Adam Eaton’s left leg injury was first and foremost on everyone’s mind last night, and deservedly so given how bad the injury looked and what it could mean for the Nationals in the short- and long-term. (Byron Kerr will be at the park this morning and hopefully will have news of a more definitive diagnosis, so be sure to check the site for that.)
There were, however, other notable developments during the Nationals’ 7-5 loss to the Mets. So let’s give those items their due before moving on ...
* Max Scherzer was charged with the loss, and he did not pitch up to his lofty standards. The right-hander allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings, with all five runs scoring via a pair of Travis d’Arnaud homers.
Considering some of the other threats in the Mets lineup, d’Arnaud was an unlikely source of power.
“Couple fastballs on the inner part of the plate and he did damage,” Scherzer said. “If you don’t do the little things right, they keep adding up. There was enough little stuff that I didn’t do well tonight that added up and cost me some important runs. Nothing’s broken. I’m fine. All the pitches are sharp. I just have to dial it in.”
Home runs, of course, were Scherzer’s biggest bugaboo last season when he allowed a league-high 31 of them. He had avoided the long ball altogether, though, in his first three starts of 2017. That changed in a hurry once he had had to face the Mets. In back-to-back starts against them, he has now surrendered four homers.
Scherzer was most upset at his struggles against the bottom of the New York lineup, with T.J. Rivera going 2-for-4 and d’Arnaud crushing two fastballs over the fence.
“Usually, I do well against righties,” Scherzer said. “Tonight, the righties did the most damage against me. I have to get back to getting to my strengths and getting ahead in the count against right-handed hitters.”
* Speaking of right-handed batters hitting for power, how about that Ryan Zimmerman? He did it again last night, clubbing two more homers.
Both of Zimmerman’s homers were lasers to right-center field, and interestingly enough, eight of his 10 homers now have been hit to either center or right fields. Suffice it to say, opposing pitchers aren’t getting high fastballs on the outer corner by him much these days.
And so 23 games into the season, Zimmerman is batting a mere .392 with 10 homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.303 OPS. He continues to point to one simple factor to explain his early season success.
“Just healthy,” he said. “Being able to be healthy and be on the field, get my regular at-bats and stick with my routine. Good month, but we’ve got a long ways to go. Haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
Health may be playing a role in Zimmerman’s remarkable resurgence, but he also has been able to do something with his swing that is allowing him to elevate pitches far more consistently than he did last year.
MLB.com Statcast guru Mike Petriello noted yesterday afternoon how Zimmerman’s exit velocity has barely changed since last year: He hit 46 percent of batted balls at least 95 mph in 2016, and he’s now hitting 48 percent of them that hard. But he is barely hitting balls into the ground like he did last season, now elevating those well-struck balls and sending them flying toward the gaps.