Nationals Baseball: BRAVES SERIES - GAME 3

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Game Guess #2 Self-Grade :  D+.  I get credit for knowing the Braves approach would cause Strasburg to go out early and The Maholm/Nats guess wasn't THAT far off.  Really he was 10' ft on the Flores homer from a matching Strasburg in runs (though not performance).  4 runs in 7 is not great but it's allright and would win a few games. Still that only keeps me from failing. On the other side Strasburg was close to perfect (more on that in a minute) meaning that even though the Braves got him out early they only had one run in by the time they did it. Davey didn't try to save the bullpen. They all did great. So in the end a blecch guess.

Last nights game was all about Strasburg. He dominated and the fun part about it is that it felt like 90% of what he can do. The Braves still wore him down and in that last inning you definitely saw some wear. He threw 94 pitches over 6 and 31 balls. That's an excellent ratio but Strasburg, when he's completely on his game, will only throw 25-30 balls and most will be when and where he wants them. When he is completely on his game Strasburg should beat ANY team, I don't care how good offensively they are or how much they try to work him.

Gio is very good. Zimmermann is very good. Neither is as good as Strasburg. He can do everything right.  On any given night I think he can combine Zimmermann's control, Gio's strikeout ability, and Detwiler's GB tendencies. Hell, I think he can be better than all 3 at each. And he's over 2 years younger than any of them.

Which is why the shutdown is maddening to a lot of fans. You can't replace something like that.  And yet, what do you do? We know nothing.  We don't know how much pitching Strasburg beyond 180 or so innings will effect his arm.  We don't know how much losing Strasburg for the playoffs will effect the Nats chances at winning. No idea. All we know are the vague truths. Throwing more will increase his chances of being hurt. Strasburg pitching will increase the Nats chances of winning any series they are in. But because there are no certainties - there can be no "correct" answer and this argument can go on and on and on...

Game 3

Kris Medlen has been great for the Braves since being extended into a starter. There's very little to pick at in his stats. He's only given up 2 XBH, and struck out 22 in 25 and 2/3 innings. But again the last three opponents were the Astros, Mets, and Padres. What bothers me about Medlen is that his last 3 starts his pitch counts has gone up from 79 to 88 to 104.  271 pitches, about as many as he threw in the entire month of July and that includes his first start. That has to have some effect on someone who hasn't thrown that many pitches in a game in over 2 years. If he's going to blow up, a game away from home, versus the second decent offense he's started against (and the first in 3 starts), after a long start, is as good a guess as any.

Medlen has thrown 4 games vs the Nats. The first two they hit him pretty well, the second two they didn't hit him at all. But these were all in relief so I don't put much stake in them.

Detwiler hasn't been great the past two games, one of those being the Mets who as we've said up there - not impressive. Ross's Ks are way down and that's an issue. His control is good but not special like ZNN. He's adept at getting ground balls and thus not giving up homers, but the end result is teams put a lot of balls in play.  If he doesn't get the strikeouts, that's that many more balls in play. Eventually those balls will find holes and some runs will come. Not alot, but some. If he was on a team other than the Nats, with their fantastic infield D, I wonder what he'd be like.  For the Nats his starter ERA is 3.50. That's feels about right.

Detwiler's faced the Braves 3 times this year. The first one was bad and sealed the deal for Wang to take over. The second one was a lot like Maholm's start yesterday. Not terrible but a big 2 out, 2 run homer late made it seem worse than it was. The third start was the opposite, not great, but the hits were scattered and thus it looked better than it was. Short of it - he pitched like you'd expect. 

Game Guess 
You can't count on scattering. Ross is going to give up hits, and isn't the best but he's good, say ~3 runs, 6-7 innings. It's more than enough. Medlen, tired from the big increase in innings, gets hit hard and is out early. 6 runs 3 innings, something like that. The Nats don't necessarily pour it on but they tack on a few more, while the Brave score a meaningless run or two against whoever Davey wants to soak up the back 3 innings. Nats sweep and start drafting designs for a pennant.

Nats 9-4.


michael k said...

Finally, a post that fits into my schedule, where I don't wake up to see 15 million posts or whatever you've been getting recently already posted (congrats on the exposure btw - well deserved). But I have nothing to say! Except that Chad Kroeger stole my girl. Really, hasn't he taken enough from me already?

K.C. said...

"Gio is very good. Zimmermann is very good. Neither is as good as Strasburg."

I have to humbly disagree with this, I suppose just with regards to the playoff discussions.

I agree that at his most dominant, Strasburg is better than both Gio and Zimermann and I believe that in a few years he will always be better, however, at this moment in time, I think both Gio and Zimermann are better pitchers for a playoff type situation.

Zimmermann is consistently a solid pitcher. He's legitimately thrown 2 bad games this entire season. While he cannot reach the level of dominance that Strasburg can, he also never seems to just lose it like Strasburg can (he's had 4 or 5 games where he just looked out of control out there).

And Gio, while at times inconsistent with is effectiveness (mostly due to control issues) has shown that he can essentially eliminate lefties from a lineup with that curve, which is something Strasburg just can't do, until he learns that his change up is his best out-pitch (I'd like to see it thrown more than 16% of the time). Considering that most of the big bats we'll have to neutralize in the playoffs are left handed , I like Gio better than Starsburg to be able to handle that.

Just my 2 cents regarding the whole missing Strasburg in the playoffs talk.

K.C. said...

Oh, and regarding tonight's game, I'd like to see Detwiler do less of this I'm gonna throw 90% fastballs nonsense. He's at his best when he's got a good mix of change ups and sliders in there. If he brought the fastballs down to about 65-70% I think he'd be much more effective.

Froggy said...

I agree that Maholm pitched very well and other than the one pitch to Flo, he dominated. But, Strausemus dominated more. The Braves have to be feeling pretty delfated having lost the series and being 7 games back. Only hope is to win tonight's game and limp out of town 6 games down.

The Nats must play with big boots on tonight looking to crush the Braves windpipes and send a message not to even think about winning the east. WC is your only option.

National Det rides the momentum and Desmond hits another and the Nats sends a message: Nats 5 Braves 4

Froggy said...

also, correct me Harper if my math is wrong, but starting with tonights game, if we go .500 for the rest of the year (20-19 w 39 games left) we end up at 97-55.

The Braves must play .720 ball and go 28-11 to get 98 wins to win the division.

Even if we 'fall off' from our PAB pace of .700 and only win at a .600 pace (23-16) we get to 100 wins, and the Braves must play .795 ball and go 31-8 to win the East.

Of course, anything can happen. :-)

Anonymous said...

Remember Harp that strikeouts are fascist and ground-balls are democratic. Nothing wrong with Det's Ks being down.

Harper said...

mk - yeah usually I end up editing when I find a few minutes at work - not ideal timing. But I hear Avril likes to wake up early in LA and catch a read while snuggling with Chad Kroeger

KC - I think it's pretty much a toss up who would pitch better in any one game in the playoffs. They are all that good. I just think Strasburg is more likely to have that special game. That 1 hit, 10 K OMG thing that the Nats can't lose even if they tried.

As for Detwiler - I think he's straining to get those Ks, not realizing that they just kind of come naturally when he mixes it up. But that's just a feeling.

Froggy - that's Friday's stuff! You're stealing my thunder.

Harper said...

anon - if there wasn't anything wrong with it he wouldn't be pitching worse with fewer Ks. Ks are good. Therefore less Ks are bad. Not as bad for him as for a FB pitcher, but still bad.

Bryan said...

This blogs going to be unreal when the Nats and Yanks meet in the WS. Lol. Just saying.

Taking the first two of this series is soooo nice. Now we can sit back and relax for game 3, knowing that at worst, we put another game between us, and at best, we've pretty much buried the Braves and are just playing out the string (as Harper pointed out earlier).

MacNats said...

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't find shutting down Strasburg maddening in the slightest. I was happy about being careful with his health when I thought the Nats were a borderline WC team (i.e. before the season started) and I still feel that way.

Nothing is guaranteed in the MLB playoffs and one postseason run isn't worth the risk. I'm not hungry for a World Series this season as much as I'm hungry for being a World Series contender for the next 6-8 years.

Kenny B. said...

I had never heard the "National Det" nickname. I fully support it. It fits nicely with "Nat Gio."

I'll give my prediction yesterday a B. Stras was in top form and Nats didn't do very much against Maholm (although apparently Flores owns this guy).

I'm not making a prediction tonight. This game is nothing but icing.

Best. Baseball season. Ever.

eatthelump said...

I wish that Harper would have continued to project close games and/or Braves wins... this show of bravado will surely displease the baseball gods and the Nats will be smited.

Donald said...

I agree with you on Strasburg. On any given outting, Gio or Znn might have a better day, but Strasburg's best stuff -- like last night, is better than either of the other's best stuff. This was the first night that I started to second-guess shutting him down. I still agree that it's the right thing to do, but if could pitch like that 2-3 games a series, we could really win it all.

Anonymous said...

Clown column Bro

Shut the kid down. It is an INJURY shutdown, not a topic for debate.

Anonymous said...

Clown column Bro

Shut the kid down. It is an INJURY shutdown, not a topic for debate.

K.C. said...

"Clown column Bro

Shut the kid down. It is an INJURY shutdown, not a topic for debate. "

There's always room for debate. It's not an injury shutdown, it's a recovery shutdown. The debate is whether or not it's necessary, and since there is no conclusive evidence either way, there's definitely a possible debate.

ags said...

I haven't read anything lately on attendance at Nats games. Thankfully, this year there are other topics TO talk about. But suddenly remembered that old go-to and wondered how we're doing there. Picking up now that there's a pennant race?

Donald, the exact same thing happened to me. Last night was the first time I started to feel torn about the shutdown... I wish I could go back to being fully supportive of it. Dang.

Now my pet-peeve: Clippard seems to think his job is to strand the tying run. This is not good for my blood pressure.

WiredHK said...

Last night was a lot of fun to be at the park for, despite the slight rain delay. Stras was dealing and looked locked in from the start. What was the biggest change from his last few outings was he wasn't walking guys. Makes a big difference on his pitch count and overall effectiveness, in my view.

Tonight's game was always the one that concerned me the most in this series (Medlen/Atl is a slight ML favorite in Vegas at -110), but the way this team is rolling now, a Nats knockout blow sounds fine to me.

The Braves may need to check their rearview mirror, as well. Only 3 1/2 games ahead of missing the WC now. A second collapse would be a lot of fun to watch...

Harper said...

Bryan - by "unreal" do you mean "full of people yelling at me"?

Nats are on easy street now, one win away from parking and going up to their penthouse to have a nap.

MacNats - you probably are. Most people are crazed about it or crazed people are crazed about it. I think most would take the tradeoff you make but who's to say what happens. God Forbid ZNN and Gio disappear into Springfield's Mystery Spot like Ozzie Smith

Kenny B - Yes but can we come up with a nickname that doesn't involve the word "national" in some form. (And for God's sake "the Shark" doesn't count.)

eatthelump - We'll see. If there is no smittenness done then we can flash bravado all we want. In your face, Baseball Gods! I'm talking to you, Apollowandaway!

Donald - yeah, and I don't mean to say NOONE else could do that. Don Larsen pitched a perfect game and he wasn't all that. It's just that with Strasburg you get the feeling he could do it every time out.

Anon/KC - exactly what KC said. He's not injured, he's in a recovery process that was planned out from the moment he returned. The circumstances have pretty drastically changed around him so that should prompt re-evaluation. It would be different if the recovery process was proven, but it's not. It's educated guesswork.

ags - Nats are among the league leaders in increased attendance. about 7K more a game. Total attendance is still lagging for the records and the region (about 14th) but it takes time. If the Nats aren't close to top 6 (let's say 40K) next year I'd be surprised and disappointed.

baseball ref has a good chart on this :

WiredHK - Medlen has looked great but I just can't rely on such a small # of starts especially vs weak competition. For me, if he's good tonight, I'll be thinking "this kid might be something" but that's only after tonight.

I don't hate the Braves so I'm not rooting for them to lose the WC. I'd much rather the Braves get it than the Cardinals. I'm sick of that team winning WS with good but not great clubs that get hot.

age -

Donald said...

Here's my prediction for tonight...

Davey rests both Harper and Morse. The outfield is Lombo in LF, Werth in CF and Bernadina in RF.

Detwiler pitches well, but gives up a homer or two on a few errant pitches. The Nats tag Medlin for 5 and go into the 7th with a 2-3 run lead again. This time, the bullpen gives up a run or two but the Nats still eke out the win.

Bryan said...

A win tonight and the Nats probably don't need to really worry about winning again until the playoffs.

Stras has, what, 35 innings left? So that's probably 6 games at 6 innings a pop?

I'm still not sure why we don't shut him down now, allow him to keep warming up and pitching on teh side, and bring him back for the playoffs. 6 games in the playoffs might be enough, even if they aren't typical Stras games b/c of the layoff.

MacNats said...

Harper-By "most people" do you mean most Nats fans?

I ask because among the circle of Washington fans with whom I interact nobody seems conflicted in the slightest about shutting him down. By contrast, the national media/punditry and fans of other teams seem almost outraged.

I admit it's a small sample size, but what I'm noticing is that most of the frustration is taking place among those who are not fans of the team.

Froggy said...

I believe Rob Carpenter said someone in the clubhouse came up with 'National Det'. I like it, especially since I live in DC, the home of the national debt.

Re: Strausburg and the shutdown (yes, Harper...I know), BUT if the Nats should win tonight they would go 8 up on the Braves and the math becomes almost insurmountable for the Braves to catch us.

...therefore, what is the point of having Strasburg burn up possibly 6 starts for the last month of the season to only shut him down at the beginning of the playoffs? What, to become a 20 game winner that DOESN'T pitch in the post-season? And the point of that is...

I say (yes, Harper, I know...) I say we taper him off during September and then pitch the dog snot out of him all rested up in Oct.

C'mon pitch in the post season is all I ask.

michael k said...

Harper I feel like the narrator in "Mr. Brightside" when you talk about my girl and Chad together like that.

Donald said...

@Froggy -- Rizzo discussed the idea of resting Strasburg now so he could pitch in the playoffs. What he said was that if you get a pitcher out of his routine, the risk of injury goes way up. That's why they didn't want to go to a six pitcher rotation either. So they don't want to hold him back now because that would mean shutting him down now and stretching him out in two months, which raises the injury risk more than it's worth.

Froggy said...

@Donald, I agree that the risk might go up if we shut him off then tried to restart. I think there is a happy medium where he:

A) skips a start every other start in Sept and we in effect 'steal' a few starts (read: innings) for the postseason. = he stays below 170-180 innings


B) the coaches say, 'you are only going 5 innings' and gets the hook. 6 starts @ 5 innings per = 30 = 170 innings

The answer to the question that I'm not happy with in the whole debate is: (I mean OTHER than there is ZERO medical studies that show the shoulder or surgically repaired elbow will disentegrate at a certain point)

So, is it total innings, or Total starts, that determine the shutdown?

OR is it Rizzo's ego/stubbornous...

ags said...

If it comes down to the Braves (WC) vs the Reds, I'm pulling for ATL all the way. No hate.

eatthelump said...

I don't yet get the "you can't shut him down now and restart him in a few weeks" argument... If he had pulled a biceps muscle in the regular season, they would have shut him down, let him rest a few weeks, and then brought him back slowly w/ a rehab assignment. HEY... Strasburgh... tell the coaches your wrist is sore after catching that line drive last night and that you need to take a few starts off to let it heal!!!

eatthelump said...

Ugh... Strasburg. I always hate it when people misspell his name... and now I've gone and done it :(

Anonymous said...

From the sports network:

Even Strasburg is not sure of what's going on.

"It's funny. Nobody talks to me personally about it," Strasburg said of the team-mandated innings limit that has not been revealed publicly. "I can either scour the Internet, watch all the stuff being said on TV or I can just keep pitching."


eatthelump said...

The baseball gods have spoken... they reached down from the heavens and replaced Medlen's pitching arm with a (very slow) lightning bolt. I think this result is good...and will keep the Nats from getting complacent. Up 8 after tnite and they may have started to coast a little too early.