Nationals Baseball: There it is! (and Capps? Really?)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

There it is! (and Capps? Really?)

6 runs scored! That's almost like a real team! Now three homers will make you think the Nats maybe turned a corner but really they didn't (yet). Their 8 other hits were all singles and they only got 2 walks. 6 runs is a bit low for 11 hits and 3 homers, but it is certainly better. Let's see if they can manage something similar tonight.

Livan wasn't his best but he was good enough and with Burnett is rounding into usable form and Riggleman dragging out Clippard and Capps again the Nats were golden. It's an interesting study in bullpen use we're seeing from Riggleman. Bringing in Capps last night was kind of questionable. A three run lead with one man on and one out? I know Batista is... well Batista, but it still seemed like he pulled the trigger early.

Riggleman's constantly playing for the game in front of him. It's a strategy that actually works better with a so-so team than a good one. He's gambling he's not going to get 3 games in a row or 4 out of 5, that need good relief work. This works well for the Nats because their pitchers do get shelled and their offense can't keep up. Their losses are no-question losses. He's basically assuming there's a game he can give up on every few games or so, and he's been right so far.

Of course this can only last as long as the pitchers he depends on are nearly flawless. Good thing Clippard and Capps have been so far.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering if everyone of your blogs, you are gonna diss the Nats. I was hoping for an insider blog or to atleast talk nice about the team.

Calindc said...

Yeah, dude. You have to go. I am sick of reading your pessimistic reviews.

Harper said...

There are numerous Nats blogs out there where you can go for optimistic spins on the team. Nats320 is probably the most popular. I like NatsFanboyLooser for someone who rides the roller coaster of winning and losing.

For insider information, I would look at the blogs run by reporters. The Post's National Journal, Zuckerman's Nats Insider or Goessling's blog on MASN. (oh and of course Rocket Bill)

If I seem negative it's because the Nats are winning on a level that's not equal to their talent. Some of that's been luck, a lot of that's been the combination of Riggleman's bullpen use and the awesomeness of Clippard and Capps. But they are not going to carry ERAs of 0.50 for the whole season, so the most probable future is one that balances what's gone on so far with some more expected below-average play.

But Nats fans shouldn't look at that as a negative. Every series they overplay their hand is another series done that can't be taken away. Those "extra" wins arent necessarily going to be lost by super-poor play. And if things keep breaking their way until Strasburg and Storen come up in a month or so then things could get very interesting. Probably not playoff intersting but .500? If they are a few games over on June 1, and those two still look awesome? It's definitely a possibility.

NatsVA said...

Seriously, the first two commenters seem like the types that would enjoy the "see no evil, etc." aspect of Nats320.

I've always found this and your previous blog to be insightful Harper. Keep up the good work.

Pat said...

It also seems from Rigg's previous comments (Capps as a "big strong horse" or whatever) that he feels like Capps can throw more pitches and outings than you'd want from your average closer. Also Clipp being converted from a starter gives me the impression (hope?) that he can take more of a workload than your standard reliever.

Anonymous said...

And if they find a third workhorse reliever (Storen? Atilanto? Wang?), Capps and Clippard wouldn't be called on as often.

Harper said...

Capps is high for a closer right now but it's not a crazy amount. I think he'll hold up.

I like to compare Clippard to Rauch, who was also a converted starter who the Nats rode hard for 2 1/2 years with success. However Rauch topped out at 91 IP and Tyler is on pace for 120+.

Harper said...

Yep, really only one more good one and the pen can survive and both Burnett and Storen should be good enough.

Still, even with an improved bullpen expect a couple blown losses. The Nats are a little spoiled. They only game even close to losing a late lead was when Stammen gave up a solo homer to the Dodgers in the 7th and LA took the lead. The hope is though that the improved bullpen will hold tighter those weak start games and the Nats will win a couple 8-7 combackers.

Hoo said...

Riggs is overplaying the C-squared duo right now. Sure, you can argue its needed b/c this is a club that desperately needs any wins it can get. But looking at the first month, you could see how this mentality can overextend pitchers in the heat of a moment given this approach.

I thought the nice thing about last night is that Burnette is establishing himself as reliable. He can be used in the 6th as a bridge to Clips or even in spot duty in the 7th. Hopefull Storen can be the 6th/7th guy with Clips just working 1.

I'm glad that Store/Stras will be on strict pitch/inning counts though.

Anonymous said...

"6 runs scored! almost like a real team"??? if the Nats avg 6 runs a game the rest of the season Id be more then happy. Weak blog

Harper said...

The rephrasing "More than 3 runs scored as was their average the past 10 games coming into last night!" better emphasizes the point I was trying to make.

Mike said...

Harper,

I, for one, am one of those way-too-optimistic Nationals fans who looks ahead to the World Series every time our offense comes together for a solid win. Your writing pulls me back down to Earth and keeps me cautious about the Nats, while still allowing me to retain a pinch of hope. Good blog.

Trescml said...

This is where you get to say, "I told you so" since they had to sit down Capps last night against the Mets. Worked OK for the Nats, this time, but isn't something you want to get in the habit of.