Nationals Baseball: Man that NL East crown sure does look ready to pick on that tree

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Man that NL East crown sure does look ready to pick on that tree

So that ends that. Any chance of the Mets being a threat to the Nats ended last night as the Nats pitching held the game close and forced Terry Collins to go deep into a bullpen where even the top guys aren't reliable. Eventually in that cirucmstance, the Nats would win and they did busting it wide open in the 10th.  Before this game Mets fans could dream of a sweep, closing the gap back to 5.5 games, and a record of 2 games over .500.  I know that doesn't sound like much but it keeps the dream alive (they are still talking about Wild Card right now and this is roughly where they stand in that).  But now the best they can do is 7.5 back and a .500 record and does anyone want to bet on the Nats losing back to back Gio / Strasburg games? Does it change your mind if I tell you the great Jeremy Hefner is pitching game 2?

So as NL East contenders the Mets are done, the Phillies were toast at first pitch of the season (but still won't admit it), and the Marlins, in trading Sanchez and Infante, have waived the white flag for 2012 (smart move by Hill/Beinfest - really this is a franchise to look out for, just not this year). That leaves the Braves, who have consistently gone out of their way to not crest that hill and truly challenge the Nats, as the last contender. The Nats don't play the Braves again for a month. Between then and now the Braves have a slightly easier go of it than the Nats. I imagine the Nats will go into that series on August 20th with about the same lead they have now, maybe a game less or more. If that's the case, the Nats could land a knockout blow on the Braves that week and spend a month doing a victory lap as NL East champions.

Here I'll add the caveat that anything can happen, because it can, but likely scenarios are all pointing to the Nats as NL East Champs.  As of now, the Braves can't afford to go on an extended (let's say 6+ games) losing streak or have the Nats go on the equivalent winning streak. Even if the actual games lost by the Braves is just 1 and a half, it becomes too big a hill to climb. Think of it  - right now if the Nats went 34-33 for the rest of the season (disappointing based on how they've played the first 95 games) the Braves would have to go 38-28 to tie (better pace than they've played this season). Not impossible but both are unlikely situations.  Now lose a game and a half in standings and more importantly 6 games to make it up. If the Nats go the same mediocre 31-30, the Braves have to go 37-23.  That's the pace of a 100 win team over the last two months of the season.

It's almost here folks. I don't think we'll be able to call it until after that next Braves series but it's almost here. 

21 comments:

Jeff Hayes said...

I will reread this posting every hour for the rest of the day. It brings a smile to my face.

Anonymous said...

It's about time. Glorious.

Anonymous said...

I just did a little dance in my cube :-)

Hoo said...

Marlins are making some good moves that will help. Especially if they flip Hanley Ramirez, who needs a change.

Blowing up parts of this Marling team to rebuild is a smart way to go, which makes me unhappy. Marlins big off-season was mixed with a few smart signing and of course the dumb overpaying for a closer. Still not as dumb as the Phillies overpaying but yikes...

blovy8 said...

Sure, you chose now to jinx the club.

Kenny B. said...

Until the playoffs:
No one. Move. A muscle.

Josh said...

Rumors flying about Greinke. Thoughts?

DezoPenguin said...

Greinke already vetoed a proposed trade from KC to Washington, which is how he ended up in Milwaukee in the first place. I can't see that changing unless his only thought is "I want to be traded to a team that's already good without me."

That said, Greinke would be a pretty impressive #4 starter and getting him would keep him out of the Braves' hands besides. Bad enough they're linked to a Dempster rental to replace one of their (this year) junkier starters; poor SP performance is what's kept them in second so far.

Kenny B. said...

I just can't see Greinke in DC. Not only did he already make it clear he doesn't want to come here, he may not want to be relegated to the back end of a rotation.

Plus, I understand Greinke's kind of a bad clubhouse guy, and the 2012 Nats are very much a good clubhouse team. That may not be much of a consideration in the real world, but it makes me hesitant about the idea. I do really like how lovable the Nats are this year.

Chris Needham said...

He didn't make it clear he didn't want to come here. He made it clear that he didn't want to sign a long-term extension a few offseasons ago.

Which given where the team was, it was a reasonable decision.

Harper said...

Hoo - yeah the Marlins can pretty easily put back together a young good team if they make smart moves. We'll see if they can pull it off though. I'd fear Crawford for Ramirez.

The Phillies are stuck because Hamels is the guy you'd want to keep long term but he's up for FA now. I think they go all in for a 2013 run (and maybe 2014 if things go well). If it doesn't expect Utley / Halladay dealt over the next few.

blovy - if it makes you feel better I'll follow with a "They are bombing straight out of the playoffs!!!!", if they lose 4 in a row at any time

On Greinke - I'd do nearly any deal for him (with a long term deal to follow). But I've made my biases known. Given what Rizzo has said about pitching (he doesn't want to pay for it) I would be surprised if Zack ended up here.

blovy8 said...

I think we know that the most recent "done" team could have won last night, so there's no need to plan for which Champagne to buy.

Section 222 said...

I'd be thrilled to see Greinke join our rotation, though I'll be very surprised if Rizzo goes for him. But it's pretty clear that Greinke didn't nix that deal a few years ago because he didn't want to play in DC under any circumstances. There were reports that he thought the Nats were giving up too much (Znn, Espi, Storen, plus prospects) and he didn't want to join a depleted team. In addition, as Needham notes, he didn't want to sign a long term deal at that point. Plus, back then, the Nats stunk.

A lot has changed since then.

Anonymous said...

Nice article Harper.

Josh said...

Magic Number is at 62.

Donald said...

Interesting moves by Miami. They are definitely in full-on sale mode right now, but it could actually make them finish the year stronger. It's looked like their issue this year was due to bad chemistry more than a lack of talent. Maybe some of these moves will help to repair that. The Phillies also look like they're getting stronger. I don't think either team has any chance at the playoffs, but they could be spoilers. Luckily, the Nats and Braves both have the same number of games remaining against the Phillies (12) and we have 2 fewer Miami games (9 to 11).

Nick said...

Reading this made me tear up a little bit. And I hope we don't make a huge trade because our window is just open for the first time this year and we can't get shortsighted for a rental (not to mention that our farm system is down due to graduation and gio trade).

Froggy said...

Great game today, and yesterday, and the day before...and...

...but I'm not buying any champagne to put on ice just yet. If my math is correct, both the Nats and Braves have 34 games from now until the end of August. If we go 17-17 and the Braves go 20-14 we would still be up by a couple games.

Nats: 75-56 Braves: 74-58

On the otherhand, we go 20-14 and it's Nats: 78-53 and we stay 4 games-ish up.

Still a lot of baseball to play...

Anonymous said...

Nats have been terrible for so long. 1 good year and you think you own the NL East. Win it a few years and then we'll talk.

Anonymous said...

That this could happen.

All I can say.

That this could happen.

That this could even be written.

All I can say.

Senseless babbling. Yes, that's what this kind of stuff will do.

Anonymous said...

The 647 A Anonymous sounds like a so butthurt Phillies fan.

Notice how losers always major in history?