There has been plenty written this season about Michael Morse - the breakout year he’s having, the sick power he possesses to all fields and how much work he’s put into eliminating any holes in his swing.
It’s also worth mentioning that Morse shows no signs of stopping any time soon. He’s been the Nationals’ most consistent hitter in a year where consistency was difficult to find for much of the year, especially with Ryan Zimmerman out for the first two months of it.
His April struggles behind him, Morse has been basically as unstoppable as they come.
May: .403 AVG, 6 HR, .422 OBP, .774 SLG
June: .299 AVG, 8 HR, .375 OBP, .607 SLG
July: .344 AVG, 2 HR, .400 OBP, .533 SLG
August: .333 AVG, 7 HR, .405 OBP, .606 SLG
September: .236 AVG, 6 HR, .299 OBP, .483 SLG
Even in September, where his overall numbers have dipped, Morse’s slugging has remained high. Of the 21 hits he’s gotten this month, 10 have been for extra bases and six have been home runs. Of those, two gave the Nationals the lead (including last night’s game-winner) and two came in tight games that helped blow things open for Washington.
Morse has said that yes, while the milestones — 30 home runs, possibly finishing the season hitting over .300 — all mean a lot to him, so does the mere fact that he knows he’s going to be in the lineup, batting fourth every single day. Morse made a lot of strides this season but those are the first two. He got the opportunity everyone said he needed and he didn’t waste it.
“This whole year has been so exciting (for Morse),” said shortstop Ian Desmond. “I played with Mike a little bit in Triple-A in 2009 and he’s been hungry. He’s out to prove that he can play. He was out to prove to people that he could play in spring training. I don’t think there’s anybody happier than me for him. Just a lot of heart right there.”
– Nationals left-hander Tommy Milone put the wraps on his first big league stint Monday night with a 4 1/3-inning outing over the Florida Marlins. Milone didn’t end up being a factor in the outcome but held the Marlins to two runs into the fifth. A bases-loaded jam ended his night and Craig Stammen escaped that with minimal damage but one wild pitch hit the dirt and what was the tying run ended up scampering home. Morse’s home run saved them all, though, and, in truth, either outcome wouldn’t have taken away from a strong September for the rookie.
Milone was superb in Triple-A this season. He was an International League All-Star, and earned a lot of attention with his stat line that included 155 strikeouts (to 16 walks) for the second season in a row. In the big leagues, it wasn’t as easy. But he certainly looked like he belonged.
He’ll finish his first year 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA, 15 strikeouts and four walks (although two were intentional) in 26 innings.
“I knew I wasn’t going to go out there and shut out every team,” Milone said Monday night, evaluating his first chance in the major leagues. “They’re big league hitters. I had a lot of strikeouts in the minor leagues, but I didn’t come up here expecting to strike out everybody. My job is to throw strikes and keep as (few) base runners on the base paths as possible.”
He also gave the Nationals a chance to win in all five of his starts — and they did. A lot of the Nationals players will mention the word “competes” when asked about Milone. His stuff is not overpowering — he rarely even breaks 90-mphs with his fastball — but, as Ryan Zimmerman pointed out after he shutout the Philadelphia Phillies, he uses it in a way that makes it overpowering for him.
He’s certainly done nothing in the last four weeks to dissuade the line of thinking that he’s in contention for a rotation spot next spring and he’s earned the right to fight for one.