Nationals Baseball: Monday's Quickie

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Quickie

Long Road Update:

Early Games : Goal 11-11, Actual 9-13

Current Part : Goal 8-5, So Far 2-4 (1 rainout).

No change in the early games part as the Nats are still plowing through the latest section. Did I say "plowing"? I meant stumbling. In this swing that they should really be picking up some games if they want to be challenging .500 at some point when it matters, they are slowly losing ground. This is very reminiscent of last year's "Hey the Nats are better than we thought and they have a bunch of crappy teams coming up! If they can only win... oh they lost? Most of them? Nevermind." stretch.

The culprit, of course is the Zimm-less offense. That 17 run game really skews things, because in the past 8 games they've scored 33 runs. That's ok. Take out that one game though and it's 16 in 7 (we could take out another 8 run affair but that's a little unfair. We're trying to correct for aberrations, not good offense). In that game 7 Nats had more than one-hit, 5 hit homers, and two had triples. If we think that's an aberration then who would be doing well without that game? Jayson Werth would. He has 2 other multi-hit games in the past 6, and in general his power seems to be better in past couple of weeks. Danny Epsinosa also deserves a nod in his direction as his power seems to be back. All the team asks of Danny is to hit it hard and get it in play 1 out of every 4 times. We'll see but for the month of May he's basically been doing that... well ok 1 out of every 5 times.

The fact that so many guys had weeks bouyed by the great game means that bad performances stand out even more. Desmond had a good series but is still barely getting by. Bernadina is showing once again why he hasn't earned a starting role by now. And worst of all Adam LaRoche is making babies cry. The only saving grace when it comes to LaRoche is that we all know he's injured and that if he goes down he'll be gone for a good long while. The medical staff can't mess this one up. Of course they might have been the ones that told him he could play through the injury this year. Their definition of "play" must be different than mine. Of course in taking his place Michael Morse has hit well. You knew that was going to happen.

The offensive woes helped hide the pitching performances, both terrible and good. Lannan was awful on Saturday. Marquis was pretty bad on Friday. I sense a general swell toward replacing Lannan with Maya (who has followed his 3 straight very good performances in AAA that got everyone talking with a couple of mediocre ones), but Jason Marquis has been roughly as bad in May. Gorzelanny and Zimmermann were good though and there's no point trying to figure out what Livan will do game to game.

The Nats will take on a Brewers team who are on a little bit of a roll and then head home to take on the Padres. They need every win they can get. A winning stretch would be nice to keep the team from being completely irrelevant for the next Phillies showdown.

As a side note : Remember in Spring Training when Riggs said he expected Chein Ming Wang to be ready by May? Should have asked him what year.


Hoo said...

I think this team is performing slightly above what we'd expect to see. With Zim/LaRoche injuries, the offense is truly dreadful which is what you'd expect. I expected a bit more from Werth/Morse but Nix/Ramos have been solid so far. Espi/Desmond have been slightly disappointing but I don't think anyone assumed a huge breakthrough from them. So hitting is about what you'd expect given the injury situation.

Pitching has been much better than expected. 3 SPs wielding sub 4.00 eras and Marquis at 4.1. Only Lannan has been inadequate. And Storen/Clippard have been awesome in the pen.

All in all, I'm pleasantly surprised the Nats aren't doing much worse right now. The pitching has kept them in a lot of games you'd expect them to lose with so many holes in the batting lineup. This is just a dreadful hitting lineup. (I'll gladly take a slightly below average Roger B instead of Ankiel!).

Wally said...

I think that you called it with the reference to last year's early summer swoon. If the Nats go into one of those 2 month, (20-35) funks - it won't matter that Zim is out and LaRoche is hurt, it will be same old thing. I have seen this one before, it ends with me watching a lot of NetFlix during the summer. Feels like we are on the precipice right now. If they can show something here, maybe they are turning the corner.

Seems like Desi is hitting a bunch of 2Bs lately. Too lazy to check that, but he had a strong 2d half last year too. I like what Espy and Ramos are offering; if Desi turns into a keeper too, that is huge progress for this year.

Sec314 said...

This winter I thought the best move was to play Morse at 1B and find another bat for the outfield.... looks like that may be happening now. Hope Nix can keep it up.

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Harper said...

Hoo - Yep, given what the Nats have gone through this year they are actually surprisingly... uh... not the worst thing. Now how long can they keep this going? It sure does look like the wheels are coming off this bandwagon

Wally - Just keep considering this year a long split-squad practice game for Ramos, Espy, and Desmond. It'll make the year go down easier.

Sec 314- I would have said let Morse play 1st and keep Willingham but it works out the same.

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