Game 1: Moments That Mattered

This is something that we will be trying out this season after every game. Instead of a nuts and bolts recap it will focus on the minute details – the pitch, the swing, the decision or the call. This can be a positive or a negative. What could matter most is the WPA (Win Probability Added) but it can be something different. This will usually run the morning after the game.

Apr 1, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) tags out Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) during the seventh inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 2 – 0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Most important pitch (Nationals pitching): Rob Brantly flies out to left, Giancarlo Stanton thrown out at home (+0.164)

The most important play in yesterday’s game was the double play and the last pitch that Stephen Strasburg threw. It was the most trouble he had been in all game. Brantly flied to Bryce Harper in medium left field. Stanton was tagging up and Harper threw a bullet to home plate. The worst part of the play wasn’t necessarily Placido Polanco‘s decision to run – it was his decision to stop. Had he just continued running, he would have had a pretty good chance of making it to second base. By making the decision to stop, he caused a rundown and forced Stanton to go home and try and salvage something. F.P. Santangelo had a great point on the broadcast when he pointed out Danny Espinosa‘s throw home which was perfect.

Most important at-bat (Nationals hitting): Bryce Harper’s first home run (+0.111)

This one had the most impact in terms of WPA, and gave the momentum to the Washington Nationals. After the home run, Strasburg went on a run not allowing another hit until the seventh inning. You can’t necessarily say that Harper’s home run gave Strasburg the chance to do that, but it certainly helped knowing that run was on the board and Strasburg had pretty good stuff. It wasn’t a horrible pitch, but it is right where left-handed hitters love the ball – low and inside. The second home run could have deflated the Marlins just as much.

Most questionable decision that didn’t end up mattering: Pulling Stephen Strasburg after seven innings

I can understand why. He had given up two hits in the seventh (of his three overall) and the Nationals have a very good bullpen. But this was supposed to be the year that Stephen Strasburg was supposed to be an adult. Training wheels off. And you pull your ace on Opening Day when he has a shutout and has thrown 80 pitches? Talk about mixed messages. If the bullpen had blown the game, Davey Johnson would be faced with tons of questions. With the win, those questions still exist but just aren’t as angry.

Topics: Bryce Harper, Miami Marlins, Placido Polanco, Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

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  • Placidin

    With back to back closers ready to go against the power challenged Marlins lineup Johnson will probably be making that move no matter who the starter is.

    • Jared Book

      Thanks for checking in. I tend to agree. I just think that making a decision based on inning instead of pitch count is a little strange, but Strasburg did get into a little trouble in the 7th and it’s one game. You have to be careful not to overuse your best relievers at the expense of your starters, though.

      The Atlanta Braves of 2011 will tell you that.