Nationals Baseball: The "put it away" weekend

Friday, August 24, 2012

The "put it away" weekend

Hey the bottom 3 of the NL East won a game!  Good for them!

At any point now the Nats could vitrually clinch the pennant, but until they get that 8+ game lead fans are going to take each series pretty seriously.  While the Braves are in San Fran trying to hold ground vs the red hot Giants the Nats get the Phillies. How they been? Eh, ok.

The thought was that when Utley and Howard came back the team might make a run toward the playoffs.  It didn't happen. Right after the All-Star break they won 4 in a row! Then lost 3 in a row. Then won 4 in a row! Then lost 3 in a low. That's not a bad pace for a season (about 92 wins), but with only 60 games left that wasn't going to cut it. With the hole they already dug they couldn't merely be good, they needed to be great and sustain it till the end of the season. With that not in the cards the Phillies cut bait, traded Victorino and Pence and continued on their merry way. They've been 13-10 since. Despite wanting to believe Philly stinks, with that pitching staff and with a healthy Utley and Howard, it's still a decent team with playoff potential.

The match-ups look pretty good for the Nats.  First off they miss Hamels. That's always good. In the first game you get Jackson vs Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick was pulled from the rotation earlier in the year and has only been put back in the past month. He's been pretty good the second go-round. After getting killed by Atlanta, he shutdown the Marlins and Brewers in back to back games. Edwin hasn't had a good August but his last loss was a real hard-luck job. This game could go either way.

Game 2 is Gio vs Halladay. Halladay hasn't been the same pitcher this year While some of that is bad luck with RISP hits,  the Ks are down a tick, the walks up. He's still is almost certain to give up a few runs in each game. Meanwhile Gio is slowly rounding back into early season form. The Ks aren't really back and he's more hittable than early in the season, but he's been avoiding the wildness issues that were key to his bad games in July. Another thing in the Nats favor in this game is that the Phillies are a lefty heavy team. Utley, Howard, the surprisingly ok Juan Pierre, the rookie Dominic Brown, they are all lefties. Other than Ruiz there may not be a righty bat you care about. You'd like a few less hits in this game given up by Gio, but you still take him.

The last game is ZNN Strasburg* s Lee, a theoretical pitching treat which only ensures one of them will get bombed. We all know Strasburg has been a bit wild, but he's doing nothing wrong other than that.  Zimmermann is still not quite on his game. He's pitched ok, but last time he finally gave up a long ball.  A bit more concerning only 2 Ks.  Now you don't need K's to be successful but 2 Ks and 8 hits in 5 innings?  That's something to keep an eye on. Despite the evil liberal media's love of Cliff Lee and want to call him a hard luck case this year, he's actually been pretty consistently a mediocre pitcher since Mid-May.  His main issues is that he's been leaving the ball up and giving up a bunch of home runs. The Nats can hit a few out. I'll take Zimmermann though watch him in this one.

In the end the Nats should be favored in all three, but that doesn't mean sweep. (I can show you mathematically!) Personally, I think 2 out of 3 will happen. Given how bad the Phils fair against lefties I'd give that one to the Nats so either game 1 or game 3 they lose. If you twisted my arm, I'd say game 1. (though the Nats have won 6 straight series openers... though again the last series opener they did lose - it was to the Phillies).  Two out of three might be enough to seal the deal if the Giants don't cool down. 

*Stupid I thought it seemed early for Strasburg but didn't check. I blame myself for looking at these guys when I just called them out earlier in the week for having Gio the probable in the game after he pitched. 


ags said...

I've stopped watching the Braves in the rear view mirror. Our biggest threat is Cincy. I still have flashbacks of the walk-off grand slam we gave up waaaaay back in the beginning of the season. Oh well.

Go Nats!

Harper said...

Don't go to sleep!

Put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, and set the alarm, but don't go to sleep!

(seriously though if it gets to 8 I'm calling it - 8 games with < 36 to go...)

calindc said...

Atl's division title hope's are done. Stick a fork in 'em.

On a more dreary note, Davey just let loose a nugget of Stras info out to the media. They are thinking of shutting him down (for the season, including playoffs) before his last 3 starts. That would put his last start around 12 Sept.

Wonder if he will be put on the playoff roster....

WiredHK said...

Point of order: the last game is ZNN vs Lee, not Stras. SS doesn't start again until Tuesday in Miami. Although, that shouldn't really alter your series breakdown much...

Harper said...

calindc - no reason to if you don't mean to pitch him.

WiredHK - I have to stop relying on's probables.

calindc said...


I know at face value, he shouldn't be on the roster, but can they resist that media and team pressure and/or not have that "break glass only in case of game 7" insurance.

Imagine game 7, Nats up 4-3 in the 6th and Gio is getting tired, would you rather see Stammen/Gorzo warming up or some goatee'd dude wearing number 37 getting fired up?

As a Yankee's fan, tell me how you felt seeing Randy Johnson warm up to relieve Schilling in that game 7?

Harper said...

calindc - I felt like that gangly reject was going to get all the calls again just like in 95.

calindc said...

Your team hired that gangly reject a few years later...and made him cut his mullet.

Tony Tarasco said...

A Yankees fan worried about the OTHER team getting all the calls? Now I've heard it all.

Harper said...

calindc- that's a reason to like the Yankees.

TT - It was 1995. MLB was more invested in "Kid" Griffey than the Yanks (or anything else really). I just took a look at the first two innings of Johnson's work (the game is on and there was a obviously bad call on Boggs 2nd strike, a call-out of Sierra on a check swing which replays showed he didn't go around, and I'd bet money that Mattingly's 3rd strike, while close, wasn't a strike. Of course this is with no knowledge of how he was calling the game all night.

WiredHK said...

Sure, but it was 2001 when you hinted at feeling like your Yankees might not get all the calls (which was what my comment was in response to - you seeing RJ warming in the pen for the DBacks). By then, surely you knew the Yanks would be getting all the close calls... :)

PS - That was just me having some fun with you.

Froggy said...

I'm with calindc...

You have to keep him on the roster for that 'break glass' scenario.
What if we didn't use him, and we lose? Hopefully the fans would be calling for Rizzo's head.

One batter, one pitch in the 7th game, up by a run...that's all I ask Rizzo!

Harper said...

WiredHK - We are all sports fans. We all know that the losing team is always screwed by the refs. Even in a blowout "This didn't cause our loss but..."

Froggy - I hear DC Brau is canning their Imperial IPA. Just saying

Froggy said...

Friday and Saturday's games have revealed the clay feet of the Nationals = The first innings of almost all our starters, in particular, Jackson and Detwiler.

I fear we are counting chickens too soon.

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