Nationals Baseball: The easy part

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The easy part

It wasn't that easy though, was it.

The D-backs are not good. Hell, right now they could be the worst. Record wise they are in the bottom three teams with the expected duo of Houston and Chicago. By Runs scored / allowed they are the worst. The Nats should beat them two out of three in Arizona and they did.

Of course in neither game that the Nats won were they winning going into the 9th. The Nats continued their record of being pretty damn terrible against starting pitching.

Here's a fun fact about the Nats

Innings 1-3 : .238 / .296 / .390, 11th (out of 15) in the NL OPS
Innings 4-6 : .234 / .298 / .345, 15th in OPS
Innings 7-9 : .274 / .344 / .448, 1st in OPS

It's not so much "Never stop watching a Nats game, because they could come back!" it's more "Don't start watching a Nats game until the starter is out and it's close. There's no point!"

At this point I would do analysis but you know what. I got nothing. Of course the pitching is worse but that doesn't explain the terribleness in innings 1-6.  It's not the pinch hitting (decent pop and OBP but nothing crazy). Different approach maybe?

Notes : 
  • Doug Fister looked good. Now let's see start #3. Then maybe some evaluation
  • Ian Desmond might, just might, be turning a corner. 5-15 with a 3B and HR in his last 4 games. 
  • Another guy who might be rounding back into form? Clippard. No ERs given up since April 11th, lowering his ERA from 5.40 to 2.08, though that's a little misleading. More impressive : 3 hits, 4 walks, 10 Ks  in last 9 appearances (7.2 IP), no hits or walks and 4 Ks in his last 4 appearances.
  • Guys who aren't hitting? Wilson Ramos (.143 / .250 / .143 in past week), Anthony Rendon (.208 / .200 / .250) and Danny Espinosa (.091 / .091 / .364 with NINE strikeouts).  Wilson can be forgiven but Rendon and Danny should teach you yet another lesson about coming to judgements too soon. Maybe Rendon IS better than Bryce! Maybe Danny is a better hitter than before! Nope and Nope.


Kenny B. said...

Okaybut... the latest numbers from Danny and Rendon are not the only numbers. the first part of the season counts too. If they come back up to decent levels soon, this will just be a slump and they'll be in the process up putting together great seasons. If the slumps never end... yeah, they were not as good as they seemed at first. Either way, we don't currently know the answer to that riddle.

With Rendon, we don't have much history, and I'm bullish just because I have no reason not to be. With Espy, well after last season, I'm just excited he helped us stay competitive through a month of injuries, and won't be shocked if he craters again.

Donald said...

@Kenny -- totally agree. Plus, Bryce was slumping to start the season too.

@Harper -- I sure hope you are right about Desmond. They really need more offense. Keeping my fingers crossed on that front.

Chaz R said...

Yup, and when singling out the non-hitters, we can't forget Span. I could almost accept his lack of production as a tradeoff for his defense in CF, if MW would just get him out of the leadoff spot!

I don't want to alarm anyone, but this is the exact same record they had last year at this time.

Bote Man said...

These guys are not starters, but have been pressed into starting service on account of the injuries to the starting 8. Some guys do better as bench players and spot starters, while they wear down as everyday players. Maybe Danny, Rendon, and McLouth fall into this category? For now, we won't have the luxury to find out because the game must go on and those guys are "IT".

Zimmerman is also slightly behind his forecast 5-6 week return mark; color me surprised. I'm fully expecting to learn soon that Bryce re-injured his thumb while flipping soda pop bottle caps across the room in a contest with his brother.

Harper said...

KB - You are kind of close to the "The good times are real. The bad times are just flukes!" thinking. I'm not saying these guys are as bad as they have been. I'm saying that these slumps have brought them closer to "reality". .280 20HR for Rendon makes a lot more sense to me than .310 25 guy people where projecting out at the end of April. Danny hits .230 with pop enough to hit 25 homers? that's what he was before - makes sense that's what he still is.

I'm trying not to be bullish or bearish, and I think we're at a point in the season where even the long good stretches are finding themselves evened out.

Donald - even at his worst Ian wasn't this bad, have to think he'll hit something like .275 here on out.

Chaz R - I assume Span is given in talk of anything wrong with the offense.

Bote Man - Rendon is def a starter. Danny and McLouth both have been decent ones recently. I'll hear no excuses. This isn't Chad Tracy playing everyday.

Anonymous said...

Harper, you always hear if the middle of the order isnt hitting you arent gonna score runs. So if you dont have the middle of the order in the lineup, you really arent gonna score runs. Just survive, it doesnt have to be pretty.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that given the play of the team so far, I'm actually somewhat impressed they're 21-19. While I agree that the reversion a for Danny and Rendon are probably more realistic, our pitching too should start to revert to a slightly better level (assuming roark and fister outperform det and haren). So too should a few of the subs (mclouth is glaringly underperforming history) and most importantly out defense shouldn't be his bad. Put that together and I can only hope we do well in this soft part of our schedule and get laroche zim and Harper healthy soon

JWLumley said...

@Harper, I wouldn't evaluate ANYONE on one week's worth of AB's. Danny Espinosa, to me, looks like a starting big league SS again. Yeah, he's probably going to hit .240 or .250, but with pop and the best defense in the big leagues this side of Andrelton Simmons. Basically, he's Denard Span with SS. That value is greatly diminished at 2B, because you expect more offense at 2B. As for Rendon, well I would say that there's no doubt that Danny Espinosa is their best bench player, way better than Kevin Frandsen.

Another thing, is that it's super awesome to watch all of these guys come out of the bullpen after not pitching for a week (Hello Drew Storen in Oakland) Matt Williams is the worst. I couldn't have imagined a worse manager for the Nats if Dusty Baker himself had gotten the job.

As for Desmond, I'm worried this is the new normal. Pitchers seem to be slowly realizing that Desmond should never ever see a first pitch fastball again. But what's concerning is how often he's swinging....and missing. 15.1% of the time to be exact. His contact percentage is down to 70.9%. Desmond is a mistake hitter, he crushes mistakes, but if pitchers feed him junk outside the zone and he misses their mistake, he's just not as effective. Of course, Desmond is also still one of the only Nationals yet to get a day off.

JWLumley said...

@Anon What evidence is there to suggest that it's reasonable to believe Roark will outperform Detwiler from last year? (Not that Det made it that long.) Just curious, as I am of the firm belief that Detwiler is substantially more talented than Roark.

Anonymous said...

More looking at the combination of Det and Haren v. Fister and roark with the idea that roark can at least be on par with Det last year (who wasn't that good last year to be honest too, but I still love him for game four).

Jay said...

The time to decide to not bat Span leadoff was before they traded for him. There is no one else right now that could. Rendon? He seems most comfortable 2nd and he does drive in runs. Werth is the lone true RBI guy still healthy. Zach Walters - strikes out too much. The Span boat has sailed at this point. We just need to hope he can figure it out. Their offense is much better when he is not grounding out to second.

I would think Roark compares to Haren and not Detwiler. Haren was always the 5th starter last year based on talent and results. Detwiler was coming off of a good year in 2012. Either way it probably doesn't matter. Fisher should be much better than Haren or Detwiler. I lived in Detroit for 5 years before moving closer to home in the last few years. Fister is much closer to the pitcher from yesterday than not. He is a big pick up. Roark is likely better than Haren (last year)and at least as good as Detwiler (last year). I like Detwiler but he has one pitch, struggles the 2nd and 3rd time through the order, and can't stay healthy. That usually adds up to a reliever. They just aren't using him well out of the bullpen. He's a serviceable major league starter. 2012 was him at his very best. Nothing else in his career points to 2012 being the norm.

Can people please stop saying the Tigers got the better end of the deal already?? Robbie Ray is likely headed back to AAA soon. He had two good starts and so did Taylor Jordan last year. Nats have control of Fister for the next two years. It was highway robbery what they did to the Tigers, but the Tigers wanted to shed some salary. Good for Rizzo. As much as I bash him for trading for Span, he gets much more right than wrong.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, based on how the whole infield is underperforming defensively. Could the new coaching staff be bad at managing defensive shifts? It seems unlikely that this many solid defensive players would suddenly become below-average-to-bad.

JWLumley said...

@Anon The coaching staff hasn't really changed much except for Matt Williams and his fielding coach, but yes, could be the case. Shifts only work if you employ them correctly. If you're the type of person who uses statistics when they back up your gut and throw them away when they don't, then they won't do much good. I hear FP mention fangraphs a lot, right before he talks about the veterany grittyness of some journeymen utility infielder and their importance to a ballclub in bunting people over.

Anonymous said...

You know how to make ERA a more useful statistic? Count every single run driven in by a base hit an earned run, and if it's a homer that drives in the run, charge it to the pitcher who gives up the tater. Clippard has been better lately, but the no earned run streak includes the game when he gave up the double to Ibanez and the Dodgers scored 4 runs when he was on the mound.

DezoPenguin said...

Personally, I think the best thing to come out of the Arizona series (other than the wins) was Fister pitching a good game. If he threw up another stinker, it'd start all kinds of questions going about whether he was still hurt, etc.


What does "true RBI guy" even mean? Werth's a good hitter, sure, but he's not a significantly better power hitter than Ian or ALR (presuming Ian performs more like he has in 2012 and 2013 than this year, of course; I mention LaRoche because he was still around and hitting very well during most of the season), and you can't be an RBI guy at all if there's no one on base to bat in because Span's OBP is the one in front of you. Moreover, while that reasoning certainly plays *now* (although in that case Werth should be hitting fourth, or have him hit second and Ian fourth), it certainly didn't apply when Zim and Harper were still in the lineup and Williams was choosing to bat the worst-hitting position player on the team leadoff.

On the other hand, I agree completely with you about the Fister trade. I mean, Fister suffered a freak injury in spring training and immediately the pundits started exclaiming that Dombrowski was a genius because somehow he knew that would happen. Sure, it may turn out that Ray actually is as good a pitcher as Fister, or gives more benefit to the Tigers over time due to his additional years of team control, but maybe we could wait on that question until after they each have more than two starts? (Also, getting Lombo off the Nationals almost feels like addition by itself. Especially since whatever you can say about Frandsen, he is leagues better than Lombo at being league-average.)

@Harper: I agree with your take on Rendon and Espi as expressed in the comment thread, but the actual blog post really did read more like you believed the slumps reflected "See? They suck!" instead of "They won't hit like April all season and we're seeing some correction for that in their recent cold streaks."

m j b said...

Rendon and Danny shouldn't be in the same sentence unless speaking of defense, where Rondon is showing he can be a valuable IF.

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