An article I linked up in yesterday's Nats Links indicated three questions for the 2013 Washington Nationals. One of those questions was whether Bryce harper would suffer a sophomore slump in 2013. If the Grapefruit League is any indication, I would say the answer is emphatically, NO!
Harper went 2 for 3 with a double and 4 runs driven in to lead the Nats over the Marlins 7-5, in Grapefruit League play yesterday. Harper raised his overall spring average to .400 (20 for 50) with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, and 12 RBI. Again, if spring training is an indication, it appears rather than a sophomore slump, we may see even more of a breakout for young Bryce Harper.
Jayson Werth was 2 for 2 with an RBI and raised his spring average to .294. Kurt Suzuki hit a solo home run, his first of the spring, and went 2 for 4. Suzuki is having a solid spring, batting .296 with 3 doubles, a home run, and 8 runs scored.
Chris Young continues to make a statement for some sort of role on the Nationals pitching staff. Young tossed 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk. In the spring, Young has a 3.00 ERA, allowing 4 runs over 12 innings. Lefty Zack Duke was hammered in relief, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, and 4 runs in 2 innings. For the spring, Duke has an ERA of 5.06. More concerning, at this point, he appears to be one of the only lefties in the bullpen. In typical Henry Rodriguez fashion, he allowed run and 2 walks in the ninth, but prevailed for the save. Even with continuing struggles, manager Davey Johnson is willing to give Rodriguez more chances.
The problem Chris Young is having is the fact he got another oppoortunity with a franchise loade din pitching. We will likely know by March 24 what Young's plans are, he has an opt-out to that date. More on Young and his decision.
Given the struggles in the bullpen in the spring to find a lefty, Adam Kilgore asks if the Nats even need a left hander. Given the bullpen issues with lefties and middle relievers, the hope is for starters to go long, the Nats have the closers, three of them.
As new Nats closer Rafael Soriano works himself into season shape, he has to deal with an infected tooth as well. Soriano will miss a game here or there while he has the infected wisdom tooth removed.
Remember the Mike Morse trade? Part of that trade was a player to be named later. That player was named. The Nats acquired lefty Ian Krol, the 12th best prospect in Oakland's organization, to complete the three team trade. The 2009 seventh round draft pick went 10-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 28 games in Low A for Oakland in 2010. He was limited in 2011 because of a suspension for posting homophobic slurts on Twitter. Last season he was 2-9 in AA with a 5.20 ERA. Krol now joins AJ Cole and Blake Treinin as the three prospects received in the Morse trade. More on the Krol acquisition. And more on Krol.
Here is more from Bill Ladson on Roger Bernadina's return to camp from the WBC.
The Odds sites love the Washington Nationals. Stephen Strasburg is an 11-2 favorite to win the Cy Young and Bryce Harper is a 10-1 favorite to win the MVP. Meanwhile, ESPN Magazine picks the Nats to win the world series. The Nats other stud starter, Gio Gonzalez, is third on the list as a Cy Young favorite. Meanwhile, the Nats continue to rack up accolades, even before the start of the season.
As we steam toward opening day, the evidence stacks higher and higher that the optimism surrounding the Nationals stretches beyond Viera and Washington, across every swath of the baseball realm. The other day, a scout in the stands, unsolicited, said the Nationals were “the most talented team I’ve seen” this spring.
More on those odds.