Nationals Baseball: Perhaps now we probably enter endgame... maybe

Friday, September 06, 2013

Perhaps now we probably enter endgame... maybe

The idea of a Nats comeback has always been based on the duel idea that the Nats would surge and the Reds would fold. Any other scenario you could think of would require one of these two teams to put up a historically bad/good month, like one for the ages. A week into September and the Nats aren't quite surging, but they're right there. 17-8 in their last 25, 11-4 in their last 15 (ok that's pretty surge-y). The problem is the Reds aren't folding. They went 16-11 and 8-8 in the same time frames as the records I mentioned for the Nats. They are losing ground to the Nats but not nearly fast enough.

The Reds were supposed to get beat up by the Cardinals. Instead they did the beating and it killed the Nats chances. The 3-1 series versus the Cardinals was the worst possible outcome. Even a Reds sweep would have been better for the Nats as it would have brought the Cardinals down low and the Nats have their own shot at the Cardinals before the season ends.Earlier I said a 6-4 record could suffice on this road trip. The world has changed. Now I think 8-2 will be necessary.

I said before we'd have a better understanding of where we stand after Labor Day. Well here we are. The Reds face the Dodgers (Kershaw and Greinke) for 3 games, in Cincinnati, while the Nats go out and play the Marlins in Miami. If the Nats can't get out of this weekend at least two games closer to the Reds, I'm not sure we should bother to figure out the rest of the season. The Dodgers need to sweep the Reds and/or the Nats need to sweep the Marlins (preferably both).

Why so glum? The Nats schedule advantage will have gone by the end of this weekend. The Reds follow the Dodgers with the Cubs at home, then away at Milwaukee and Houston. They will play the Pirates twice after that, sandwiching a Mets series. The Nats will play the Marlins, Phillies, and Mets again, but they'll also tangle with the Braves, Cardinals, and D-Backs. I give the Reds the upper hand here.

The Nats have played great, but if they can't find themselves on the morning of Sept 9th 5 games or closer the finish for the ages scenarios start to apply. Reds go 9-9 versus that weak remaining schedule? Nats need to go 16-4 to close out the year, even better than they've played so far. The Nats finish strong against some pretty decent competition and go 13-7? The Reds have to go 6-12 against a lot of beatable teams.  We're almost in win 'em all territory.

Of course nothing is absolute. As long as the Nats don't lose 3 games of ground I'm sure someone will still believe in the comeback, because it isn't mathematically impossible ("All the Nats have to do is go 19-1 and have the Reds go under .500 and blammo! Playoff City!") But this is where I'm setting the bar on calling the season. 5 games out or less by Monday. It's not only in the Nats hands, which is frustrating, but it's the cold hard reality of a season that went astray a long time ago.

16 comments:

Chris Needham said...

6 in the loss column...

Basically, the Nats need some combo of 5 Reds losses+Nats wins this weekend.

Froggy said...

Great analysis of the cold, hard facts Harper. This is where say, just 4 of those 12 losses by Haren would've come in real handy right now.

Anyway...

Our destiny is in OUR hands right now. All we can do is keep our heads down and play one game at a time. Davey has to manage each series like it is the World Series and there no games left to play. No more giving guys a looksee just to get a looksee for next year.

I for one will not call the season until the Nats are mathematically out of it.

Harper said...

Needham - 3 possible scenarios - Nats Sweep and Reds lose 2, Nats win two and Reds get swept, or Nats sweep and Reds get swept. Nothing else will work for me.

Froggy - while Haren is a fine example you can pick apart anything, keeping Espy in the lineup for so long, Moore up too long, Duke pitching MI, H-Rods short adventure. Imagine what we'd be thinking if the Nats were 2-3 games closer right no. The whole season matters.

You're right on Davey. Gotta treat every game as a must win with only caveat being can't burn out best relievers (you might pitch Clip 4 games in a row in the series, shouldn't do it now).

Chris Needham said...

Yep, exactly. Gotta pick up 2 in that loss column. Knock it down to 4... and who knows. The schedules are even, but the Nats (at this point) seem to have the more talented roster. Stranger things have happened.

But if they don't pick up those games this weekend, you're right. They're D-U-N-N, Dunn.

cass said...

That win by the Reds hurt. Took our playoff chances from over 6% to under 4%.

But 3.9% is in the neighborhood of 1 in 20*. So all the Nats need to do to make the postseason is score a crit on their final attack. Otherwise, TPK. Yeah, we know how that usually ends.

But sometimes it doesn't. And then you tell the story for years and years to come.

cass said...

(What we really need is a GM who will fudge the numbers. Rizzo, unfortunately, does not strike me as the type.)

(Apologies to people who have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. Had to switch to a different metaphor since wrestling wasn't working out.)

bdrube said...

Why so glum? There is already playoff baseball being played in the DC area--it just haappens to be down in Woodbridge (I'm hoping to get down there for Game 1 of the chamionship series on Saturday night).

But seriously, even though I am a ST holder for the big club I find myself unable to get excited about 4% playoff chances when all this team had to do was win a half dozen or so of the countless number of winnable games it gacked away all season long to be right in the thick of things. In fact, making the wild card might cause complacency about next year, and that's the last thing they need. They still have a good young core with several key players (Harper, Rendon, Ramos, Strasburg) who haven't yet reached their peak potential. Here's hoping we're talking magic numbers for clinching the division at this time next year instead of clinging desperately to a pipe dream.

Harper said...

cass - sounds like D&D, which means you have cool dice and are a deadly threat to early 80s teenagers.

bdrube - last year they had 88 wins at this point. Let's split the difference and assume at this point in 2014 they'll have 79 wins and a slim WC lead.

Miles Treacy said...

Harper: if only you added Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber GIF saying "So you're saying there's a chance"

Great write up though. Really need to gain 2 this weekend. That reds-cards series was killer. I was thinking reds would lose 2-3 of those. not win 3. oh well. that's baseball, and sums up the nats season. when they decided to play and we all would say oh well the braves are playing this really tough team, the braves would of course finish with the best record against "tough teams". i'm not bagging the season yet though.

Froggy said...

Aaarrggh...are you effing kidding me!!

Like I said yesterday, I wasn't fooled by Haren's brief masquerade as a starting pitcher who has 'figured it out'. When we look back on this season, we will ask why Rizzo kept him on the team after the AB (5 games net lost...so far).

Reds Fan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reds Fan said...

well that scenario is out the window for ya guys now isn't it. and your destiny is not in your hands, it is in the Reds hands. You can't get in the playoffs without their collapse.

John C. said...

The goal is to make the Reds earn the wild card. If they keep playing like they have the past week, they will. We'll see.

NatsVA said...

Guys, it's over. But you know what? It's been a pretty depressing season and frankly I'm glad that it's over.

Steve From Virginia said...


Look to Pittsburgh to crash forget the Reds.

BTW: Braves don't look so brave after losing four straight.

September = teams collapse, it's a long, grueling season. Nats? Well rested, they collapsed back in May when Haren was pitching batting practice.

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