Ok I do know what. I just don't know why.
Let's recap. ZNN pitched well. Nats hit well. Took advantage of Marlins mistakes. Detwiler didn't blow it thanks in part to a big Storen K of Detwiler. 6-3 going into the ninth. Now let's go over all the logic that leads to the loss.
Soriano comes in. Why not keep pitching Storen? He's been very good. He only faced one batter and you hate to waste him on 1/3 an inning. Simply put you don't do that. Save situations go to the closer. That's why you pay them the big bucks. If he's closed like the last 3 games you give it to someone else. Other than that he has "first dibs" on every save situation.
Well if save situations go to the closer - why didn't you bring in Soriano to face Stanton? It would still be righty versus righty and then you wouldn't waste a Storen appearance on a single batter. This makes some sense but if at all possible the closer pitches the ninth and only the ninth. This rule is more open to changes but in general the save of more than 3 outs is rare. It takes a "bulldog" to want to go more than 3 outs. Gotta save these arms for the playoffs! A closer is a delicate flower who if asked to get more than 3 people out may explode.
Following straight logic what I said above sounds a little silly, but everyone does it and they aren't terrible rules in certain circumstances, such as when your bullpen is deep and your closer is good. That describes the Nats. I don't have any big problems yet.
McGehee walks on 4 pitches - Not a good start but this changes nothing
Jones doubles to deep right center - crushed and brings the tying run to the plate, but you don't pull Soriano or even look to yet. Rookie righty next.
Ozuna singles to right center - Kind of a flare, which might have been caught (or at least dove for) if the OF wasn't playing deep to prevent XBH. Stinks.
At this point you start to look ahead. You may pull him for a lefty (Blevins) now, but if you do you need a righty to follow-up, because you don't want Blevins facing righties this year. Salty has some pop but strikes out a lot so you probably keep Soriano in and hope for the best. If not then Blevins and Clippard.
Salty hits a sac fly to right - not the best, but not the worst. If you've gone with Soriano at this point he pitches to Hechavarria, but someone is warming up in case this guy gets on. Clippard threw 21 pitches the night before, but would still make the most sense. You just rule him out entirely for Tuesday. Barrett, who pitched badly but only threw six pitches, wouldn't be a bad choice either. You are probably saving Stammen for the potential extra innings. You'd might also warm up Blevins to go up versus Yelich if the righties failed in some manner, but really you'd probably just let Clippard try to seal it.
Hechavarria tripled to deep right center - hell of an at bat by Hechavarria but also telling for three reasons. First Soriano doesn't have his put away stuff. He hasn't K'd anyone at this point and Adeiny managed to foul off 5 pitches. With the winning run on third and one out - you really are looking for a K here. Second, Soriano didn't have his location and threw a wild pitch. With the winning run on third you don't want that threat on the mound. Third, Soriano is now up to 25 pitches thanks to that long at bat. He's gone 26 three times, never longer and he'd have to go longer to finish this game.
With three big red flags it's an easy decision. You pull Soriano now. But for some reason Williams decided that Clippard and Barrett were both not going to pitch tonight regardless of the situation. It's a silly decision - these guys should be able to go two nights in a row and you can see how this hamstrings Williams. You are left with two guys in the pen then, Stammen (R) & Blevins (L). The Marlins have R-L-R coming up (beyond that is Stanton but it's difficult for the Nats to get there and not have lost the game) You can't work the match-ups as you like so you're left with three choices.
- Have Stammen come in now, finish out the inning - you don't like the Yelich match-up but you can pitch him carefully and get two righty on righty match-ups.
- Have Blevins come in now - You don't like the Solano match-up, but it's Donovan Solano. Plus, Blevins has better K-stuff.
- You keep Soriano in for one more guy, let Blevins pitch to Yelich, then bring in Stammen for Baker and beyond. This get you only favorable match-ups but Soriano as we explained is toast.
Solano HBP - terrible. Blevins is the call and the call is made
Yelich strikes out - sweet! Things worked out as planned. Now just bring in Stammen and maybe you can win in extras if he ho...wait. Stammen wasn't warming up? But that means Blevins has to face a righty (a righty who kills lefties I might add) and that means...
Baker "singles" to deep left - Crushed over Bryce's head. No chance. Nats lose, Nats lose.
The failures that had Soriano pitching the ninth are the failures of the game, not Williams. In fact, most people wouldn't consider those decisions wrong. Even though I think they are, (especially if you know Clip and Barrett are not pitching tonight - makes a lot of sense then for the 4-out save) having a good pitcher in to pitch the ninth is never a bad thing and that's where the Nats ended up.
In the ninth the first time Soriano could be pulled was for a lefty to face Salty but just three batters into the ninth I don't see you doing that. And once Salty gets out, you don't pull him against Hechavarria.
Given that the first big mistake comes with letting Sorinao pitch to Solano. The sad part is that this wasn't a mistake caused by in the moment thinking. It's a mistake caused by strictly following a decision made to start the game. Clippard and Barrett weren't pitching tonight. That decision was made. Now, in a close game, he's suddenly left with a LOOGY and a long reliever. I still don't pitch Soriano at this point but you can see how he got to that decision.
The second mistake comes by not having Stammen ready to face Baker. I don't see why you wouldn't do this. Someone has to pitch the extra-innings if you get there. It's unlikely that the pitcher spot would come up next inning without the Nats scoring a run (5-6-7 up) so PH for the pitcher is probably not a huge necessity. This makes sense on even the basic "this is what's done in baseball" level. Williams basically broke from the rules at this point to do something stupid, which is like extra stupid.
Can Williams get this team to the playoffs? I think so. Of course I think anyone can. Can he win there... well they aren't going to win because of him, not managing like this.