The Nationals put a hurting on the St. Louis Cardinals in front of a big crowd at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It was a great game to watch, not only because of the 11-1 victory, but because we got to see a lot of interesting storylines play out over the course of the three hour, four minute long game.
Stephen Strasburg was on the mound, and it looked like he was working on stuff early. As Dan Kolko tweeted, Strasburg said he felt "a little too good" in the bullpen before the game, so he was trying to be too sharp rather than just executing his pitches. It showed in his fastball control, which was eratic in the first inning. He was able to locate his curveball well throughout his three innings of work, and it was good to see the slider, a new pitch he added to his repertoire this offseason, in action.
Danny Espinosa had a solid 2-for-3 day, but more than the numbers, he looks to have a much better approach at the plate. He looks like a different hitter from the left side of the plate, which is the side he has struggled with in the past. He has been hitting the ball based on the pitch location rather than trying to pull everything, which resulted in some solid opposite field contact. He also has a more direct, compact swing, which should help him cut down on some of the strikeouts.
Espinosa looks like the same guy defensively, helping turn two double plays. He also ranged far to his left to make a great grab and throw to a covering Strasburg and charged a ball well in the fifth inning to make a nice running play.
Wilson Ramos continues to stay hot this spring, going 2-for-3 today. He is 9-for-16 on the spring, but he is just tattooing the ball every time he makes contact. He's not really getting cheap hits. Ramos has to be wishing the regular season would start as soon as possible. It'll be hard to stay this hot for three more weeks until the season starts.
Drew Storen has continued to tinker with his windup, as he's been known to do. He abandoned his straight leg, from-the-stretch approach last season, and he's stuck with a much more noticable leg kick this spring. He did hit a Cardinals batter in Sunday's outing, but otherwise, his pitches looked solid. He commanded his breaking stuff well outside of the hit by pitch on a curveball, and he kept his fastball down well.
- Sunday was the first time I've seen Nate McLouth throw from the outfield this spring, and man, that was interesting. McLouth does a good job covering ground at the corner outfield positions, but his arm leaves a whole lot to be desired.
- Ian Desmond stole another base, making him 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts in Grapefruit League action. I think we're really starting to see what Matt Williams is going to value from this team in the regular season, and it's encouraging if the Nats continue to try regularly stealing bases.
- I've said it before, but Christian Garcia has truly nasty stuff. He commands his pitches very well, and he struck out the side in his inning of work on Sunday. If he can stay healthy, he would be a massive addition to the Nats bullpen. Unfortunately, that remains a big "if."no comments