubs in Washington). He had the distinction of giving up the go-ahead run twice. Entering in the top of the eighth with the score tied 8–8, Rodríguez gave up a two-out double to Starlin Castro followed by a run-scording single to Aramis Ramírez. In the bottom of the eighth the Nats tied it again 9–9, and Rodríguez came out to work the ninth. Giving up a single to Geovany Soto and a double to Darwin Barney, the Cubs took a 10–9 lead that they wouldn’t yield (WPA of –.516).

Clutch hit:

Danny Espinosa (July 17,  9–8 loss to the Braves in Atlanta). It was the top of the sixth, two outs, Roger Bernadina on first, and the Nats behind 7–6. Espinosa hit a home run to give the Nats the lead (WPA of .336). Alas, his clutch hit turned out be in vain as the Braves came back to tie it in the eighth and knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Choke:

Jayson Werth (July 9, 2–1 loss to the Rockies at home). In the bottom of the ninth with one out, runners on first and third, and the Nats down 2–1, Werth grounded into a game-ending double play (WPA of –.452). Lots of booing.

Clutch baserunning:

Jayson Werth (July 4, 5–4 win over the Cubs at home). In the bottom of the tenth, Werth walked, was advanced to second by a Liván Hernández sacrifice, stole third, and then scored the walk-off run on a wild pitch.

Likely to cool off:

Rick Ankiel – An unsustainable batting average on balls in play of .432 contributed to his July average of .327.

Likely to warm up:

Todd Coffey – His opponents’ batting average on balls in play of .405 for July also probably won’t persist.

Transactions:

Jason Marquis was traded to Arizona, and Jerry Hairston, Jr. to Milwaukee. The Nats picked up Jonny Gomes from Cincinnati—all for prospects—and the Nats released Matt Stairs.

Bryce Harper watch:

Promoted to Class AA Harrisburg on July 4 (and skipping high-A Potomac), Bryce Harper hit .238/.303/.325 in 23 games in the Eastern League.

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