Nationals Baseball: Make or Break Time #16

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Make or Break Time #16

Haren won! Granted have you looked at the Mets lineup? It's Danny Murphy and I can't believe the other guys are so bad that I've had to single out Danny Murphy. But still, these are major league (organizational) ballplayers. You have to go out there and throw the ball over the plate in a way that isn't extremely easy to hit and Haren did that. I couldn't.

The Nats should certainly finish off the Mets and Aaron "playing out my career" Harang today. A sweep was a lot to ask when it meant 4 wins in a row. Now it means win today, so no excuses. These next 5-10 games are a critical time when it comes to making up ground. Remember those teams we talked about earlier, the '07 Phillies and the '11 Cardinals? After 145 games they were in similar situations as the Nats are now. The Phillies were 7 games behind the Mets, the Cardinals 5.5 out of the Wild Card. They both used the next week and a half to make up the majority of the ground they would need to. By game 150 The Cardinals would be 3.5 games out and by game 155 only a game and a half out. The Phillies would do even better pulling to that game and a half mark by game 151. This made the end of the season catch-up possible. 

And for me they better make the playoffs, or else this season is a lost one. I have a fear that a nice finish, regardless of whether the Nats make the playoffs or not, will provide the season with a good feeling that it doesn't deserve. That would harken back to the earlier days of the team. In 2006, when a 15-13 finish made some believe the Nats were a .500 team in disguise, rather than a team in decline. The mind-numbing "since May 9th" comments that permeated the 2007 season, as if the first 35 games of a season could be dismissed. The 27-32 finish to 2009 supposedly showing that the Nats were better than the 59 win season would have you believe and that Jim Riggleman was the right manager to lead them forward.

Even if this wasn't a 98 win team it was a 95 win team and some foresight or simple mid course corrections could have kept the team closer to that path. The fact that they are sprinting toward the finish is great. The fact that they have to be sprinting toward the finish to be even relevant to the playoff discussion is a joke.

The easiest thing would be for the Nats to just win and make the anger moot. So let's move forward with that plan. 


Donald said...

Luckily, the Reds and Pirates play each other 6 more times. That's a minimum of 3 built in loses for one of those teams. In the best case, the Pirates will beat up on the Reds. But still, the Nats can probably afford to lose 2 or 3 more games at most. The fat lady not only finished singing, but she's already left the stage. We're just trying to call her back for an encore at this point. Sure, I'm waving my lighter and stomping my feet for her to do one more number, but I recognize it for what it is.

Miles Treacy said...

Next Monday-Wednesday will be really critical. I don't like the pitching matchups we've got going. Haren and Roark to open the series against the Braves. Roark has been great so let's see if he keeps it going. And let's just hope Haren keeps it in the yard. But like Donald said. Reds play Pirates 6 more times, so let's hope the Reds only get 1-2 wins from those series (something the dodgers couldn't do).

bdrube said...

Sorry, but I'm still not buying this as a playoff run. The Nats are now 22-11 against the Mets and Marlins and 54-58 against everybody else. Beating up on the dregs of the wretched NL East is not impressive, especially since six of their remaining games are against two teams they are a combined 4-15 against this year.

Yes, this is a nice run to finish the season, but that's ALL it is. Had some of their veterans played with a little more urgency a couple of months ago, they would be right in the thick of the battle instead of desperately trying to play catch up.

Ben said...

I wouldn't make TOO much (it does mean something) of the record against the braves this year, something like 7 of their wins have been by 1 run or in extra innings and they don't have dominant starting pitching, it's just pretty good, which is something that matches the Nats bevy of just pretty good hitters.

Speaking of Braves luck, did anyone else read the ESPN article poo-pooing their playoff chances where it said they only faced Fernandez and Harvey a combined 2 times before last night!? Just goes to show how much hidden luck goes into a baseball season.

Mythical Monkey said...

Wait, you mean you guys haven't mailed in the Playoff Ticket form that came in the mail yesterday?

nicoxen said...

Is anyone else tired of Bryce Harper's act? I don't need to see him smashing any more bats or getting tossed from games. And I don't care how well he hits in batting practice. So far he's put together 2 half's of a 1 good season since coming up last year.

The idea that Bryce is the face of baseball or the Nationals is a joke. Not with 49 RBIs total and a .193 avg against lefties. He's currently 16th in WAR for OF's with 400 plate appearances or more.

I know he has been hurt and missed a lot of games, but his defiant balls to the wall playing style is what caused his injury in the first place. Also, the "play me or trade me" text to Davey should be a big red flag to upper management.

The Nationals need to figure out how to handle this player going forward if he's going be a key cog in their lineup for years to come. The next manager has to command Harper's respect or else Bryce will destroy himself and the Nats will go down with him.

Anonymous said...

Yeah nicoxen, its just you.

Froggy said...

Hey, I realize it is the call-up time of the year where clubs take a look at AAA and high A talent, but a win is a win regardless if it is against the Mets, Marlins or Braves. So any talk of discounting wins against those teams as if they aren't legitimate MLB caliber teams is whooie.

Are our chances good of making the playoffs? No. But are the Nats winning and playing their best baseball of the season? Yes!

For me as a fan, of course I want it to be fun and exciting and hope we get in the playoffs, but I think it is equally important to show support to the guys who have been grinding it out on the field since last freaking March, right down to the last at bat of the season.

One game at a time boys...

Nattydread said...

It is what it is. Bashing their way through weak line-ups full of scrubs. Better to look good at the end when most of the season was a fiasco. If they had played well first and folded now it would have hurt much more. Expectations are tempered.

Boswell also said it. The resurgent offense is masking other holes.

Still, when Zimmerman, Werth, Span, Ramos and Desmond all hit well at the same time, its a formidable line up. Add Rendon and Harper and it gets explosive.

Davy Leyvy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davy Leyvy said...

Yo Harp's, my man, get on espn for not dropping links to your latest blogs on the nats page, that's bush league on their part.

In other news, get off the pirates jock. Boo hoo, they've sucked forever, boo hoo. Does anyone here no the history of washington baseball? When were we ever good? Oh yea, 19freaking25. Coming off one of the greatest world series in history by the way. Go up against the Bucs, and get robbed in that series. Playing in Pittsburgh during a monsoon allowed the pirates to take the series.

We have been awful ever since, with maybe two good years, although we gave up a pennant thanks to the redskins. GO SKINS! But the point is, why is anyone trying to throw a pirates pity party?

The idea of not wanting the nats to leapfrog the pirates is ludicrous, that city has enough steelers rings to keep them content a bit longer. And they have an incredible stadium so they have nothing to complain about...aside from living in Pittsburgh of course.

Point is, nats need to make a playoff run for the ages, just like another DC team did last year. Lets just hope that our star baseball player's knee troubles are behing him (knock on wood).

Harper said...

Donald - Yes. Of course the Reds/Cards went exactly as we didn't want so assuming they hold ground otherwise I expect the Reds to win 4 of the 6 providing the Nats the least amount of catching up possible.

Fat Lady always likes to keep 'em waiting.

Miles / bdrube - See this is it really. That Braves series matters not only for the games that they can use to catch up but to show they can win against good team since they'll have to do it in two more series after that. If they can't win at least 2 it becomes even harder to get your mind around a comeback regardless of what the Reds/Pirates are doing.

And sure it's only a nice run... unless someone really screws up in front of them. Nats fans are basically hoping the marathon leader a mile ahead of them trips and falls down a mountainside.

Ben - True 6 1 run wins for the Braves, but every win by the Nats has been close (2 1 runs, 2 2 runs) considering run scored in series it's about where it should be.

I did read that - we'll see. Playoffs are a crapshoot (did Needham hear that?) PLAYOFFS ARE A CRAPSHOOT!

MM - They all did. They are just trying to sucker you into waiting.

nicoxen - eh, he's 20 and his problem is he can be kind of a douche sometimes. There are far worse scenarios out there to worry about. If you don't want him to be the face well... I guess hope Werth keeps hitting like this.

Froggy - Not discouting wins toward playoffs, discounting them in terms of saying Haren is good. If you are showing support to guys who have been grinding since March why cheer for Span? HA!

Nattydread - I suppose. Always leave them wanting more. It does show that the playoff team was there. But to me that's small comfort

Davy - Thanks. Noted it to them. We'll see. Sure it's not intentional.

I will not get off the Pirates jock! But let's not be confused here. I'm saying I don't want the Nats to HAVE to beat the Pirates, but If the Nats have to beat the Pirates then I want them to do it. Like I don't want to have to kill a puppy to save my family, doesn't mean I won't do it.

I'll also give you two point that Pittsburgh itself hasn't exactly been championship dry and that likely eases some of their pain. So yeah, I guess Pirates fans can get over it if they lose out. YOu're right! Go Nats! Beat whoever!

cass said...

Werth leads the National League in wRC+. He's absolutely the best hitter in the league on a rate basis. I find this amazing.

How are we not in the playoffs already with this team? Werth is nearly at the MVP level, Desmond and Harper are very solid. Span isn't the hole he seemed to be. We've had the big three starters healthy and good all year.

This team should be winning 90+ games this year. Yeah, LaRoche may just be an average hitter at a position you want a real slugger, but Jayson Werth is the best hitter in the National League.

cass said...

Also, Pittsburgh's actually a decent city. Definitely not the worst big city in Pennsylvania, that's for sure.

Davy Leyvy said...

no arguing that. I don't think anyone will ever take the crown from the rightful owner of worst city in PA

Harper said...

cass - because 113, 102, & 64. That's the # of games Werth, Bryce and Ramos have played this year. Add that to a bench that was miserable and there you go (also the tangentals behind the big 3 have generally eroded - #4&#5 starters, relief that's not Clippard)

I agree. I like Pitsburgh alot. During my last "might move" phase several years ago considered it (DC area was most likely destination if that makes you guys feel better)

Froggy said...

I'm throwing the BS (read: suck up) flag wise Pittsburgh over DC any day. Much more genuine city and people.

Angels13 said...

You never have a G-string around to put a dollar in when you need one, cause this surely is as big a tease. Nothing salvages this seasons expectations other than the playoffs, and a deep run at that. That said 88-74 will leave us all scratching our heads with the "what ifs".
Of course myself being an Angels fan I get it twice..........

Davy Leyvy said...

"Pittsburgh over DC any day" Ha! That's almost as laughable as the nats current playoff chances. Which I guess are getting less laughable with every win at least.

But I mean c'mon, Pitt over the nations capital? I'm not hating on pitt here, but c'mon, it's washington mother f-ing DC! Chaaa co lotttt city!!!! Few cities can compete. As much as I hate philly and there fans, it's still real a city, with a city vibe. Pitt is probably the top of the AAA cities in America, no doubt. But don't have a minor league city compete with one in the major's, that just isn't fair. I'm sure Colombus, Ann Arbor and Des Moines are all fine cities too, but nobody's comparing um to Chicago.

Nice try though!

Froggy said...

Chaa co latt city is New Orleans my friend. DC is EBT card city and a wonderful place to visit, just not a good place to live in.

Ah, but Virginia...The Bonnie Blue, now that is a place to live!

cass said...

DC (the city, not just the district itself) is a pretty nice place to live if you can afford it. If Metro were more reliable, that'd offset the huge traffic problem more. Cause other than being insanely expensive and having the worst traffic in the country, it's pretty darn nice in the area. Usually good weather, close to the ocean and the mountains, lots of stuff to do, nice parks. Incredibly diverse. Silver Spring is a pretty great place to live, anyway. Now if only we could build the world's most expensive bus station and not have it be structurally deficient. *sigh*

cass said...

And yeah, Harper, I know. It's just such a strange season. So much has gone right and yet we are underperforming horribly. I guess it makes the most sense to look at WAR which incorporates playing time and then it's pretty much just the Ian Desmond show. Pity we don't have a great-glove, good-bat second-baseman to pair with him.

Kenny B. said...

Hey, at least that Nats have, at long last, decided to give us something to pay attention to besides Robert Griffin's knee.

"113, 102, & 64"

Wow. Those numbers really demonstrate how much the bad bench sunk this team. With a league average bench alone, combined with the above numbers, you have to think this team would at least be neck and neck with Cincinnati rather than playing through an '80s-movie-montage-style comeback, complete with footage of a salty old guy changing the numbers on the standings board and a possible last game of the season showdown in which the kid who you knew had it all along finally gets his confidence back after the big conflict and realizes he had the ability all along, he just needed to believe.

Where was I? Oh right, the bench.

The bench shouldn't be that difficult a thing to fix for 2014, right? I just don't know how you evaluate bench players. They're kind of like relievers in that the samples are often not big enough to be good predictors. On a related note, the continuing presence of Tyler Moore is disconcerting as to the management's ability to overcome that limitation.

Kenny B. said...

The Cass comment above prompts me to ask our host to do a Danny Espinosa-focused post mortem piece after the season is over. Basically, something that is "everything we know about what the hell is going on with Danny Espinosa."

blovy8 said...

This entry is written like a Yankees fan or Jimmy Rollins, Harper. For every team except the Red Sox, Cardinals, or Yankees, a perennial place in the postseason is not a birthright, and whining about winning more than you lose is poor form.

There are enough marginal wins and losses that team gets through the randomness of outcomes that calling an 85-88 win season a failure is goofy. Before the Dodgers went on their run, they'd have been lumped in with the Angels and Blue Jays as teams that spent their way into mediocrity.
Maybe this is just the Nats' run to regress the record back to where it should almost be.

Still haven't sent in the playoff dough. Can Haren pitch two more games like that? Can Zimmermann get through five innings ever again? Will Ramos play all the rest of the games? I mean, Harper hasn't even hurt his neck yet, he's got plenty of stuff left to injure.

Froggy said...

Blovy8 - to your point about the post season ticket money request by the Nats, I wonder if I am the only season ticket holder who is fatigued enough from the up and down of the season to be totally conflicted as to whether I should be hoping they sneak in to the post season, thereby forcing me to gak out $4800 bucks for post season seats on the 19th of Sept...or, finish strong but just miss getting in and give my wallet a break.

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