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July 7, 2012 / Nat Anacostia

Nats’ June in review

Due to the holiday, I’m a bit late with this month’s review. All statistics refer to the month of June.

In June, as Michael Morse returned from the disabled list, the Nats’ offense picked up some steam, advancing from tepid to luke warm. Meanwhile, the pitching stayed hot, keeping the Nats in many games where the offense scratched and struggled.

The month began with a short home stand, with the Nats splitting a pair against the Braves, then winning two of three against the Mets. Next came a road trip for interleague play, and the Nats swept both the Red Sox and the Blue Jays. With those sweeps came national media attention and the idea took hold that this year’s team had a legitimate aspiration for a divisional title and post-season success.

Some air was let out of the Nats’ balloon during the ensuing home stand, when they lost four in a row—swept by the Yankees and another loss to the Rays—before winning the last two games against the Rays. Ending the month on the road, the Nats lost two of three to the Orioles, finishing their interleague play against the tough AL East with a 10–8 record, while their divisional rivals other than the Mets recorded losing records in interleague play.

With the road trip moving on to Denver, the Nats split four games against the Rockies and ended the month splitting the first two games played in Atlanta. The Nats finished June in first place in the NL East, 2-1/2 games ahead of the Mets, and according to coolstandings.com, their playoff odds were 66.7%.

Record:

15–11 (.577)

Pythagorean Record:

15–11 (4.46 R/G – 3.73 RA/G)

MVP for June:

Ian Desmond (.301/.333/.553, 26 G, 108 PA, 5 HR, 11 R, 20 RBI, 1.2 fWAR, 1.64 WPA, 6.34 RE24). Honorable mention goes to Tyler Moore (.425/.521/.800, 1.0 fWAR in 48 PA, mostly as a platoon player).

Most valuable starting pitcher:

Jordan Zimmermann (1–1, 3.00 R/9, 5 G, 33 IP, 5.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 6.29 RE24). Zimmermann was a model of consistency, going 6–7–6–7–7 innings with 2–3–3–2–1 runs allowed in his five starts. While Stephen Strasburg has flashier fielding-independent numbers, for the monthly awards I generally rely more on runs prevented, where steady Zimmermann slightly edged out Strasburg.

Most valuable reliever:

Tyler Clippard (0-0, 0.00 R/9, 12 G, 10 saves, 11-2/3 IP, 9.3 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 1.5 H/9, 6.04 RE24, 1.32 WPA, 0 of 1 inherited runner scored, 11 shutdowns, 0 meltdown) wins the award for the second month in a row. That’s about as it gets for a relief ace.

Best start this month:

Stephen Strasburg (June 2, 2–0 win over the Braves at home). Strasburg went 7 innings and got the win, giving up 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, getting 9 K and a game score of 78.

Worst start:

Edwin Jackson (June 28, 11–10 loss to the Rockies in Denver, 3 IP, 10 H, 1 HR, 8 R, 2 BB, 5 K, game score of 10). Jackson wasn’t charged with the loss, as the Nats came back to tie it before losing in the 11th inning.

Best shutdown:

Craig Stammen (June 16, 5–3 loss to the Yankees at home) pitched three scoreless, hitless innings in the 11th, 12th, and 13th innings of a 3–3 tie. The only Yanks who reached base while Stammen was on the mound were Teixeira on an error and Cano on an intentional walk (Win probability added .370). In the 14th inning, Brad Lidge, in his final game as a Nat, gave up the decisive runs to the Yankees.

Worst meltdown:

Sean Burnett (June 24, 2–1 loss to the Orioles in Baltimore) entered in the bottom of the eighth with a 1–0 lead, and promptly gave up a gave up a single to Jones and a home run (and the lead) to Wieters. After getting a fly out, he walked Pearce and then was pulled for Mattheus before any more damage could be done. (Win probability added –.550)

Clutch hit:

Roger Bernadina (June 10, 4–3 win over the Red Sox in Boston) came up with two outs in the top of the ninth, a tie game 3–3, and Bryce Harper on first. The Shark hit a double to score Harper and give the Nats the go-ahead run for the final game of the series sweep. (WPA .389)

Choke:

Ryan Zimmerman (June 3, 3–2 loss to the Braves at homes) came up in the bottom of the eighth, the Nats down by one, runners on first and second, and no outs. He grounded into a rally-killing double play. (WPA –.266)

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