Nationals Baseball: Five out of Six

Friday, May 16, 2014

Five out of Six

Series previews!

Three games vs the Mets

The Mets are a 19-21 team that feel exactly like they should be a 19-21 team. There isn't anything they do particularly well. Dillon Gee and Jon Neise have been very good, but the other starters (Colon, Wheeler and whoever) haven't, making the rotation fair at best. The bullpen, despite not being able to nail down a closer (they'll be on #4 whenever they decide who that will be), is not as terrible as you might think, but it is filled with mediocre arms that could give up runs in any outing. Jenrry Mejia has moved there and might provide a shut-down arm. Maybe. The Nats only face Neise (v Roark tonight) so they should be able to score some runs in this series.  (Colon v Gio, Wheeler v ZNN in other 2)

The Mets offense is only 14th in OPS (terrible) but is 5th in runs scored which does not compute.  Part of it is good hitting with RISP. Another part is an odd tendency to hit HR with men on base.

In the NL 56.8% of all PA happen with no one on base. Unsurprisingly, home runs are hit with no one on base about the same amount of time (57.8%). You might expect a higher percentage of HRs to be hit with men-on because of typical line-up construction putting OBP guys ahead of power guys but given the vagaries of that (SPEEDY GUYS FIRST! SPAN!) the percentage is only slightly higher. Anyway for the Mets this year? Fully 2/3rd of their home runs have been hit with men on base.  The end result is an offense that looks better than it is, unless for some reason you believe the Mets are clutch.

Muprhy is underrated and hot since coming back and Granderson has been picking up (and Wright is Wright) but if you get through those guys the line-up should be a breeze. Guys like Ruben Tejada (hot recently but terrible) and d'Arnaud (might never come around) give the Mets a 7-8-9 as bad as you'll face in the majors.

The Nats should win 2 out of 3 and if Roark wins tonight over Neise, I'd want a sweep.

Three games versus the Reds.

The Reds are 18-21 but as you might think they are a bit better than that, going 6-12 in one-run games so far this year. The offense has been mediocre. Votto, Todd Frazier, and the catching duo of Mesoraco (out with hammy) then Pena have been good but the rest of the team is nothing special. Phillips is aging. Hamilton hasn't matured. Cozart is defense first. Ryan Ludwick.  Losing Jay Bruce hurts as he should be their 4th good bat. Instead they are playing guys like, ugh, Roger Bernadina.

But the offense has been propped up by the pitching. Johnny Cueto has been as good as anyone this year. Homer Bailey is off a bit but in his place Mike Leake has stepped up. Alfredo Simon had a hot start (but is struggling a bit now). Tony Cigrani is more than a solid 4/5 (who might slip back in the rotation in time to face the Nats). The bullpen does have a ridiculously soft middle. The relievers with the 3rd-7th most IP have ERAs of 4.05, 5.54, 6.00, 6.30 and 9.24 and they earned those. But the back end is very strong with Sam LeClure, a revived Jonathon Broxton, and the returned Aroldis Chapman. If the Nats expect to come back late versus the Reds they'll be in for a rude awakening.

Before I forget to mention - something else about the Reds keeping them in games - they have arguably the best defense in the majors. No terrible gloves out there and when they play Heisey, you could argue 5 out of their 7 non-catcher fielders are above average. The Nats should watch and learn.

The Nats will definitely get Cueto, almost certainly in Game 1 setting up a Cueto vs Strasburg match-up that writes itself (Strasburg pitches well enough to win but Cueto shuts Nats out, Strasburg haters and defenders line-up once again). If the Nats are lucky the Reds will want to re-insert Cingrani back into the rotation where he was before, meaning the Nats would get Jeff Francis and Alfredo Simon. If they don't care about that then the Nats will get Cingrani then Simon.

The Cueto game will be tough regardless but the other two (Fister and Roark) should be winnable. Again 2 out of 3.

The Nats are lucky to be in the position they are in. They caught bad breaks off the field but not on it and none of the NL East teams have pulled away.  As I said earlier in the week, now's the time schedule wise to make a move before they hit a hard spell potentially still lacking LaRoche, Zimm and Bryce's bats. I want to see a 5-1 homestand, 4-2 is acceptable.


Froggy said...

Last week was tough for me as my favorite team since I was a tyke has been the Oakland A's, so I didn't know who to be loyal to. I would have preferred at least one win out of the series though. It's really hard not to love the A's.

ANYway...although I normally hate it when you do the 'Nats WILL win 5 out of 6' stuff as we usually get hammered, this time I tend to agree that there is no good reason with the pitching match ups as they are that we don't at LEAST pull out 4 of 6. Unless of course Ian sails another one into the first three rows behind first base, Danny settles into the old Danny, ALR doesn't come back, Rendon continues his vacation at the Antarctica hitting school, Span remains Span, and Soriano...well...

Prediction, I think TMO and Danny hit well enough to be part of some sort of trade package at the ASB.

Donald said...

The Braves are playing 3 in St. Louis and are then home against the Brewers. They actually play 4 against Milwaukee but over the same 6 days the Nats play, you'd have to guess they win 3ish -- going 1-2 against the Cards and splitting with the Brewers. So the Nats and Braves should be about a half game apart after his home stand ends, hopefully with the Nats in 1st. Really hoping for a bit of good luck with the Nats doing well and the Braves running into some trouble.

Chaz R said...

I think they really need the SPs to get back to their career numbers for them to take 2/3 from the Reds. Looks like Votto may not make the trip.

Great timing with the Braves schedule to move into first place.

We will be there for all 3 Mets games and 1 Reds game. Here we go...

Jay said...

The only downside to the Braves Cards is that the Braves look like they may miss Wainright and Wacha. It sure seems like they catch teams at the right time sometimes. Of course the Nats missed Cole Hamels and got shutout by Fausto Carmona aka. Roberto Hernandaz.

They need to get on a roll and win some games. Last year they were in the same boat and Atlanta won 8 in a row to drop Nats to 4.5 back. The All Star break killed them last year. Lost 6 in a row. The Braves later went on to win 14 in a row and the race was over on August 4 with Nats 15.5 back. We have a long way to go, but have to take advantage of these games. Especially if Votto doesn't play.

Jay said...

Also, did anyone see Jayson Stark's article about top 10 must see pitchers? Strasburg isn't on that. Someone should point that out to him and make him good and angry. Get him motivated a little bit. He seemed pretty wound up there for a couple starts when all the Strasburg isn't an ace talk was going on after his first couple of starts.

Harper said...

Froggy - do I say "WILL"? I don't recall that. I'll try to link some series previews from 2012 - I bet I under guessed those.

If the package is TMO and Danny the return on that is going to be a Sean Burnett type.

Donald - Yes. Goal is to be a game up on Memorial day Rockies after Brewers for Braves. Rockies also pretty good right now.

Chaz R - without Votto might not matter - that's a dead lineup already.

Jay - exactly we can talk all we want about the Nats getting hot when everyone is back, but if you don't take advantage of the times you should win the Nats may find themselves 4-5 games out when that's the case. Why be ok with building a hill to climb when there shouldn't be one?

JWLumley said...

@Jay I wouldn't put Strasburg on the 10 must see pitcher's list. I'd much rather watch Gio than Strasburg. Strasburg seems so self-conscious on the mound, Gio's a nutball and I love that. Not to mention he's a comparable if not better pitcher than Strasburg.

As for the how many the Nats will win, who knows. I think they'll win 4 out of 6, but who knows. I just hope they start playing better. Even in the wins against the D-Backs they didn't look that good.

Froggy said...

Harper, yeah you didn't say 'WILL' but you sure as hell almost, kinda sorta inferred it! LoL! Hey, is it my imagination or has the 'soulless automaton' been more optimistic than some of us lately? So the question is, who has been rubbing off on who the last couple seasons?

@JWL, I agree that I would rather see Gio or ZNN and have been somewhat of a heretic on Strasburg from the first season. Yeah, he throws hard but he gets hit hard too. I'm hoping this is his graduation year from thrower to pitcher.

Clip&Store said...

Strasburg is still more fun to watch, but nothing close to 2010

Eric said...

4 of 6 leaves us on pace to have 30 wins on 6/1, which is my hope for May. It would mean a 90-win pace at exactly the 1/3 mark despite all the injuries.

5 of 6 would be a nice little cushion for the 4 games in Pittsburgh, enabling us to drop 3 of 4 there and maintain the 30-win pace for May.

Kenny B. said...

T-minus how long until we find out Gio is injured?

Also, we need more investigation into this first inning thing. I'm sure I just notice it more because it's the first, but what could explain Nats pitchers struggling early?

Anonymous said...

Today's starting BA:
Span .239
Rendon .274
Werth .301
Ramos .174
Desmond .226
Espinosa .227
Moore .229
McLouth .127
Gonzalez .143

We're going to make somebody look like Cy Young today


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