The Good with the Bad: MIL Series Takeaways

The Good With the Bad is a segment in which contributor Luigi (Ouij) de Guzman (@ouij) and Alyssa Wolice break down the negatives and positives for each series, respectively. You, the reader, can then decide to see the glass half empty - or full - with each series wrap.

ALYSSA'S TAKE

Max Scherzer Was Better Than Perfect. In missing the mark for a perfect game Sunday afternoon, Max Scherzer set a Nationals game record 16 strikeouts while allowing just one walk and one hit—a bloop single off the bat of Carlos Gomez. For any believers in game score, Scherzer accomplished something that has only been achieved 12 times in MLB history: he hit a game score of 100 in nine innings pitched. All in a day’s work, Scherzer tossed 119 pitches and topped the 95 MPH mark as late as the eighth inning, proving that when he’s on, his endurance is remarkable. His performance brought his ERA down to 1.93 and reminded everyone in the Nats community why the Nats committed to a $210 million pricetag. Just to add icing—or chocolate sauce— to the figurative cake, Scherzer also managed a fourth-inning single which, at the time, was more offense than the entire Milwaukee Brewers line-up could muster.

Joe Ross Pitched Like a Regular. The 22-year-old right-hander earned his first MLB win Saturday—and his own sugar-laden shower—when the Nationals snapped out of their skid with a 7-2 win over the Brewers. Even more, Ross made it eight innings—which tied the longest stint for a Nationals starter this season, until Scherzer went for the long haul Sunday. Ross clearly settled into a comfort level, retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. With Fister’s return in sight, the Nats will have to figure out what role—if any—Ross might have with the team. But, for now, Nats fans should celebrate the fact Washington has a decision to make.

Danny Espinosa Played First Base. Danny Espinosa has redefined himself as the ultimate can-do player. Those paying little attention Saturday would not have known the difference between Espinosa and a regular first baseman, which is the best the Nats could have asked for given that Espi’s first ever workout at first occurred just that morning. Espinosa handled the switch-up calmly, and fielded every ball that came his way—including a bouncer in the dirt from Yunel Escobar. Beyond keeping Espinosa employed, the shortstop/second baseman’s willingness to take on anything the Nats have thrown his way has helped the team cope with significant injuries—including that of Ryan Zimmerman, who went on the DL Thursday.

Bryce Harper Went 3-for-3 before the Injury. The Washington Nationals fan-base will have to hold its collective breath a bit longer in waiting to see what’s to come of Bryce Harper’s left knee, after he was hit by a runaway 95 MPH fastball Saturday. Before leaving the game, Harper went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Harper enjoyed the Friday contest as well as he went 2-for-3 on the night, with a home run and two runs scored.

Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos Hit Two-Run Shots. Supporting Joe Ross’s first MLB win, both Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos clobbered two-run homers to pad the Nationals’ lead. In the third, Anthony Rendon drew a walk before Escobar sent a line-drive over the wall. And, in the fifth, Ramos hit an opposite-field shot just after Harper earned his 52nd walk of the season.

David Carpenter Made His Nationals Debut. Following Jordan Zimmermann’s rough outing, David Carpenter tossed a scoreless inning of relief in the Nationals’ 8-4 loss on June 12. Talking big picture, Carpenter brings big-game experience by way of the New York Yankees, who designated him for assignment June 3rd.

OUIJ'S TAKE

Jordan Zimmermann: Fear & Loathing in the Strike Zone. It might be possible for a pitcher to throw too many strikes. Consider the following:



That was Jordan Zimmermann on Friday. Note the three orange dots—the doubles. Major league hitters make their living by taking pitches located where those orange dots are and turning them into extra-base hits. Brewer batters were seeing a lot of pitches in the strike zone that day. Worse, they were hitting them right up the middle—the sure sign that they were not fooled.

There is one hazard when you linger too much in the strike zone: bats. Zimmermann only missed ten bats (that is, batters swung and missed) ten times. 56 of JZ's 88 pitches were fastballs. Only two of them resulted in a swing and a miss. For a pitcher who depends so much on his fastball, that's not great.

The Nationals head south to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a two-game set beginning Monday.

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