Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Quickie

The Nats fell one game short of being THE baseball news of the day. Instead the Dodgers hold that spot by themselves (Yay, Don Mattingly!)  I actually kind of prefer that the Nats remain on the sidelines. A hot start like this isn't sustainable (sorry to be the first to tell you - the Nats aren't going to win 113 games) and I don't want the story to become "What happened to the Nats?!".  I also don't want the story to be about the grittiness or the "new attitude" the Nats may have.  This happened in 2005 and it was frankly unbearable.

In 2005, the Nats had an amazing first half powered by a number of quality starts by Livan, John Patterson and Esteban Loaiza, some timely relief pitching, and a great amount of luck from a terrible offense. The story should have been about that pitching.  But it wasn't.  Since they had won some crazy number of 1-run games by the time that Cubs series ended in early July, the story was about the "heart" and 'hustle" and "scrappiness" of the team.  Feel free to blame Tom Boswell for this - I do.  Then suddenly (and unsurprisingly) the team started to lose a lot of those 1-run games. The story became about the Nats free fall (I guess they didn't care anymore! Washed off the grit!) and remained that way for the rest of the year as Bowden tried to patch holes in the leaky boat using tissue paper and CheezWhiz. The pitching never got it's due.

This year the pitching has been amazing. 

STARTER ERA : 1.75 (1st in the NL by 0.6 runs!)
RELIEF ERA :  2.43 (4th, sad face!)
TOTAL ERA : 1.99! (1st)

The starters are :
  • 1st in Opponents OBP (a mere .235) 
  • 1st in Opponents SLG (a ridiculous .256) 
  • Obviously 1st in OPS (by over .100 points!)
  • 1st in WHIP
  • 2nd in K/BB
  • 2nd in P/PA
  • 3rd in K/9
  • Tied for most IP (3rd in IP/G)
  • 5th in BB/9
THIS IS THE STORY. Let's not forget it this time

Other notes
  • Bad news and good news on the hitting front.  The bad news is that all of the guys doing well are being propped up by super high BABIPs : Werth (.467), LaRoche (.444), Desmond (.410).  They should fall.  The good news is that all the guys doing poorly are being held down by super low BABIPs : Espinosa (.231) , Zimmerman (.212), Ramos (.208).  They should all get better. 
  • Speaking of crazy BABIPs - Davey please don't use Flores more because he's hitting well.  His BABIP is .667.  Basically that means he made a deal with the devil for a few games. 
  • It was great that Nady was able to hit that homer but the "other" OFs still stink.  Nady .208/ .269 / .333, DeRosa .091/ .259 /.091, Bernie .143/ .200/ .243.  I hate to say it but Rick Ankiel can actually make things better.
  • Adam LaRoche already has 6 walks.  In his best year he only walked 69 times.  Maybe he learned something last year while fighting that injury as he had his best BB-rate of his career in that short span.
  • It's not the average or patience killing the offense, it's the power. Only 5 homers in 10 games.  Werth and Zimm are still waiting for their first. 
  • While I praise the starters - let's not forget about the relievers. Stammen, H-Rod, Gorzelanny, and Burnett have given up a combined 2 runs in 19 IP. (and the stats say only Tom has been real lucky here)
  • Also - no homers given up by the relief corps yet.  Other than H-Rod and Clippard, they are doing a good job of forcing the ball down, especially Stammen and Burnett
  • Speaking of Clippard though - barely used over the weekend.  Ineffective when pitching.   How long until he hits the DL for surgery? Over/Under says April 30th.


Donald said...

Looks like the Nats are trying Tyler Moore in LF in Syracuse to see if they can get his bat in the line-up over the current platoon. That's an interesting plan and I really hope it works. If Moore can be anything close to his minor league stats, he'd add a huge boost until Morse gets back.

As for Clippard, he's said all along that he's better the more he pitches. Long rests are bad for him. With such a stacked bullpen, he doesn't need to pitch every day, but when he takes a few days off, he's rusty. I'm not sure how that plays out.

Adam said...

Ahh your gonna have a quickie today?

Harper said...

Donald - I don't know about Moore. He strikes me as a guy that'll hit .200 maybe in the majors. Those K numbers are scary. Sure that'll be with 15-20 homers but still...

We'll see on Clippard.

Adam - get your mind out of the gutter! This is a family blog! Kids are picnicking over near the link for archives!

Anonymous said...


Pig.Pen said...

X has had a number of loud outs, but DeRosa aka "Flappy" is what he is, which is someone who was very good at baseball, but suffered a career-ending injury, but refuses to accept it. Even with the money he got, I doubt DeRosa is on the roster come August. I think that if X can string together a few days of consistent AB's he can fill in nicely for Morse, but I once again admit to a huge bias here.

Tyler Moore is not at all the answer, unless the question is how can the Nats set a big league record for K's in a season. The only possible answer in the Nats farm system is Bryce Harper, but I am holding out hope the Nats taken advantage of the Giants lunacy and trade for Brandon Belt.

blovy8 said...

Lets not forget what the story was going to be before we lost Wang, Storen and Morse - a 4-2 type of record against the Mets and Cubs is quite sustainable. Taking 3 of 4 at home against the Reds was outlasting them with superior pitching at home, plus catching them without Phillips at full strength. It's exactly how it could have been predicted even with the mediocre offense. But I agree, it'll be proving it every series. They should be lots better than the Astros, have their best three going. The test is the Marlins who are their recent nemesis. Maybe their juju against the Nats will be foiled by profligate spending this year.

Every year some guy has a flukey .380 BABIP, why not a Nat? Those three strike out so much, it'll look like a .310 batting average anyway. What mainstream writer will note it when they are sixth in the batting race or whatever and don't show up in the box score page's tiny column of leaders?

They got lucky with Jackson's start, they really needed that with all these extra inning games using the bullpen heavily. Can we expect deeper outings from the starters against the Astros? That wouldn't be impossible, and give Burnett and Clippard some time to heal a bit. A big lead would be even better for a change and you just give Mattheus the ball for two innings.

I'm still thinking you need to give Nady and DeRosa more time before you declare STINK. Bench guys are going to have even more uneven periods than everyday players and maybe one right handed guy will manage to be average out of left fielders, but it's too early to decide which. If you went by his numbers, you'd think Bernadina was unlucky, since his line drive rate is 30 percent, his GO/FO ration is even, he's not popping the ball up, and runs well, but his atbats haven't looked any better than DeRosa's to me.

Harper said...

Anon - yes that is a thing!

Pig.Pen - it's easy to say that injury killed him but the fact is that he hit over .350 coming back from it. Now it did destroy whatever power he might have had.

You might be right about X - fancy stats seem to suggest slight underperformance BUT there's no indication his power is coming back.

Nattydread said...

Grit is great copy. Boswell will pull it out and use it this year again. The gets paid for it.

blovy8 said...

You have to note how many extra innings the team has already played, basically another 2/3 of a game, so runs per game is misleading a bit. Of course the pitching looks just as good with that ERA and paltry contact and OBP numbers.