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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Generics Over Brand Names

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Series Preview: The Capital Cure

Following a well deserved off day the Minnesota Twins welcome the Washington Nationals to Target Field for a three-game interleague series. With this being played on home turf, Rocco Baldelli’s club will be afforded the sensibility of having a designated hitter. Although the Twins have been without Nelson Cruz after a recent wrist flare-up, he could return to his post at the beginning of the series.
Image courtesy of © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Brief Overview:

As is to be expected from any National League club, the Nationals are relative strangers to Target Field. This will be their first visit without Bryce Harper, and thankfully for the Twins, Max Scherzer is not scheduled to pitch in this set either. Washington is wrapping up a brief two-city road trip and is just 1-3 after leaving Atlanta with a series loss.

What They Do Well:

You have to start this section with their resolve and resilience. Expected to be a postseason team when 2019 began, the Washington Nationals raced out to an awful 20-31 start. By the beginning of June it looked like Davey Martinez’s squad was left for dead owning a 24-33 record and trailing in the NL East by nine full games.Since that point they have gone 55-30 being one of the hottest teams in the sport, and are now firmly entrenched in the first wild card spot.

It’s not a surprise that a team with Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin in its rotation would pitch well. At fifth in overall fWAR as a staff, it’s the rotation that does the heavy lifting on this club. Washington’s starters own the best fWAR in baseball and have generated a full win more than the second-place Dodgers.

Just because they can pitch doesn’t mean they don’t hit as well. Bryce Harper’s departure wasn’t ever going to be inconsequential but the lineup has had plenty of players step up. The lineup has produced a top third fWAR and they’ve scored the seventh most runs in all of baseball.

What They Do Not Do Well:

Technically we could put fielding in this category as the Nationals own the 19th-rated team in terms of defensive WAR. That’s essentially middle of the pack though, and it’s only two spots shy of the Minnesota Twins.

Relief pitching has been atrocious. Washington owns the 25th overall fWAR from a relief perspective, and the poor performances have come from all over the place. Sean Doolittle looked like a lock-down lefty until just shy of the trade deadline, and now he’s got a 4.09 ERA. Tanner Rainey is the only arm with an ERA south of 4.00 to pitch more than 25 innings for the Nationals, and they’ve turned to Oakland Athletics castoff Fernando Rodney as a steadying presence. The bullpen is a hodgepodge of no-names and has-beens, while the group as a whole has hardly lived up to expectations (or performed right on par with them depending on how you look at it.)

Individuals of Note:

You know all about Strasburg, Scherzer, and Corbin. You probably know that Juan Soto is one of the best young players in the game right now. The outfielder has a .968 OPS through 131 games and he’s making it look incredibly easy. Former divisional foe Yan Gomes is on this club, and previous fan favorite Brian Dozier comes back to town for the first time as well.

The most important individual, and one that flies under the radar most often, is none other than Anthony Rendon. Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger have gotten all of the NL MVP hype in 2019, but you best believe the Nationals third baseman is deserving of consideration as well.

Rendon is just 29, has a 1.047 OPS and has blasted 32 dingers this season. He hits for average, he hits for power, and he does it all while playing a strong third base. If it’s Gerrit Cole being handed a blank check on the bump this free agency cycle, teams should be lining up to pay Rendon whatever he wants to join their lineup.

Recent History:

Minnesota last played Washington in 2016 going 0-3 against them. The last time the Nationals were in Minnesota the Twins still played at the Metrodome. In 2008 the Twins swept the Nats over a three-game series in June.

Recent Trajectories:

Minnesota has gone 6-4 over their last ten games but are coming off a dropped series to begin this six game home swing. The Nats are 5-5 in their last 10 and went 1-4 against the Braves to start this trip.

Pitching Matchups:

Tuesday: Berrios vs Sanchez
Wednesday: Perez vs Strasburg
Thursday: Gibson vs Corbin

Ending Thoughts:

For whatever reason I was convinced that the Twins were scheduled to play the Nationals in 2020. That isn’t the case though, and Stephen Strasburg will be making his Target Field debut this week.

Juan Soto was all of 9-years-old when Washington last came to Minnesota.

This is going to be a clash of two good, likely playoff-bound, clubs. The Twins need to get healthy, and showing a lineup that resembles that during this series is a must. With the starter tipped in their favor just once, the Twins are in an uphill battle, but this team has risen to the occasion often in 2019. I’ll say the Fightin’ Rocco’s take two and keep the train moving.

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8 Comments

"The Fightin' Rocco's". I like it. Go Twins!

What? A pitching staff worse than ours? I like it! Let's sweep all 3 and hope our A team gets well soon!

I want to see Kiriloff,,Cubs called up there 20181st rd pick from a.a. all he did is get 3 hits his first game,would rather see him overWade- lamarre- the fast kid ? even maybe over cave,WHYNOT-- Servicetime , Thats getting old,More and more teams r calling up younger guys, Why not us ??

If Buxton is indeed down and the Twins are playing without Kepler,too...I would move Byron to the 60-day and add Alex. If nothing else, it would give the Twins a good look at their future and what they should think about Buxton and Rosario longterm. He can't hit any worse than Wade, run the bases as well as Miller, and probably contribute overall as well as LaMarre in the scheme of things. Plus he is coming off a playoff series, so not like he hasn't been playing ball for the last week.

 

Good to see that Gibson will be returning to the mound, which means the Twins only have to patch togetehr one game with rookie starters, although I would strongly consider using an opener for Perez or Gibson, depending on how either come out of the gate this round...simply because you can..you got the arms, and nothing like starting a lefty and following with a righty (or vice versa) to screw up the other manager's lineup. And then you only really have to worrky about your starter giving you four good innings.

 

The Yankees are closing in on the Twins and hope theycan keep the lead and win the homer chanmpionship, but seems we have subtracted while the Yankees have added bats. The only redemption is that the Yankees only have another series at home.

 

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theBOMisthebomb
Sep 10 2019 01:46 PM
Looking forward to seeing old friend Brian Dozier this series.
Beating Washington will serve two purposes: most obviously, a win for us to lower our magic number, but also, keeping Washington closer to the pack in the NL wild card race, making it more likely they have something to play for in their season-ending series vs Cleveland.
    • ashbury and Aerodeliria like this
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Aerodeliria
Sep 10 2019 10:23 PM

 

Beating Washington will serve two purposes: most obviously, a win for us to lower our magic number, but also, keeping Washington closer to the pack in the NL wild card race, making it more likely they have something to play for in their season-ending series vs Cleveland.

...great point. I would add that it would be nice to take a series at home from a team with a winning record. It seems like forever since that happened.

    • spycake likes this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 11 2019 06:19 AM
One thing missing in your series preview: weather forecast. Which calls for rain and more rain for today and tomorrow. Unless the Nats can wrap up the top wild card spot without them, the teams will have to play make up games after the regular season.

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