Nationals Baseball: Random stuff

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random stuff

Want to rate the superhunks? Because we're almost at that time. Basically the only thing standing between the Nats and total and absolute control of the NL East is... well the Nats. They have gone 4-9 versus the Braves this year.  Even going 6-7 would put the Nats now at 8 10 games ahead, the kind of lead where you start saying "well if everything breaks right for the Braves" If the Nats could have pulled a winning record versus the Braves we're looking at a double digit lead.

The Braves are close to being toast - but don't buy into the whole "since going 17-7" thing that makes them look like a bad team. They aren't. They just aren't good. If you look at their schedule a more accurate breakdown would probably read : 17-7 / 1-8 / 40-33 / 3-12.  They spent the majority of the season playing like a high 80s win team. Makes more sense right based on what you think of them, or at least is does to me. 

So here to end the week just a random assortment of pitcher facts/ thoughts.

So what IS the playoff rotation? With 40+ games to go it's a tough call. The rotation based on stats/results would probably go something like Fister, ZNN, Roark, Stras, Gio. I'd say Gio in the 5th spot is the most obvious slotting and thus would be the first guy out but he's the only lefty and everything about Matt Williams tells me he'll want to mix a lefty in there. So do you take out Strasburg then? Oh god, I'm already having nightmares about the media play that would get. Roark? That can't be justified in anyway other than "veteran status".  What do I think? Well hopefully the Nats catch Milwuakee so you can push Gio out and it makes sense. Otherwise, how about this - don't move anyone to the pen. You don't have to. You have 5 good arms. Just a thought.

Don't think positioning matters? Here is what has happened to the BA associated with line drives since 2009 (in the NL). .728 -> .727 -> .718 -> .716 -> .665 -> .654.  Meanwhile the isoSLG (slugging taking out the singles) has gone up so guys aren't hitting it softer, teams are just getting better at putting defenders in the right spot.

Roark :  The opposing team has hit Roark better in DC. Better average, higher slugging, gotten on base more. They've struck out a lot less, walked more, better BABIP. Yet his ERA is almost a run better in DC. A little bit can be associated with actually more power away when they hit the ball (better isoSLG) but almost a run? Quirky.

Fister : Speaking of BA associated with LDs, Fister's is .586, that's why things like FIP, xFIP, fWAR don't love the guy. He's getting A LOT of hits where they is, as opposed to where they ain't.

Gio : This 2012 nugget still amazes me. Against the pitcher in 57 PAs Gio got 41 strikeouts. 41! For comparison Strasburg might lead the league in K's this year, he has gotten 23K in 56 PAs. Kerhsaw has 14 in 31. (when you're Kershaw good you don't face the P a lot)

OK as for this year - he's not getting lefties out. They are actually hitting him better than righties. Seem strange? It shouldn't. Lefties hit Gio better in 2012 and 2011 too.

ZNN :Remember that amazing "no-walk" run the Nats pitcher's had? For ZNN it's back. In his past six starts he's struck out 34 guys and walked 1. He actually has gotten hit so it's not like he's dominating out there, but he's certainly got his control in order.

Stras : We went over a lot of his splits that were menaingful the other day. One that probably isn't but who knows? His OPS against goes WAY down on pitches 51-75.  .518 for these, .733 for next best group of 25. Need time to warm up? Need arm to get tired to stop overthrowing? Need arm to get tired to change approach? I can come up with literally dozens of ideas that I have no clue if it's really happening or not!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think if the Nats were 6 - 7 vs the Braves they would have a 10 game lead.

Harper said...

That's right - corrected

Ishmael said...

I think you're wrong on Roark in the playoffs. The most innnings he's thrown in a single year is 158 (2014). I think for that reason he'll go to the bullpen for the playoffs.

Harper said...

ishmael - I knew there was a better reason out there. Yes, that'll justify it... though if we do get Milwaukee I would not specify the starters beyond Fister, ZNN, and Stras and then see where they are for game 4.

Chaz R said...

The SPs haven't been as dominating as predicted/expected. They've been ok, but who would've expected us to be talking about whether our top 2 SPs should statistically be in the playoff rotation?! I'm still hoping they can improve and get up where we expected them to dominate teams in the playoffs- probably wishful thinking.

Jimmy said...

Yep agreed Ishmael Roark to the Bp if only to bail out a Gio start where he goes 5 and his pc gets to 200 with only 1 ER.

Anonymous said...

Harper, last night was only the 6th start ever vs. the Mets. Doesn't it seem like Stras faces the Braves 6 times a year. I think that makes a difference.

Eric said...

So, apparently Stras was throwing his 2-seamer last night...nice results. Glad to see it! Hope it continues to work.

DezoPenguin said...

If the Nats were 6-7 against the Braves, their lead would be over the Marlins instead.

@Chaz:

I agree that Gio and Stras haven't been dominant, but at the same time, Znn and Fister absolutely have been lights-out and Roark has been nearly as good. I mean, ultimately, we're having a debate over whether Stephen Strasburg should be our #4 starter in the playoff rotation. That is a good debate to be having.

Anonymous said...

Get 'em to hit fly balls to CF, Span will put them out.

Kenny B. said...

I'm now firm in my expectation that we are going to witness a stretch of very good pitching from Strasburg and there will be no debate. Gio on the other hand still concerns me with his control.

I'm no pitching expert, but I've noticed that Gio's pitches tend to have a kind of odd across the plate movement from left to right (from P's perspective) that makes his pitches look like balls when thrown to lefties and like strikes when thrown to righties. It seems to me like it is in the zone when it passes the batter, but ends up out of the zone when in the catcher's mitt, and it makes the pitches harder to frame.

It's more pronounced than other lefties I've seen. This is just anecdotal, but I think because of that movement he gets a lot of tough calls on his pitches, especially to lefties. The movement explains why he Ks so many and also how his pitch counts get so high. Also why he pitches better to righties.

Is there any decent measure for the the quality of calls a pitcher gets based on pitch f/x data? Is Gio's pitch movement so deceptive it fools the umpire?

Again, just a casual observation from a pitching noob, and something to talk about given that we're sitting pretty at the moment, and as DC sports fans we have to focus on only bad things.

Miles Treacy said...

Interesting article. A friend asked me if I thought Matt Williams could take this team to the WS through a postseason. My response was not if he thinks Stras and Gio are the #1-2 pitchers. I definitely think you have to have Fister as one of the 3. He's been an absolute stopper this year whenever the Nats seem headed for a skid and seems to constantly go at least 6-7 innings and saves the bullpen. I like ZNN in there. He's got the experience and just personally I trust him more haha. I like Ishmael's point on Roark. I love what he's done this year but when will you see that fatigue start kicking in. Maybe he's just superhuman though.... I can see Williams justifying Gio not being a 1-3, because this year he just doesn't have it. The control is bad and he's just getting hit. The media storm of not starting Stras game 1 if possible would be a nightmare. Shutdown 2.0, anyone? But I think it'll shape to be Stras, ZNN, and Fister. I hate the idea of using a lefty for the sake of a lefty. Especially when that lefty hasn't been good.

Sirc said...

Harper Said:

"I would not specify the starters beyond Fister, ZNN, and Stras and then see where they are for game 4."

Isn't it always that way? Beyond who starts game 1, and maybe game 2 because it's in the same city, why would a manager name additional starters?

blovy8 said...

More important than anything will be health. If they can get to September 1st with these guys intact, they can rest people more often.

Froggy said...

I'm going to wait and see how Gio pitches his next game before I start a rumor that has to do with Biogenesis and his demise this season...

Playoff starters are ZNN, Fister, Stras with Gio on the bubble. Roark to the pen.

Zimmerman11 said...

All this talk about the division is won already... I agree with "let's see where we stand after the Giants series"... otherwise we're playing two series vs ATL in September and things could easily be close enough for those games to matter. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing... those are basically playoff games... and it might be better to go into the postseason after having exorcised those demons.

Zimmerman11 said...

I guess it's let's see where we're at after the SF, LA and SEA series... hopefully good things cooking at our labor day bbqs...

Harper said the Braves are BEGGING to be put away... and they are... but I don't think we're that close yet.

Anonymous said...

Nice Simpsons reference at the top of the article!

Kenny B. said...

Wow. Did not even catch the Simpsons reference there until Anon mentioned it. Nicely done.

JWLumley said...

Perhaps I'm the only one, but I don't really look at the standings anymore. I just look at the playoff odds on Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Standings just tell you where a team is, they don't tell you if they've played through injuries, survived the rough patch in the their schedule. They don't tell you who's been lucky and unlucky. Playoff odds factor in a lot of these things. Playoff odds say it's pretty much over. The Nationals will win the East, the Dodgers will win the West.

Also, Bryce Harper is very good. He's going to get better, even if it isn't on other people's timetables. Just think in 4 years, Harper will be as old as Steven Souza.

Great start from Strasburg last night, hope I'm wrong about him. Fastball command looked much, much better. If he can consistently control his fastball he can be the elite pitcher people expected. Still not sure if that's possible or not, but we'll see.

Alex L. said...

@Harper

Interesting note on Strasburg's pitch count splits. Looking a bit more, it's worth noting that the 51-75 block has been his best over his whole career, but his 2014 numbers on those pitches are even better than his career splits. Overall though, the more extreme changes this season have been the spikes in OPS within the other pitch count blocks.

Career
Pitches    SO/W    OBP     SLG     OPS     tOPS+
1-25          4.23     .301      .389     .690     118
26-50        3.87     .292      .351     .643     104
51-75        5.05     .265      .310     .574      83
76-100      4.62     .281      .325     .606      93
101+          3.75     .275      .378     .653     106

2014
Pitches    SO/W    OBP     SLG     OPS     tOPS+
1-25          12.25   .306      .491     .797     125
26-50        2.71     .325      .408     .733     111
51-75        16.00   .235      .282     .518      49
76-100      2.91     .336      .403     .739     113
101+          2.75     .333      .500     .833     136

That 51-75 block of pitches is clearly anomalous. I'm just really not sure what to make of it all.

Alex L. said...

Also, I saw that an anonymous commenter linked to this Ben Lindbergh article in the previous post's comments: The Managerial Meddling Index.

I too was surprised to see Williams at the very bottom of that list. One could argue that a quantitative measure isn't as valuable as a qualitative one here -- and Lindbergh does mention Ned Yost's case as such an example -- but this does seem to belie the premise of the ever-popular "MANAGIN'" meme.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no Matty apologist. I was frustrated by his initial hiring and he's done precious little to make me reconsider my opinion. The data therein though at least reminded me how quickly we can become myopic in our view of a team/player/coach/etc. Williams may not be to our liking and he surely has other faults that should be addressed, but the idea we've formed of him as an over-manager may be off the mark.

Froggy said...

Matt Williams is the worst manager of the best bullpen in the in league.

...and Sorryano is terrible.

John C. said...

Well, technically, if you assume that the Nats' bullpen is the best in the league, then Matt Williams is the only manager of that bullpen. Which means he IS the worst. And the best!

Froggy said...

@John C, yes technically he is the best...technically. But I watch the games and find myself screaming at the dugout from my seat, or at the TV screen from my couch way more than I should. I think MW is a -3.0 WAR manager if there is such a thing.

So now that knuckles Williams has used Sorry three games in a row what does he do tomorrow?

Froggy said...

...oh yeah...he uses the 'Hope and Change' managerial strategy and hopes for a dominating performance from Gio. (laughs out loud...)

Anonymous said...

Don't look now, but, by percentage points, the Nats suddenly have the best record in the NL. Shows what even a modest five-game spurt can do.

Of course now we can start the hand-wringing over the possibility of having to play a wild card like the Cards or the Braves in the playoffs . . .

John C. said...

Yes, we've reached that pivot point of the season. After six months of "OH NOES it's 2013 all over again!" even the most die-hard pessimist has to concede that the Nats aren't running that script. I've already started to see variations on the "OH NOES it's 2012 again!" (meaning they are doomed to defeat in their first round playoff series because of x, y or z).

One can only hope that the pessimist's predictive acumen is about the same as it's been so far this season.

Zimmerman11 said...

The A's are dead to me. I will not root for them in the postseason now.

TERRIBLE! :)

Donald said...

@john c -- it still might be 2013 all over again. It's just that this time, the Braves are playing the role of the Nats.

blovy8 said...

I like that Pirates team even after this sweep. The Nats were just a tough matchup for them this weekend without their best player. I think if they get McCutcheon back for any length of time in a healthy state, they'll be in the playoffs. I believe the Nats got a little lucky again in the timing of when they faced a good team. I get the sense that there's really no playoff match-up out there I'd feel ccmfortable having. Any of these NL teams over .500 seem like they can go on a run either for good or ill.