By noon we’d already done a dozen posts about players and teams avoiding arbitration ahead of today’s deadline, so something had to give. We’ll keep posting the more noteworthy cases, but here’s a roundup of the not-so-noteworthy ones that will be updated throughout the day. • Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates: $1.75 million • Antonio…
Is a 4,000-yard passing season finally in the cards for Joe Flacco?
Though eight NFL seasons, Flacco has yet to throw for 4,000 yards in any year. He has come close – 3,986 yards in 2014, and 3,912 yards in 2013. And Flacco was on pace to pass throw for more than 4,000 yards last season, before his season-ending knee injury in Week 11.
Here are three reasons why I think Flacco will finally break the 4,000-yard barrier in 2016:
1. The time Flacco misses during OTA’s won’t matter.
Flacco is still not ready to participate in this week’s OTA’s after surgery, but the Ravens hope he will be on the field when training camp begins in late July. That should be plenty of time for Flacco to build chemistry with targets he has never lined up with like wide receivers Mike Wallace, Chris Moore, and Breshad Perriman, and tight end Ben Watson. By Week 1, Flacco will have more than enough practice reps to be ready.
2. The Ravens’ passing attack should be more explosive.
If they stay healthy, Wallace, Moore, and Perriman will give the Ravens big-play capability. Last season, the Ravens were forced to be methodical, and Flacco’s ability to throw deep was often wasted. Now he has more legitimate deep weapons.
3. Having the same coordinator should help the offense evolve.
The switch from Gary Kubiak to Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator was an adjustment last year, and there were some growing pains. Trestman and Flacco will begin the 2016 season with a comfort level they didn’t have last season. While the Ravens are committed to improving their running game, Trestman is not shy about throwing the football. Twelve quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards last season. I think Flacco will join that list in 2016.
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Having seen Gio Gonzalez just five days before, the New York Mets came to Washington on Monday with an adjustment to their approach. Now knowing what to expect from the Nats' lefty and having their previous meeting fresh in their mind, the Mets were aggressive early in counts and used that method to hand Gonzalez his worst start not only of this season, but in years.
Gonzalez was fine until the third inning when all hell broke loose. He hit Curtis Granderson on the elbow with one out, then saw Juan Lagares single on the first pitch of his at-bat and David Wright homer in the first pitch of his. Wright's victim was an 82 mile per hour changeup and he got every piece he needed of it.
"This game is a game of adjustments, and they adjusted quite well to Gio today," manager Dusty Baker said.
Wright's homer was one of three Gonzalez allowed in Monday's 7-1 Nats loss, a setback that tied the season series at 2-2. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker also launched back-to-back bombs in the fifth inning.
It was the first time since July of 2009 that Gonzalez allowed at least seven earned runs and three homers in a single game. He hadn't allowed three homers since July of 2011 and had surrendered just three total in his previous eight starts of 2016.
"I just left pitches up. That was it. Just one of those nights," the lefty said. "They saw a pitch up and they were making contact… they were hitters being aggressive first pitch, got hits, and then they started being patient."
Baker went back to the changes the Mets made from game to game in their second look at Gio and within Monday's loss itself.
"They smell blood in the water," he said. "The adjustments, they happen so fast, in baseball like, you go to the bathroom and come back and they got five runs. It turns into a feeding frenzy."
Much will be made about Gonzalez working with catcher Wilson Ramos for the first time this season. Though the difference in his career numbers with Ramos as opposed to Jose Lobaton are negligible, it was still the first time Gonzalez and Ramos have formed a battery this year. The Mets, some may argue, aren't an easy team to get experimental against.
"It was the first time. I’m not going to judge him off one game. He’s a great catcher. Like I said, it was just unfortunate," Gonzalez said.
Gio, who saw his season ERA go from 1.86 to 2.87 all in a five inning span on Monday, instead turned the blame towards himself.
"I was flat today. It was just one of those games. I take this one on me. He did everything right as part of calling the game. If I executed pitches I wanted and bring it down with more movement, different game," he said.
Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 7-1 loss to the New York Mets on Monday night at Nationals Park.
How it happened: Last week the Nationals earned two blowout wins on the road against their division rival New York Mets. On Monday, it was the Mets' turn.
In a rematch between Gio Gonzalez and Bartolo Colon, this time it was Gonzalez who put in his shakiest outing of the season, a seven-run drubbing that saw his season ERA jump a full run. Gio got through the first two innings unscathed before getting clobbered for five runs in the third. Three of those came on a David Wright homer to left field, and Gio served up two more home runs in the fifth to Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker. All in all it was a trainwreck of an outing for Gonzalez, who was working with catcher Wilson Ramos for the first time this season.
What it means: The Mets have tied the season series at 2-2 with their fourth straight win overall coming off a sweep of the Brewers. The Nats now cling to a half-game lead in the NL East over New York, who have managed to hang around despite inconsistency in their pitching staff and a serious injury to Lucas Duda, one of their best hitters.
Gio gets destroyed: Before Monday night, Gonzalez sported a 2.59 ERA in 18 career starts against the Mets. In the past two seasons, Gio's ERA against New York was a microscopic 1.20 across 30 innings. And it was only one start ago that he held the Mets to one run across 6 1/3 frames. On Monday, though, Gonzalez was not as fortunate in what amounted to his worst outing in years. Gio gave up seven earned runs for the first time since May 11, 2014. He began the game with a 1.86 ERA on the season and left at 2.87. The lefty gave up 10 hits and hit a batter on Monday, but what really hurt Gio was the three homers he allowed. They were as many as he'd given up in his other eight starts this season combined and the most he's surrendered since July 8, 2011. It was the first time he's given up three homers and seven earned runs in a start since July 20, 2009.
Ramos catches Gio: Many will point to the fact Ramos was catching Gonzalez for the first time this season. But entering Monday, Gio's ERA with Ramos was 3.42 (44 GS), which is not far off from his 3.16 career mark with Jose Lobaton, his primary partner. This one can't be put on Ramos, it was just not Gonzalez' night.
Another multi-hit game for Murphy: One of the few bright spots for the Nats in the blowout loss was another multi-hit game for Daniel Murphy. The second baseman landed a single in the first inning and then another in the fourth inning. It was Murphy's 22nd multi-hit outing in 44 total games this season. Murphy now has 35 hits in May, which has him close to the Nats' team record for one month. Denard Span holds the record with 40 hits in August of 2014.
Up next: The Nats continue their series against the Mets hoping to rebound from a tough loss in the opener. Stephen Strasburg (7-0, 2.80) and Matt Harvey (3-6, 5.77) will square off again in a rematch of last Thursday's Nationals blowout win.