Nationals vs Phillies 5/3/2014 Lineup and Things to Watch

100px-Washington_Nationals_logo_svgThis is Washington Nationals that were favorites to win the World Series this year as well as last year, currently 0.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East with a record of 17-12 and ranked 8th in the latest ESPN power ranking list. But with the Nationals continued struggles against the Braves they are going to have to beat the rest of the teams in the division to get enough of a lead over the Braves so their repeated losses to them do not cost them a chance in this year’s playoffs, like it did last year.

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A Head to Head Weekend Against the Phillies

Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25)The Nationals will take on the Phillies this weekend for the first series against them in 2014. Two exciting factors to pay attention to this weekend:

Pitching match-ups: Tonight we will see both team’s ‘big guys’ on the mound, Stephen Strasburg and Cliff Lee. Neither has had perfect start, but no worries there; both are still throwing the same quality stuff that we are all used to. Stras is currently 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA and Lee is 3-2 with 3.29. Tomorrow we have Tanner Roark  vs. AJ Burnett, both of which completely tore up April in nearly every outing. Then we’ll see Gio Gonzalez up against Cole Hamels on Sunday.
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Player Profiles: Tanner Roark

Tanner Roark
Tanner Roark

 

Coming off a complete game shutout on April 26 against the San Diego Padres, Tanner Roark thrust himself into the spotlight and into what looks like the permanent starting rotation for the Washington Nationals. But it wasn’t all such a bright future for the 27 year old right hander.

Born on October 5, 1986 in Wilmington, Illinois, Tanner’s sports career started when he played one season with the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League for the 2008 season. To say the least he struggled, in just three games he pitched 9 2/3 innings while giving up 23 hits as well as 25 runs, which comes to an astounding ERA of 21.41.
Even with his dreadful start for the Miners he would be drafted in the 25th round of the 2008 Amateur Player Draft by the Texas Rangers. Then in July 2010 he was traded to the Nationals for Cristian Guzman, Guzman was traded due to the arrival of the now starting shortstop Ian Desmond. Read more about Player Profiles: Tanner Roark

Harper lands on DL, again

1024px-9TH_Bryce_HarperWell the worst has come true for Washington National faithful, Bryce Harper will for the first time this season be placed on the disable list due to his need of surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and he is expected to be out until at least early July, ESPN’s Keith Law reports.

Harper suffered the injury on a head first slide into third base after a base clearing triple on April 25 against the San Diego Padres, the Nationals would go on to win the game 11-1. At the time of the injury the severity of it was unknown with Harper showing little to no discomfort after the play. But after seeing multiple doctors he and the Nationals elected to have the surgery on Tuesday, April 29, to repair the thumb.

Harper will go the DL currently batting .289, highest of career, with one home run and nine runs batted in. This will be the second season in a row Harper will miss significant amount of time due to injuries, after missing 44 games last season to an array of injuries it was heavily discussed what a healthy Harper could do this year and how he could help many experts prediction of the Nationals winning the World Series come true. This injury will definitely set the Nationals back offensively and defensively, which is already  worst in the MLB.

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Nationals vs Padres 4/26/14 INSTANT ANALYSIS

Tanner Roark
Tanner Roark

In the first game at the new Nationals Park on Opening Day 2008, Ryan Zimmerman christened the new stadium with a walk off home run to give the Washington Nationals a 3-2 win. Now fast forward to April 26, 2014, the 500th regular season home game played at Nationals Park in which the Washington Nationals faithful would watch Tanner Roark pitch a complete game shutout, along with carrying a perfect game into the sixth inning. Back by early runs batted in from Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa in the first inning along with a Denard Span RBI single in the sixth, Tanner Roark was able to throw a career game and give the Washington Nationals their 14th win of the year.

Roark started the game with 16 batters retired in a row using only 54 pitches, which would go a long way in him finishing the game with a complete game.  Relying heavily on his defense with pitching to the tune tune of 14 ground ball outs and 8 strike outs, which are both career highs for the 27 year old pitcher.  With Roark threatening with the perfect game early in the sixth it was broken up the only way a perfect game could be, with a single up the middle for the San Diego Padres backup catcher Rene Rivera, who come into the game batting .173. Coming back from the perfect game attempt strong as ever, Roark would go onto finish the game allowing three hits and one walk  while only throwing 108 pitches.

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Instant Analysis: Nat's win 9-2 over the Marlins

Photo via: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/22338283/nats-anthony-rendon-headed-to-triplea-will-play-second-base
Photo via: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/22338283/nats-anthony-rendon-headed-to-triplea-will-play-second-base

It was refreshing for Nat’s fans to have something to cheer about coming off a series against the Braves in which they were swept. The Nat’s certainly got their bats going tying a Nationals team record for most extra-base hits and triples tonight.
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Should the Nationals be concerned about Harper and Strasburg?

HarperBryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg haven’t gotten off to quite the start most National’s fans would have hoped, but is it time to panic this early in the season? It may be a bit premature to be overly concerned but I am finding myself more concerned about Strasburg than Harper.

On a positive note, Bryce Harper has had no trouble in the field this season; his struggles have come at the plate. I am not overly concerned about this for a couple of reasons. First off, hitting slumps happen; it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Secondly, Harper has far too much talent for it to continue.
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