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May
12

For Nationals Starting Rotation, Relief Is On The Way

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that the Nationals starting rotation looks incomplete, but fortunately, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross are progressing towards rejoining the staff.

The Recovery

Earlier this week, Strasburg and Ross both pitched in a simulated game at the team’s Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dave Martinez didn’t disclose how many innings or pitches they threw, but he had previously stated that it should be two innings.

“They both felt good,” Martinez said, relaying information the on-site medical staff had told him. At this stage, that’s all that really matters.

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May
10

If This Is A Dream, Try Your Best Not To Wake Me...

Perhaps it’s just me, but at times I’m having a tough time believing what’s going on with recruiting for the Virginia Tech’s men’s basketball team.

It’s nothing bad. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point I wonder if this is just a dream and I haven’t woken up yet. In my 50-plus years of watching Hokie basketball, there are certain hard truths I’ve learned, and one is that while there will be good years and bad, there will never be a year that blue chips flock to Blacksburg.

The Hokies will be in the dance with many. They’ll be included in the final two with a few. But typically when final decisions are made, most times they’re left at the altar watching the bride drive off into the sunset as a blue blood school makes a late move and sweeps a recruit off their feet. Doesn’t mean the Hokies haven’t had great players come to Blacksburg, but the marquee players among the nation’s recruiting elite tend not to end up in Southwest Virginia.

This year has felt different.

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May
08

Yadiel Hernandez Continues to Exceed Expectations For Nats

The Nationals went 5-4 during their most recent West Coast road trip, and Yadiel Hernandez was one of the biggest reasons for the sudden success.

It seems like I’ve written the same story every year. Hernandez enters the season fighting to even make the roster. Then, he becomes one of the best hitters on the team.

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May
06

Hokies Depth Chart Right Now Is One Big Unanswered Question...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

It’s been nearly a month since Virginia Tech wrapped up their spring practice schedule and since then, I’ve spent far too much time thinking about hypothetical depth charts and special packages that we might see in 2022.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time coming to grips with a hard truth — this year’s roster has too many questions for my liking.

Surprisingly, my main concerns have nothing to do with quarterback. Grant Wells played rather well in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game and while Jason Brown wasn’t very productive, he spent much of his afternoon trying to escape Tech defenders.

And that’s a great place to start.

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May
01

Sunday’s Series Finale Shows Positive Developments For Nationals

To say it’s been a bumpy stretch for the Washington Nationals might be a bit of an understatement.

Entering their Sunday matinee game against the San Francisco Giants, the Nats had lost nine of their previous 10 contests. Even in terms of individual player performances, not much had gone right for them.

But that all changed Sunday. The Nationals earned an 11-5 win, some of the bats in the middle of the order – namely Juan Soto – had productive days, and a young starting pitcher and two speedsters at the bottom of the lineup stole the show.

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Apr
30

Four Hokies Selected In Final Rounds Of The 2022 NFL Draft

This year's NFL Draft was never going to be a flashy weekend for prospects from Virginia Tech, but during the three-day event that started Thursday, several were projected to be picked during rounds 4-7 on Saturday.

By and large, the process played out as expected. Tight end James Mitchell (pictured above), defensive end Amare Barno, offensive tackle Luke Tenuta and guard Lecitus Smith were each selected by NFL franchises on Day 3 of the draft and will have their football playing dreams live on.

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Apr
26

Commanders Have Good Options at No. 11 in Thursday’s NFL Draft

Jameson Williams

As draft day is upon us, the Washington Commanders have an opportunity to add a high-caliber player at a position of need to their roster. There’s a lot of similarly rated talent in this year’s class, which could result in the Commanders getting impressive value at No. 11.

There are arguably many positions that Washington could afford to upgrade. There will be an opportunity to pry a wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker, or possibly even a quarterback if they choose to do so.

Given that reality, they’ll be well positioned to select the best player available between those positions, unless they’re laser-focused on addressing any one of those spots.

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Apr
25

Update on Brady House, Fred Nats, and Other Nationals Affiliates

This season has been a mixed bag for Washington’s minor league affiliates, and it’ll likely stay that way for the rest of the season. As discussed throughout local media, the farm system has improved in the last 12 months, but its depth from top to bottom is still somewhat subpar.

With that said, there are some major sources of excitement throughout the organization, not the least of which resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The Prized Possession At The Plate

I really try my best to not speak hyperbolically as a baseball viewer. When things are going great, there’s always a chance that they can get worse, and vice versa. And even in the moment, there’s typically more nuance than data or the eye test reveal.

Here’s the indisputable, cold-hard fact, though. Brady House has advanced, next-level baseball talent, especially in the batter’s box.

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Apr
24

The Starting Pitching Predicament The Nationals Are Facing...

For nearly the first two weeks of the season, everything stayed roughly on-script in Washington’s starting rotation.

Sure, Anibal Sanchez was sent to the Injured List before making his season debut, but inserting Josh Rogers into his place was an easy fix.

But that all came crashing down this week as things went haywire, shedding some light on the intentions of Dave Martinez and the front office with their young starting pitchers.

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Apr
17

Is It Time For The Nationals To Promote Luis Garcia?

Sending infielder Luis Garcia back down to Triple-A was one of the toughest decisions Dave Martinez had to make this spring.

His reasoning was simple: Garcia needed to improve his overall consistency in the field, and he felt that there was enough middle infield talent on the big league roster to allow Garcia’s development to come in Rochester instead of Washington.

Garcia’s a month shy of 22 years old, so it’s not as if keeping him in Triple-A is holding him back. But he certainly doesn’t have anything left to prove offensively, and he’s also trending favorably as a defender.

He’s Succeeding in Triple-A

Sure, Garcia hasn’t hit spectacularly in the major leagues yet, but in 49 games in Rochester across the last two seasons, he’s hitting .323 with a .986 OPS – which, if the minors tracked such metrics, would give him approximately a 180 OPS+, 80 percent better than league average.

This season, Garcia is batting .377 and leading the league-wide Triple-A level with 20 base hits.

Garcia hasn’t been bad defensively, either. He’s committed four errors in 12 games (10 at shortstop and two at second base), but they all came in his first five games of the season. Since then, he’s been much more steady.

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Apr
13

Sorry for Doubting You, Maikel Franco...

The Washington Nationals have now won three of their last four games, including two of three in Atlanta against the Braves – and the biggest reason is a torrential stretch at the plate from third baseman Maikel Franco.

Although he’s a former top 20 prospect in baseball (according to Baseball America), Franco has seen relatively limited success in the major leagues. Case in point: He stumbled to a wins above replacement (WAR) of -1.6 – yes, that’s a negative WAR – in 104 games in Baltimore last season.

Washington signed Franco to a minor league contract this offseason, with the intent to make him earn his way onto the Nationals roster. That all changed when Carter Kieboom suffered a flexor mass and UCL strain, but it didn’t suddenly make Franco a player – he was simply viewed as the only other option.

The Turnaround

Franco started the season 0-for-13 with four strikeouts and a double play, leading up to his final at bat against the Mets on Sunday.

Since that point, the 29-year-old has nine hits in his last 14 at bats, including a home run and seven RBIs, and his batting average has risen from goose eggs to .346.

It’s not as if his overall tendencies at the plate have changed. He’s still been extremely aggressive and pull-happy, but he’s also made hard contact at an elite rate, as shown below.

Franco and Dave Martinez have emphasized the need for Maikel to chase fewer pitches, particularly ones that are low and outside. He’s improved in that area to a degree, but he also simply isn’t swinging and missing (as illustrated by his “whiff rate” being significantly above average).

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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