Tag: Doug Fister


The Nationals have lost six straight, eight of ten and are now under .500


Back in March the Nationals were everyone’s favorites. They had just signed Max Scherzer to a mega deal which put him alongside Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez as perhaps the best rotation in baseball. They had a core of guys with both speed and defensive bonafides in Anthony Rendon, Denard Span, Ian Desmond. They had Jayson Werth. They had a healthy Bryce Harper and a healthy Ryan Zimmerman.

They also had, in terms of competition, a Braves team which decided to punt the year and rebuild, a Phillies team which looked like a disaster and Mets and Marlins teams which, while on the upswing, didn’t figure to match the firepower of the Washington Nationals. Simply put, no one in their right mind did anything but pick the Nationals to win the East and win it easily. And they still may win the NL East. There’s a month and a half of baseball to go and anything can happen.

Right now, however, they are looking terrible. They’ve lost six in a row, eight of ten and find themselves at 58-59, four and a half games back of the Mets. Who, by the way, also got swept this weekend, which means the Nats lost a prime opportunity to make up ground. Or, if you’re more of an optimist, saved the Nats from being buried even deeper than they are.

Also, if you’re optimistic, you can say that it was gonna be an ugly road trip to begin with. Yes, they’re 1-6 on the west coast swing and were just shut out for the third time in six games, but those three shutouts came at the hands of Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, who are probably the three best pitchers in the game. And, after an off-day today, they do get to play the Rockies who are no great shakes. We’ll just forget for a moment that the Nats dropped two of three to the Rockies at home last week.

No matter how you want to spin it, the numbers don’t lie and the numbers are pretty ugly. The Nats are 10-20 since the All-Star break. While four and a half games don’t seem like an insurmountable deficit, it becomes harder and harder the longer time goes on. If the Mets play at their current pace the rest of the way the Nats have to go something like 12-games over .500 for the remainder of the season to beat ’em out. And, because the wild card deficit is so big — nine and a half games — there is no margin for error here. Second place means watching the playoffs from home.

Time to get moving, Nats. You have a lot of expectations to live up to and not a lot of time left to do it.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Ian Kinsler

Tigers 8, Royals 6: Victor Martinez homered twice and drove in five runs, but it was Ian Kinsler’s two-run walkoff homer which ended this one. The Tigers took two of three from division-leading Kansas City and now sit three and a half out in the wild card. It’s highly unlikely they’ll leap over all of the teams ahead of them but, if they manage it, do they get backsies on David Price, or what?

Brewers 10, Padres 1: Khris Davis hit two three-run homers and Matt Garza had no trouble with the Padres lineup, allowing only two hits in seven innings. Davis’ homers came off of Odrisamer Despaigne and Kevin Quackenbush. We should maybe check with the Elias Sports Bureau first, but I’m gonna wager that no batter in MLB history has ever hit two homers in a game off of pitchers with more combined letters in their names than Davis did here.

Astros 5, Athletics 4: Jed Lowrie had a throwing error in the ninth that allowed Oakland to score twice and force extra innings. But then he hit an RBI double off Edward Mujica with two outs in the 10th. Counter Intelligence is going over the video of this to see if the error was truly a mistake and if the double wasn’t just a means of making Houston brass believe he is not an A’s agent planted deep within the Astros organization. Really, when it comes Lowrie, the Astros and the Athletics, it’s hard to know where allegiances truly lie.

Dodgers 10, Phillies 8: You figure if you score six runs on seven hits in six innings off of Zack Greinke — five of which come in the first inning before he retires any of you — that you’re living right. But then your starter gives up seven runs in four innings, including a homer and two other hits to Greinke himself and, nah, you ain’t. Not a pretty game here at all. The six runs Greinke gave up in the first three innings here match the number of runs he gave up in his previous nine starts combined. But hey, a win.

Cardinals 3, Reds 0: Michael Wacha and three relievers combine to shut out the Reds. St. Louis held Cincy scoreless for the last 18 innings of this series. Reds starter Michael Lorenzen is 0-5 in his last seven starts.

Nationals 8, Diamondbacks 3: Rookie Joe Ross allowed a run and five hits while striking out seven in six innings and then, after the game, learned that the guy he was replacing in the rotation, Doug Fister, was being demoted to the bullpen. Bryce Harper reached base all three times he came to the plate and scored twice. His line on the year: .334/.461/.666. Hail Satan.

Braves 9, Marlins 8: Andrew McKirahan got his first career win and Arodys Vizcaino got his first career save. Both of them served 80-game suspensions for PEDs this year. Hail Hydra.

Yankees 2, Red Sox 1: The second 2-1 game between these two. If it wasn’t for that ugly 13-3 thing on Tuesday this series would probably challenge for the lowest-scoring Yankees-Red Sox series in recent history. As it was, CC Sabathia actually pitched well, allowing one run in six innings, A-Rod doubled in a run and Jacoby Ellsbury homered to put the Yankees ahead for good. Now New York faces a big series against the Jays this weekend.

Blue Jays 9, Twins 3: Mark Buehrle won — it was his 30th win against Minnesota in his career — and Edwin Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and scored twice. Also hit his 250th career homer. The Jays complete a four-game sweep of Minnesota, knocking the fading Twins back to .500 and putting them behind both the Rangers and the Orioles for the second wild card slot. Seems like the Cinderella phase of Minnesota’s season is over. Three games in the Bronx for Toronto now.

Cubs 5, Giants 4: The Cubs win their seventh of eight thanks to a Kyle Schwarber three- run homer and a Jorge Soler bases-loaded single. Jason Hammel was kinda miffed after the game that Joe Maddon pulled him in the fifth inning when he was in trouble, but they said afterward they’re on the same page. I’m assuming Maddon and him “rapped it out,” as the cool kids said and then were all copacetic. Joe Maddon is hip and knows how to talk to today’s youth.

Nationals move struggling Doug Fister to bullpen, will keep Joe Ross in rotation


With Stephen Strasburg due to come back from the disabled list on Saturday against the Rockies, Mark Zuckerman of CSNMA.com reports that the Nationals have decided to move the struggling Doug Fister to the bullpen while keeping rookie Joe Ross in the starting rotation.

Fister finished eighth in the balloting for the 2014 NL Cy Young Award after posting a 2.41 in 25 starts, but he hasn’t looked anything like that pitcher so far this season. The 31-year-old has a 4.60 ERA through 15 starts and has already allowed as many earned runs as he did all last year. He missed some time during the first half with a flexor strain in his elbow and has shown diminished velocity, so the Nationals can’t afford to keep running him out there every fifth day as they try to keep pace with the first-place Mets in the National League East.

The decision was handed down after Ross had another strong start this afternoon against the Diamondbacks, tossing six innings of one-run ball while striking out seven batters and walking none. The 22-year-old rookie owns an impressive 2.80 ERA and 47/4 K/BB ratio in 45 innings and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all seven of his starts. He has already thrown 121 innings this season between the majors and the minors, essentially matching his career-high workload from last year, so a potential shutdown has been discussed. However, he’s deserving of getting a longer look.

Title or no title, Dave Dombrowski’s tenure in Detroit was a success

Dave Dombrowski

In the wake of Dave Dombrowski being released as Tigers GM I’m seeing some sentiment on the web which goes: “Dombrowski had almost unlimited resources and over a decade at the helm; the Tigers not winning a title in that time means he was a failure.”

Sorry, not buying it. Not at all.

Yes, it would be nicer for Tigers fans if a title had been brought back home, but let’s assess Dombrowski on what he did in his entire tenure, shall we?

He took over in 2002 as team president. At the time Randy Smith was the GM and Phil Garner the manager. Dombrowski fired them early in the season and took over as GM. Those were some bad Tigers teams and they would only get worse — they’d lose 106 games in 2002 and 119 in 2003 and more than 90 each of the next two seasons — but he was building the team from the wreckage that Randy Smith had left. And it was some serious, serious wreckage.

By 2006 the Tigers, with manager Jim Leyland at the helm, were in the World Series. They got there via a number of Dombrowski moves and with the help of players Dombrowski developed. Veterans Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Kenny Rogers came to Detroit. Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson were drafted and quickly rose through the system. Within the next few years he’d flip Granderson for Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson, develop Alex Avila, Rick Porcello and, in a move that will be at the top of his career accomplishments no matter what else he does, managed to trade for Miguel Cabrera in his prime. And he gave up very damn little for him. The winning that was teased by that 2006 pennant came to fruition with four straight division titles beginning in 2011, three straight ALCS appearances and another AL Pennant in 2012.

Could the run have been better? Of course. If Dombrowski had done a better job putting a bullpen together there may have been another pennant and perhaps a World Series title in Motown in the past four years. And, yes, one can question some of Dombrowski’s moves such as letting Max Scherzer go, Justin Verlander’s massive extension and trading Doug Fister. Any general manager has missteps, Dombrowski is no different.

But to look at Dombrowski’s tenure with the Tigers demands that one judge it positively. The entire organization was an utter disaster in the early 2000s and now, its slipping in 2015 notwithstanding, it is considered one of the best organizations in baseball. This is no accident. And for that Tigers fans can thank Dave Dombrowski.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 9, Giants 8: Adonis Garcia with the walkoff two-run homer in the 12th inning. The Giants had a 6-0 lead in the sixth inning thanks in part to two Brandon Crawford homers and had a one run lead in the 12th but they blew it both times. This is the kind of loss that has to absolutely sting when you’re in a playoff race. The kind you look back at in October if you fall a game or two short and say “man, THAT’S the one we should’ve had.”

Mets 12, Marlins 1: Yoenis Cespedes hit three doubles and drove in four runs, and with that the Mets have sole possession of first place in the NL East. As fans of a losing NL East teams, the Phillies, Braves and Marlins people are no in the position of having to choose between rooting for the Mets or Nats to win the division. Hard choice. As far as team narrative goes it’s hard not to root for the Mets. Or, at the very least, Mets fans. At the same time Bryce Harper is my favorite player on either of these two teams so watching him go deep into the playoffs may be fun. Of course eventually personal fandom may win out and I’ll root for the meteor to hit Citi Field between October 2 and 4.

Diamondbacks 6, Nationals 4: Making it even harder to root for the Nationals in all of this is how uninspired their play has been lately. Fun fact: Matt Williams set up his rotation after the break in such a way as to make sure Max Scherzer never once faced the Mets in the six games those two teams just completed. Viva la sense of urgency. Here the Diamondbacks took a 6-0 lead into the ninth thanks to Zack Godley’s six shutout innings. Daniel Hudson made it interesting by allowing four runs in the ninth, but the comeback fell short. The Snakes smacked three homers off of Doug Fister and another off Jonathan Papelbon who was just in to get some work in what was then a blowout.

Blue Jays 5, Twins 1: David Price makes his Blue Jays debut and it goes swimmingly, with 11 strikeouts in eight innings. Between this, the Tulowitzki acquisition and the Twins falling off, I am growing convinced that the Jays are going to make the playoffs. And if they make the playoffs its a crapshoot, so they could easily make the World Series. I cover the World Series every year, so if they do I’ll have to go to Toronto. Except my passport is expired, so I have to get a new one. Thanks a lot, Blue Jays. You’re making me do paperwork.

Rangers 12, Astros 9: Adrian Beltre hit for the cycle. And he didn’t mess around, completing it by the fifth inning. I wonder if anyone has ever hit for the double cycle. As it was, Beltre’s cycle was the third of his career. He’s the first guy to do that in over 75 years. Of course, cycles have an element of weirdness to them in that, sometimes, it’s better to get one less total base or two in a given situation to keep the feat alive. Just ask Beltre, who maybe could’ve had a second triple in this one but held up at second base in the second inning. Could that have been your second triple, Adrian?

“I thought I might, but I changed my mind last second,” said Beltre, who rapidly circled both of his arms like he was trying to reverse his momentum.

Asked if he was thinking then about preserving the chance for a cycle, Beltre paused briefly before responding, “Maybe.”

I’m sure some play-the-game-the-right-way-folks are gonna grumble about that.

Rays 5, White Sox 4: Rookie Mikie Mahtook hit a two-out, ninth inning RBI single to put the Rays ahead for good in a see-saw game. Or was it a teetor-totter game? Guess it depends where you’re from. Either way, fans in the stands drank soda, not pop. Pop just sounds dumb. Don’t call it pop, people.

Padres 13, Brewers 5: Yangervis Solarte hit two homers, Jedd Gyorko had three hits including a bomb of his own and Alexi Amarista had three RBI as the Friars cruised. It was all over after a six-run seventh inning. As you may have heard, Pat Murphy, the Padres manager, managed Craig Counsell, the Brewers manager, when the latter played at Notre Dame. This is one of those neat facts that, were these two teams to play in a nationally televised playoff game would become less neat as the commentators mentioned it over and over and over again. Thankfully Milwaukee and San Diego aren’t allowing that to happen this year.

Mariners 8, Rockies 7: Nelson Cruz homered for this fourth straight game, getting to 30 on the year. Felix Hernandez allowed 11 hits in six and two-thirds but minimized the damage, allowing only four runs. Quite a feat at Coors Field. Nine strikeouts and only one walk help that.

Angels 5, Indians 4: The Angels end their six-game losing streak. This was the third time in four days the Angels faced a Cy Young winner. While they couldn’t get it done against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, they managed Corey Kluber just fine, gathering five runs on ten hits in five and two-thirds.

Orioles 9, Athletics 2: Chris Davis hit a three-run shot and Adam Jones and Caleb Joseph hit dingers of their own as the Orioles took their eighth of ten. The Orioles are tied with Toronto so maybe I won’t have to use that passport.

Cubs vs. Pirates: POSTPONED: So girl, hang your dress up to dry we ain’t leaving this room
Till Percy Priest breaks open wide and the river runs through
And carries this house on the stones like a piece of driftwood
Cover me up and know you’re enough to use me for good

Yeah, I know it was rain, not a flood, but I’ve had that song in my head for two weeks and was hoping for a rainout in order to use it. Besides, they WOULD cancel a game if there was a team in Nashville and the Percy Priest dam flooded. Of this I am certain.