Nationals Baseball: Almost over

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Almost over

Game Guess grade :  D-  Totally wrong on Medlen. He was very good. Not shutout good - he got lucky in a couple innings that the Nats didn't cross one over the plate - but 7 innings 2 runs good at least. Detwiler didn't go the distance I said he would and mixed a power pitching beginning that flummoxed the Braves with a wild 5th that basically ended his night.  I'll stop guessing now.

The Nats are 6 games up with 38 games to go. I want to call this division, but a collapse remains on the outskirts of possibility.  With an 8 game lead the Nats would have to play the last quarter or so of the season at a 60 wins pace and the Braves at a 100 win pace for the Braves to take the crown.  I just don't see that.  With a six game lead that Braves pace can slow to a 90 win pace.  Possible? I guess.

Really what does it for me is that remaining series. I believe you can pretty easily lose two games in the standings while blinking. If the Braves can get through this weekend (they are at the Giants, Nats are at Philadelphia) without losing any more ground, they should have a slight scheduling advantage the rest of the way to the final series. If you are wondering:

Braves : 3@SF, 3@SD, 3vPHI, 4vCOL, 3@NYM, 3@MIL
Nats : 3@PHI, 2@FLA, 3vSTL, 4vCHC, 3vFLA, 3@NYM


So if the Nats do lose two games in the standings before that next series and go into it with a ~4 game lead, well then a sweep means a ~1 game lead and a furious finish. If I can play out a reasonable scenario in my head, I have to hold off.

Of course this is all worst case thinking. I don't think the Nats will slump terribly, which would force the Braves to play at an incredible clip to take the pennant, and I don't think the Braves will play at an incredible clip. To narrow all this down to a single thought : Start thinking hard about where you'd place the NL East trophy but don't clear off the space just yet.

Other Thoughts

Obviously the Nats future is brighter with a healthy Strasburg, but don't get caught up in the "multiple WS" talk. Oh ok, if you define "multiple" as 2, which is technically a multiple since it's more than 1, then fine.  The odds aren't good, but it does happen.  Seven teams have done won 2 World Series in a 10 year period in the past 25 years. (Twins, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins, Yankees, Red Sox and Cardinals.)  But if you are thinking 3+, of that group only the Yankees managed to win that 3rd. Going back to the next one before them you're going all the way back to the early 70's A's. Then you have to go back before divisional play to the Dodgers and Yankees of the late 50's, early 60's. It's very rare and understandably rarer in a time with a lot more playoff rounds. The Nats can be World Series contenders for a good stretch, but the most likely outcome of that is maybe one WS.

The Bryce mini-comeback that the media was all over is probably dead. 2-13 in the series, 0 walks and 6 Ks. I'm thinking that he's approaching this "occasional day-off" in the wrong way, trying real hard to hit his way back into playing every day (as opposed to 5 out of 6 days).  Since Davey finall gave him a rest he's only taken 1 walk.

Nothing I've seen of Suzuki changes my mind. The Nats are going to be paying a hell of a lot for a back-up catcher the next few years.

Meanwhile Zimm keeps chugging along 5-12 for the series with 2 walks.  He was hitting .218 on June 23rd and is hitting .285 now.

Werth has had four hits in the series, all doubles.  He's been great since coming back. .373 / .455 / .522. Some guys aren't hitting but the Nats have decent bats at every position but one, so it's hard to find them every really struggle because 5+ guys don't usually go cold at the same time.

20 comments:

WiredHK said...

Det's major issue was walking Medlen and forcing Prado to the plate in that 5th inning. Prado finished the series 6 for 15 with 5 doubles. Guy is a beast and clutch.

And yes...Medlen is very solid. Not too surprising. The Braves missed a few chances as well (4th and 6th come to mind), so to me that evens out mostly (but yes, 8 LOB is frustrating).

Still, great series win for the Nats. Turns out the rubber match was game 1 and it was an adventure. Glad we got it.

Wally said...

Yeah, mostly agree. It is getting pretty close.

IF the Nats falter, and speaking honestly, most Nats fans are half expecting it because of human nature and their DC history (that is why many people do this 'if they play .500 from here' stuff), I expect it to be a pasting by our pals to the north, the Phils. Nine games left, if I remember rightly, and they are mostly healthy. If they play those series around .500, it really does seem hard to see where they blow it. if they go 1-8 in those games, well that could make things interesting.

Mythical Monkey said...

You missed on the specific game guesses, but you did pick the Nats to win 2 of 3 which is the important part of the equation, so kudos for that.

re: multiple World Series talk. I would say most-likely best-case scenario (as opposed to dream best-case scenario) is the Nats do for five years what the Phillies just did for five years -- 5 division titles, two World Series appearances, one win.

Rationally, you'd have to be thrilled with that. But who said fans are rational?

Just as likely, the Nats win a couple of division titles, make the wild card a couple of times, and never get a sniff of the World Series. Tougher to swallow but that's baseball.

I'm hoping for the best case scenario, of course. But you never know. Which is why we keep watching.

DezoPenguin said...

As someone who's been an Expos fan since 1980* and stayed a fan when they moved to D.C., I'll be thrilled with a division title. Anything beyond that would make me positively ecstatic. Staying relevant in the W.S. discussion for several years to come would be incredible.

*and still wants to see Donald Fehr strung up for 1994, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Was sitting in centerfield last night below the scoreboard. Looked to me like Detwiler didn't have much control at all last night. I think Davey pulled him only because he was pouting every time he missed his location. Ross needs to get his head on straight, not walk the pitcher to keep the inning going, before he starts pitching in the playoffs.

Harper needs to sit, I can't understand how Davey can walk past the shark to give Harper a pat on the back. Harper might be the future, but if we are going to hinder ourselves by pulling Stras (which I'm okay with, we knew it from the beginning) we need to at least play the best we got after that. With Harper as a guarantee rally killer, Davey needs Roger to replace Harper in center and at #2.

Josh said...

I almost feel like your Game 2 prediction was more accurate for Game 3 where the bullpen made a half-decent 8 inning game turn into an ugly 9 inning game. Still hats off for the 2 out of 3 correct guess. Keep the guesses coming, your willingness to predict tough loses as well as unexpected wins is refreshing and gives me something good to read on otherwise boring weekdays. Not many people would have the gall to predict Strasburg lose, but I'm with you, he's not gonna win all of them and the Nats won't win every game that they're "supposed" to win. Well done Harper.

Kenny B. said...

Like most here, I'll be happy to have meaningful baseball in September for the foreseeable future--anything that allows me to ignore the farce of pre-season football.

eatthelump said...

38 games remaining... half of those against common opponents (NL East games and a series with Milwaukee for each)...

ATL has SF and PITT on their sched, but WASH has SEVEN to play against STL...Plus three against LAD...clear advantage for ATL.

ATL has SD and COL on their sched, and an extra series against the Mets. WASH has four against CHC, and then a few extra games with PHI... again, clear advantage ATL. Phillies are playing better now than earlier in the year, Mets playing worse.

I think that the schedule disparity is an easy 2-3 game change over the rest of the season.

So, I agree, it should come down to the last ATL series, in ATL, to see if the Braves will make it interesting down the stretch.

Barring collapse, by either team, which is still a possibility. I'm glad the consolation prize is a wildcard game!

Donald said...

While it's possible to conceive of the Nats slipping 2 games and then getting swept in Atlanta, at a macro level, it's hard to see them losing the division lead. If the Nats finish the remaining 38 games at 19-19,they'd end up with 96 wins. Because they win the head-to-head tie-breaker, the Braves have to actually pass them and win 97. That means going 26-12, which is a much better % than any team in baseball. If the Nats go 22-16, the Braves would have to finish 29-9, which is all but impossible.

What all this means is that the Nat's fate is really in their own hands. If they don't crash, they win the division regardless of what Atlanta does.

The Nats play most of their remaining games against teams under .500 (25 under .500 vs. 13 over .500). They also play more games at home than away. If they can just win 2 or 3 more games than they lose, the Braves can't catch them.

Ben said...

Getting a little ahead of myself, but does anyone know if the same division not playing each other in round 1 (now round 2 I guess) still applies (i.e. is it possible the Nats are matched up with the braves if they win the play-in)? I would assume it doesn't ...

wild card game almost makes me sad for the braves, they will probably have 5+ more wins than wild card #2 and will almost certainly be an underdog to kershaw-dodgers cain/bumgarner-giants or burnett/mcdonald-pirates (well i guess more even money to the pirates) ... anyways I'd love to see anyone of these but the giants in a 5 game series.

Keith Raymond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Froggy said...

It's almost over.

But it ain't.

Even though I was hoping Det would win, Medlin pitched as I thought he might and now I'm convinced he is a genuine talent. Could be a real problem for us in that last series with the Braves.

Going forward and all mathematics aside, the one thing I fear the most is the Phillies. 9 games of motivation to beat us might be an understatement, The're hitting and pitching well and I'm sure nothing would make them happier than to knock us out of the division title and let the Braves in.

We really MUST win this next series and the Braves MUST lose the SF series before I'll even begin to feel comfortable.

Froggy said...

I forgot to mention good point Harper about the odds of making it to the WS in a TEN year span, let alone back to back. I remember the 70's A's as that was my team growning up. And I still have not forgotten the A's also went to the 88, 89, 90 WS but lost two. Anyway...

Which brings me to my never ending point of Strasburg... IF and that's a big IF, the Nats do make it to the WS, using your excellent, statistical based logic above, the most likely outcome is maybe one WS. So why do you sit him? The whole point of playing major league baseball is to GO to and PLAY in the World Series.

Odds are more likely we could end up like the 2007 Colorado Rockies (one appearance = lost) rather than the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks (one appearance = we all know who they beat, sorry Harper) let alone the 72-74 A's or the 98-00 Yankees.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Froggy, the whole point of MLB is to sell tickets and make money. The Lerners don't strike me as being in the mold of Dan Snyder or George S, etc. who need the title to validate themselves. The Lerners want a long term selling prospect that makes the playoffs most years--the playoffs being somewhat of a crapshoot, they might get a title here or there. Overpaying Werth, blowing the slot system, being cautious with elbows are all designed towards long term success. I'm for it. Especially since I believe that even without Strasburg the Nats are the team to beat in the NL.

Chaos

Anonymous said...

....okay, not off the soap box yet. I'm not sure most really appreciate how good this team is. This is the best pitching (even without Stras), slickest fielding team in the majors. Best for a number of years. Our best player is a 19 year old who doesn't hit well. Yet. The backbone is the best 3rd baseman since Mike Schmidt. Fielding doesn't take a day off and makes pitching considerably better. This is like watching the 60's and 70's Dodgers and O's again. You might not win the title, but you're hunting every year.

Chaos

Froggy said...

@Anonymous (who isn't KC)...you make great fiscal points that the cynical adult in me has a hard time disagreeing with.

I guess there will always be that little kid in me that believes in the purity of why the game is played. Zimmy is the best 3B in the league period.

Nattydread said...

Loss by Braves in SF is another nail in the coffin. If they lose the series, a Nats collapse enters the real of mathematical debate.

But yes. Philadelphia makes me uncomfortable. They want desperately to remind the Nats that they once ruled.

Donald said...

I know we consider the Phillies a huge rival, what with the 'take back the stadium' business and all, but does anyone know how the Phillies view things? For the past few years, the Braves were a much bigger threat to them than the Nats. I'm sure they want to beat whoever they are playing, but I'm not convinced they'd like to see the Nats lose and give it to the Braves.

Anonymous said...

@Donald - I've been a Phillies fan for 46 years and to be honest, I'm indifferent as to who wins the division between the Nats and Braves. If the Phils can't do it, then I'd rather see anyone but the Mets.

The Nats have an exciting young team, and now that I live in DC it's great to see the local sports fans excited about baseball. But I'd caution you about making your WS parade plans just yet. Nats fans probably weren't paying close attention to the pennant race last year, but you might want to ask Braves or Red Sox fans about insurmountable September leads.

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