Nationals Baseball: The other side

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The other side

You can't win a game like yesterday and feel like this season is anything like the Nats have seen before. In part because the Nats have never won a game like yesterday. According to Rocket Bill, they've never done it when they were down by more than two runs in the 9th. But really because the Nats have spent the last few years being a bit unlucky and last night was all about being on the other side.

In the 9th the Nats got
  • the other team's starter replaced even though he was easily handling the Nats, had retired the last 7 men he faced, and was sitting at 99 pitches. Thank the Mariners for not scoring one more run and keeping the "save situation" alive!
  • Got a ball booted by the other teams first baseman
  • Got the call on a close 2-2 pitch to Bernadina
  • Got the liner off the closer to bounce harmlessly away rather than right to a defender
  • Got the liner off the closer to knock out the closer
The Nats had to do some work of their own, too, but you don't often come back from 4 runs down in the ninth without some help. The Nats got plenty.

This matters because the Nats face possibly the hottest pitcher in the AL since May and the possible frontrunner for ROY in the next two games. They could easily lose both. Lose last night and they could be 5 games under and a feeling of "ok back to the usual Nats season" couldn't help but creep back in. Now lose the next two and they are only 3 games back and fans look to get those games back in the next series. It's the difference between a team getting hot and a team getting better.

A couple notes

Mike Morse has obviously been super hot, but so has Danny Espinosa. a .304 / .356 / .598 line in the past 4 weeks. Now can he go to the All-Star game?

Roger Bernadina is hitting over .400 with 3 home runs in the past 2 weeks. Do I think he'll keep it up? Not a chance. Do I thank Rick Ankiel for getting injured. Yes. Yes I do. You were a mistake Rick, but at least you've done the team the courtesy of taking yourself out of the picture so better players can play.

I never mention Clippard in trade talks but he is a viable piece to deal. My issue is that I don't know how much a middle reliever will bring back. I kind of doubt it'll be enough to make a deal worthwhile. He also has a ton of cheaper years coming up and he was a starter for a long time (I like that in a reliever). Young, good, cheap is what you want right?

Quietly Ian Desmond has done the same terrible offensive job as always. Steve Lombardozzi has been promoted. Matt is hitting .314 / .385 / .467 in AAA. You've got this season Ian, but don't expect any more rope than that.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if the Nats comeback in the late innings again soon DO NOT call them the "Cardiac Nats" PLEASE I BEG YOU


Bryan said...

Obviously you need some amount of luck to do just about anything successfully. And while luck certainly plays into errors and balls bouncing off legs, you can't get that luck if you don't hit the ball into play. That's why strikeouts are so painful. It's better to put the ball in play and ground out or fly out - where an error could occur - than strikeout - where no error could occur minus a dropped third strike. You have to be hitting and making contact for things to break your way. Strike out and nothing breaks your way.

Harper said...

So what I'm reading is that you hate Ian Desmond...

But seriously the Nats do have the 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th players with the highest K% in the NL. (and Dunn and Willingham are 1 and 2 in the majors). Based on the old D-Backs, I'd say get used to the K because it doesn't bother Rizzo.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

Boz said it early and since often that this team, offensively was built for Home Runs and Ks. NATS bad luck turning to good has brought HRs back into sync with Ks and a lot have been hit with men on.

I say let Rizzo trade if NATS get good return. This is still a 79 win (great but no wild card) team. But if NATS get Bupkis, keep the guys and we enjoy the Summer, particully if all the draftees get signed.

Kenny B. said...

I believe the immediate writeup called them the "Never Say Die Nats." I think that's awesome, and clearly better than "Cardiac Nats."

Harper said...

sec 204 - ok you pique my interest. The Nats haven't actually hit more HRs with men on then with noboyd on this year BUT the HRs they have hit with men on have come disproportionately with 2 or 3 men on. So they've driven in... about 6 more runs than expected by random chance. (I have no idea if this is significant in any way but I like silly little math problems)

Bryan said...

How about the "Nats Lose?: Nat Gonna Happen" Nationals? No? Ok. I see your point.

I really want Desmond to work out, but it seems more and more likely that he won't. And with 1 or 2 prospects in AAA ball at his position, this is probably his last go around on this merry-go-round.

Section 139 said...

Speaking of luck and perhaps superstition at this point...

What do you think of Rigs continuing to bat our pitchers 8th?

Harper said...

Kenny B - still not good but I'll take anything over the forced Cardiac Pack, Cats, Kids, etc. etc.

Bryan - I like "Nat gonna happen". They might keep Desmond around for defense and trade the others (especially Anotnelli) but not if he's hitting this poorly.

139 - There's some evidence to suggest it's optimal to do something like that but in general lineup changes matter so little that as long as the good players are batting in the top half of the lineup and the bad ones in the bottom half that's all I care about.

Anonymous said...

I believe I heard this from some commenter on ESPN and I completely agree: If Desmond doesn't shape up this season he's basically done. With Rendon coming up, they could place him at second or short, depending on what the club sees in his range and fielding ability. Espinosa would take the other.

Hoo said...

This comeback win is all about character. In fact, you can tell that the higher character on the team is directly correlated to the comebacks vs. Cards and last night. So instead of Cardiac, how about Character Counts Nats!

This team's fortunes are also built on LaRoche/Ankiel injuries. Morse would be riding pine except for platoon with Nix and Ankiel/Hairston would be platooning in center. Bernie's hot streak wouldn't have been affected as much b/c as of 3 weeks ago he was still a platoon player.

Wally said...

I have been enjoying this streak immensely, but lately, it feels sobering. What I mean is, as great as they are, the wins feel flukey because the pitching feels like it is regressing. If true, that means the pace is unsustainable. If I wasn't lazy, I would go check whether that feeling is supported by stats.

Ankiel wasn't necessarily a mistake, Ankiel as a starter is a huge mistake. Is that on Rizzo or Riggleman? I could go either way.

What was the probability before the season that you would utter this statement 'They might keep Desmond around for defense'? <5%? I say this about Desi, acknowledging that I have been a fan - he had a big 2d half last year, maybe he does it again. I am not super confident, because he doesn't look good at the plate, but it is possible. But the whole 'move Espy to SS and find another 2B', I dunno, I am not sure he just slides over to SS and keeps playing the same way. If it was that easy to just take a SS and make him a super defender at 2B, wouldn't it have been done more often? It may be that he is suited for 2B. I think what I am really saying is, how about Jose Reyes in the offseason? We'll worry about Rendon when we need to.

kick me in the GO NATS said...

Hey we are .500 now, so how about we trade to get Michael Bourn from the Astros and make a run at it this season. Bourn is the number 1 guy I want us to sign in the off season. Sure bernadina has been a decent bat lately, and had an awesome catch earlier this year, but all the advanced defensive metrics do not like his skills as a CF (such as UZR at fangraphs) at all. Bourn is one of the best Cfs in the game and could lead off well for this team in the future. So, why not acquire the guy and go for the wildcard this season. I do not think we would have to give up much on the farm to get him. Perhaps Norris and another minor leaguer. An we could sign him to a long term deal right away to keep him around for the next 3-5 seasons.

Donald said...

"No disrespect to these guys," Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "But EB is pitching his tail off out there, and we've got to do something. You can't just score one run off ... you can't just score one run. I'll leave it at that."

Does leading off with "No disrespect...but" really mean there's no disrespect?? A sweep sure would be sweet.

Harper said...

Donald - maybe he was reading fangraphs take on John Lannan?