|7-5 (2nd place, NL Central)
5-7 (3rd place, NL East)
Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 8.44)
Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 2.70)
Jason Marquis (0-0, 3.65)
Marco Estrada (1-0, 5.14)
Livan Hernandez (1-1, 3.50)
Earlier this week Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball was kind enough to share a few moments of his time and his thoughts on this weekend's series:
KL: I know Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the DL this week with an abdominal strain. How bad is the injury, and what are the Nationals plans for third base while he's out?
PR: Zimmerman first suffered the injury during Spring Training, but at that point it was something "he'd play through if it was the regular season" and they were just being overprotective. When he said recently that it had gotten bad enough for him to stay out of the lineup it started to seem more serious and when he was actually placed on the DL everyone started adding up the unrelated rib muscle issue that ended his 2010 campaign, the ab strain and the groin issue he had this spring to the reappearance of the ab injury and wondering just how long he was going to be out. While he is out the Nats are expected to be going with Jerry Hairston, Alex Cora or possibly Michael Morse at third. So everyone's hoping Zimmerman's back as soon as possible.
Follow the jump for the rest!
KL: The sample size is still relatively small, but at this point Livan Hernandez (scheduled to start Sunday) still looks like one of the Nats' better starting pitchers. Any insight on how he continues to be productive long after the Mets left him for dead in 2009?
PR: Livan's control, patience, his willingness to throw as many pitches as necessary to avoid giving batters anything hittable, his brutally slow offspeed pitches, a streak of good luck (.344 BABIP in '08, .326 in '09 and .287 in 2010) and less fly balls leaving the yard 10.7 HR/FB% in '08, 8.4% in '09 and 5.8% in 2010, his ability to avoid the barrel of the bat...What Livan's done the last year-plus has defied projections. He's a smart pitcher with great control on a run of good luck everyone expects will end at any moment. I've followed Livan since the Expos acquired him in 2003, however he's doing it, it's great to watch eight years later.
KL: Despite spending a fair amount of money this offseason, the Nats still have to be considered long shots to win the NL East. How do you define a successful season for this team in 2011?
PR: The continued improvement of the Nationals' young core of players and prospects is what anyone who agrees that the team isn't going to compete this year is hoping for in terms of 2011 being a successful season. Watching Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa develop further, seeing if Wilson Ramos can handle an everyday role, seeing if Jordan Zimmermann's stuff comes back as good or better than it was before he had Tommy John surgery.
Everyone will be watching Strasburg's recovery and following along to see how far Bryce Harper moves up during his first season. I'd like to see the Nats sort out their outfield this season. They decided Nyjer Morgan wasn't part of the future. Now they have to find out if Michael Morse and Roger Bernadina will be part of the teams that compete in the next few years or if they need to get an outfielder to play alongside Jayson Werth and eventually (everyone's assuming) Bryce Harper in outfield. If Jordan Zimmermann's healthy and Strasburg's back late in the year or just ready for Spring Training that'll be the sort of thing I'll think of as making it a successful season.
KL: Sunday's likely starter for the Brewers is Marco Estrada, who pitched briefly for the Nationals in 2008 and 2009. Do you have any memories of Estrada to share, or any other former Nationals the Brewers can borrow to fill in some starts until Zack Greinke returns?
I remember Marco Estrada, but nothing too specific, mostly as one in a long line of average arms the Nationals threw up on the mound throughout the last few years in order to fill in the innings they needed. Walking 4.0+BB/9 though, Estrada made just one start and 15 unremarkable appearances with the Nats before he was claimed off waivers by Milwaukee. If the Brewers need more of the same, Luis Atilano, J.D. Martin, Craig Stammen, any of those guys could be available, but I recommend waiting til the trading deadline and acquiring Jason Marquis.
KL: The Nats have three former Brewers (Laynce Nix, Matt Stairs and Todd Coffey) and a Wisconsin native (Jordan Zimmermann) on their roster. Any chance we could convince you to take a couple more (Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Mark Kotsay) to complete the set?
PR: Jordan Zimmermann's the only keeper of that lot. Laynce Nix is keeping fan favorite fourth outfielder Roger Bernadina out of the majors, a one-dimensionsal player like Matt Stairs makes little sense on a team like the Nationals, though he's filled in at first recently with Adam LaRoche injured...Todd Coffey's getting it together after a shaky start to his time with the Nationals. The sad thing is that the likes of Laynce Nix and Kotsay end up winning spots on the Nats' roster because they still don't have the depth of talent in the organization to challenge for spots on the major league roster. While it's not likely that the Nationals are going to compete, I'd rather see prospects developing at the major league level rather than watching veterans like those mentioned above.
Thanks to Patrick for taking the time, and don't forget to check out Federal Baseball for more on the Nationals.