Nationals Baseball: Homestand / Homeland joke

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homestand / Homeland joke

Sorry - never watched the show.

The Nats have a very important homestand coming up. They are roughly a 1/10th into the baseball season (I know!) and have played all of three teams. They've dominated the Marlins and the Mets, who are fighting to prove they are .500 teams and they've been dominated by the Braves, who are fighting for division and league titles. Seems pretty cut and dried, but the Nats are also very familiar with these teams and vice versa so facing some outsiders helps to really figure out the course of the team. This homestand features three teams not in the NL East and by the end we should have a good idea of who the Nats (minus all those injured guys) are. We should also have a much better idea of when all those injured guys are coming back. All in all we'll know by the end of the month if it's time to panic, if the Nats have got this, or likely if the team is somewhere inbetween.

The Nats themselves are dealing with some difficult injury issues.  They've managed to hang on but there are a lot of questions with how they are doing it. Is Danny Espinosa really back? (not sure) Is Zach Walters this good? (no of course not) When is Ian Desmond going to start hitting? (soon I hope) It doesn't look good - but it doesn't have to be good for long. A couple days hopefully for Bryce. Maybe a week for Span. Just get lucky and get a hot bunch for a week and things are ok. The pitching is more of a concern but it's more an "watch it" than "panic" thing. We'll be watching each start fearing another crash, most notably with Strasburg, but the talent still seems to be there. The bad starts are probably flukes... probably.

The first opponent is the toughest one. Four games versus the defending NL champs, the patron saints of constant competition (for those not willing to break the bank), the St.  Louis Cardinals.They come in at 9-6 and playing pretty well, taking 4 of their last 5 and 2 of their last 3 versus the division leading Brewers. Offensively, the team was ice cold but the bats are coming around, hitting .285 / .338 / .425 in the last 7 days. Jhonny Peralta, who was particularly terrible to start the year is now particularly red hot, along with Molina.  The remaining issues are when will Allen Craig come around and is Kolten Wong ever going to show he belongs at the major league level.

Pitching wise the team doesn't really have any issues. Shelby Miller is the only starter with bad stats but he's been improving each time out. Rosenthal has been a bit shaky but everyone still believes in him.  If either of these guys falters Carlos Martinez is there to be awesome and stuff.

The short of it is - they are good and they are playing well so this could be a tough series.

The Angels are the next appointment and they are mired in expected mediocrity. The offense is clicking enough but they lost another cog in Kole Calhoun. Adding that to Hamilton eventually that's gotta catch up with them, especially since the early success is in part because of freaky good bench perfromance. Meanwhile the pitching is struggling.  The bullpen is kind of a mess, they don't have a 5th starter, and Jered Weaver is getting killed by the long ball.  This has all the looks of a team about to bottom out.

The Padres are the polar opposite of the Angels - they can pitch but can't hit. You'd expect the hitting to get better. It's a lot of guys way underperforming and the good performances aren't crazy.  On the flip side you'd expect the pitching, well at least the starting pitching, to get worse. Cashner could be a very good pitcher but the rest don't scare anyone. They are certainly capable but I see them as also capable of being killed. The pen is full of talent though.  Doesn't that always seem to be the case for SD?

The Nats face the Cardinals and could be out Zimm, Ramos, Span and Bryce? Good luck with all that. I'm going to go ahead and predict 1 win in four games.  Hey, this team is kind of reeling and was a couple of Saltalamacchia brain freezes from losing two of three to Miami. I see the Angels though as ripe for the picking, injured themselves and starting from a lower point. Sweep? The Padres pitching should keep them in the games but the Nats are better. 2 of 3 3 of 4 there. So I'm thinking 6-4 7-4.

Best (likely) case : 7-3 8-3 for the homestand.  Nats split with Cardinals, sweep one of the Angels or Padres and win the series versus the other.

Worst (likely) case : 4-6 4-7. Cards take 3 of 4, Angels take 2 of 3, Padres split. (or what I actually like better Cards win 3, Nats win series v Angels 2 games to 1, but Padres win 3)

As long as Bryce and Span are back by the end of the Cards series I think they'll be fine. 6-4 7-4for the stand 15-10 16-10 for the season and we can evaluate what the future looks like as dates for Fister, Zimm and Ramos' returns all get clearer.

33 comments:

cass said...

I'm a little more pessimistic for this homestand. I see 5-5. 1-3 vs St. Louis and 2-1 in the following two series against L.A. A. and San Diego. I'd be happy with 6-4, disappointed with 4-6.

Continuing the sign-stealing discussion from the comments in the last post, I actually had that thought as well during Strasburg's start. Probably just a fluke, but it's interesting that some teams mix up the signs for all batters rather than just when someone is on second. I wonder if teams who do that are the ones stealing signs themselves.

I don't think there's enough evidence of this, but it wouldn't hurt for the Nats to keep switching them up.

Harper said...

I think happy/dissapointment is going to be based on health. If Bryce plays 9+ games I wouldn't accept 5-5. If he plays none, 4-6 might seem ok to me.

Andrew Zitnay said...

It's an 11-game homestand, not 10. 4 games vs. the Padres.

Harper said...

well shoot

Donald said...

It's tough making predictions given how erratic our starters have been, but on paper it looks like it could be a split with St. Louis. Their #1 and #2 face our #5 and #2 (or #3 depending on how you view Gio vs. Znn). Their #3 and #4 face Strasburg and Zimmermann.

You have to give the big edge to St. Louis in tonight's game. If the Nats can win tomorrow it'll set up well for them as you'd hope they could win at least one of the last two games. If the Nats drop the first 2, it could get in their heads a bit, making a 1-3 outcome more likely though a split would still be possible.

Why can't an opposing team's pitcher have an uncharacteristically bad start against us for once?

blovy8 said...

This homestand doesn't matter much to me. It still won't be enough to judge this team properly. If this is a playoff club, it'll probably look different in October anyway.

At least they're hitting better than last year, even if the fielding is just as poor. They aren't necessarily bunching the runs well, but they're scoring. Some inexperienced players are getting at-bats, that probably will help later, even if it's just to figure out who isn't quite ready. Six for 21 pinch hitting feels like a big improvement, but I know it's early.

Roark certainly isn't all that, but he did pretty good damage control last night. Kind of what you'd like to see out of Strasburg at some point soon.

ocw5000 said...

I don't think Rizzo gets enough credit for the moves he made when this team was bad. Last night's game had important contributions from players acquired for Cristian "2008 All-Star Representative" Guzman and Jason "Injured Most Of My Nats Career" Marquis. Obviously the Capps-for-Ramos trade. All three players we traded away are now out of baseball.

I don't think Roark and Walters will be the reason the Nats make the playoffs or perennial All-Stars or anything, but they could easily be contributing players on a good team, which is a net win.

John C. said...

The Cardinals do deserve credit for taking 2 of 3 from the Brewers, but it's unclear how much credit that amounts to. Yes, the Brewers are in first place 15 games into the season. But they're playing way over their heads, and are not expected to be good in 2014. It's like saying that the Marlins were in first place when they got to DC and the Nats crushed them. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Marlins did better than the Brewers this year when all is said and done.

That said, the Cardinals are obviously a good team; defending NL champs, favored to win the NL Central and a popular choice to be back in the World Series this year. This will be a good test for the Nationals. With (quite possibly) half of their starting lineup (Span, Ramos, Harper, Zim) out, a split would have to be considered a positive outcome.

Anonymous said...

"Continuing the sign-stealing discussion from the comments in the last post, I actually had that thought as well during Strasburg's start. Probably just a fluke, but it's interesting that some teams mix up the signs for all batters rather than just when someone is on second. I wonder if teams who do that are the ones stealing signs themselves."

Stealing signs is just as much part of the game as pitchers using pine tar. The smart teams change their signs and make them difficult to pick up on.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing, the Mets and Marlins have played pretty well against the other teams they played other than us.

Waly said...

blovy8 said... At least they're hitting better than last year, even if the fielding is just as poor. They aren't necessarily bunching the runs well, but they're scoring.

This is how I feel so far too. There is some real magic going on here offensively: Zach Walters has a 1.500 iso. That is three times higher than Barry Bonds best year ever! Rendon has a 100% BUH%. That is just crazy. :)

Nah, but seriously, even though most of the offense is being driven by unsustainable BABIPs (you have to drop down to the 10th best hitter before it drops below .300), there are some promising things going on. Rendon's surge in power seems sustainable from his minor league numbers and is logical for a high ranked prospect. Werth and ALR are showing signs that a severe age decline isn't imminent. Those are encouraging. And even though I usually go by what the numbers show, I'll admit to seeing a bit of a different feel from their offense compared to last year. Even against the Braves, they'd get down early but show some signs of fighting back. Maybe they did that last year, but I don't remember it that way. The pitching has let them down, and I am willing to bet on a positive regression. And let's be honest with ourselves, if they don't get a positive regression from the SPs, they have some very serious retooling to do, because that is entirely how this team was intended to be built.

But the defense and baserunning? It makes for infuriating watching. Just feels like stupid baseball.

Donald said...

Another slugfest in Philadelphia with the Phillies returning the favor and beating the Braves 1-0, handing Alex Wood a complete game loss. At least we won't fall any farther behind after facing Adam Wainwright tonight. Fingers crossed we can actually gain some ground.

Anonymous said...

Well the first game against St. Louis was one you expect to lose, but it didn't have to be a 1-hit laugher. Like the 2013 Nats, the 2014 Nats are developing a propensity for losing in total blowouts

Clip&Store said...

The real joke is the team we cheer for. What a bunch of underachievers. 2012 looks like more of a dream every blowout loss to good teams (which happens quite often these days)

Donald said...

Is it just me, or does it seem like they made the decision to move Detwiler to the pen too early? Even if he does tend to get hit the second or third time around, it would be nice to not to give up huge first and second innings for a change.

Anonymous said...

The Nationals are like that new girlfriend or boyfriend who is fun, attractive, exciting, but that one day when you really need them to pick you up from the airport or take you to the emergency room, they don't show up. You want to like them, but deep down you know they'll disappoint you. There's just something not quite right about this team.

Donald said...

I'm hoping the team meeting after last night's game lights a fire under this team. Because it's so early, it's still easy to maintain some optimism. If the Nats play a crisp game tonight and beat St. Louis, while the Braves lose again, we'll only be 1/2 game back and it'll feel like the ship is starting to right. Of course, another sloppy lose with a Braves win will just make the panic set in more.

Chaz R said...

Good grief that was dreadful last night. Wainright was certainly on his game last night and Taylor Jordan was less than stellar, but the errors I can't help think are mostly mental. How do you address the Nats poor mental preparation? Last night could possibly be attributed to the travel from Miami, but this has been a consistent problem.

cass said...

Anon: That sounds about right. It's hard to feel pride in this team when they can only win games against weak opponents. It's almost embarrassing. So much for Natitude.

Also, kudos for your inclusive wording. So many sports writers default to male-centric, heteronormative references and it seems to reinforce the idea that being a sports fan means joining a boys club. I'm a straight male myself, but I find such environments off-putting and uncomfortable.

I'll also note that feeling pride or embarrassment about one's favorite sports team is completely irrational, but most of us do it.

JWLumley said...

Wow, what a great idea to move Detwiler to the bullpen. He sure is providing a lot of value pitching during mop up time in blowouts. My question to Rizzo is this: why not trade him instead of this? Now, he hasn't been stretched out and probably couldn't start if you needed it. The Nationals had a valuable asset that they diminished in value on purpose so that they could use a guy who was getting lit up in AAA before having a very lucky 50 innings in the big leagues and a fringe prospect who also had a relatively lucky 50 or so innings.
You know who they should have used instead? Alex Meyer, oh wait you traded him for a below league average hitter that you insist on batting leadoff despite the fact he's the worst hitter in the daily lineup.

Chaz R said...

Have you guys been checking out the other Nats blogs? Wow, lots of emotional venting. You know, everyone wants these guys to succeed so badly for a lot of different reasons. I can only imagine how it must feel for them, and then to play against a team like the Cards at the same time.

Mitch said...

But Span "looks" like a leadoff hitter! Pitcher Win/Loss records really matter, especially with small sample sizes! Getting thrown out on the basepaths is just a sign of our aggressive play!

Ugh. Venting is good.

Mitch said...

Also: I'm new to this blog so apologies if this has been discussed, but... I can't be the only one secretly hoping Ryan Zimmerman doesn't come back, right? He hasn't been able to throw properly for years, and I refuse to believe it's all physical. You can see the gears turning when he lines up a routine throw on a routine grounder. He's got the yips. I think LaRoche is going to murder him one of these days.

He's a good enough hitter, but combined with his shaky defense and injury history, I don't see a whole lot of value going forward. He peaked in '09, which was also the last year he played in 150 games.

Chinatown Express said...

There's a world --- a hypothetical one, sure, and not a realistic one, but a conceivable one --- where instead of Zim, Det, Storen, and Rendon, the Nats have McCutcheon, Bumgarner, Trout, and Fernandez. Well shoot. That always bugs me. Does that crank anyone else's gears?

This loss sucks, but it doesn't matter too much. I like our odds of going 2/3 in the rest of this series. GO NATS.

cass said...

No part of me hopes Zimmerman doesn't come back. He's a good hitter and I still (stupidly) believe or maybe hope that he can get back to being an average third baseman.

Zimmerman is the only guy on the team (well, maybe Desmond, but minors are different) who's been here since 2005. We all know Zimmerman so well. We went through the down years that longtime fans witnessed too. I can't wish for anything but the best for Zimmerman and it would be strange to have a Nats team without him.

Maybe analytically, the writing's on the wall, but right now I'm hoping against hope that the side-arm experiment will work. It's sad, though, to think about the years when the only thing worth watching at Nats Park (other than the opposing team) was Ryan Zimmerman's stellar fielding at 3rd. I can only imagine what it'd be like to have my greatest skill erode so quickly.

Bjd1207 said...

I'm right with you cass. Zimmerman was my first true baseball player love affair. He was young, he was good, and he was OURS. I can absolutely relate to turning on games back then solely to watch Zimm.

You're also correct on his production. From his first full season, he's posted wRC+ of 105, 102, 130, 142, 119, 121, 125. By that metric he's been 20% more productive than the average hitter (not replacement) at a spot with a premium on defense. Even if his glove fails him, you keep better-than-average hitters on your team

JWLumley said...

@Mitch The first post made me laugh, but while I'm concerned about his throws I hope Zimmerman comes back because he's from VA Beach and I'm still hoping Rendon stays at 2B so the Nats can trade for David Wright and get the band back together. Still, I think this is Zim's last season at 3B.

mike k said...

Hey Harper did you get the chance to catch Cesar Cabral's outing tonight? He's my new favorite player. It was incredible. Makes Henry look like post-glasses Charlie Sheen.

DezoPenguin said...

Well, with good pitching and a little luck we got our one against the Cardinals, with two more shots at making the series a success. It's one thing if the Braves have our number--the way that pitching staff is going, they've got everybody's number right now, and it's got to come back to earth sooner or later--but another thing if we suck against everyone. Nonetheless, the key was avoiding the sweep, holding serve until we get some of our injured folks back, and of course continue to beat the weaker teams--being in the division with the Phillies, Mets, and Marlins helps a lot.

John C. said...

Despite all the gloom and doom on the board after Thursday (and Thursday sucked - I know, because I was there), the Nats managed to finish up by taking two of three from the Cardinals. Apparently they can go toe-to-toe with the best even with half their starting lineup injured. Who knew?

For the poster who wanted Meyer in the rotation, I'll point out that Meyer just got lit up by the Nats' AAA team and is sporting a spiffy 5.14 ERA in AAA. Prospects will break your heart, friend. And I have no problem with Span being on this team - he's easily the best CF this team has had in DC. I might well prefer to bat him in the #8 spot as "second leadoff" rather than the top of the order, but I'm glad he's here.

And I'm absolutely hoping that Zimmerman comes back. The team needs his bat; I don't think that Espinosa's numbers are sustainable but will be delighted if he can hold them until Zim gets back. If Zim still struggles, start him at 1b versus LHP and sub out on defense if the team gets a lead (the way SF is doing with Mike Morse, btw - and very effectively so far).

Kenny B. said...

Man, a good Danny Espinosa truly changes the complexion of this team and creates a wealth of infield options. The loss of Zim goes from a travesty to a relatively small adjustment. IF he continues to play decent, it makes the rash of early injuries very absorbable. Here's hoping. We're all pulling for you, Danny!

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