Nationals Baseball: Sweep the Mets!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sweep the Mets!

Of course we'd all like to see the Nats in the playoffs but they dug themselves quite a hole. There's a long way to go to get out so I find it better to focus on the intermediate steps first and worry about the playoffs when (if) it comes to that.  Immediate goal : Sweep the Mets.  Intermediate goal : Reach the August 5th Braves series no further out than they are now. We're basing hope on the "Nats sweep Braves rest of the year" theory. If they enter that series 8 games out (or hopefully less) and manage a sweep, then I think it's worth while holding onto the dream.  If not...  At the very least Nats fans can have one last "big game" to rally around.

The first goal isn't modest but it seems doable outside of the Harvey game (ed note - There you go, Hoo). Still the Nats are inexplicably relying on Dan Haren tomorrow. Taylor Jordan is always a cross-your-fingers type of guy who any given day could get beat by the ground balls having eyes. Who knows what to expect from Ohlendorf? At least they have Zimmermann starting it off, right?  Right?

Oh you must be quiet because you, like me, noticed that ZNN has been TERRIBLE in July. And it wasn't just the last game. He wasn't good vs Milwaukee, didn't impress vs the Padres, and things could have / should have ended up worse in Philly. The Dodger beatdown wasn't a surprise, it was unavoidable given how he was pitching.

What's up with ZNN? Well it could be bad luck or it could be bad pitching. Probably a little of both. His BABIP is too high (.377) and the HR/FB rate is the same (22.2%) but you can't just say it's gotta come back down to normal. These things can get high by the balls bouncing through the right hole and drifting over short fences. They can also get high because you are getting hammered. There is some evidence ZNN is getting hit harder.

His LD% is up at the highest it's been all year at 28.6%.  He's given up 10 doubles in his last 4 starts, when he had given up 17 (and two triples) in his previous 16 outings. The contact rate for batters facing him is up, which isn't a bad thing when paired with GBs, but LDs are another matter. Everything out of his hands is just a tick slower in a game where ticks matter.

I'm not going to say anything yet. One of the worst things you can do with data is start drawing conclusions from a small amount of information. Yeah, his fastball has been slower in July, but it was its fastest for July in the Dodger game. That didn't quite work out, did it? Conclusions from data play out over the course of months (if that), not games. Instead look at these things as just some things to watch for tonight. Does he have that good fastball speed? Do his off-speed pitches seems to have good movement? They've been a little flat. Are batters jumping on his first pitches? His first strike percentage is way up which should give him an advantage but not if it's based on guys whacking that first pitch. 

The Nats need ZNN at the top of his form to have any chance. Hopefully tonight he bounces back nicely.


Hoo said...

"The first goal isn't modest but it seems doable when you realize the Nats are missing Harvey"

Sadly for Nats fans Harvey goes against Ross Ohlendorf tonight at 7:05.

To Sweep Nats must win 4 games 3 of which are by Haren, Jordan and Ohlendorf vs latest and greatest Phenom. 3/4 would be fantastic since that means either a) Nats survive Haren or b) beat a Harvey start

Chaz R said...

The sad fact is if they drop 3 out of 4 to the Mets, not only will they likely further bury playoff hopes, but they could find themselves in 4th place!

Tomorrow is Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Day, let's hope we have something to appreciate!

How about that Soriano meltdown yesterday! He should be ashamed of himself!

Froggy said...

I'm hoping ZNN's problem were stiff neck related and that he is all better now. Fingers crossed.

I really don't understand starting Haren anymore as it is simply a matter of how many runs/homeruns WILL he give up in the first three inngs.

I bet this is all Rizzo also

Harper said...

Hoo - yeah just saw that. Didn't realize it was a double header - still catching up in some respoects

Chaz R - Soriano is the worst. End of story.

Froggy - Well now that I know it's a DH day today it makes a little more sense. You can't just skip the guy you'd have to cut him because of the pitchers needed on hand. But really this gotta be his last time out if he stinks.

Hoo said...

Harper: With all the focus on hitting isn't the pitching matchups are a sobering look at the year. In 4 games against the happy not as a bad as expected Mets, the Nats have the better SP in 2/4 games AT BEST. And that assumes that a guy who started the year in AA is better than the Mets starter.

Not what you want in the playoff drive. And it's HAren's fault!

cass said...

I'm really worried about Bryce. He hasn't been hitting too well since coming back from injury. Not sure if he's really healthy. I think this could be a big problem.

cass said...

As for velocity, well, Sunday was really something. Every pitcher in the game except Kershaw was hitting 95, 96 on the radar gun and yet it was Kershaw, sitting in the low 90's, who was dominant. Command and control and relentlessly hitting his spots right on the edge of the zone is how he does it. Hopefully Zimmermann can get back a bit more command to go with his control.

Froggy said...

Harper, I agree Soriano is done in my book too. Trade thoughts?

Prediction: Haren stinks it up and gives up 4 runs by the end of the third. Ohlendorf comes in and stops the bleeding for four innings and Storen blows it.

Haren pitching is Rizzo's way of showing thanks on Season Plan Holder appreciation day.


A Fly Moses said...

Re: Haren, it kinda seems like they just don't have any other options. They seem to like Ohlendorf in the long relief/emergency starter role; Karns is terrible; Jordan is already up; Detwiler's a month away (and he hasn't been any better lately anyways). Ohlendorf would make the most sense, but the double-header kinda makes that moot, and since Jordan's about to be shut down, they're just don't really have any choice but to keep Haren.

Also, off topic, but in the who-gets-sent-down-for-Mattheus conversation, has anyone else noticed Abad's inability to pitch in 0-2 counts? Both Phillies walk-offs and the kill shot on Wednesday were 2 out, 0-2 count fastballs down the middle. That's almost as frustrating as everything Drew's been doing recently.

blovy8 said...

I think Zimmermann's hurt, that's my default explanation when someone with a established talent level stinks. His neck, something else he's not talking about; I dunno. But it just eliminates any real hope of making a move. If they'd held the deficit to around 4 or 5 games, probably we'd see Rizzo trade for another starter and dump Haren in the pen. You'd really want a 4 better than the Jordan to Ohlendorf option down the stretch. Det's issues may linger too.

Donald said...

Wondering why Znn is starting the first game. You usually put your better pitcher in the evening game when more fans are there to watch. Is it just because Znn's turn is next in the rotation so they play him in the next game up, even if it's the first in the DH? Or are they conceding the evening game to Harvey already?

Donald said...

Not saying it has any chance of happening, but if the Nats managed to sweep the Mets and the Cards swept the Braves, we'd be 4.5 games by the end of the weekend. That's what keeps hope alive in defiance of all logic.

Chaz R said...

Cass- Bryce was 3 for 5 yesterday with the walk-off HR. The knee is clearly a lingering issue, I would doubt he's at 110%. But, Bryce at 80% is probably about an average MLB pro.

Froggy- Rizzo and appreciation. Maybe he thinks he deserves kudos for the BIG trade for Hairston. I like the kid, and I get what he was trying to do to platoon Span against lefties, but "C'mon man!"

Let's send Soriano down to Potomac.

Miles Treacy said...

I really hope we move Soriano, but I'd think the Nats will have to eat a large part of his contract to do so. He's an overpaid asshole of a team mate. I only Harper walked by his locker and said "See how I did that, bro".
Really don't know what Rizzo was thinking bringing a guy like that into DC. Could have really used that money to invest in a 4/5th starter as opposed to these rent a pitcher trend he's been doing.

Froggy said...

Ooops! My bad, can't be Ohlendorf to relieve Haren as he is pitching tonight.

Still think Haren will crash and burn in 2-3 innings. Bigger issue will be who will be available to stop the hemorrhaging if we go deep into the pen during today's DH.

Just realized also we have 60 games left to the season and we have to go 40-20 to have any chance of winning the East. Tall order, that's why I think you will see a fire sale at the trading DL.

Harper said...

Hoo - Well it's not HAREN's fault, that be like blaming me if I was the 5th starter. The blame is a little higher.

cass - I hope that's a reverse jinx talking.

top speed is impt but if you don't have control it's nothing like (H-ROD)

Froggy - Possibility I saw you guys talking about this the other day. It completely depends on what you get back. The bullpen doesn't seem as deep as it did in March so losing Soriano will matter, but a reliever for a decent prospect at any other spot is a must do.

AFM - I favor a AAA/AA arm approach. There are a couple guys down there who could see a shot.

As for Abad, those are also the only hits he's given up on 0-2 counts. Only 9 ABs so hard to read anything...

Zimmermann - It's getting tough to justify a push and ZNN being less than 100% would kind of seal the deal. Too much ground to make up with 2 good pitchers and 3 also-rans.

Donald - Hmmm. not better during the day either. I don't know.

yep. and those things happen.

Chaz R - Hairston was a good idea. Just didn't work out so far. Kind of like the Haren deal (by itself). Snakebit year.

MT - Yep. But not too much money I think. People like closers. I'm less worried about $ then the ability to get something worthwhile back.

Tim said...

I would have to disagree and say that the Nationals would have to eat quite a bit of Soriano's salary in order to move him for a decent return. There aren't many contending teams that would be in the market and have that kind of money, especially since Detroit seems to have realized they have Joaquin Benoit pitching with a sub 2 ERA.

It's important to note that it's not just a $14 million salary next year, which on it's own would be ridiculous. It's that, plus quite a bit of deferred money (though exactly how much seems to differ based on sources, could be as much as half this year's salary), plus a reachable vesting option for $15.5 in 2015.

cass said...


All I will say is that Harper wrote a long post yesterday questioning whether Bryce will be ok this year, and then he hit the crap out of the wall and delivered a walk-off home run. If that's what questioning whether he's a super star results in, maybe he could use a little more of it.

DezoPenguin said...

Well, Donald's extreme scenario actually doesn't seem half unlikely. I see the Braves losing the series to the Cardinals as the most likely scenario there by far; the Cards can match the Braves for pitching and hit a ton better.

Znn seems to have found a new interpretation of Murphy's Law today, though. And the mighty Meija is erasing our scrappy bunch of singles hitters.

Meanwhile, that's two games in a row where Lombo started at second base and is batting second, while our season teeters on the brink. If Rendon isn't hurt, then the decision to play him is itself a disaster, and even if Rendon wasn't available, the batting order is. Lombo's a decent utility infielder (albeit one having a truly crappy year at the plate even by utility infielder standards), but Johnson's affection for him is starting to resemble Dusty Baker's love for Neifi Perez.

cass said...


Actually, all that's happened is that Daniel Murphy has changed into Dale Murphy. Also, the Nats aren't hitting with RISP, but what's new?

Chaz R said...

Just another frustrating game in the continuing frustrating season today. We keep waiting for them to change, but I think this is what they are. For whatever reason, they just can't get key hits and consistently put rallies together. ZNN didn't look sharp today, but he pitched well enough to win.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least we aren't the Cubs and haven't won a world series in over a century.

DezoPenguin said...

...the Expos/Nationals franchise, being the only one in MLB that's never gotten to a World Series other than the Mariners, I guess we can't say we "haven't one one since..."

But weird day. We get owned by the guy just up from the minors, but Ohlendorf matches Harvey inning for inning and we get a walk-off win. And get outscored 12-2 on the doubleheader, but split it.

Froggy said...

...and I was soo prepared to heckle the $13 million dollar man unmercifully today, and instead Haren pitched a 'stay of execution' game!

Has Haren reinvented himself as Lucy, Charlie Brown or the football or is this just a cruel extension of the inevitable? I'm so confused.

Now if Jordan can pull out a win tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

A lawyer could probably make a case for that being a sweep (the first game was the finale of a previous series) can we get 7 or 8 more scoring games in a row, please? I'll take 8, that'd get us through the Braves.

Chaos, Natsworld from Python: "I'm not dead yet!"

Christa said...

This is cool!