Nationals Baseball: Catch-Up Day

Friday, May 03, 2013

Catch-Up Day

At work first then comments. As for the Nats they did exactly what they were supposed to do at ATL, take 2 of 4.  They didn't do it in the kindest way to the nerves but importantly the results are the same.

How did April finish up? Well from 17-10 expectations the Nats landed at 13-14. What should we look for in May? They started off with 2 games in Atlanta and next is 3 in Pittsburgh.  You'd figure a split again in ATL and at least one in Pittsburgh so 3-2 for that little stand (they already have a leg up with their two wins).  Tigers for 2 at home (split) followed by the Cubs (sweep) for a little 4-1 stop over. Then comes the Nats first real long set, a 10 game road trip vs the Dodgers (let's say 2-1), Padres (3-1), and Giants (1-2).  Home for the Phillies (2-1) and the O's (1-1) then away at the O's (1-1) and a game at ATL (0-1).  Add it all up... carry the one...

17-11.  And they are 2-0 so far.

It's a lot like the first month's expectations. People talk about the difficulty of the first month's schedule but to be honest it wasn't that hard. There were a big handful of games that should have been cakewalks and more games at home than away. Knowing what we know now maybe we adjust expectations to 16-11 or maaaaybe 15-12 but we'd never get to a place where 13-14 was ok.

Another word of annoyance. I really wish the articles that amount to "We're losing because we're not playing as a team" and "I wasn't playing well because I got away from what I should be doing" were permanently drained from the sportswriters "Well of Triteness".  If things were that easy everyone would be winning and playing well. I'm not going to blame the players for getting caught up in such things, but those on the outside looking in should use their perspective to shed light, not parrot things that sound good but mean nothing. 

13 comments:

Kenny B. said...

I suppose looking back at April it looks not too unlike April 2012, except without the phenomenal pitching.

We've seen every pitcher on the staff flash greatness up to this point, so that's a good sign. Maybe they'll get into the rhythm of the season and start showing more consistency (obviously I'm excepting Znn, who continues to be the most underrated pitcher on this staff).

I know you don't put much stock in the whole mental thing, but I do think putting a stop to the bleeding against the Braves helps the team feel more confident and helps them feel like they're over some kind of hump. Now they've weathered a storm, so to speak, and they can get back to smooth sailing, viewing the season as the long slog that it is, and not treating every game like NLDS game 5.

Anecdotally, it really looked to me like they felt a lot of pressure to win every game. It's probably just me projecting my sentiments onto the players, but I know I'm not the only one who saw it.

Chinatown Express said...

And I do think "I got back to what I'm supposed to be doing" is sometimes meaningful. See Haren last night.

theloquacionist said...

How about Dan Haren's pretty brilliant performance last night... What a relief to see him show up to a game like that after his struggles this season. It was at the point you just assume a Haren start means a loss (by big numbers). Credit to him for pitching us through a tough moment when the teams ailing with some hopefully minor injuries to key players.

Eric said...

The comment below, pulled from a WaPo comment thread, provides an interesting counterpoint to the idea that our April wasn't that hard:
"1st in W.A.R.
5/2/2013 7:35 PM PDT

A few things to consider about the Nats and Braves:

Number of games played against teams in 2013 that finished at or below .500 in 2012:
Braves: 18
Nats: 9

Number of games played against teams in 2013 that qualified for the 2012 postseason:
Braves: 10 (7 against the Nats)
Nats: 17

Number of games played against teams in 2013 that finished 5th place in their division in 2012:
Braves: 9
Nats: 6"

So, regardless of how easy April should have been for us, there's a reasonable argument to be made that the Braves had it appreciably easier than us.

And, personally, I wouldn't call 2 series against the Braves, 2 against the Reds, and 1 against the Cards an "easy" month. And, while the White Sox aren't necessarily the cream of the crop, I think a sweep is a pretty strong showing. They have some decent hitters, after all.

I would say April should've been a moderately difficult month, and that we 15 - 12 or even 14 - 13 would've been a fair expectation. 13 - 14 is definitely less than you'd hope for, but I wouldn't call it a disaster, either.

Donald said...

What's weird about this season, is that if they had won one of the three against the Braves in Washington and the first one in Atlanta the other night, they'd be in first place by a game and a half and everyone would be thinking that the Nats are cruising right according to plan. And the reality is that it would have taken just one clutch hit or one less error in each game and that could have happened. It really is a game of inches.

cass said...

That's a good point, Donald, but remember it goes both ways. There have been a few games that the Nats could have easily lost. The 1-0 and 2-0 shutouts come to mind. So with a slight change in luck, the Nats could have been in an even worse position.

BxJaycobb said...

i hate that aspect of sports commentary. you see it constantly on baseball tonight...strasburg or somebody else will make an excellent pitch painting on the outside corner, and somebody will just put a great swing on it and put it in the gap. so they discuss something random like "hes too predictable with his fastball this year, etc" but if the hitter had taken it, the analysts would be talking about stras's master of both sides of the plate. its just b.s. here's the bottom line: nobody is far from last year except laroche and clippard. i honestly believe that clip is either done/washed up, or that the league has figured out his gimmicky approach. davey cant use him in high leverage situations any more until he proves otherwise.

Froggy said...

Thank God it is May finally!

Eric's comment (of a comment) makes some great points, and gives reason to be optimistic with a 15-14 record I guess. That said, LaRoche has got to start burning bats, or sacrificing chickens to the voodoo gods or something, and Storen, Clippard...well, I don't know what to suggest, develop a nasty curve maybe?

My biggest concern is what is going on with Zim and his shoulder. Not sure what he had done, but having had three shoulder surgeries myself I know how hard it is to come back quickly from them. I think in the long haul he will be fine, but it's the near term, trying to rehab while playing that can be dicey.

Harper said...

KB - It really isn't. The Nats 14-4 burst was all about some crazy pitching. Take that away and you could have easily had a start close to this.

It's not that I don't think the mental side of the game matters, it's just that it's unsupportable. Maybe the Nats are pressing. Are the Rays, too? The Jays? Dodgers? Angels? Reds? Everyone is going to say the same things. For some it'll be true, for others not. the We cant possibly tell which is which so it's better to ignore than accept.

C X - Except that's just it. Did he get back to what he's supposed to do and experience success or did he experience success and thus equated it with what he's supposed to do? It might be true but we shouldn't just accept - we should look to prove.

loq - it was a great game (even though in general the Braves have been injury riddled and slumping too - but SHHHHH don't let anyone else read this point) and a good sign he's not going to be a waste of 13 million. Now let's get some consistency.

Eric - its a tougher call than you make it out to be. 2012 is far less indicative of a team's talent than 2013. The Reds are .500ish right now, the WS pretty bad. The Mets terrible the Marlins worse. Of course figuring it out this early is tough as there is a lot of movement (you sweep the first 3 games and you have the weakest SOS), but attempts to like BP's adjusted standings, say the Nats would have been worse against an average schedule. Really again - Memorial Day.

Donald / cass - yeah - the Nats are actually 4-2 in one-run games, which is a little unusual for a team that's supposed to be struggling (though the are 3-5 in 2 runners) straight even luck though and the Nats actually probably drop another game. But that's ok. They don't have to give those back

BxJC - exactly. Sometimes you'll see what you want. A guy pointing out a problem or a skill and watching as the game infront of them proves it right, but usually games are so variable that guys default to letting the game tell the story. Detwiler gets 20 GBs right at people and he's perfect the way he is. Those 20 GBs with no difference in how hard they were hit find 10 holes and he needs to do X.It shouldn't be that way, but you'll always look smart simply agreeing with what you see in front of you.

Froggy - I do think that despite the BPs guesses I'd have the Braves having the easier sched too. Injuries and the bench) are my main concerns. Last year the pitching staff was basically immune to them, and the offense was hit but the bench covered for them. This year the offense seems to be just as prone and the bench is playing more in line with what you'd expect. If they get a couple key pitching injuries...

Zimmerman11 said...

We need more balks called when Danny Espinosa is up to bat! Go Nats!

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Harper, I agree you can't *directly* translate 2012 to 2013. In light of that, by what measure should we have been 16 - 11 or 15 - 12 at the time you posted?

FWIW, I think if you look at what the Cards and the Reds are capable of offensively, it's not *shocking* that we'd have hard-fought games against us, or that the Cards would sweep us in a series dominated by very close games. Likewise the Braves sweeping us in majority close games. Especially when we're pretty clearly slumping.

I also think that while things change in the off season, these teams didn't generally entirely overhaul themselves, so some level of comparison is reasonable.

Josh Aebischer said...

Nats won games pitched by their one and two. Daggum, it's about time. C'mon boys, let's get on a roll!