Nationals Baseball: No double miracle needed

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No double miracle needed

Single miracle sure. Double? Nope. The Nats have played well enough for long enough* that the need for the Nats to play like the best team in baseball and someone in front of them to play suddenly terrible is pretty much gone. Now either should do the trick.

Unfortunately for the Nats what this really means is that no one has collapsed in front of them. Since going 27-10 the Pirates have played under .500 ball and the Braves have been pretty mediocre. Thing is they were clearly the best teams in the National League at the time (16 and 15.5 games ahead of the Nats) so they could afford a little slip-up. The Cardinals and the Reds have both played very well, so while they've lost some ground to the Nats it wasn't enough to pull even with them. 

The double header was a nice pick-up but the Reds did what the Reds should do and beat up on the Astros. The Nats have simply held their ground. Which in all honestly is all I was hoping for. At this point the comeback is predicated on two things - Nats sweeping the Marlins and playing .500 ball vs the rest, the Pirates taking care of the Reds winning at least 5 of the 6 and the Reds playing .500 ball vs the rest.

Under that combination - Nats go 8-3, Reds go 3-7 there would be a tiebreaker final game of the season.

You see though that that IS pretty much a Reds collapse. If you give the Reds some leeway not to collapse, 4-6 or 5-5, then the Nats have to be close to perfect 9-2 or 10-1.  Either way another 11 "miracle" is needed. But at least it's only 1.

(The Pirates, Cardinals and Braves all still require some version of the double miracle)

What's the most likely scenario? I'll say this

Nats win 3 of 4 vs Marlins, win 4 of the 7 other games to finish with 88 wins.
Reds beat Astros tonight, take 2 of 3 from the Mets, split with the Pirates to finish with 92 wins
Pirates take 3 of 5 vs Pads and Cubs, split with Reds, win 93 games

Of course if we were dealing with most likely scenarios we wouldn't be where we are now.

Beat the Braves, Sweep the Marlins. See where you are.

*Depending on how far back you want to go 10-1, 21-6, or 27-10.


Strasburger said...

Yeah. It really is a hard sell. We just need to hope that the bucs just literally handle the Reds when we see them. If we win tonight, I truly am convinced we can win out, even on the road. Still, a daunting task. but baseball is awesome, at least they have reminded this city of that.

Again, why Ohlendorf tonight? because of the double header, or because Stras on one extra day of rest?

Ohlendorf has been solid, I guess its fair to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I think Harper is going to go yard tonight.

Donald said...

The Nats fate still isn't in their hands. If the Pirates and Reds win all of the games they don't play against each other, it's possible for them both to finish with more than 92 wins, which is the Nats max. But if we were to go 11-0 and get to 92 wins, I'd think our chances of at least tying for the last wildcard as being pretty good.

How would you rate the Nats odds if they win 88? 89? 90?, etc? Wondering how many they can afford to lose to still have a better than 50-50 chance.

cass said...

Strasburger: Due to the forearm tightness, Strasburg had to rest a couple days before resuming playing catch on Sunday and then a bullpen on Monday. That put him in line to start Thursday. Given his situation, they understandably didn't want to push him and wanted to make sure he was ready before bringing him back.

I will also note that this sets up Strasburg is set up to start game #163.

Will be at the game tonight, and tomorrow too if Strasburg actually pitches. Almost bought Pittsburgh WC Game tickets but messed up and chose to look again when I got two obstructed views. Shouldn've just bought 'em. Darn. (I know it's unlikely, but I had figured it'd be easy to resell them if the Nats don't make it.)

FanGraphs has us at 2.7%, up from 2.5% before last night's games. Although we lost time, the idea that we would lose to the Braves was built into the number, so it went up even thought he Reds won too.

Kenny B. said...

If you had told me in April 2012 that the 2012 season would end like the current season, I would have been psyched for meaningful September baseball. That said, if you had told me at the beginning of 2012 that the 2013 season would end this way, I would have been a little disappointed at the scenario. And yet, given the way most of this season has gone, I am currently psyched that there is still a chance to make October.

Expectations really are extremely fickle.

Anonymous said...

I was playing with the numbers and I think its feasible for the Nats to be 1 game back of the reds on sunday. At that point, all bets are off. For that to happen, we need former Nat brad peacock to pitch well for the astros tonight. Cincinnati counters with Greg Reynolds (5.66 era). Winnable game for Houston and we need them to pull it off (come on Bo Porter!). Nats of course have to take care of buisness against Alex Wood and the braves. That would make the deficit 3.5 games. Reds are off tomorrow, we have Stras on the bump against the fish. 3 games back. This weekend we have 3 more against the fish with Gio and Zimm going fridy and saturday. Haren goes against some no name with a 9+ era on sunday. We have to sweep. Reds get the Buccos, if the pirates take 2 of 3 at home (what i'm hoping for) that leaves us 1 game back with 6 to go. If the pirates sweep (less likely but a definite possibility) then we are dead even with the red legs down the stretch. Of course this is all predicated on the nats winning these next 5 games. Go Nats!

WiredHK said...

At least we're getting playoff baseball right now, that's the way I'm choosing to view all of this.

Personally, I think the Reds and Pirates are both too good to think anything less than 10-1 earns us a single playoff game. So, every single game right now is game 4 and we're down 3-0 in the fictional "series" to me. Festive!

Why do I have this nagging feeling that Storen will blow a late lead vs the Cards to officially end this season? :(

Anonymous said...

All that said, the Nats just have to take this one game at a time!

Lee said...


If the Nats hit xx wins, they'll need to go xx-xx over the next 11 and they will need the Reds to go yy-yy over the next 10 for us to tie:

90 --> Nats 9-2 (6 of 141 observations at 9-2 or better, 3.54%), Reds 4-6 (31 of 143 observations at 4-6 or worse, 16.78%)

89 --> Nats 8-3 (13 of 141 observations at 9-2 or better, 9.21%), Reds 3-7 (7 of 143 observations or 4.89%)

88 --> Nats 7-4, Reds 2-8 (0 of 143 observations)

Conclusion: 88 is out. 89 is a long shot. 90, there's a chance...but remember, we'd also have to go 9-2.

But! 9-2 is where we've been over the last six observations of 11 game spans.

Just win. And go Bucs!

Lee said...

Ooops. 31 of 143 observations is 21.67%.

Miles Treacy said...

@Strasburger. I was asking myself the same thing about Strasburg when it was announced he'd go the 19th and not the 18th. If he'd go today, that mean we'd have an awesome shot at a sweep and the rotation would set up for 1-2-3 against the Cards. I was pretty confused about that decision. Probably more Nationals injury conspiracies we don't know about.

Bote Man said...

The pragmatist in me can't see the Nats going beyond game #162 and is rooting for the Pirates for both baseball and sentimental reasons.

The D.C. native in me is pulling for the Nats all the way and is cautiously optimistic. But if Davey pulls a bullpen blunder or bunts a hot hitter to move a speedy runner there's gonna be trouble. (In light of recent events "trouble" means upset fans, nothing more sinister than that.)

Donald said...

Thanks, Lee! So even if we go 9-2, our chances are still just 1 in 5. How about if we win 91 or 92? It seems like even if we go 11-0, our odds aren't great. We really do need a team in front of us to collapse.

Nattown said...

I don't think you can overstate how big yesterday afternoon's win was. The nat's playoff chances were flat-lining on the operating table. It was all over but the crying. And then comes D-Span with the defibrillator to revive the dream. The nat's have got a pulse and are still dangerous. We believe!
P.S. A loss is no longer just another number is the loss column, it is a viscous kick to the groin with a pair of steel toe boots. All this number crunching is largely irrelevant, it all depends on the psyche of the team and if they are still "All In"

Kenny B. said...

@WiredHK: The must-win atmosphere (and actual wins!) along with cool weather really are giving these games a playoff feel. That's fun, but it hurts somewhere in the back of my mind knowing that a few more wins here and there would have us on the other side of this race. In the end, it looks like we will have had about one injury too many in 2013.

And to reiterate Harper's point from a previous post, we have to be careful after a nice finish not to overlook the team's flaws in the offseason. This season has shown us just how good and how bad the Nats can be, and how fine the line is between the two versions of the team.

And for the love of God I wish we could drop Soriano. He is perpetually one bad pitch away from disaster.

JonQuest said...

How odd would it be for a team to finish with 88 wins and not make the playoffs?

Harper said...

Strasburger - win out and you're looking at a 19-1 streak - that's something for the ages. I honestly think they can even pull off a 9-2. Hope that's enough Ohlendorf was planned before the DH so have to be for Stras

Donald - I'd guess the 50/50 mark is probably around 91 wins. There's a reason the odds makers still give the Nats only around a 3-4% chance.

cass - you fool! Always go on gut decisions when buying tickets

Kenny B - It's the Nats' fault for getting the years backward.

Anon - Certainly not impossible Though Nats 5-0, Reds 1-3 is one game away from the perfect scenario. Im hoping for the more reasonable (though still not reasonable exactly) scenario Nats 4-1 Reds 2-2. 3 games out. Puncher's chance

WiredHK - I want some lemonade. Someone give WiredHK some lemons.

Pete Kozma hits a GW HR?

Anon - except yesterday when they took it two games at a time

Lee - yep and when you take those together you get

90 - 0.8%
89 - 0.4%
88 - 0%

so not good. This follows what I was thinking then. I bet if you JUST look at the Reds they get to that 50% mark around 91 maybe just before maybe just over. If you want to isolate a number for the Nats to win to have a coin flip chance it's 91 wins... or 10-1.

That is the hole they dug.

Miles - probably a cycling issues, in terms of where he would normally be between starts

Bote - Trouble, that starts with T and that rhymes with Re and that stands for retire.

donald #2 - better than 1 in 5. 21.##% + the 4.## percent below that so better than 1 in 4. I didn't look and maybe Lee will but I'd imagine 5-5 is going to be about 30% of the time for the Reds so noting this is VERY inexact if the Nats won 91 games they'd probably have a 55% chance of winning. 11-0 would actually be pretty good odds. I'd imagine 80% or so.

Natttown - I'm not sure D-span was the defib unless he shot a poison dart in Kimbrel's neck.

KB #2 - Yes! I dont want to bring it up at this juncture but if the Nats fail to make the playoffs by a game or two, I hope we all remember that bad bench construction and starter issues that plagued the team early. Had a whole post ready to go, waiting on it. Hopefully it can wait until November.

Harper said...

jQ - not all that odd suprisingly. when I looked in Nov '11, the average "first team out" won almost 89 games. So that means 88 would have you out slightly more often than not. But the odds change dramatically within just a couple wins. 88 probably gets you in 40% of the time. 90 probably gets you in 90% of the time or better. It's that close.

Lee said...

Past performance within this season would indicate at 91 wins (that's us going an amazingly good 10-1 to finish the season) would get us into coin flip territory. The Reds have been 5-5 or worse for right at 51% of the season.

What was interesting looking at the Reds over 10 game spans this season is how remarkably consistent they were over the course of the season. They were never worse than 3-7 and never better than 8-2. (The Nats on the other hand have spanned from 1-9 to 9-1. Streaky.) The Reds were 5-5 for right at 30% this season (Nats: 26%). But where it got impressive is that they were only worse than 5-5 for 22% of the season (Nats: 31%). They were 6-4 or better for a full 48% of the season (Nats: 43%).

Put another way...they don't lose in buckets. And they haven't shown much deviation from their norm, so there isn't any reason to expect it.

We need to win. A lot. Period.

We're going streakin!

804NatsFan said...

Hello blog, never posted here before. Did some statistical analysis on the rest of the season for the Nats & Reds. Assuming that the odds of the Nats/Reds winning a game @/vs each opp are:
Nats vs Atl: 55%
Nats vs Mia: 65%
Nats @ Stl: 45%
Nats @ Ariz: 50%
Cin @ Hou: 67%
Cin @ Pit: 45%
Cin vs NYM: 61%
Cin vs Pit: 55%

Then the Nats expected wins are 5.8 and the Reds are 5.5 (in line with when I last checked FanGraphs)

Overall, I arrived at 3.65% odds that the Nats finish the 162 games with an equal or greater amount of wins vs the Reds. (Fangraphs had Nats WC odds of 2.7%, so ballpark, maybe a bit high).

If my figuring is correct, checking all 2048 Nats scenarios (2^11) and 1024 Reds scenarios (2^10), then here’s a table of “given the Nats win X more games on their schedule, they have a Y% shot of at least tying the Reds:”
4 or less out of 11: 0% (obviously, since the Reds already have garnered 5 more wins than the Nats)
5/11: 0.03% (miniscule chance the Reds go 0/10)
6/11: 0.4%
7/11: 2.6%
8/11: 10%
9/11: 26%
10/11: 50%
11/11: 75%
These last several are especially intriguing. (And the OP Harper was right in that 91 Nats wins is the 50/50 mark.)

Of course, the team must take them one at a time. Us fans can keep dreaming (& calculating)!

Yes, I’m an actuary. No, I did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

Eric said...

Whatever happens, all I know right now is that this is amazing to behold. September baseball has been *way* more fun than I ever hoped it would be in 2013.


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