Nationals Baseball: Called

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Called

I said if the Braves couldn't pick up a game I'd call it. So I'm calling it. Nats win the NL East.

Hmm, no fireworks.

What to do now? For the Nats you start rotating in some younger players now on the roster. Give everyone a day off when they are even remotely strained, and once a week even if they don't need it. Start pulling Roark an inning earlier if you plan to put him in the pen (which I don't necessarily agree with but if that's the plan, that's the plan). Test out some of your other pen options in tough situations.

For you, Relax. Maybe enjoy some of the other games out there. There are going to be some good ones every night I imagine. If you haven't paid attention here are how things are playing out.

In the NL Central the Brewers are tanking hard (lost 8 in a row) and the Pirates not as hard (4 in a row) meaning the stupid Cardinals are in command right now by default. Things are close enough that it's still in doubt, at least for another series. But that could be it and the Cardinals and Brewers are facing off next. In the West the Dodgers are trying to hold off the hot and cold Giants (20-9 in May, 10-16 in June), which will make for some great baseball watching if they can keep it up.  Wild Card wise San Fran looks in good position, with the also-rans in the Central and the Braves duking it out for the last spot. Given how the Brewers and Pirates have been playing recently the .500 Braves might be your favorite to come out of that.  Favoring the Pirates is the fact that while the Brewers and Braves both had hot starts to the season and hung around, the Pirates started ice cold and slowly worked back into it. Favoring the Brewers is... ummm.  Interestingly enough the Marlins are the next ones out.  It's "need a miracle" territory, sure but if they go on a little run here they may have a lot to play for going into the Nats series. 

In the AL the East is decided with Baltimore using an easy stretch of Rays/Twins/Reds (8-2 so far) to make that lead insurmountable. They've been great; 36-17 since the end of June.  The Central is a fight between surprising Kansas City and perennial champion Detroit, who had scuffled since the season start. The Angels have all but taken the West going 38-18 in the past two months, while the A's died in August (12-17). In the Wild Card the A's have a solid lead over Detroit with the Mariners right behind. Cleveland and the Yankees aren't in Marlins territory just yet, but both would need September to be their best month of the year to have a chance.

So what are there interesting games right now? Det/Cle would be my choice. The aforementioned StL/Mil is a decent back-up, though I fear that's a burial waiting to happen.

And right now I'll make my plea to the baseball gods. Obviously I have certain preferences but please please do not let the World Series be San Fran or St. Louis beating Detroit. Please. There's nothing about that scenario that interests me. Nothing. You let baseball Satan choose the series last year, so give us a break in 2014.

23 comments:

WiredHK said...

Assuming the Yanks are out, Harper, who would you prefer be the AL World Series rep? LAA? Oak? KC? I'm assuming you can't root for the O's at any cost.

I'm most intrigued by an O's/Nats Fall Classic (obviously), but I could also find a lot of interest in the Royals making it. And as much as we like to downplay nebulous factors like "clubhouse chemistry" -- did Billy Beane commit the cardinal sin of trying to fix something that wasn't broken? I'm blown away by their fall from grace and it almost immediately coincided with his big moves...

Donald said...

What did you think of Boswell's article about avoiding Kershaw at all costs. That means not just winning the division, but finishing with the best record. Is it more important to press to achieve that, or to rest up your players and audition some of the youngsters?

Harper said...

Wired - I don't hate the O's (Buck!) I used to more during the Benitez years. I'd go with the A's just because I root for the end of stories and the whole "Billy Beane is the only GM who has to prove himself by winning a world series because someone else decided to write a book about him" needs to end.

The A's thing is interesting but really unprovable. The Tigers made a huge deal... and scuffled like they have all year. The Red Sox traded away their best pitcher... and are playing like they have all year. The Padres tossed away several starters... and had their best month of the year.

Most likely with Cespedes the A's win a couple more games, still are passed by the Angels and Billy Beane is being raked over the coals for not doing enough.

Donald - I agree you don't want the Dodgers in the first round. Kerhsaw is guaranteed to pitch twice. If you think he's unbeatable you need to win the other 3 games which is a lot of pressure. Trying to avoid the Dodgers right now is silly though. You can't be sure were everyone will fall. Just win all the games you can and worry about positioning maybe in that last week.

Dustin Day said...

But for some reason I just can't find myself relaxing! Especially with 6 games against the Braves!

Anonymous said...

Nats don't actually have to beat Kershaw, just keep it close enough (2 runs) to get to the pen as Wednesday proved. That's been the Nats' M.O. all year really, hang around against starting pitching and then beat the pen.

As for the AL rep, gotta pull for the O's here as a local, but the Royals and A's are compelling.

Dustin - Regarding the 6 games vs the Braves, I'm kind of expecting the Nats to sweep one of the series as it has to happen sooner or later... right? Right??

Jimmy said...

I'm really hoping for a dodgers cardinals wc. That way the dodgers burn kershaw once for the ds.

JWLumley said...

For once, I actually think homefield advantage is important, and as much as I hate to, I somewhat agree with Boz. Kershaw is a run worse on the road and Dodger Stadium is a big park, but more importantly, perhaps, is the time change. Playing games 3 hours later, when even guys who usually stay up very late, may usually be in bed is tough. Also, from what I've read, Kershaw is a creature of habit, who has a very specific and regimented pre-game routine that could be thrown off by playing a game much earlier in the day or even perhaps a 1:00 pm weekend game which would be a 10 am game for him. I know all of that's pretty minor, but Kershaw is really good and could beat a team 3 times in a 7 game series, so any edge, however small could be a big deal because I really believe these teams are destined for an NLCS showdown. They're both just so much better than the rest of the NL.

Count me out of being in favor of an O's/Nats series. I hope the O's get knocked out as soon as possible. Don't want Angelos to make an extra penny. I'd love to see the Royals from the AL or even the Mariners, but I think Oakland will turn it around and it will be them or the Angels playing the Nats or the Dodgers in the World Series.

Jay said...

I will never cheer for the Orioles. I used to be an O's fan. I even had a 17 game plan the year after they went wire-to-wire.

I grew up a Mets fan - lived close to their A ball team. I saw Dwight Gooden, Daryl Strawberry, and Lenny Dykstra play A ball. They were head and shoulders better than anyone else on the field. It was obvious to everyone even me as a 7-year-old. Anyway, I watched them win the world series and became a Davey Johnson fan. I was never a Baltimore fan bc it's Baltimore - it's too far away. Fast forward to the Davey-Baltimore years. I became an Orioles fan then bc of Davey. Of course you remember how that ended. I hung around as an O's fan for a year or two and watched as Angelos killed the franchise with his huge ego. I held out hope for a DC team. Fast forward to Nats. I became a Nats fan and had a blast watching RFK bounce and the Nats surprisingly in contention. It was cool deja vu to see Davey end up here as manager.

Anyway, Angelos is still trying to stick it to the Nats. My hopes for the Orioles is that they lose out of the playoffs in the most painful way possible. I'm not a big Showalter fan either. I'm not sure if I want them to get swept or lose in game 5, but preferably something painful. I'd like to see Showalter in the dugout or on the field in stunned disbelief that the Orioles lost.

How does anyone root for Baltimore teams when all they try to do is stick it to Washington teams every chance they get? The Ravens, the Orioles. They both do it. Showalter even piled on when he said that Nats fans should just be thankful Angelos let Washington have a team.

WiredHK said...

I can't say I'm especially rooting for the O's to have success (extreme dislike for Angelos), but I would find the drama of a Nats/Os series to be pretty compelling around here.

The Royals would be fun for baseball. But Harper, on the A's front, I don't view Beane as being on some sort of a regular hot seat where he has to prove himself as GM. Is that a common narrative out there? I mainly root for him purely because of what he does with what he has. It's frankly awesome (best-seller books and Hollywood movies aside) and I'd like it to have a good ending at some point. His acumen as GM deserves that closure, in my view...

Jay said...

I realize. Many people have a much longer history with the O's, so I understand cheering for them for other fans. Also, the drama of a Nats-O's world series would be pretty cool. I just can't bring myself to root for them bc of what I listed above. I do think Baltimore is a very good team and has a legit WS chance. I just won't be cheering them on.

I agree that you have to respect Beane for what he has done with limited funds.

JWLumley said...

Most importantly of all, Harper is heating up and beginning to look like the player everyone expected at the end of the year. It's almost like his hand injury zapped his power and the further away from that he gets, the more he improves and returns to being himself. Shocker, hand and wrist injuries really seem to affect players power and overall hitting ability.

Also, Jerry Blevins should be left off the playoff roster. I don't think this is at all debatable. It's like leaving a six pack next to a drunk (MW) in a room all by themselves. Just a bad idea.

BooyahSuckah! said...

JW, love the Blevins analogy. To add to it, after yesterday, it's like that same drunk just got away with driving while hammered the night before, and you go and let him borrow your car. Just because it worked once doesn't mean it was the right thing to do.

Kenny B. said...

To be honest, I don't care who the AL puts up if the Nats are the NL team. But I think if the Nats are NOT the NL team, there are a lot of AL teams I'd like to see win it and that would keep me interested—basically everyone still in it other than the Angels, Yankees, and Tigers. Any of BAL, OAK, KC, SEA, or CLE would be fun to root for.

I'm conflicted about the O's. I hate Angelos, but I hate Dan Snyder more and still pull for the Skins. I went to an O's game with my dad the year they opened Camden Yards, and have very fond memories of the experience, and have had a kind of passive love of the O's since. Always did love Cal Ripken, Jr. But I also couldn't take the BS if the O's won it all before the Nats.

Oh well, as long as the Nats stay in it, I don't really need to worry about this problem.

Super Homer said...

Bang! Zoom go the fireworks!

Another curly W! Harper calls it!

I have no doubt we win the east, but I don't think I'll relax until MW breaks up with Jerry Blevins.

Froggy said...

Whirled Seareez of Nats v A's

...but only if Blevins is used strictly as a LOOGY from here on in.

Anonymous said...

Harper, did you enjoy the game yesterday?

Anonymous said...

Then around November 1st, Derek Norris will blast a series clinching HR off Jerry Blevins in the 10th inning after Matt Williams decides the rest of his pen has pitched too much in the previous 6 games in the series.

JWLumley said...

My biggest disappointment this season in all of the extra inning games is that Adam LaRoche is still yet to pitch. I think with the East pretty much wrapped up, LaRoche should automatically pitch in the next extra inning game.

cass said...

I don't really care who we face. I just want a '2014' flag up over the scoreboard next to the ones for '1924', '1925', and '1933'.

JE34 said...

Does anyone on earth actually like Peter Angelos? Even O's fans have to hold their noses with that guy. I grew up watching the AAA Rochester Red Wings - got to see Ripken there - then watched Angelos run the farm system into the ground, then watched the Red Wings effectively fire the Orioles as a parent club.

I don't pay much attention to AL baseball (other than wanting the Orioles to lose), but I would love to see Kansas City excel in the postseason. They haven't won a division since 1985!

Zimmerman11 said...



I'm upset that the magic number isn't going down today. I've been coming into work and changing it on my whiteboard every morning.

At least there's this:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-nationals-lineup-not-their-rotation-makes-them-great/

This is superfantastic, if a little crazy. "Above Average" does not equal "good"... and definitely doesn't equal "great".

Froggy said...

Zim11- I really enjoyed that FanGraphs article. Although I'm not so sure I'm ready to agree with the assumption that Blevins has turned the corner and will pitch his career numbers against RH. IMO he got lucky yesterday in LA.

Thanks for the link!

blovy8 said...

I've got to root for the Royals, they've found lots of ways to lose for almost 30 years after starting out so well as a franchise.

I guess we have to hope Kershaw doesn't have as good a feel for his stuff in the cold. Maybe the Nats can turn the thermostat down in the visiting clubhouse, I know enough now not to suggest lots of Scott Hairston as a remedy.