Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : game by game

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday Quickie : game by game

Well this weekend went exactly as I said it would. Man, I really enjoy being right. Sure, the Braves inched one game closer to the Nats, but it took them 3 games to do it. Like INXS sang on the Coca-Cola 1992 Barcelona Olympics album there's not enough time. The Nats should clinch sometime in the next 3 days (my money is on tonight) and you can join me slowly sipping some rye whiskey in celebration as I have been doing for weeks now (Unless you want to be slightly more exuberant in your celebration)

Ok ok, the doom sayers will point out there actually IS enough time.  If the Braves sweep the Pirates (in Pittsburgh) and the Phillies sweep the Nats (in Washington), there will be a tie for first, fire, brimstone, freezing rain, etc. etc. But think about what you're saying. The Nats are better than the Phillies. The Nats are at home. Are they really going to get swept? The Braves are very good but the Pirates are a .500 ball club, and they are playing at home.  Are they really going to get swept?  One unlikely sweep? Maybe. Two unlikely sweeps? No.

I do expect the Braves to pick up a game on the Nats though. The Nats are not playing well and the Phillies are so I can see the Nats only winning 1. Same sort of thing going on with Braves and Pirates. I had it pegged as a meaningless pick-up in game 162, but if it happens tonight, circle the wagons. The doomsayers will be out in full force.

Some notes
  • Tyler Cloyd is out. That's bad in the fact that he's no good, but it's good in the fact that someone not as good as him should get that start. If I were to guess, I'd expect maybe Jeremy Horst to start the game? Go like 2-3 innings followed by recent call-up Brummett? This is versus Gio remember. So if the the worst happens tonight and the Nats haven't been able to take the champagne off the ice, remember tomorrow is hugely in the Nats favor. 
  • Another thing in the Nats favor, despite some noise made about getting young arms out there, the Pirates are slated to start Correia and Burnett to finish the season. 
  • I got all tweeted at by Chris Coxen noting how Detwiler and EJax have been pretty terrible since Strasburg's been shutdown. You can say that's a little unfair. Detwiler had 3 of 4 decent starts before tanking the last two and Edwin's last game can make any stretch look bad, but the actual stats these guys put up isn't the take-away. The point is Strasburg is MUCH better than either of these two on a game-in, game-out basis.  Anyway you look at it, the shutdown made the Nationals a worse team heading into the playoffs. 
  • HFA sits as a tie now. The Reds play at the Cardinals, who could still lose the 2nd WC, so they will be motivated, at least for one game. While in alternate hell universe the Nats could finish as the WC, the Nats cannot finish in the #3 slot (the worst they can do is tie SF and the Nats have the head-to-head advantage). So they will open on the road no matter what. 
  • As much fun as last year's down to the wire finish was, even with the 2nd WC we may not get a repeat performance.  Every playoff position could be sewn up tonight.


blovy8 said...

You thought Gio was going to give up 3 in the first inning? I don't remember that.

We also don't know how bad or good Strasburg would have been after 160 innings going into the last few starts, and Lannan has just thrown the one stinker. I mean, are Braves fans pissed because Medlen wasn't a starter all year? Look how close they are, and they left a bunch more games that guy could have started instead of being in the bullpen.

This is the team we have, and besides Ramos, the one we expected. More power from LaRoche and Desmond, less from Morse and Werth. The bench has been better, catching has been worse. Gio was better, Jackson was worse. We got Strasburg through the re-hab year healthy. With one win, and continued health, we have Zimmermann and Gio ready to matchup against anyone, and then the usual coinflip with Det and EJax. But the offensive and defensive focus needs to be there - then they're as good as anyone, as long as it's not mid-afternoon in the DC sun, or a bullpen game in the rain.

The thing those lousy starts do is probably ensure Davey takes an eighth reliever. He professes confidence, but the hook might be quicker in the playoffs. If Perez or Brown had a little more experience, or were 90 percent basestealers, I'd still rather have them, but it looks like there's bound to be one bad start in a series where the bullpen will need to go six innings. He could keep a few guys in reserve for the next game if he has eight, or go all left/right matchups in the middle innings in a short start. Bernadina would bat less and run more, I suppose, which isn't the best use of that guy anymore.

Having said all that, probably the Reds have the best team if Chapman is ok. I'm not buying destiny yet.

Harper said...

blovy8 - totally, I also called every hit in Sunday's game. I'm amazing.

Don't confuse me saying they are a "worse team" with they are a "bad team". The Nats are still very very good. They'd just be better with Strasburg. Of course that isn't a 100% given, perhaps Strasburg is toast for the year. But I'm willing to bet not. (Still I'm not saying they shouldn't have shut him down, just that this is the consequense you have to accept)

WiredHK said...

Good comments Blovy, agreed. I think all that has really been exposed in the past few weeks is that the Braves are really good. In fact, they very well may be the second best team in the NL, what with the Reds beating up on the Astros and Cubs so much this year and all.

Anyway, not much separates these 5 teams that are going to the NL playoffs. This is gonna be fun. I just hate the fact we're going to open on the road for two after all we've accomplished this year. Frustrating...

Anonymous said...

Nice call Harper, you were right.

Shane said...

i think we take two of three starting tonight. Win the division, take HFA and start next Sunday in STL.
Starting to wonder who's gonna be the NLDS and NLCS MPVs. I'd say Harper for NLDS and Espinosa for NLCS.

Froggy said...

Well the good news is, I don't see Wang starting tonight since he pitched 2.1 yesterday. Why not give the ball to Garcia or start Gio one day early and end the freaking nightmare!

Froggy said...

...oh, did I forget to mention that Wang stinks?

Pig.Pen said...

I don't know that the Nats want HFA, nor should they. If everything goes according to plan, the Braves will beat the Cardinals and the Nats will have to take a red-eye to Atlanta to face the Braves should they get the #1 seed. OR the Giants--who are not as good as the Braves (stop looking at their record and consider they play in the NL West and have only played 23 games against teams over .500 since the ASB)--travel to start the NLDS in Washington? Sure the Braves will have to burn Medlen in the play-in game, but Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong do not pitch for the Braves nor does bad Tim Lincecum. The Giants LOLineup consists of Buster Posey and 7 other guys and their pitchers do not like pitching outside the vast expanses of NL West parks (SF, SD and LA). Even if it means the Nats might have to play 4 of 7 in Cincinnati I think it's more likely the Braves advance and the Nats retain HFA in the NLCS.

I say all of this only to explain why DJ didn't pinch hit for CMW yesterday. It's the only logical explanation.

DCNatty said...

A red-eye from DC to Atlanta? hahaha. I dont think they exist Pig Pen.

My response to the rest of your careful what you wish for. Playoffs are a crap shoot.

TheManBearPig said...

If you have a time machine and can bring Strasburg circa May 2012 into October 2012, the Nats would be better with him still pitching. Otherwise, no. Strasburg's last two outings against the Marlins were every bit as bad as Detwiler's bad day yesterday.

Pig.Pen said...

@DCNatty, of course the plane will be chartered, but they'll have to wait for the game to finish to figure out where they're going so I would just assume it will leave late at night.

Also, being the #1 seed makes it tougher to set your rotation.

Harper said...

Wired HK - If you don't win at least on of the first two it robs the fans of some of the fun. Make the playoffs with a dominant record and you want to celebrate that first game. Hard to do if you're in danger of getting swept by the underdog.

Anon - always. just like I had the Nats win total for the year pegged at eighty f...look! A squirrel!

Shane - completely possible but I must ask - no WS MVP speculation?

Froggy - Lannan will bring it home. Complete game.

P.P - why is SF coming to DC? Did DC somehow lose the #2 seed? So the goal would be get swept and hope ATL doesn't sweep so the Nats can start at home?

DCNatty - they go the long way around the planet.

MBP - Strasburg over the course of the year was clearly a better pitcher. Would he be better now? We don't know. But he's the horse to bet on.

Froggy said...

Harper - I hope so. And then your Man Crush fantasy with Lannon will be fulfilled, eh?

We'll be in our seats behind 1b tonight (and tomorrow if necessary...and the day after if necessary again) to see history being made!

Prediction: Nats 7 Fillthies 3

Pig.Pen said...

Harper, my bad on that one point, the Nats would still go to SF, but they'd know where they were going, when they were leaving in advance, which I think could be a big deal.

WiredHK said...

Harper - Correct, that's why it's frustrating. Although if we take an optimistic view, one could argue (I suppose) just split to open on the road and you've left the underdog in a hugely tough position where they have to take 2 of 3 in your house to advance. Right?

/Puts on shades, future is so bright

Shane said...

Nope, no World Series MVP selection. I don't wanna jinx the team . . .

Donald said...

Assuming Gio starts tomorrow, the biggest advantage to HFA may be letting he and Znn start on normal rest.

blovy8 said...

Agreed, after winning another game - lining up the pitching is the important thing that's left. They can't worry about the opponent yet. Even missing Medlen, the Braves have been playing well, you just have to hope the law of averages catches up and they have a dry spell soon.

Harper said...

Froggy - I'll say 8-2 Nats. Braves winning big, game close until 6th or so, Nats blow it open.

P.P - could be, but a late night charter flight to ATL or STL is about 2 hours and they won't have to play the next day. (and if it's STL winning they'd be making the same flight). Given that they often take a XC flight on an afternoon and play the next day they should be able to handle this.

Wired - yeah if you're good you should split and that's enough to keep the buzz up, but it is a shame it has to be guaranteed by more play.

Shane - nice

Donald - yes. The Nats really should keep trying hard for the HFA because if they don't fight to try to get it on sched for the 2/3 game they could still end up off sched if the Reds choke or you win a game without putting your best out there. Might as well go out trying and let the chips fall where they may.

Zimmerman11 said...


"Harper has been doing a lot of that lately, as he's batting .481 (13 for 27) with three homers and seven RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak. The 19-year-old hit his 22nd homer Sunday"

ROY! MVP !! Silver Slugger!!!

Froggy said...

Don't forget there is always rain to mess things up as well.

A ton of people getting here way early tonight. There is something different in the air...'s Lon Janon!

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

We are he Champions!! Let's go and win the Pennant.