Nationals Baseball: catch-up day

Thursday, May 01, 2014

catch-up day

At work, not here! Until you pay my salary, you guys have to wait on line like everyone else (I'm lookin' at you gramma! You'll get your thank you card when I have the time to write it!). Also will you pay my salary? What's rich these days? 250K? That'll do it.

As for the Nats - woo! That's what they should do and they did it. Now all they need to do is not get swept by the Phillies for an acceptable road trip. Shouldn't be too hard... should it?

It looks good for the Nats, they've been injured and yet they aren't too far behind the Braves. This isn't anything like last year when the Braves ran away with the division early.  Except... 

Through 28 games last year the Nats were 14-14.  This year they are 16-12.  Looks better but I'll note that the Nats were just about to start a little run. Through 35 games in 2013 the Nats would be 20-15. (They then wouldn't get to 5 games over again until Sept 9th) I don't say "I'll take that" but given that the next 7 games are 3 @ PHI, 3 v LAD, and 1@ OAK, 4-3 wouldn't be a terrible run.

The Braves when the Nats were 14-14? 17-10.  3.5 games up. 
The Braves when the Nats were 20-15? 21-14. 1 games up.

As late as May 17th the Braves would hold a slim half-game lead on the 23-19 Nats before the Nats would crash. (Almost literally - it's around now Bryce hits the wall in LA) The Nats would go 6-12 while the Braves would go 15-6 to put the division... well not out of reach, but put the Braves comfortably enough ahead that figuring the teams were of close to equal talent you had a hard time seeing the Nats overtaking them.

The fact that it's ok now is better than if it was NOT ok now, but I'm not going to feel better until the Nats are only nursing one major injury and are still right there. Things can turn on a dime. With the Nats not at full strength I'm not enthused on which way that turn will be.


cass said...

Will Zimmerman make any positive impact at all when he returns? Rendon, Espinosa, and LaRoche are 1st and 3rd, and 4th respectively on the Nats in position player WAR. (Strasburg is 1st overall, though that's FIP-based.) Rendon's D is at least as good as Zimmerman's. Yes, Espinosa will be a big upgrade for the bench if he keeps hitting in a part-time role, but still, I'm not expecting a huge upgrade with Zimm back. I guess the best it'll do is cover for LaRoche or Espi's inevitable regression, though both look quite solid right now.

Miles Treacy said...

I am really curious to see how the lineup looks when Zimm gets back. Does Williams start doing a lineup shuffle based on pitching matchups between the four for who plays 2nd, 3rd, and 1st? I'd imagine Espi is the first to the bench. They gave Rendon the job out of ST and he's done nothing to deserve being put on the bench. And LaRoche actually hitting in April is nice to see.

Chaz R said...

Zim was actually off to a great start before the injury:

Got to find a place for him. Nice to have these kinds of problems.

Eric said...

The next 5 pitchers paint a fairly daunting picture:



Donald said...

This has been a weird year, but it's definitely not 2012 or 2013. It's probably all hindsight but 2012 seemed full of mostly up moments and 2013 mostly down ones. This year has been a seesaw -- raging optimism followed by crushing pessimism and back again. Fundamentally though, I think this squad is stronger than 2013 and is playing like it. I think the Braves squad is not as strong as last year though they aren't playing like that yet -- the last two games withstanding. Based on the early rhythm of the season, I'm expecting a let down with the Nats going 1-2 or 0-3 against the Phillies and the Braves going 2-1 against the Giants but that's not really rational.

Question for you -- with Ramos and Fister both due back in about a week, which of those guys has a bigger impact?

Eric said...

But, at least the Braves face Alvarez tonight and then take on the Giants (albeit at home).

Maybe ol' Mikey Morse can do his old club a few solids this weekend.

Eric said...

Donald, I think Ramos, unless he's utterly sapped of power. I think the day-to-day production of which he's capable can help ensure that we continue our encouraging trend of scoring and coming from behind.

I think it would be Fister if the rest of the rotation hadn't already more or less gotten back on track.

Chimpanzee Rage said...

When Zimmerman returns, why can't the odd man out of the infield that day play in the outfield until Harper comes back? Keeps all the best hitting bats in the lineup that way and cant be that much worse than what we've got now with Moore/Frandsen out there

Harper said...

cass - you said it best - they should decline, Zimm's return should cover that. If Espy is still hot in a month Matty should get him in the lineup - 2 out of 3 day rotation for Zimm for a couple weeks with a day off here and there for Rendon and a day every 3 weeks or so for Ian? Zimm over at first vs tough lefties? Could get Espy 3 games a week through AS break.

MT - Gotta think Espy sits. Only lineup fussing would be LaRoche sitting vs tough lefty, but I think "resting" Zimm during first month of return will help keep Espy in lineup

Chaz R - Yes, better to worry about where to put a guy - helps keep you from rushing him back (you'd hope)

Eric - is that right? Way I figure it the A's would send out Gray (1.76), Kasmir (2.11), and Chavez (1.89) uh oh

Donald - I agree - Nats seem stronger, Braves seem weaker. A bit tired of seeming, want some being.

Ramos - everyday impact over Lobaton will be good (although Jose has turned it around in last week). Better offense and D. A pitcher can only do so much.

CZR - Not going to put Rendon or Zimm in OF. Hard to send out injury prone guys into new positions. Espy, who'd really be odd man out... maybe. Davey would have thought about it. But I bet they'd rather work him in in more natural positions where he can give Rendon or Desi days off, & can play 2nd when LaRoche or Zimm has a day off and the infield shifts around. That should get him in lineup 3 out of every 5 or 6 games.

More likely to see McLouth, Fransden, Hairston platooning.

Jay said...

I am actually very encouraged. 16-12 at this point is quite nice. The Nats last year the end of April were 13-14. They were .500 at the end of every month until their run in September.

I agree that the next 5 games are going to be tough. Nats seem to catch teams at the worst time - 3 games against Phils and we get there 3 best pitchers, and 3 games against LA and we get Kershaw and Greinke. Ouch. Hopefully, pitching can keep them in it.

Starting next week Braves go 3 SF, 3 Cards, 3 Cubs, 3 SF, and 3 Cards. Hopefully, the Nats can make up some more ground in that stretch. Still think Braves pitching will continue to come back to earth.

Rotating one of the 4 players mentioned to outfield isn't a bad idea, but I don't think they'll do it. It's too big a change.

Jay said...

"their 3 best pitchers" not there. Sorry haven't figured out the edit function yet.

Anonymous said...

Harper, when this team is healthy it is so deep. At full strength is any team better in the NL?

Nick said...

Any situation with Hairston getting significant playing time makes me kinda worried

blovy8 said...

Hey, if Frandsen can play left you'd have to figure Espinosa could. They had Desmond playing out there when they were dead set on Guzman at SS. Still have to take losing McLouth to probably have that happen though.

Lee said...

I'd add that through the first 28 the Nats have scored the most runs in the National League for teams that don't play half their games in Colorado. 6th in MLB overall.

Not bad for a team missing 27 games from Ramos and 18 from Zimmerman.

Kenny B. said...

I was looking at offensive stats today, and the Nats are surprisingly good. Top ten in MLB in most major categories. Sure doesn't feel that way sometimes, but I suppose they just got caught up in that epic run of Braves pitching, and had some tough bounces and bad luck against the California visitors.

The board talked me off the ledge the other day, and Nats wins didn't hurt. Of course, remember that those wins came against Houston. Philly will be a tougher matchup, and if the trend of not hitting good pitching keeps up, we're in for some near-term unpleasantness.

Agree with Harper that the composition of this team at the moment is not extremely heartening. I still have trouble expecting LaRoche, Werth, and Espinosa to be the big bats every night. Rendon is on the verge of convincing me he's for real, so I can feel good about that, I suppose. But that outfield is not what you hope to run out every night for a major league contender.

Anyway, I'll just try to keep expectations in check until the team gets some depth back. Meanwhile, I'll look forward to a hopefully nice showing from Fister. If Roark can keep it up, and Fister can get back to form quickly, that's a seriously formidable rotation.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a McLouth/Espi platoon in Lf wouldn't be bad. McLouth vs RHP, Espi v. LHP.

Donald said...

Tough stretch of pitching coming up, but the Nats staff isn't chopped liver either. Here are the matchups. I'm not sure we have a clear advantage in any of these games but the only game where I think we are at a distinct disadvantage is the Greinke game where we'll be throwing out spare parts.

Lee Strasburg
Burnett Roark
Hamels Gonzalez
Kershaw Zimmermann
Greinke ?? Detwiler?
Haren Fister
Gray Strasburg
Kasmir Roark
Chavez Gonzalez

Eric said...

Sheesh re: the pitchers coming at us from the A's...Would be pretty pleased if we manage to go 5 - 4 over the next 3 series.

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