Nationals Baseball: The long road in May

Monday, April 25, 2011

The long road in May

The Nats are treading water right now, winning a game here, losing a game there, happily staying at right around .500. Part of the reason why might have been a preponderance of off-days. In the first 23 days of the season, the Nats had 7 off-days (4 scheduled - 3 rain-outs). Nobody likes to have too many days off, but it's more welcome than the alternative. The baseball season is in part about surviving the grind of a long season of playing day in and day out. Going long stretches with only the occasional day off. The Nats haven't had that yet. They are in it now though.

You may have heard this but starting on the Saturday the Nats have only one day off until the 25th of May. That's 32 games in 33 days. You can even take it a bit further as the next off day after that is over two weeks further away on June 13th, ending on a usually tiring West Coast swing. If the Nats don't catch a weather related break during this stretch, they will play 49 games in 51 days.

Good luck with all that.

I've broken it down into 6 distinct and unequal parts, with distinct goals in order to stick around .500 as long as possible.

Pirates away (April 23rd- 25th) Goal : 2-1
  • End of a road trip, as series win would be nice, but 1-2 would be allright.
Mets home (April 26th -28th) Goal : 3-0
  • If the Nats are going to not finish in last, it would be great if they could distance themselves from the Mets right now. A series win is the only acceptable outcome.
Giants home, Phillies/Marlins/Braves away, Marlins home (April 29th - May 15th) Goal : 6-10
  • You may want something more but I see this as a stretch as one to survive. I can't expect them to split the Giants series, take a game in each one away AND win the Marlins series so 6 wins it is. Going 6-10 after the end of the Pirates and Mets series should keep them a hot series from .500.
Pirates home, Mets/Orioles/Brewers away, Padres home (May 16th- May 29th) Goal : 8-5
  • Given that 8 of the games are away you can't hope for a dominating stretch, but a winning one would be nice to keep the hopes of a near .500 finish alive. These are the teams the Nats need to beat if they are going to do this.
Phillies home (May 30th - June 1st) Goal : 2-1
  • A tiny stand the Nats should make if they want to be considered competitive. They've already given up one home series to the Phillies. They shouldn't make it 2.
Dbacks/Giants/Padres away (June 2nd - June 12th) Goal : 5-6
  • At the very end of this stretch you would expect a letdown, but the D-backs and Padres are the dregs of the NL West. Just keep it together through here and the Nats might just have something.
Overall what is that? 26-23? That seems a little ambitious, but we are talking about a goal here. As for the more modest goal of not finishing last, I think honestly (and obviously) the Mets series at home coming up is the key. You win the series, and you put a nice 4 or so games between yourself and the Mets. A stumble here or there would still have you out of last place unless timed to match a Mets surge. Lose the series and the Mets are right on your heels. The Nats would have no room for error and the first 3 game losing streak could easily put themselves back into last.


Hoo said...

This team is baffling. Zim is out. Werth isn't hitting (but why should he be different from anyone not named Ramos/Espinosa(c'mon Morse. The Morse bandwagon has had to change a few tires but we're zipping along now)).

The team built on a defense first approach is 3rd in errors and Desmond seems to be shooting for 30+ again.

If this team exits the stretch in .500, the team has to be stoked. B/c eventually Zim returns and Werth will start hitting .240 and Ramos supplants Pudge (right?, right?)

The big danger in this stretch is that Riggs kills Clippard and Storen. Riggs needs to let the starters go a bit longer than is his wont or free Sean Burnett.

Wally said...

Seems possible, although unlikely. But doesn't any remote hope of doing it hinge on two things - when does Zimm come back, and can they turn it around defensively? Those two things may be somewhat related, too, although I have to (reluctantly) reevalute my views on Desmond.

I do not see any way this team can hold on, particularly over the stretch you highlight, if they aren't able to become better than average defensively.