Nationals Baseball: Thursday Quickie - How'd they do it

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Quickie - How'd they do it

The Giants won 3 out of the last 5 World Series so obviously fans of other teams are looking at them and asking "How did they do that?" and "Can my team do that?".  Unfortunately I'm not sure you can.

It helps to have a dominating pitcher or two... - Obviously Bumgarner is the story of this playoffs. 1.03 ERA for the playoffs, 0.43 in the World Series. 4 hit shutout in WC game. 4 hit shutout in Game 5. It's hard to see the Giants winning it all without him

But it's no guarantee... The A's traded a key offensive player to get Jon Lester, who sported a 2.11 postseason ERA before this season, and specifically a 1.53 ERA last year in helping the Red Sox win a WS. They got him into a one and done game and staked him to a 2-0 1st inning lead, which he blew, then a 7-3 lead heading into the 8th, which he blew (He was only at 86 pitches going into the 8th)

The Dodgers had without question the best pitcher in the majors in Clayton Kershaw. In game 1 he was given a 6-1 lead heading into the 6th. Kerhsaw gave up one in the 6th, then couldn't get out of the 7th giving up 4 straight singles to start the inning (he was only at 81 pitches at the start of the inning). Given a chance at redemption in Game 4, and given another lead (this time a more modest 2-0), Kershaw again fell apart in the 7th giving up two singles and a homer to lose the lead and eventually the game

It helps to have been there before... The Giants had won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, and by the sake of not making the playoffs in the off years, haven't lost a playoff series since the Marlins beat them in 2003.  This likely gave the set of returning players a bit of pressure relief and a boost of confidence going into this postseason.

But it's no guarantee... Last year's Pirates team was also in the WC and won that game. They lost this year. The Cardinals had won the WS in 2011, won a WC and a DS in 2012, and reached the WS last year, yet went out fairly meekly to the Giants in the CS this year. The Tigers had won three straight DSs but got swept out this year. The A's were the only other AL team in the playoffs last year. They lost. The Royals hadn't been in the playoffs in 30 years and they were one game from winning it all.

It helps to have a killer bullpen... The Giants had the 3rd best pen in the NL (just the barest of margins behind #2). Romo, Lopez, Casilla, and Affeldt threw almost 30 innings during the playoffs and gave up all of 1 run, earned or otherwise. We all know what the Royals back end of Herrera, Davis, and Holland had done to end the year and in the playoffs.

But it's no guarantee... the 2nd best NL bullpen? The Nats. The Pirates pen was good. The Orioles pen was very good. The A's bullpen was great. Where did they all go?

I suppose you could say you need to combine all 3. The Dodgers and Tigers pens were bad. The A's had been here but never won a series. The Angels hadn't been here in several years. The Nats and Pirates and Orioles didn't have a winning series tradition or a long history of being in the playoffs. The Cardinals simply faced a team like themselves.

But what explains the Royals? No great starter, never been there before, should have lost right?

Here's what I say then are the take away from the 2014 playoffs

1) Be good - you have to be in it to win it
2) Hope to get lucky in one of your first times in the playoffs because that probably helps with the things we can't measure. You feel less pressure and more confidence because you have won it before.

There you go.  That's all I got for you. You can still do that and not win. The Rangers bust out and got the the WS and lost to another upstart in the Giants. They got back and with all the confidence in the world... lost to the Cardinals who hadn't won a playoff series in the previous four years.

Looking for comparisons for the Nats is hard, but the most recent team to turn multiple post-season failures into success were probably the early 90s Blue Jays. Lost the CS in 89 and 91 but were able to win back to back titles before the strike


Anonymous said...

Add to this: A good manager and you may still not get it. Baseball is full of randomness and that's why it is so interesting unlike other sports.

JWLumley said...

Perhaps I'm bitter, but I hate this. The Giants weren't that good, neither were the Royals. I want playoffs that mirror the regular season. I want 9 game series instead of 5. With no off days so that teams have to use their 4th and 5th starters and worry about wearing out their bullpen.

Without all of the off-days, MLB could go to a 7, 9, 9 (games) playoff format and shorten the postseason. That's more games to sell tickets to, more games to show commercials during. More drama. Better champions.

All that being said, Bumgarner was phenomenal.

JWLumley said...

Also, I miss baseball.

blovy8 said...

Seeing how much effect one pitcher can have in the postseason makes me want to keep Giolito on the off-chance he can do something like that some day.

Anonymous said...

It also seems like the teams that succeed in the playoffs put the ball in play a lot.

Shane said...

So what you're telling is that it's a crap shoot.

Jimmy said...

@blovey off the cargo wagon already say it isn't so.

Jay said...

The Nats have hitters have a real issue of hitting under pressure. 2013 - the beginning of the season. The Giants scored 3, 2, 1, and 3 runs. The Giants won 3 of those games. Pretty bad. The Nats have lost two games out of a total of 9 playoff games because their closer blew the save.

Maybe give them more time and they figure it out. But that is why Rizzo gets paid the big money. Peavy and Hudson didn't last 4 innings combined in game 6 and 7. They gave up a total of 1 run over 13 innings. If not for Hunter Strickland the Nats scored a total of 6 runs in four games.

Drew Storen came on needing 1 out with a guy on first. No one in scoring position and the winning run was thrown out at the plate. I love the guy, but I do wonder if he can do it.

Do they just need more time and maybe another hitter?? I don't know, but it's not magical how to beat the Giants. Beat up on everyone not named Bumgarner and then hope you can beat him too. The Nats beat Bumgarner, but looked overmatched against Peavy, Hudson, and Vogelsong.

Zimmerman11 said...

Span's back, not so much w/ Roche or Sori...

No surprises there... I'm sure LaRoche is going to get a multiyear deal sommewhere and we need somewhere to play Zimm.

Froggy said...

It was great to see Mike Morse drive in the winn ing run in game 7 and have a good WS, albeit as a PH and DH. One can only wish the best for former Nats fans favorites.

Donald said...

So much is luck in that entire series can hinge on a single play. If Storen had gotten that one out in game 2, or if Gio had fielded that come-backer in game 4, the Nats might have won. When it comes down to 1 or 2 random plays, it's hard to point to some structural advantage that the Giants have.

Kenny B. said...

The main things you need to win multiple World Series is to 1) field a decent team that can consistently make the playoffs; and 2) be very lucky in October.

Sigh. It is frustrating to see two teams that didn't even win their own divisions fight for the crown. But that's why playoffs are exciting; anyone can win them if the wind blows right.

I know we've all been over this, but I would also like to say that I REALLY hope Matt Williams was taking notes on the decision to bring in Bumgarner early in game 7. That should have happened with Strasburg in Game 4 of the NLDS. Bochy did not stick with his usual role guys because that is a very stupid thing to do in an elimination game.