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July 3, 2017 / Nat Anacostia

Nats’ June in review: It is what it is

June was  tough month for the Nationals. With their 14–14 record, they were only playing at a .500 clip. Fortunately, the other teams in the weak NL East didn’t take advantage. By the end of the month, the Braves moved into second place, 8½ games behind. On June 29, the Nats’ young shortstop, Trea Turner, suffered a wrist fracture when hit by a pitch and the team learned he will probably be out of the lineup until September. In June, Turner had stolen 22 bases in 26 attempts, hit .298, and scored 23 runs.

As June began, the Nats were on a west coast road trip that had started with a sweep of the Giants. In a three-game series against the Oakland A’s, the Nats took two of three with scores that wouldn’t have been out of place for football—a 13 to 3 win, a 10 to 4 loss, and an 11 to 10 win. Next came the Dodgers in Los Angeles, and the Nats again took two of three, though with scores more befitting of a pitcher’s stadium—wins of 4 to 2 and 2 to 1, followed by a 2 to 1 loss. The Nats’ record on the road trip was an excellent 7–2.

Returning to Washington, the home stand began with a make-up game against the Orioles for an earlier rain-out. The Nats won 6 to 1. But the rest of the home stand turned bad, as the Nats were swept by the Texas Rangers. Their bats seemed to have died, as they only managed to score 6 runs in the three-game series. But their bullpen woes also returned in the second game of the series, when Koda Glover blew a 3 to 1 save opportunity in the ninth, and Shawn Kelly gave up a 3-run home run in the 11th for a 6 to 3 loss. After the game, Glover admitted to back injury and was placed on the disabled list (an injury report that was later expanded to include inflammation of the rotator cuff). In the third game against the Rangers, Oliver Perez and Blake Treinen were unable to keep the game tied in the eighth, resulting in a 5 to 1 loss for the Nats. The Braves were the next visitors, and the Nats bullpen again surrendered a lead in the ninth, with Matt Albers giving up a 9 to 8 lead with a 3-run home run. The Nats lost two of three against the Braves and ended the home stand with a 2–5 record.

Their next road trip began with a four-game series against the Mets. The Nats played well and won the first three games. Their next series was a three-game set against the Marlins in Miami. The Nats lost two games, both by one run, for a 4–3 record on their road trip.

Returning home, they faced the Reds for three games. They won the first game in walk-off fashion, 6 to 5 in 10 innings. They also won the second game, 18 to 3, before losing the finale. They next hosted the reigning  World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs, in a four-game set. In the first game, they avoided being shut out by staging a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth, only to fall short with a 5 to 4 loss. They won the next two, but the Cubs were able to split the series when the Nats’ bullpen again blew a save in the finale, with Treinen taking a 4 to 2 lead into the ninth and giving up 3 runs. That was also the game when Trea Turner suffered his broken wrist. The month ended with the Nats playing the Cardinals in St. Louis, where they suffered an 8 to 1 loss.

In June, the Nationals’ strength continued to be its offense. Their on-base percentage (.341) ranked 5th in the NL, and their slugging percentage (.480) ranked 2nd, while their weighted runs created (wRC+) of 111 ranked third.

The starting pitching also performed well, ranking fourth in park-adjusted ERA relative to league (ERA–) with 93, and third in fielding-independent pitching relative to league (FIP–) with 89. They also led the league in innings pitched per start with 6.06. The problems of the relief staff were also apparent in the statistics. They ranked 14th of 15 NL teams in RE24 (–13.04), 12th in shutdowns (15), 14th in ERA– with 127, and last in FIP– with 113. After the third consecutive month of abysmal relief pitching, the Nats fans (and probably their players) are anxious for a pre-deadline trade.

Record:

14–14 (.500)

Pythagorean Record:

16–12 (5.75 R/G – 4.93 RA/G)

June MVP:

Max Scherzer (3–2, 1.98 RA/9, 5 G, 36-1/3 IP,  12.6 K/9, .187 opp OBP, 1.7 RA9-WAR).

Most valuable position player:

Anthony Rendon (.300/.414/.638, 24 G, 7 HR, 18 R, 18 RBI, 1.3 fWAR). Also, Michael A. Taylor (.299/.330/.619, 26 G, 7 HR, 20 R, 18 RBI, 1.1 fWAR) deserves a mention as runner up.

Most valuable relief pitcher:

Enny Romero (0–1, 1.15 RA/9, 13 G, 15-2/3 IP, .302 opp OBP, 4.15 RE24, 0.7 RA9-WAR, 1 save, 4 shutdowns, 1 meltdown).

Worst month:

Tanner Roark went (1–4, 9.20 RA/9, 30-1/3 IP, .404 opp OBP, –0.9 fWAR) for the worst month of his career.

Best start this month:

Max Scherzer (June 21, 2–1 loss to the Marlins in Miami). You probably remember this game. Scherzer carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and got 11 strikeouts in an 8 inning complete game, allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 unearned runs, for a game score of 84 in the quintessential tough loss. It all fell apart when Adam Lind couldn’t catch a throw for the third out. Also, the Nats’ offense couldn’t get anything going against Dan Straily and the Marlins’ bullpen.

Worst start:

Tanner Roark (June 19, 8–7 loss to the Marlins in Miami). He gave up 6 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in 2-2/3 innings (game score 20), and left with the game tied 6 to 6. The bullpen took a tie into the ninth inning, but Romero gave up the walk-off run to the Marlins.

Tough losses:

  • Stephen Strasburg (June 7, 2–1 loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles) gave up 2 runs (1 unearned) on 3 hits and 1 walk with 8 strikeouts in 6 innings (game score 67). He had the bad fortune to face Clayton Kershaw. 
  • Max Scherzer (June 11, 5–1 loss to the Rangers at home) left a 1–1 game with one out in the top of the eighth, after allowing a runner to reach on an error and another to walk. The bullpen allowed the runners to score, as well as two more, with Scherzer charged with the loss. He gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts in 7-1/3 innings (game score 71).
  • Max Scherzer (June 21, 2–1 loss to Marlins in Miami). We already talked about this one (see “Best start this month“) – a game score of 84.

Cheap win: 

  • None

Best shutdown: 

Enny Romero (June 10, 6–3 loss to the Rangers at home). Romero came into the game in the top of the 10th and got four consecutive outs, before being replaced by Shawn Kelley with one out in the 11th (win probability added .198). Kelley would get a strikeout, then with two outs give up a double, an intentional walk, and a 3-run homer for the Nats’ 6 to 3 loss.

Worst meltdown:

Blake Treinen (June 29, 5–4 loss to the Cubs at home). Treinen came into the game in the top of the ninth with a 4–2 lead, looking for the save. After striking out the first batter, he hit the second batter, then got a forceout at second. After a two-out single, the Cubs had runners at first and third. Treinen then allowed another single (scoring one run) and a double (scoring two more) giving the Cubs the lead. He finally ended the inning with a groundout (WPA –.723). Wade Davis set the Nats down in order in the bottom of the ninth for the Cubs win.

Clutch hit:

Bryce Harper (June 23, 6–5 win over the Reds at home). With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, runners on first and third, and the score tied 5 to 5, Harper drove a line drive into deep right field for a walk-off single. (WPA .362).

Choke:

Ryan Zimmerman (June 26, 5–4 loss to the Cubs at home). Down 5 to 0 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Nats rallied for 3 runs and had the bases loaded  with two outs when Zimmerman came to bat. Wade Davis uncorked a wild pitch, allowing a fourth Nationals run and advancing the other two runners. Zimmerman then struck out to end the improbable rally and the game. (WPA –.244).

 

 

 

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