Al Galdi’s game recap: What I liked / Didn’t Like
Game 1: 5-2 win on Thursday night (April 16)
Game 2: 7-2 win on Friday night (April 17)
Game 3: 5-3 loss on Saturday afternoon (April 18)
Game 4: 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon (April 19)
What I liked:
1. Doug Fister’s start in Game 1 – Fister allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings on 86 pitches.
2. Max Scherzer’s start in Game 2 – Scherzer allowed one run in eight innings, recording nine strikeouts versus no walks and four hits. He became the first pitcher since the franchise moved to D.C. to last eight innings in two of his first three starts in a season.
3. Stephen Strasburg’s start in Game 4 – Strasburg rebounded nicely from allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings on a career-worst 10 hits in an 8-7 loss at Boston on April 14, giving up one run in 7 1/3 innings on seven strikeouts. Perhaps most significant was his improved efficiency, as he totaled 95 pitches off totaling 204 pitches in 10 2/3 innings over his first two starts this season.
4. Bryce Harper – Harper went 3-for-9 with five walks in the series, blasting a three-run homer in Game 2 and a solo homer in Game 3. He drew an intentional walk in each of the series’ final three games and exited it leading the majors with five intentional walks.
Another notable moment for Harper: running right through a stop sign by third base coach Bob Henley and ending up just a few feet behind Jayson Werth on Ryan Zimmerman’s two-run double in Game 1.
5. Ryan Zimmerman – Zimmerman went 4-for-16 with seven RBI in the series, providing two-run doubles in Games 1 and 2, an RBI groundout in Game 3 and an RBI double and RBI single in Game 4.
6. Ian Desmond the batter – Desmond went 9-for-17 with a walk in the series, totaling an RBI double and eight singles.
7. Denard Span being back – Span, who originally wasn’t expected back until late April at the earliest off undergoing right core-muscle surgery in March and sports-hernia surgery in December, was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. He started in center field and had a single and a run.
8. The bullpen – Nats relievers combined to allow two runs in 6 2/3 innings in the series, issuing no walks and recording six strikeouts. The negative: nine hits.
What I didn’t like:
1. Ian Desmond the fielder – Desmond committed an error in a scoreless Phillies seventh in Game 2 and then made multiple costly fielding mistakes in the Phillies’ two-run third in Game 3. First, he botched a routine grounder from opposing starter Aaron Harang and then bounced his throw to first, leaving Harang safe (a replay review overturned the original call). Desmond was officially credited with an error for that play. Three batters later, he dropped the ball trying to make the transfer on a what would have been a routine 4-6-3 double play.
2. Jordan Zimmermann’s start in Game 3 – Zimmermann, coming off arguably the worst start of his career (seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in a 9-4 loss at Boston on April 13), was better but still not as good as we know he can be: four runs (two earned) in 6 1/3 innings on four hits and four walks. The four walks matched a career high that had been set four previous times, though none since the start of the 2013 season. In fact, Zimmermann TOTALED four walks last September off totaling four walks in August.
3. Yunel Escobar getting injured in Game 2 – Escobar suffered a groin strain and did not play in Games 3 and 4. Danny Espinosa started those games at third base and made multiple impressive plays in Game 4.
4. Michael Taylor’s mixed run as the everyday center fielder – The corresponding roster move to Span being activated on Sunday was Taylor being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Taylor as a batter was mostly good, posting a .271 batting average and a .500 slugging percentage over 12 games. But he had three walks versus 19 strikeouts. And then there was the fielding. Taylor, reputedly an excellent glove man, had a number of struggles, including dropping a fly ball while running toward the wall for an error in the Phillies’ one-run fourth in Game 1 and committing a throwing error in the Phillies’ one-run ninth in Game 2. He remains the Nats’ likely everyday center fielder in 2016, and you just have a hope that he learns from this stint.