Nationals Baseball: Why we fight

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why we fight

The Braves aren't that good either.

I posited (big word!) yesterday that we might have already given up on the Nats NL East chances if the Braves hadn't lost so many starts this year to injury. It's an interesting alternate universe theory to discuss, but in the end it's still an alternate universe theory. The Braves DID lose those arms. They are not as good as they would have looked last November. They are a team that would be at least 2 games back in any other division. A team who is in first place because they managed to go a "blistering" 11-9 in their last 20.  A team who facing at home a reeling Red Sox team who just lost 10 in a row have lost two in a row.  They are ok. The Nats can beat ok... if they are healthy and if they don't fall too far behind.

The Braves can't score runs, not like they should. They have to carry around the dead weight of Dan Uggla and BJ Upton. Chris Johnson, who why in the hell did they extend this guy, is hitting as if he wants to even out last year's performance. He's not this bad but he's not that good either. Heyward is their own personal headcase. Simmons is still learning to be an effective offensive player. (fun fact : Simmons is less than a month younger than Heyward).  The bench, as benches are wont to do, is disappointing. That's a lot of baggage. So even though Justin Upton is living up to his potential and Freeman is a star the offense can't get going. Could it? Sure if Gattis can stay healthy and Heyward can get his head on straight and Simmons can even out a bit. The bench should bounce back. It can be ok. This gives the Nats hope.

What gives the Nats worries is the Braves pitching (or it should) - best ERA in the NL right now. Some people have issues with the Braves staff but there isn't a reason why it can't keep something like this up.  Obviously Teheran's not ending the year with an ERA under 2.00 but he's great, Minor is very good. You know I like Santana in the NL. The Nats best hope when it comes to the pitching, funny as it sounds, lies in the fact that both Harang and Floyd are pitching well. This means guys like Wood and Hale, who might develop into something special (probably not for Hale, maybe for Wood) are relegated to the pen. This makes the pen really strong again but it also means that there may come a time where Harang and Floyd come back to Earth and the Braves, like any team would, stick with the veterans longer than they should. Not much of a hope mind you but it's something to hang a hat on, especially trying to come back later in the year when those older arms might be getting tired.  (Now could they pitch well all season? I kind of doubt it, but it's not impossible. Could they pitch well enough for long enough to put the Nats in a big hole? That's the more substantial worry.)

And then there's always Fredi.

So the Nats have hope, and the fans are able to still look at this team a game UNDER .500, (which should be unacceptable at this point), and think they can still easily make the playoffs because of the Braves. But remember - it works both ways. The Braves fans have confidence and are able to look at their team 5 games OVER .500 and think they can easily hold the lead because of the Nats. The Nats offense is struggling too and carrying if not dead, then dying weight, Espy, Span. The Nats have guys underperforming (Desmond, Ramos) and young guys still learning (Rendon). The Nats one true offensive presence right now is also one that unlike Freeman and Upton, you don't think can hold up at this lievel for the whole season (LaRoche). The pitching, like the Braves, is strong, but the relief pitching has been so good that it seems prime for a little mid-season correction.

The Nats ace in the hole is that they, unlike the Braves, have good players coming back to fix the offense but they aren't here now. Until that happens the Braves have the edge. The question is whether they can capitalize. The fact that it's a question is good enough to keep the Nats fans hopes alive.

24 comments:

Erich said...

Does anyone know when the make up date is for last night? Thursday seems obvious with the Nats staying in town and the Marlins only needing to get to Atlanta on Friday, but I have crossed my fingers for a later date.

Donald said...

@ Erich -- Looks like it won't be made up until late in the season -- maybe Sept. 26th.

http://natsinsider.com/2014/05/27/game-postponed-no-makeup-announce-yet/

Erich said...

@ Donald -- Thanks! I had not seen that. I understand why the Nationals want to push the date, but don't the Marlins get an input?

Clip&Store said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clip&Store said...

It's probably Gonna be later in the year when we got the full band back together (of course, that is, until the next string of injuries).

I agree with you Harper, boy it's hard to imagine it's this difficult with how the division is to be doing better, even with the current roster . Gotta wonder if 2012 was almost purely luck, and this and last year are the true talent levels of these guys.

Donald said...

I agree that the Braves seem beatable -- just not sure if it'll be the Nats or Marlins that does the beating.

One other thing to hang a hat on is that the Braves haven't really had any injuries at all since the season started. If your truism holds about the wear and tear of 162 game schedule, they should expect some of their current players losing more time. If it's J.Upton, Freeman, or Teheran, they could be in very bad shape.

On the flip side, I'd be really surprised if a WC comes out of the NL East, so it's either win the division or go home.

Chaz R said...

@Erich prior to first pitch, it's the home team's decision on whetehr to call the game. We might see another postponement tonight!

I would hope we would see some positive correction in our starting pitching, which has been under-performing so far as well.

So, we'll see who cracks first - Nats or Braves?

Anonymous said...

What kind of insane world are Nats fans living in that they think they need "positive correction" for the starting pitchers?

Final Scores of all Nats loses since Gio has been on the DL: (4-3) (2-1) (3-1) (4-3) (3-2) (3-2)

Throw in an extra week of loses, or all the games lost since we got out of Oakland: (3-1) (5-2)*

* Gio's last outing

The positive correction has already occurred, we just need it to be maintained.

You people want a Gem every night, but that just doesn't happen... not for Kershaw, Lee, Verlander, Darvish, King Felix, ... anybody!

Check the career ERA's for all the studs in the league during their great seasons, they are all above 3.00 except Kershaw with his really amazing 2.62.

The Nats hitters need to start putting runs on the board. End of Story.

Chaz R said...

In the insane world of this Nats fan here are the projections for the Nats pitchers including starters:

http://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&type=zips&team=24&players=0

Here are their current stats:

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=24&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

Aside from Roark, they havenot lived up to their billing. I'm not saying they aren't doing ok. They were billed as an elite rotation, and they are only performing at a satisfactory level.

Erich said...

@Chaz R

I think what Anon is trying to say is that the turn has already started. Continuing to perform at the levels seen over the last week (or so), that the pitching staff will approach the season projections by the end of the season.

A trade certainly seems required for the team, but I wonder if the Braves struggles have (temporarily) removed the feeling that something MUST be done.

blovy8 said...

The trouble with the do-nothing attitude is that you can't assume Zim and Harper will immediately help when they get back either - look at Ramos' numbers. There's no reason to assume the club won't keep losing ground with the status quo. Honestly, the Marlins are better right now, so why should we expect to stay close? If you assume the worst is over when Harper comes back, you have to believe Werth and the survivors aren't getting hurt this year. I still think the 4th outfielder is going to be due at least another 200-250 atbats. Hairston is hitting, but do we want him playing more? It's going to be Frandsen, Moore, or McLouth making a bunch of outs. There's no reason at all to expect even below average from that group, basically they are roughly replacement level. While they have to give up something to get something, frankly, taking a flier on someone else has virtually no risk at this point as long as the deal is for someone without a real future on the club. The way they're using Detwiler, half the clubs would be a better fit for him even with his contract status.

Erich said...

@blovy8
Yeah, but the way they are using Detwiler has really depressed his value.

Nattydread said...

The fact that the Braves are doing so badly bodes well for the Nats.

This is not last year. Although this is not the #1 offensive team in the NL, it is due for some upward adjustments. Nate McClouth will not be this bad all year. Rendon is on a general upward trend. Werth and LaRoche are going to continue to hit. Ramos and Desmond are known quantities. And Zimmerman and Harper are coming back.

So, with a BETTER starting and relief squad than 2013. And hitting that cannot get worse --- but still keeps the team in every game --- you have to be optimistic.

Things will start to turn around. After the all star game there will be some winning streaks.

Get off the ledge.

Nattydread said...

The fact that the Braves are doing so badly bodes well for the Nats.

This is not last year. Although this is not the #1 offensive team in the NL, it is due for some upward adjustments. Nate McClouth will not be this bad all year. Rendon is on a general upward trend. Werth and LaRoche are going to continue to hit. Ramos and Desmond are known quantities. And Zimmerman and Harper are coming back.

So, with a BETTER starting and relief squad than 2013. And hitting that cannot get worse --- but still keeps the team in every game --- you have to be optimistic.

Things will start to turn around. After the all star game there will be some winning streaks.

Get off the ledge.

WiredHK said...

Erich/Anon - I call BS. So, we're going to cherry pick the last two weeks of the SPs stats as "things have turned now" and ignore the rest of their starts this year? Since Oak, we've just happened to face Ari/NYM/Cincy/Pitt (and now Miami). If that isn't the softest offensive stretch you could want to face this side of including the Padres, I don't know what would be.

I think the whole year so far (and guys' personal ERAs) are a pretty fair representation of how our SPs are performing - and it's been...ok. But for a team that was hoping to hang it's hat on having an elite staff and a decent offense, the real result has been an ok starting staff and an injury-riddled offense to go with it.

I'm not blaming the record on pitching (the injuries to the offense are clearly reasons 1A and 1B for the current record), but it's unfair to act like the starting staff has been even above average or that they've figured it all out and their true colors are coming out now.

The jury is decidedly out on that.

Anonymous said...

What is this thing other teams are trying where rather than use the bat to cool off the speedy pitch with a gust of air, they instead use the bat to eject the ball violently into the field? The Nats should try that. It seems effective.

Anonymous said...

I never have a problem with a manager, but I've got a problem with Williams. He's seemed impotent and useless to me so far.

Froggy said...

Yet another terrible mental game of baseball last night. In 2012 an error was a rare enough thing you could remember them all. This season it's a memorable thing if we DON'T commit one in a game.

Also, Matt Williams reminds me of a poodle when he trots out on the field to 'contest' a call and then looks back into the dugout for approval from his master. Reply has removed all the fire from the manager's role in the game.

Froggy said...

Insert: replay

blovy8 said...

Detwiler is still a hard-throwing lefty who has had success starting. There are a ton of teams who would ignore how the Nats are screwing that up and be able to just let him pitch regularly and hope for his past performance level. If he weren't left-handed, he wouldn't be on the roster. There's no good path for him to succeed here any more.

This team is probably going to be in fifth place before it's in first. I'm going to start looking at the draft board soon.

blovy8 said...

Also, since the reverse jinx seems to be fully in force with McLouth actually on base every ab, and Ramos hitting a homer, maybe I should call someone else out. Zimmermann, you friggin' loafer, I bet you'll find a way to wait til the all-star break to show up...

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Anonymous said...

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