With a 9-2 loss to the Dodgers today, victims of a series sweep and losers of six out of their last seven, the Nationals fell to 48-50 in third place in the NL East. Jayson Werth provided all of the offense this afternoon with two solo home runs; the rest of the lineup had just two hits (both singles) in 29 at-bats. Starter Jordan Zimmermann had the worst start of his career, allowing seven runs in two innings of work. As Adam Kilgore put it, “They may now know what the abyss looks like.”
Werth wasn’t willing to be pessimistic.
I think at any moment, this team could take off,” Werth said. “But I’m not going to get into the doom-and-gloom stuff, because we’ve got way too many games to play. I believe in this team. I’ve said it from the beginning. We got a long way to go. We’ll be fine. We’re a good team.”
You can understand Werth’s point of view as well, as he was a member of the 2007 Phillies when they overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 games left to play in the 2007 season to overtake the Mets for the NL East crown. In 2008, the Phillies were 3.5 games behind the Mets with 16 games left and again took home the division title en route to winning the World Series.
Manager Davey Johnson, however, isn’t happy, but appreciate’s Werth’s perspective.
“There’s a good attitude,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I’m the one that’s frustrated. I’m the one that has trouble sleeping. I feel like we’re going to be fine.”
The Nationals will play a four-game set against the similarly-slumping Pirates. Since the mathematical halfway point of the season, the Buccos are 6-9.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.
Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.
Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.