Nationals Baseball: Monday Super Quickie

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Super Quickie

Some people would call that a statement game for the playoffs.  "We're here ! We're ready!" That's kind of silly. Actually, that's really sillly. The Nats didn't need a no-hitter to do that. That was accomplished by playing great baseball basically since the All-Star break. When they were hot they were dominant. 9-1 a couple weeks ago, 10-0 in mid-August, 9-3 at the end of June. When they were cold they were .500.The Nats didn't have a 3-7 stretch over 10 games since the end of May.

What was the game if not a statement? It was a culmination. The 2nd half of the Nats season was a starting pitching masterpiece. Fister 1.98 ERA, ZNN 2.18. Roark 2.65, Stras 2.70.  September was even better. Stras 1.13, ZNN 1.32, Fister 1.87, Roark 2.45, Gio 2.48.  The no-hitter was the exclamation point on that finish. You didn't notice what we were doing over here because the Braves have been dead for 10 years?  NOW YOU NOTICE.

Going into the playoffs the Nats have 5 guys pitching like #1s, 3 pitching like dominant #1s. It's a whole new seasons, but I expect the Nats to be favored like crazy at this point. I might even have to take back my "Kershaw 2-3x" caveat. (though the Dodgers have been pretty good themselves)

I'm also extremely glad the Nats now have a truly great OF catch to talk about. It was big time caused by the positioning of Souza. He was shaded down the line because you don't expect a lefty to drive it in the LF gap at this point. If it's a normal game the catch is probably nothing more than a nice running grab. But he was there and that forces the full sprint and the over the shoulder aspect that took the catch to a special level. No more Bernie's "unecessary jump because as usual I don't know where I am and probably took a bad track" (a top notch CF sprints, slows and catches that at the weird corner with a hand out to feel the wall). No more Werth's "robbing of a double off the top of the wall, maybe" from the playoffs. I'm all behind seeing this one for the next 20 years.

Playoff preview etc. coming this week. (Let's wait to see who the Nats face)

Will rest be an issue? If you go Stras, Fister, Gio ZNN then you got guys starting on 5, 7, and 7 days rest (Gio next would be on 11 days rest or so)

Span hit .300, Rendon led the league in R, Stras led the league (tied) in Ks, Desmond did not lead the league in Ks (3rd, Howard was 1st)  


Nattydread said...

I like the way Williams pulled Span after he set the Nats record for hits and cleared .300 for sure.

Anonymous said...

I'd say Bernadina's catch at home vs Marlins (Stanton AB), where he was fully extended going straight back ranks as a truly great catch. Much better than the goofy wall jump in Houston.

JWLumley said...

Well, I'd say that I officially can't wait for the Steven Souza era to begin in D.C. As if the 440 foot bomb wasn't enough. Wow. Yes, I know he was out of position (according to Werth a coach put him there), but that was literally one of the best catches I've ever seen. Out of position, but great route to the ball at an all out sprint AND a wide receiver-like grab. Unbelievable. I know I've mentioned it before, but got a chance to chat with him in Norfolk with my son on his birthday and what a really nice kid. Very gracious and humble. I'd say the trouble he got into early on is behind him, didn't seem like an act at all. I'll eat a big plate of crow on Span this year, but I still believe it was an aberration not a new trend, but do you really want Harper in CF all year long? I'd say yes, but the Nats will probably say no. Not sure how you get Souza into games if Span's still there, but he's got nothing left to prove at AAA.

Zimmermann looked awesome and really all of the Nats starters have been lights out as Harper pointed out. The biggest question I have is what do they do with Zimmerman? He hasn't played 3rd base at all since coming back, which would seem like the most logical place for him. My fear is that Williams will sit Harper against a lefty and put Zim in LF, when LaRoche and Span have been much worse against lefties. I know it's just reading the tea leaves, but I'd put Zimmerman at 3rd and pull him as soon as the Nats took the lead.

JWLumley said...

@Nattydread Yeah, I liked how Williams pulled starters throughout the game to get ovations. Nice move. I still don't love his in-game management, but he seems to be much better in the clubhouse than I'd originally thought.

cass said...

The rotation's got to be Strasburg, Zimmermann, Fister, Gio, right?

I think they already mentioned having Fister pitch in a simulated start or scrimmage this week. Zimmermann only threw 104 pitches, so I think one extra day of rest for him will be fine.

This seems like the obvious plan.

Wally said...

I'll bet Rizzo is grilled with trade offers for Souza this winter, after the two mammoth home runs and the catch. Power is way down all over, plus he looks like he can run and field too. We need it too, so I hope they hold on to him and find 400 PAs for him. I'll defer to JWL who has met him, but I have to say that he gives off something of the intense, brooding vibe from afar. But man, the guy is huge. He makes big guys like Harper look small.

As for RZ,I agree, I am hoping we don't see him at 3b, at least in the NLDS. And I hope Harper plays every inning, but I fear he'll be the first lefty to sit.

Donald said...

Any speculation on the final roster based on how players have been used over the past week or so? I'd like to know who you would pick, too, rather than who you think they will end up picking. If you were in charge, what would your roster be?

Seems like Blevins may have played himself in, but Detwiler may have played himself out? Cedeno is certainly out. My guess at the bull pen is Storen, Clippard, Thorton, Barrett, Stammen, Blevins, Roark. If Soriano makes it, it will probably be at the expense of Barrett. I was hoping for Trienen, but at this point I don't see how they make room.

The bench may be even harder. It will certainly have Lobaton and Zim, which leaves 4 more slots. It seems like they want to include Schierholtz. He's had a bunch of at bats and would be the only lefty off the bench. I think I'd take Souza over Hairston, but that's probably a long shot. And then do you pick Frandsen or Espi or both? Zuckerman picked Kobernus as his 6th man, but I'd be really surprised about that too.

My picks would be Lobaton, Zim, Schierholtz, Frandsen, Espinoza and Souza.

Strasburger said...

Awesome way to wrap up the season - and what a great play by Souza. To do that to help out one of your buddies when you don't want to be injured at this time of the year before the offseason (for souza) is really selfless in a game that is built around greed.

This rotation is scary. I've said it before, but I think our success in the playoffs will completely ride on which Stephen Strasburg shows up. Can he be the "shutdown pitcher" in the postseason, or will his inexperience in that role cause a bunch of first inning blow-ups?

sbl said...

IIRC, Zimmermann is the worst over his career when starting on an extra day of rest. Are we worried about that with playoff off days? (I know, I know, yesterday he had extra rest. Still.)


Harper said...

ND - I hate that actually. I like the Ted Williams "No I'm playing that last game if I want .400" attitude. Still .300 isn't .400 and there was the ovation stuff so I only hate it, not HATE it.

Anon - OMG yes. Here's the clip for those that want to re-watch it

True "diving catch" - most baseball diving catches are of the "easier than trying to stay standing" as opposed to "I can only catch this if I launch myself at last second" like this one.

JWL - It'll be interesting to see what they do. Span in CF next year looks likely. You can trust his fielding and at 9 mill it's not that expensive. But that just makes Souza a year older. That's ok for the younger Taylor, but Souza's best years are NOW.

My guess on Zimm - plays first vs lefties.

cass - That could work - an extra day for Stras, and extra day for Zimm and a sim game for Fister because of his 9 days off. Still doesn't help Gio. REALLY doesn't help if the Nats sweep but that's a good problem to have.

Wally - 400 ABs will be tough without injury. Trade is interesting. I'd do it for a young MI prospect. The Nats need those far more than a slugging OF as good as Souza may be.

Donald -
made roster prediction here :
It looks like Soriano is out (used once since 21st) which probably puts Scheirholz in.

What would I do? Schierholz out Taylor in. Defense - pinch run. Or Souza. PH pop. Either one would be ok. I think Hairston is a lock.

Anonymous said...

Unless you're bowled over by a trade (good cheap 2B?), you have to keep Souza as Werth insurance. 36 y.o. outfielders simply cannot be expected to play 140+ games.

blovy8 said...

I was there yesterday, and while that was a hell of a pitched game, I think the one-hit shutout I saw him throw was Zimm at his best. He got somewhat lucky in the fifth inning with the liners at 1st, 3rd, and short, especially when you consider that Moore and Frandsen were two of those guys.

I honestly don't think there's a lineup spot open for Zim yet unless there's an extremely good matchup for him that dictates it. He should be working himself into 3b shape in case someone gets a minor injury and just pinch hit. I would play Cabrera over him as long as he's grinding at-bats in the 8 spot unless something happens in the next four days.

In 2012 they kept the big staff - I'm not in favor of that, because I don't think the 12th pitcher is as useful as another hitter. Having said that, calling the bench guys besides Zim "hitters" is stretching the term, and I have a sneaking suspicion there are going to be extra inning games this postseason, given the scarcity of runs this year. I guess the question is would you rather match up as long as you can in those games, or have the extra hitter to help you win them?

WiredHK said...

ZNN was just fantastic, pounding the strike zone and being aggressive. I really love watching him pitch. He has exactly the right demeanor to complete a game like that. Awesome.

One thing I really noticed yesterday is how fast ZNN was working - it was a Fister-like work-rate. I really think this veteran has come in and had such a huge, positive impact on the whole staff. It's incredible.

Bring on the real games, the second season. I wish we didn't have to wait so long, this pitching staff is totally primed right now.

cass said...

Harper -

I think they should have Gio do a simulated game this week too. Keep the rest of the players seeing live pitching at full speed. I'm surprised they haven't said anything about it. I don' see much other choice, really.

And if they sweep, they will have too much rest no matter what. Just gotta do bullpen sessions or sim games as needed. Only so many starts to go around.

If they go all five games, though, Zimmermann would be ready to start game 1 of the NLCS, which is real nice. I'm hoping Zimm and Stras will keep pitching like dominant aces, as you put it, and pitch long into the postseason. And Fister and Gio will take care of the rest of the games.

I don't think Zimmermann gets enough credit (well, until yesterday) for the fantastic season he's had. He's taken a step forward this year, which makes it a pity the Nats didn't extend him last offseason. Going to take a king's ransom now. That's a mistake by Rizzo, I think, though Desmond didn't take a leap forward and they'll probably just sign him.

I know I shouldn't worry about losing Zimmermann after next year right now but after yesterday especially, seeing him leave is going to be painful, no matter how good Giolito is.

Donald said...

@Harper -- my question is what your roster would be if you were picking. That post from 9/19 sounded more like who you expected them to pick, or did I misread that? Would you really choose Hairston if you were in charge?

Ryan said...

Great stuff all around, and I feel privileged that the only two baseball games I attended this season (out of the country all summer) were Fister's shutout on Friday and the no-hitter. My only concern right now is offense. We have averaged less than 3.5 runs/game over the past two weeks (not counting the two scrub games), which is not terrible but isn't great either. If our pitching stays this hot it obviously won't matter, but that's a lot of pressure to put on a rotation without much of a postseason track record.

Froggy said...

Isn't the extra day concern kinda out the window since everyone will have a bunch of 'extra' days off this week?

Rotation: Stras, ZNN, Fister, Gio (with Roark ready in the wings).

Pen: Storen, Clippard, Thornton, Barrett, Stammen, Blevins, Detwiler (I know, but he is a lefty) and no Soriano. That might be one too many pitchers.

Lock fielders: Zim, Rendon, Desmond, LaRoche, Werth, Span, Harper, Ramos, Lobaton. And Frandsen b/c he can literally play anywhere. I pick Espinosa because he is a better fielder and can play SS. Cabrera can be flashy and has hit some bombs in the past month, but I've seen him miss some balls that Danny gets and he has regressed offensively.

On the bubble fielders: Cabrera, Hairston. Toss-up between Taylor and Souza.

Froggy said...

Although my memory of Bernie's catch is fading, I think Souza's catch was the best one I've seen in person and definitely the most dramatic by far. It was truly, sellout-your-body-wide-receiver-esque. Especially how he used his right hand to make sure the ball stayed in the glove.

As for those feasting on Spancrow, try salsa and guacamole goes down easier. I predicted .304, Harper predicted .295

blovy8 said...

I don't know that Rizzo had much of an option to extend the guy since I think Zimmermann has always said he's not going to give out a hometown discount. They'd probably have to overpay significantly to keep him from testing the market, and if that's the case they may as well postpone things and just make offers like any other club with the qualifying offer as their leverage.

Anonymous said...

Actually they should make every attempt during the off season to sign Zimmermann, and if they can't they should trade him for a young MI like Mookie Betts.

A Fly Moses said...

Put me down in favor of Souza in LF, Span in CF, Harper in RF, Werth at 1B next year (or really anything that gets Werth out of RF).

And yes, I realize the conversation would go roughly like: "Hey Jayson, we're thinking about moving you to--" "No." "Okay, nevermind." But still.

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper - If you give Span 3 more AB's then he's 184/613 which is .300 so even if he stayed in and didnt get another hit he would have gotten it, Ted Williams sentiments aside

@A Fly Moses - No the conversation is what to do with a 1-year-even-older Ryan Zimmerman, lotta people say 1b is his spot next year.

@Froggy - Cabrera's 100% in, put Espi on the bubble instead of him and I agree with the rest of what you said

And I would like to see Souza make it (off the bench JW :) haha)

BooyahSuckah! said...

I got a last minute offer to go the game on Sunday. My buddy had an extra ticket, Section 110, about 3/4 of the way down the left-field line. My wife was out of town and I was single-parenting my three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half year old girls. Anyone who's had kids that age knows what a day in the city can be like, especially for a 1:05 game when they're absolutely, without a doubt not going to get their naps.

Thank goodness I went anyway.

The girls got their first cotton candy, dippin dots, and anything else they wanted. Dad got to jump up and down and scream like a maniac when Souza laid out like a champ. What a day.