Nationals pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann have all spoken before about their intent to pitch to contact. Although they may strike a lot of guys out, particularly Strasburg and Gonzalez, the goal is always to get out of an inning on as few pitches as possible.
The pitchers themselves may have already made it clear, but team pitching coach Steve McCatty has a new word to describe getting an opponent to swing and miss:
"Strikeouts are bull," he told Les Carpenter of Yahoo! Sports. He said it's the easiest way to burn up pitches and that pitch counts will multiply fast.
Carpenter notes the glaring fact about McCatty's comment, that Nationals' pitchers still strike out more than most despite their pitching coach's wish. Strasburg is tied for first in the MLB with 128 strikeouts and Gonzalez ranks seventh with 118. They have the two highest strikeout per nine innings rates in the National League with Strasburg at 11.64 and Gonzalez at 10.45.
By McCatty's comments it would seem Jordan Zimmermann is his most prized pupil. The National's number three starter is tenth in the majors with a 2.61 ERA despite striking out only 74 batters in 110.1 innings. That is the second fewest strikeouts among pitchers in the top ten of ERA. Zimmermann gets players out without having to get three strikes and as a result has lasted at least six innings in each of his 17 starts this year.
Whatever the Nationals are doing as a team, however, is working as they hold the league's best overall ERA of 3.20 at the All-Star break. Maybe McCatty is trying to be creative to find something his players can improve on.
For more on McCatty's comments and a nice breakdown of the strikeout's worth, read Carpenter's piece here.
WASHINGTON -- The Los Angeles Angels have acquired shortstop Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals for two minor league pitchers.
The Angels sent right-handers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin to the Nationals on Saturday night for Espinosa, who presumably lost his starting job when Washington obtained outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Washington traded three top pitching prospects to Chicago for Eaton, with the intention of shifting NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Trea Turner from center field back to his natural shortstop position.
The 29-year-old Espinosa hit .209 with a career-high 24 home runs and 72 RBIs as Washington's starting shortstop last season. In seven major league seasons he has batted .226 with 92 home runs and 285 RBIs.
McGowin was ranked as the Angels' 20th-best prospect.
MORE NATIONALS: Harper's 'Wow' tweet could mean a lot of things
Nationals star Bryce Harper has had an eventful week, which included finding out that he might not be the Nationals star much longer.
An anonymous club executive said that the Nationals won't meet Harper's demands for a 10-year, $400 million contract, and are prepared to let him walk when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.
That happened on Monday, then on Tuesday Washington missed out on trading from White Sox ace Chris Sale, who ended up going to Boston.
And then on Wednesday, the Nats ended up trading their pile of top pitching prospects to the White Sox anyway, but instead of getting Sale, they got centerfielder Adam Eaton.
Eaton, 28, has never been an All-Star. But he finished last season with a .284 batting average, .362 slugging percentage, 59 RBIs and 14 home runs. He's also an asset defensively in the outfield.
But the pitching prospects Washington gave up – Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning – amounted to a steep price for Eaton. So steep that the Nats reportedly offered almost the same package of prospects for Sale.
Within minutes of the Eaton trade news breaking, Harper tweeted this.
He followed it up with a message of welcome a few minutes later.
Obviously, the initial tweet is what grabbed peoples' attention. But who can really say if Harper meant it as a positive or negative reaction to the Eaton trade? Frankly, it might not have anything to do with the trade at all.
Plenty of other "wow" things happened this week.
MORE NATIONALS: Dusty Baker takes part in “Play Ball” clinics in D.C.