Nationals Baseball: Saved by the ZNN

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Saved by the ZNN

Goodbye Nebraska.  Thanks for the snow.

So Zimmermann saved the Nats last night pitching brilliantly again to make up for another anemic showing by the Nats offense.  Last year we saw something similar offensively but the Nats pitching saved their April with one of the best starting pitching months ever. (And that's something to remember when you continue your needless Strasburg bashing. You are basically bashing him for not saving the Nats. We'll see what Detwiler does in his next start but overall Stras and Det have basically pitched the same. The difference is grouping and DPs. Now we can't just dismiss those things but it's not enough to warrant gushing praise for one and heaping scorn for the other. You're frying anchovies here, people) 

The whole "all or nothing"  Nats offense continues.  Look one mor at the odd distribution of runs scored since the 13th.

0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 6, 6, 7, 8, 10,

That's just strange right? While the average isn't terrible they pack their runs into just a few games so you end up with some games you really should win, and more games you really should lose. This shouldn't continue as there really isn't a good rhyme nor reason to it (that I can see - I'll check) but hey I said that before.

What's the problem?  Well remember how you all hated how Danny Espinosa hit last year (even though it wasn't the worstest) Here's who's hitting noticeably better than that in the past 4 weeks

Bryce Harper
Ian Desmond

That's it. That's the list.

What I personally think is really making the difference is the collapse of the bench.  Last year the Nats had injuries but the bench made up for it. This year, Lombo, Moore, Bernie, Tracy and now Rendon are all hitting terribly.  This is not a surprise people.  They might hit a little better but not a lot.  There is a reason why they are the bench.

With the Super-subs now back to being a regular ol' stinky bench that gives the starting lineup no room for error. Can the lineup starting hitting? On the positive side we did note earlier that the Nats offense is made up entirely of slow starters so we should see some improvement based on history and just on the fact that they aren't this bad. On the negative side how much of this is injury related? Espy's shoulder? Zimm and Werth and Ramos are looking fragile at this point.  The more injury related it is the more chance the Nats have at being mediocre or worse at the plate.  And at that point even the expected turning around of Gio and the fixing of the Haren-spot likely won't save the Nats from at best a WC finish.


Donald said...

We should be thankful that we're only 3.5 games back at this point. If the Nats can manage to win tonight behind Haren, they'll salvage the series and be within shouting distance of the Braves. It might be a tough game, though, with Harper likely to be sitting.

Christopher said...

The walks and errors are killing the Nationals. Zimmerman almost single handedly lost the first Atlanta series. If I remember correctly he had an error in each of the first three games -- each with two out that extended the inning. Desmond has been just awful in the field. Just based on career stats -- this would have to average out over the course of the season. Here to keeping our collective fingers crossed!

Kenny B. said...

The Harper injury is a huge blow to this team if it's serious. I think it's probably just a bruise from his leap into the fence the night before, and will heal up quickly (20-year-olds are basically made out of rubber). Either way, if he's not in the lineup, we basically have to hope for more Desmond action, since no one else seems to have any recollection of how to hit a baseball.

Froggy said...

Morse watch after 25 games:
101 ab's .248 ave 9 homers 14 Rbi's .837 OPS

and only...wait for it... errors!

And for all you Morse haters who said he couldn't field at firstbase, he has only 6 errors out of 964 TC in his career playing that position.

Kenny B. said...

I think the error mark for Morse is misleading (and for just about any first baseman). It doesn't account for the number of balls he doesn't get to at all. I still like LaRoche's defense better than Morse, but there's just no getting around the fact that I'd rather have Morse in the batter's box at this point.

Zimmerman11 said...


There's not much of a comparison of Morse v LaRoche on D... it's not close. Hopefully by mid-year the offensive stats will be close...

Everybody say it with me...

Pitching and Defense wins championships... Pitching and Defense win championships... Pitching and Defense wins championships :)

Hopefully the Nats' 2012 defense returns and the pitchers right the ship. Harper is right, though... the bench (and the bullpen) have taken a step backward so far this year, and that is definitely hurting the team, too.

Eric said...

"and only...wait for it... errors!

And for all you Morse haters who said he couldn't field at firstbase, he has only 6 errors out of 964 TC in his career playing that position."

Does someone hate Morse, or are you conflating lack of mourning over his loss with "hatred"?

While Morse may be error free in right field, I've watched him play quite a bit in the recent series against the Mariners, and that dude just LUMBERS around out there. Werth, Span, and Harper all would have prevented probably 2 - 3 runs--if not also made an out--that scored on fly balls to Morse.

Sure, his offense would be nice to have, but would it have been enough to cover for the RBIs that slip by while he's chasing down a ball?

Strasburger said...

Just want to put it out there that I called ZNN for a Cy Young year before the season began on this blog...


BlueLoneWolf said...

I'm getting rather annoyed seeing batters hitting balls right at players. I decried the lack of control hitting on this team from the beginning. They're becoming more and more undisciplined, and right now are 28th in the league in batting average. Either they are extraordinarily unlucky, or they're just not paying attention and hitting things properly right now. A team-wide batting slump like this is just appalling.

blovy8 said...

Small sample sizes abound, Harper.
A couple of good weeks by the bench and they're average again.

The "as poor as Espinosa" tack is not much of an argument when Espy himself is hitting so much worse than last year. If you grade it out, he's only saved because LaRoche and his April syndrome are "back" with a vengence.

The ghost of the Goon Squad has apparently gone to NY to bestow it's blessings on Wells, Hafner and Overpay.

What the Nats have to work with: Span's numbers have dipped a bit, but he has an ok .345 OBP and generally played good defense, even if he's not a particularly attentive guy when he's on first.

Werth probably will continue to be somewhat miscast as #2, but he's better suited for that than anyone not named Harper depending on how much importance you place on lineup order. He ought to manage a OBP better than .314 after a while.

Harper just needs to get some wall repellant and occasionally realize where the ball is when he's running the bases.

Zim needs confidence in his arm. Dunno whether he can get it, but he's young enough and good enough to come back mentally.

LaRoche needs the calendar to change, and Davey to threaten him with a platoon again. It's not Micah Owings, he should worry about, friggin' Chris Marrero has remembered how to hit.

Desmond seems ok, hell, he's hitting homers off curveballs now.
Just keep him healthy and accept a few errors.

Ramos still doesn't look as good to me behind the plate as his reputation. Drops throws, doesn't block balls well, and while the pitchers seem lousy at holding runners, he's not all that great at throwing either. He's a good hitter though, much more patient that Suzuki.

Espy as a hitter is a great fielder at this point. Striking out less has only given the opposition more fielding chances, it's not like he's hit more line drives in the extra balls in play. And the hits just DON'T keep coming.

Froggy said...

All great points @blovy8, except we know that they aren't going to turn around all at once.

My point wasn't a direct comparison to LaRoche as far as D goes, it was the fact that Morse had one year left on a contract at what, $6.75 million. That is pretty cheap insurance to carry, and if he does well you trade him at or before the AB deadline.

Nope. Not the genius that is Rizzo. Instead, he gets his boy AJ Cole back (who is doing what for the team right now BTW?) and we'll just go with Moore and Tracy.


blovy8 said...

Froggy, I agree that carrying Morse as outfield depth could have worked, and I'm not so sure he wouldn't have gotten 400 at bats somehow, but I think it was actually a solid thing to do move Morse to a team where he'd clearly play every day and be able to establish himself for free agency. Funny how these guys don't fetch as much as we hope in a trade, but he certainly would seem more valuable in the AL. Plus, there's still no hard feelings and if someone gets seriously hurt, and Seattle stays out of the race, maybe he's back in the near future for less than you got in the offseason trade. Better to see what Moore can do right now.

Kenny B. said...

Hopefully the lineup starts crushing it in May, and by June, we're all like "Morse who? Oh, the Take On Me guy..."

Donald said...

So how about that Haren guy.

DezoPenguin said...

Obviously, it's easier to say such things after Haren shows up and pitches like the guy we hoped he would be when we signed him (and hey, a 2-2 split of a four-game road series against the best team in the league is a pretty happy outcome, really, especially following up a 3-1 series win against one of the other top teams, so let's hope this is a good sign), but I'm not so sure Morse would be all that great to have right now anyway.

Yes, he's hitting for power (9HRs), but he's only got an .837 OPS, he's not getting on base, and according to Baseball Reference, his -0.7 fielding WAR is offsetting his 0.7 offensive WAR. He's a replacement-level guy.

Meanwhile, Span, the guy who actually took his lineup spot, is one of the few Nats who's actually hitting (.364 OBP, which is his job), and fielding. He's a 1-WAR player right now, 0.5 each offense and defense.

The problem, of course, is that LaRoche couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag right now (-1 WAR, and his hitting stats are too gruesome to describe), but that's not likely to hold on for the full season (2011's injury season aside, he's been a remarkably consistent player). Unless he's hurt, I'm not seeing this as a long-term problem. I'm more worried about Zim (can't hit, can't field, hurt, the last of those three possibly having something to do with the other two) and the non-catcher bench.

Hopefully, this is just a case of too many slow starters and the guys will pick it up as the weather warms up. Being in second place with a winning record despite the variety of things that have gone wrong with the offense and bullpen isn't half bad, really (and let's not forget, just two years ago we'd have been cheering madly for such a result, so let's not be turning into Red Sox fans just yet!).