Braves third baseman Chipper Jones may play on the Nationals' closest rival for the 2012 N.L. East crown, but that doesn't stop him from giving credit where credit is due. So far this season he has gushed about both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, and now he has praise for the team's pitching staff as a whole.
Jones told USA Today how he thinks the Nats' arms are perfect for the playoffs:
"Power arms, power arms that's what translates in the postseason," Jones said. "It's cold, guys are all wrapped up, it's hard to center the ball when a guy throws it 100 miles an hour. And these guys have a bunch of 'em."
He went on to name names like Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler, each with fastballs in the mid-90's, but Jones didn't limit it to the starters.
"All the guys in their 'pen who throw 93 and above. Show me a team with at least two power arms at the top of their rotation and I'll show you a team that's more than likely going to go a long way in the postseason."
Jones himself has appeared in the playoffs 11 different times, a total of 20 postseason series'. As a member of the Braves since 1993, he has also witnessed first-hand great pitching as Atlanta once had one of the best rotations in history.
Jones sure is right about the Nats throwing hard, all five of the team's starters rank in the top 13 in the majors for average fastball velocity. Strasburg ranks first in the league with an average speed of 95.8 on his fastball, but he of course won't be pitching in the playoffs.
So many things have to break right for a team to reach the World Series and win it, but even without Strasburg they seem to have as good a chance as anybody. Even Chipper Jones agrees.
The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports.
Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.
The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras.
The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity.
The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117.
Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras
The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.
Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.
On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.
But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.
Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.
Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways.
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