What We Learned: Nationals vs. Mets

Jonah Birenbaum

For those still clinging to delusions of Washington claiming the second wild card spot, the Nationals' 7-2 triumph over the New York Mets on Thursday carried some degree of significance.

A game replete with narrative fodder, the Nats completed a four-game sweep of an awful baseball team and secured their sixth consecutive victory.  Yep, Thursday was a beat writer's dream.

East Coast livin'
The Washington Nationals are supremely fortunate to fall under the jurisdiction of the National League East, which houses one of baseball's more deplorable collection of teams. Against division opponents who reside outside of Georgia -- a contingent that includes the hapless Phillies, the haplesser Mets, and the haplessest Marlins -- the Nationals have compiled a 32-18 record. Against everyone else, they're 45-51.

Also, aren't apostrophes so much cooler than Gs?

The Bullpen: Where nobody knows your name
The following players pitched for the Nationals on Thursday.  You may or may not recognize them. 

  • Craig Stammen: The most well-known name of the bunch, which is just terribly depressing on several levels; recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning on Thursday; objective metrics suggest he's not terrible at baseball, posting 2.56 ERA/3.18 FIP over his last two seasons.
  • Xavier Cedeno: Former 31st-round pick was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros earlier this season; recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth inning on Thursday; also, was designated for assignment by the HOUSTON ASTROS earlier this season.
  • Ryan Mattheus: Owns a 6.44 ERA in 30 games this season after recording consecutive campaigns with a sub-3.00 ERA; recorded three strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning of Thursday; despite his surname, did not participate in the Battle of Thermopylae.

Ryan Zimmerman is Miguel Cabrera
Okay, maybe that is a bit sensational. Rather, Ryan Zimmerman has been Miguel Cabrera since the beginning of September. The 28-year-old went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double on Thursday, and owns a 217 wRC+ for the month, bashing eight home runs in 11 games for an unholy .521 isolated power. Small samples are fun.

Zimmerman, who owns a solid .820 OPS with 23 dingers this season, has done a commendable job allaying concern that surfaced earlier in the year when he was committing throwing errors on a daily basis and hitting for scant power. Cross your fingers and he may just vindicate that six year, $100-million extension he received in 2012.  Maybe.

Bryce Harper has impressive impulse control
The intrepid 20-year-old has now gone one (1) day without destroying personal or team property.

From Wednesday:

“I worry about the backlash of the helmet or the bat,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, after canvassing the room to make sure Harper was not around. “But he’ll get through that.”

“He expects himself to do well every time up,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t happen that way. He takes it out on something. He needs to quit that.”