Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, August 04, 2014

Monday Quickie

The Braves are begging, PLEADING, to be put out of their misery. If you doubt that, understand that they continue to play BJ Upton everyday.  BJ Upton has just over 900+ PAs for the Braves so far. He's batting under .200 and has 16 home runs across 1 and 2/3 seasons. After having one of the worst offensive seasons in recent memory in 2013 the Braves decided to bat him primarly first or second. Does that sound like a team that wants to win?

The Nats haven't been able to do it just yet thanks to some bumbling play versus bad teams but they have a chance this week. They play 2 more games than the Braves before Friday (the Braves have two off days - how 'bout that!) then head into Atlanta for a 3 game set. I'd love it if the Nats wake up a week from now a cool 5.5 games ahead of the Braves and almost (but not quite) in coasting mode.

As for the Nats the starting pitching is hot.  In their last 2 games each Zimmermann, Strasburg, Roark and Fister have gone 14 innings* and they've given up 2, 1, 2, & 2 runs respectively.  Roark has been particuarly good going four straight games of 7 IP, 1 R ball. The relief pitching though has been spotty and the offense up and down. As much attention as Bryce Harper has gotten for his issues, Werth, LaRoche, and Ramos are all hitting noticeably worse.

I'm hoping (and expecting) the offense to get fully on track soon and this week would be nice. It's a week that should set-up the rest of the season. With a week of great play, the Nats can put away the free falling Braves, with good play they can expand to a comfortable lead. Or if they continue to stumble, it sets up August as a continued slow pull away, with the "one bat injury away" hanging over the Nats season for another month. (and then, for completeness sake, there's a total collapse scenario making the season a dogfight - but does anyone see that happening?)

The won't get another straight-up shot at the Braves until a week into September so let's get this done.

*Last Nats pitcher to go over 7 innings was Strasburg a month ago. Just noting - I didn't see an egregious pattern of underuse or anything. 


Chaz R said...

Yep, Harper, we should have put the Braves away by now. But, the Braves also are going into a tough part of their schedule (finally!). They couldn't hold their ground with a weak schedule against sub .500 teams. Their offense is horrible, but it seems their pitching may be regressing finally as well, and as predicted, they are over-working Kimbrel.

Jimmy said...

Span continues to make us all look like asshats.

Donald said...

The Braves played to a 17-9 record through April. Since then, they've gone 41-45, and that includes the easiest part of their schedule. If they continue on their current pace, they'll win 82 games. They've shown the ability to go on streaks, so it's possible they have another 17-9 stretch left in them, but I doubt it. I really, really don't understand why BJ Upton keeps leading off. Freddy's no genius, but honestly.

In other news, rumor has it that Souza is being called up and McLouth is going on the DL. Not sure how good Souza will end up being but call-ups can often have a hot streak before the league gets to figure them out. The offense could certainly use a boost.

Bjd1207 said...

@Donald - Very telling stats on the braves. I can't explain BJ at the top of the order for so long either. I guess you can't really void 2 multi-million contracts in the same season and keep your sanity, but jeez at least move him down.

Curious, what's your source on McLouth? You're the first I've heard the DL stint real or fake you think? (Meaning a real injury or just an excuse to get him off the roster for a time)

Chaz R said...

I saw the same rumor about Souza coming up and McLouth going on the DL. I think it came from Ladson. Souza was pulled out of Chiefs game yesterday.

Jimmy said...

Souza is back Mclouth on the dl, maybe Souza can get some productive ab.

Nattydread said...

One word: Span.

nicoxen said...

I have been super critical of Span, so I guess I should eat crow.

If July Span is the real Span then I don't think Rizzo has any regrets for trading Alex Meyer for him.

However, one month does not a season make. He's a very streaky guy. I think base stealing and excellent fielding is something he can bring to the park every day, but I'm not so optimistic he can maintain his high BA or OBP for the remainder of the season.

Let's see how things play out through September before exercising his option.

Harper said...

Chaz R - better than never working Kimbrel which is also something Fredi is inclined to do

Jimmy/ND - He had a hot month. He's had hot months before. You go on what the info in front of you says and nothing predicted this. There's no shame is having someone surprise you. It happens. You just hope it's a good surprise.

Would you say LaRoche is making us look like asshats because we all think he should've started in July and he's had such a terrible month?

Donald - As you know it's dangerous to say "Oh well those first 26 games can be dismissed" because that's a pretty large chunk. I don't see any reason to think they'll challenge 90 wins, but I'd put them in the high 80s, and winning at better than a 41-45 pace.

Souza won't play much so I'm not sure what kind of boost he'll give.

BJD - Yeah, I understand the reason you keep him playing (don't agree but understand) but why 1st? Are you insane?

karl kolchak said...

McOut should stay out until the rosters expand on 9/1. Better yet, he ought to be DFA'ed, but there are 10 million reasons why he won't be. Unfortunately, Souza won't get a lot of ABs, so we might not get much of an indicator of how good he could be. Maybe he can start for Bryce against the next tough lefty--Hairston's an embarassment at this point.

Bjd1207 said...

@nicoxen - While I'm on board with the "one month does not a season make" mentality, I think Span's season is closer to 1 bad month than 1 good one:

April - bad
May - Good
June - Average (maybe slightly under)
July - Great
August - So far so good

Jay said...

McLouth on the do bc he supposedly hurt his shoulder diving for that ball I'm Miami. More likely he hurt his pride bc he dove and missed by about 3-4 feet. Not even close to the ball. Doubt it will help much bc I imagine MW won't use him.
I agree this would be a nice week to get rolling. If they win on Atl's two off days that's a game right there. Take 2/3 from mets and atl and likely Nats up by a lot next Monday. Having said that I don't see it. Last week showed there are no gimme games.

blovy8 said...

Yeah, Span's numbers this year are in line with his career ones, there's nothing crazy about how he got those results, players are usually streaky which is why you have to be patient about making radical changes once you have a good sense about what a guy can do. The next question is whether Cabrera has his 270/330/410 career numbers in him. Hopefully, after his adjustment period, he can follow Span's example and hot streak his way back somthing decent.

ClownQ/A said...

The braves are in the rear view mirror now and should be an afterthought after the 10th. But what's concerning is that the Nats have the fewest wins of any division leader now. Sure it's a crowded field outside of Oakland but still not feeling confident DC earns its first post-season series win this year. Hoping so!

In other news I've picked out a nice place in the garden for my Werth garden Gnome. Hope to see yall out there in force.

Anonymous said...

Is it just anecdotal or has it been proven that teams offenses see a slump after leaving Colorado? I know I have heard that before, but am not sure if it is true.

Froggy said...

Go Denard, go Denard, go Denard...

I admire the Span haters who admit they were wrong about him, and calling for a trade. Seems like he is getting on base at least 2-4 times per game and his stealing rate is got to be up there with the best of the league for the last month. As to his BA, if I recall, didn't he have a 30 game hitting streak last Aug/Sep '13? So maybe he is a second half guy who is hitting his stride? (knock on wood). Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler mentioned that it looks like Span tries to have a long first at-bat and then swing for the first pitch on his second AB. In other words, like he has a plan for the game and each at bat, unlike a certain 21 yo phenom who can't hit a pitch away if it is on a T-ball stand.

As to the Braves, I think the whole Uggla thing speaks to some bigger issues in the clubhouse. I think this is the first year in some time where I really believe the Braves are toast.

BxJaycobb said...

Re Bryce, perhaps we can take the Span surprise development as an opportunity to not mock / over criticize/ overstate difficulties of a player over a less than gigantic sample size. If Bryce hits five or six bombs in August and hits 330 are we going to then be doing the "asshat" dance again? I mean for goodness sake the guy has a higher OBP than rendon right now...this when he's in the depths of slumping. Let's chill.

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