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Preview/Matchup/Game Thread Game # 45 at Nationals

Wandy Rodriguez Zach Day
5 - 2, 3.81 2 - 4, 5.94
So despite what Footer had suggested yesterday, Garner's telling us that the newly-returned Burke will continue in his "super-utility" role for the time being.

Well, maybe. As much as I've poked fun at Garner's recalcitrance at making any kind of a change with the lineup, the cards presented to the scorers over the weekend show that Garner is serious about finding a combination that works. As they say, Garner gave us some new looks. Let's see: Biggio led off, Ausmus batted second, Wilson hit seventh, Willy took a seat, and Jason Lane rode the pine.

Of course, in waiting so long to move Ausmus up, Gar's kind of missed the crest of the wave, so to speak, now that Brad is falling back some, and I still got problems with Berkman consistently in right, but these are quibbles, really. Phil did what he could over the weekend, and you hope that he stays flexible over the next 10 games as the Astros embark on a road trip that MUST yield a winning record.

And that's the reason why I expect to see Chris Burke in left at some point, sooner rather than later.

One can only hope that Wandy can rebound from his last, poor, outing as well as Taylor did. As much as I like Wandy--and continue to believe in him--I think he's very unlikely to throw a complete game shutout, ever. Taylor's got stuff that Wandy must drool over, but, at the risk of sounding like a jock behind a mike, Wandy knows how to pitch.

Of course, he beat the Nats April 10, going 7 while giving up three.

Washington has been hit hard by injuries and ineffectiveness since then; five weeks later, neither their starting centerfielder, their starting catcher nor their starting pitcher from that game are available for the Houston series.

Brendan Watson, who had been their centerfielder, was sent down to AAA New Orleans four days after Wandy beat 'em. Brian Schneider, their catcher that day, was placed on the DL May 13, and John Patterson, the team's brightest pitching talent, if not their biggest innings-eater, has been on the DL for nearly a month with tendinitis.

And it warms my cockles, surely it does, to see a team that is a bigger mess in the outfield than we are right now. The Nationals just sent Ryan Church down (again), and there's a good chance that we could see somebody named "Alex Escobar" in centerfield for the Nationals at some point during the four-game.

Even if Berkman were still playing first, the injury-induced funk he's clearly in would preclude us from calling him the league's second-best first baseman; Nick Johnson has at least temporarily taken that title, and it is Johnson whom Wandy most needs to worry about. If he can neutralize Johnson, a victory for Wandy is certainly within reason.

No-one's really faced Day; Preston is 3 for 6 off him with a homer.

One of the more intriguing things going on this year is how Fangraphs is tracking cumulative WPA, and I thought that I might take a look at Win Probability Added per game. Fangraphs' effort--the first that I know of--is interesting because of course, if you can figure out how to pick players based on their repeatable ability to put up WPA scores, you can skip the rest of the bullshit. All that RC27 jazz goes out the window if you can easily identify who most helps you win.

So I don't know how much value this WPA/G I'm using here will have, but I know how much value it might have, and I'm raising it up the flagpole, see what happens.

The way it breaks down here is interesting in a couple spots, too. Take a look at short, where Everett has a lower batting average, a lower onbase percentage, and a slugging percentage in the same ballpark as Royce Clayton. But because Adam's been able to come up with some hits in some clutch spots, he gets the huge nod in WPA.

You tell me how meaningful that is as we handicap this series. . . .

WPA/Game National Pos Astro WPA/Game
-0.76 Wiki Gonzalez C1 Brad Ausmus 1.22 x
-1.47 Matt LeCroy C2 Eric Munson 0.49 x
x 1.03 Nick Johnson 1B Mike Lamb -0.72
x 1.07 Jose Vidro 2B Craig Biggio -0.34
-4.10 Royce Clayton SS Adam Everett 0.43 x
-1.06 Ryan Zimmerman 3B Morgan Ensberg 3.55 x
1.27 Alfonso Soriano OF1 Lance Berkman 2.94 x
x -0.34 Marlon Byrd OF2 Jason Lane -0.44
x -0.54 Marlon Anderson OF3 Willy Taveras -0.78
x -1.02 Jose Guillen OF4 Preston Wilson -2.75
-1.01 Damian Jackson Util/PH Chris Burke 0.22 x