Nationals Baseball: Time to "finish" strong

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time to "finish" strong

It was still a good road trip. That's what you can take solace in. They took on 3 decent teams away, and came back with a 5-4 record. You know who does that? Good teams.

Back when Werth went down the thought was they'd have to keep around .500 until the team started to recover from injury.  If they could make it to Morse's return simply losing a game for every game they won, they'd be in pretty good shape. Well they've gone 11-11 since then. That's good.  Don't get messed up by the 14-4 start.  That's a fluke. Teams don't do that all year. But 15-17 since then, with two key offensive players (Werth and Morse) and one useful young player (Ramos) lost, that's ok. That means when you get Werth and Morse back this is at least a .500 team, maybe a few games better.

That may not seem like much in the way of praise, but look at this from a playoff perspective.  If they can go 4-2 on this home stand and then go merely .500 (48-48 if I back of the enveloped correctly) after Morse comes back that's an 86-76 team.  That's a team with a chance at the playoffs.  A couple games over .500, say 50 and 46, in the same time period and that's an 88 win team and that's real close to a virtual lock. This is what the 14-4 start afforded the Nats.  It's a head start on making the playoffs.

All which makes this home stand kind of important. It's really the last chance to be "reeling" without a big chunk of their offense. They kept their head above water for this long, just a little bit longer and the team can simply play to the talent level that we think is on the field and have a good shot of making the playoffs.


K.C. said...

Tell me you're not still drinking the Philadelphia Phillies Kool-Aid.

And please tell me you don't think this team is only going to win 86 games. We have the best pitching in baseball, and I'm not talking statistically, even though that's true.

Just look at our depth, top to bottom. We definitely have the best rotation, and we definitely one of the best bullpens in all of baseball (even WITHOUT Storen, a top 5 closer). Morse is coming back, that means more runs. Werth will be back, that means more runs.

We will win at least 90 games. I said it on April 1st and I'm saying it again on June 1st.

We are going to win 90+ games. No doubt about it.

Donald said...

I'm not sure what conclusions to draw from these numbers, but this is what the teams currently at .500 or better would have to do to reach 86 wins.

Team Wins Loses Games Left Current % Wins needed Loses needed Target %
Atlanta 28 24 110 0.538 58 52 0.527
Cincy 28 22 112 0.560 58 54 0.518
Dodgers 32 18 112 0.640 54 58 0.482
Mets 28 23 111 0.549 58 53 0.523
Miami 29 22 111 0.569 57 54 0.514
Nats 29 21 112 0.580 57 55 0.509
Phillies 27 25 110 0.519 59 51 0.536
Pirates 25 25 112 0.500 61 51 0.545
San Fran 27 24 111 0.529 59 52 0.532
St Louis 27 24 111 0.529 59 52 0.532

Shane said...

Sure, you can call the road trip a success, but the way that Miami shut the Nats down doesn't sit well with me. I would have been much happier and feel so much better taking at least one game. We were wore down the way we've been wearing down other teams.
2005 is always in the back of my mind when these sweeps happen.

Donald said...

Sorry about the formatting of the above comment, but it seems like there are at most 10 teams vying for the playoffs. The first 6 on the list could all regress some and still get to 86 wins. The other 4 have to improve to reach that mark, though it would only be a minor uptick for San Fran and St. Louis. So at this point, 86 wins doesn't feel like a lock at all.

Kenny B. said...

The Marlins always seem to have Washington's number, and now they're just a half-game out. Of course, this means nothing at this point in the season. Even the last place Phillies are only 3 games out.

With this offense in this division, I'm having a hard time envisioning a division win unless we can continue to beat up on the non-Miami division teams.

But, if things are still going well at the trade deadline, anyone have any thoughts on possible moves? If a playoff run looks legitimate, will Rizzo do anything big?

Section 222 said...

Seems to me almost as likely that Boras knew exactly what he was doing, assuming that Strasburg will be shut down at the end of August (as much as we want to convince ourselves he won't if we're in the hunt), leaving EJax as at worst the third starter for the playoffs. But even if he wasn't making that assumption, I'm not sure how he would go about getting a competitive offer from a team that was guaranteed to (1) boost EJax's win percentage by having a good offense and (2) make the playoffs with fewer than three established starters already under contract.

Harper said...

When was I drinking Phillies Kool-Aid? Now Braves sure. Grape flavored. Delicious.

Both the rotation and pen are among the major's best but unless Morse is last year's Morse and Werth is 2009's Werth their return won't cause a dramatic shift in run scoring. The Nats offense will be better, meaning it will be around average. And that's after both are back and healthy - meaning August.

If I were to guess now I'd peg them at 88 or 89 wins. I thought - pre-season that they were an 84/85 win team. At this point I think I underestimated them a bit and they are more in the 86/87 range. If they play at that talent level from Morse-on-out they should have 89 wins. 90 wouldn't surprise me. 92+ would.

Shane - how about thinking like this though - last games of a road trip, vs a red-hot team, against the back of the rotation (though a good rotation). It was stacked against the Nats winning the series to begin with. As long as they take care of business in the next 6 games I don't think there's any reason to be worried.

Donald - That's because 86 isn't a lock. It's a chance. 89 wins is roughly where it moves to lock. This is based on looking at the records of teams during the WC era. Sure a 89 win team might miss the playoffs but it'll take a fluke year. Just like having an 84 win team make the playoffs (in this new era). From my previous post new scenario is this :

New scenario
>89 wins - virtual lock
88-89 wins- better chance than not
85-87 wins - possible with some luck
<85 wins - forget about it

Harper said...

Kenny B - No good way to speculate on trades until we're there. If you were to guess another arm might be possible (to allow for the Strasburg shutdown) or a killer SS. I don't see an OF move (just no room this year).

222 - maybe he did think that about Stras but it certainly doesn't feel given. As for if a contract to a ideal team was there... not sure it was. That's where the Nats could have just been the best out there. But I'm thinking he let things play out a bit looking for the multi-year deal when he could have steered Edwin to HIS best fit on a contract similar to the ones the Nats signed. All conjecture, I know.

Donald said...

So the Nats need to go 60-52 for the rest of the year to get to 89 wins. That's a .536 percentage, so they could still regress and reach "lock" status. The Nats, Dodgers, Reds and Marlins are the only teams that can regress and still reach 89. The Phillies would need to go 62-48 (.564) the rest of the way out to reach 89. If they were healthy, that's certainly doable, but the more time passes with them playing closer to .500 makes it more difficult. Still, it's not hard to imagine 8 or 9 of these top 10 teams playing decent and reaching the mid to high 80's in wins.

K.C. said...

"And that's after both are back and healthy - meaning August." -- Morse has been healthy for a while and is coming back in a week at the latest. The delay in his return was because he couldn't throw, he's been able to hit for almost a month, and Rizzo and Johnson have said that if they had a DH he would have been back a long time ago. Do you follow this team at all?

In other news, the Braves are bad, and their pitching is bad. They'll finish in 3rd.

Harper said...

donald - some team always does rise crazily in the 2nd half though, one of these teams (the Nats?) had a Marlins May left in them. You gotta think a couple of these will fall back too the parity has been a bit strong.

KC - I said August because I said "BOTH back" I personally think Werth will be back post All-Star break but I haven't heard anyone in the know be that optimistic with his timeline.

As for Morse being healthy "Can't throw" to me means injured. Maybe in the AL he'd be "healthy enough", but that's not his situation.

K.C. said...

"It feels really good," Morse said, "I don't feel any pain. No discomfort. And my throwing... I guess, 'technique' is better than it's ever been. I guess there's a positive out of this whole thing, that I'm paying attention [to] my form and everything now. So, that's a plus."

Sounds like he's fine.

blovy8 said...

To me, I think they're weathering the injuries pretty well. 5-4 is ok for a road trip. Even if they temporarily drop out of first to the Marlins, that's not a club that scares me. I think we're going to see all five teams beating each other up, and if there's ONE particular thing you want your team to be able to do in a close race, it's pitch. This team still stacks up well in that regard. When Storen and Lidge come back, it will have the added benefit of lessening the load on Clippard.

AceSmith said...

The nats are going to start their strong finish tonight against the braves with the ridiculously favorable matchup between the nats and the braves! i wrote a good preview and articler about this gamer on my blog right here!

Angels12 said...

This stretch coming up against the AL East (15games) will tell us alot about where this team is goingi IMHO. Six on the road at Boston and Toronto (2-4 at best) six at home against the Yankees and TB (3-3 at best) than 3 at Baltimore, prob a 1-2..........a 6-9 performance is about what I'd expect, would I prefer 9-6 heck yeah. I'd also prefer to eat lobster tonight don't think that's gonna happen either. Seven wins against the bad boys of the East ( even if 3 of them happened against Balt) would be more than I think anyone would have expected.

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