Yesterday Matt Williams gave away a game. With Zimmerman out "days off" become a commodity that must be handed out carefully. Does Werth need another day to rest his ankle? Fine. But then Ramos needs to play. It wasn't even asking too much of him. He didn't play Sunday. Rockies night games start a little earlier (6:40 local) which lessens the day-night issue a little bit. (which really is just a made up thing anyway - like 5 more hours would make all the difference. You sit catchers on day after night games not because they can't handle such a crazy act of fortitude, but because you should give catchers more rest and day after night games are spread out enough that they make convenient places to remember to do that). But Williams had his set rules and he had to go ahead with them.
Then there's the line-up. You can understand putting Desmond 5th, sort of. Williams seems to have an unnatural fear of having lefties back to back in the lineup, and a desire to put Bryce in his place, so Bryce won't get the chance to bat in Zimm's spot. Desmond getting it makes the most sense I guess. So be it. That's the hand Nats fans have been dealt. But switching Rendon to the 3rd spot so Hairston can bat 2nd? What the hell is that? I'd rather see Hairston bat 3rd - at least you can use the "we are keeping guys in their usual spots" excuse. There are optimal lineups but given the way Matt coaches we'll never get those. Even taking that into account, why can't we see a lineup that's Span-Rendon-LaRoche-Werth-Bryce-Desmond-Ramos-Espy? Doesn't that make sense with Zimm out for say a month? Arrgh
Look, the Nats should be good enough to lose a game they should win here and there and still take the NL East, but you want to minimize the number of these losses because you never know. Maybe Werth needs a DL stint too. Maybe ZNN goes out and blows out his arm next start. Then what? Then you are fighting for a WC spot and you get to the end, you lose out by a game and you say "Well, that's baseball!" No. That's you screwing around in games you should win costing the Nats a playoff spot.
Meanwhile Strasburg remains an enigma in 2014. You can say nothing is wrong and it's just bad luck and hey, maybe it is. These things can last a while, even a season. But when it's going into a 2nd half you really have to start to look at a player. There are a lot of theories being bandied about (My least favorite one - "He needs another pitch!" Like pitchers haven't gotten by on 3 or fewer pitches before) My personal take - when you have an elite fastball, like in the upper 90s, it doesn't matter where you throw it. Guys can't hit that. But when you start drifting into the mid to low 90s location starts to matter. That's where Strasburg is moving into. It's still a good enough fastball not to get killed, but it's not good enough to be dominant on speed alone. Of course the caveat is that I can't really tell how much he's missing his targets. I can tell you prior to 2014 he was keeping the fastball away from righties and in to lefties and he's giving both more pitches to the middle. But is that by design? Going for contact? Command statistics exist but as far as I know are not out there for you and me so it's just eyeballing and guesswork unless someone wants to chart all of his games.
Here's the highlights from last game. By watching Ramos you can see he missed badly on the Dickerson hit. He might have missed a little low on the Paulsen hit. He missed on the DP ball, it was supposed to be outside and low - perfect for inducing DPs - but it went inside. It was still low and Stubbs isn't a great hitter so they got what they wanted but it could have been worse.
Here's the Brewer's game. He misses down to Gennett on the HR, arguably in a lefties wheelhouse. Misses in to Davis on his HR. Misses at least out over the plate (maybe a little up too) on the lazy pop-up that the Nats' movers couldn't bring the statue that is Jayson Werth in to catch fast enough.
These hits seem to agree with the idea that he's having an issue hitting spots, especially cross his body (in to lefties, outside to righties). Of course there is a huge bias problem here when we're looking at only the other teams hitting the ball. I'd be shocked if we didn't see a lot of missed spots. We'd see the same thing if we looked at all the hits versus Kershaw, King Felix, or old video of Jason Simontacchi. What we really want to know is how often this happens. Pitchers miss spots every game. You miss a few times in 7 innings you are dominant. You miss a few times to each batter and you are toast.
Anyone have hours and hours free?