Nationals Baseball: Next time I see you the season will be half over

Friday, June 28, 2013

Next time I see you the season will be half over

That's right. Tonight is game 79, tomorrow 80 and Sunday 81, marking the midway point of the season.  I know we like to think of it as the All-Star break and usually that isn't too bad a guess but the All-Star break is unusually late this year, the latest since 1985 (LaMarr Hoyt beat Jack Morris.  Hey isn't that guy supposed to pitch big in big games?).  The Nats will have played 95 games at that point, closer to 60% than 50%.

Anyway the Nats are where they have been for a month now, around .500 and about 5 games out. The Braves and the Nats have both played mediocre baseball, but thanks to a terrible division there have been no reprecussions.  The Braves can't give up their healthy lead, and the Nats can't shake 2nd place even if they tried.

A few weeks ago Boz was declaring that after that last Braves series the Nats would enter
Four months of potential bliss against the dregs of the National League East and almost every other lousy club in the majors.
How that worked out for them? 11-10 so far. That's not playoff baseball.

Of course that was always a bit of fudging. Boz relying a lot on last year's results to make this year's schedule look easier. But the truth is the Nats do have two extended sets of games vs teams that don't figure to be any good this year. One is in stretch run from Aug 19th-Sep15th. The other starts right now where they play the Mets, Brewers, Padres, Phillies, Marlins (break) then Dodgers. Out of those only the Padres are within 4 games of .500.

Here I'll admit I was wrong. I thought the Nats would have to start winning at the same time Boz did.  The Braves had up their lead to 7 games and looked like they would be running away with the East. But they've won 1 of their last 6 series and gone 8-12 in the last 3 weeks. The Braves' middling play has saved the Nats season. But the Nats can't keep on counting on that. Nor can they count on catching the Braves at season's end with that other easy stretch. It could be argued the Braves don't play a good team after the Cardinals on August 25th. No the Nats need to make up ground now when the Braves do have a couple of tougher series (albiet at home) vs the D-backs and the Reds.

There are 17 games before the All-Star break. Let's break it down.  They need to win 2 @ the Mets, 5 of the 7 at home vs MIL and SD, then at least 4 of the 7 away at PHI and MIA. That's 11-6.  

Other Notes

It's tempting to say the Nats are actually lucky to be where they are given their circumstances. Pythag has them at 36-42, they are 15-10 in 1 run games, but they are within the realm of where they should be. The Pythag estimation is not meant to be exact, and the Nats are 5-13 in 2 run games. That kind of washes out the 1-run luck.


cass said...

Let's get Harper back on Saturday. That should help with this scoring runs thing.

I'm also not sure why yesterday's game felt like a terrible loss rather than a great game that the Nats happened to lose. I guess cause we need to win every game.

Anonymous said...

Also, the Nats run differential is around -50 in games started by Dan Haren, which ought to suggest the pythag. win expectation may be biased downward.

Chaz R said...

I was at the game yesterday. This series with the D-backs really felt like the old Nats of last year. I felt bad for Stras though, he matched Corbin pitch for pitch inning after inning. He really deserved to win.

The Nats look good. Just need a little extra offense, which we should get when Harper comes back.

Zimmerman11 said...

I thought anonymous was exaggerating... they really are -49 with Haren on the mound! Stinkers of 15, 13, 10, 8, 8, and 7 runs allowed in his starts (of course HRod and the bullpen had to help get to those figures).

Clip&Store said...

Some good comments from the Rendon section. In regards to this, isn't this what i said i thought would happen when he said how we needed to do? We are doing "just good enough" to not be in buy or sell mode. I really hope they just pick one sooner or later, preferentially the latter rather than the former (I hope i am using those terms right).

Natsochist said...

Cass, I have to disagree with the second point - after yesterday's lost, I really did feel like we just got beat by a team that executed perfectly.

Tough game to lose in extras, but I'd rather lose that way than, for example, Haren's last outing (which I had the misfortune to attend).

Kenny B. said...

It was a series win against a good team, with a fraction of an inch between the series win and a potential sweep. I feel okay about that, Strasburg's bad luck notwithstanding. Does anyone think that replacing Moore with Harper in that last game wouldn't have been the difference?

I think we're putting too much pressure on Harper to come back and be brilliant, but there is such a huge gap between Moore and Harper even on a bad day--both defensively and offensively. So it's hard to dial back expectations of major improvements once he's back.

Non-Haren pitching continues to be good, which bodes well.

cass said...


If Strasburg matched Corbin pitch for pitch, he deserved a no decision, right? You generally need to outperform an opposing pitcher to get a win.

Anonymous said...

Harper, doesnt it seem like we always face the other teams best starters every series? Just out of curiousity I would love to see how many times we have faced those pitchers and how many times the Braves have. It seems like we face Kershaw and Greinke and then the Braves miss them, same thing with Corbin and Miley.

Harper said...

cass - I think because it felt like a should have win, had lead with ace on mound, a few decent chances. Shouldn't have come to the end it did.

Anon - well not biased downward (it's pretty spot on for the Haren starts) more "not in line with future expectations now that that terrible pitcher is not starting anymore"

Chaz - He will hit a homer first game back. Someone bet me

Z11 - yep. He was bad and the team lost accordingly (though they did provide him with only 2.75 runs per game in "support")

C&S - ummm sure? I don't remember. This is an awkward spot to be in. Reminds me of the offensive issues of a couple years ago when the team was full of average to just below average bats. No obvious huge hole to fix, no easy way to improve a lot.

Natsochist - you must have loved the Jason Marquis de Sade

Kenny B - certainly could have. And if not this game than another close one. It's not like they'll start winning every game just one every other week will go there way - that's enough to matter.

Too much pressure on Bryce? Ummm don't see my homer comment above.

Cass - sometime they both "deserve" a win. that's how I'd describe yesterday.

Anon - I was looking at this a while ago for the opposite reason (the Nats had missed the best starters in a couple straight starts I think Lee and Chen) I don't know of any good way to tell. Looking at what I could see it didn't seem to matter. Like much of the baseball season it seems to come and go in waves. you catch a few in a row, you miss a few in a row

Nattydread said...

This from David Schoenfield, who rates the Nats as one teams to watch in the 2nd half:
3. Washington Nationals
I still feel like they have a 20-5 run in them and will end up fighting the Braves for the NL East title.

Hope he doesn't jinx them!

anabolio said...

Yeah. Nats are really lucky!!!