Ok there is a lot of work to be done, but they are starting to do it. Huge four game set coming up at not Shea. The Nats don't necessarily have to win it, but the certainly can't afford to lose it. The team in general and the offense in particular looked good the past couple of games (I'm especially heartened about Span) but the Braves are not very good. After a 5-0 start (which included 3 2-run wins and a 1-run win) the Braves have gone 5-11. They stink. PU. The Mets are not best record in baseball good, but they don't stink. This series will be a lot more telling if the Nats are running on all cylinders or not.
Ok onto Boz. The Nats are winning so there is no need for vitriol directed at this fine practitioner of the journalistic arts. However, I did find one or two minor points of conflict with what Mr. Boswell may have disseminated to the public in his latest on-line question and answer session.
The '79 Orioles "started" 3-8. They went to the seventh game of the World Series.When it is understood enough by you that this "start" is so short that the word needs to be placed into quotation marks, I would suggest that perhaps you know that this makes a poor comparison. The 2014 Nationals did have a 3-8 streak (one, lasting one game), the 2012 Nationals did not but I would imagine many teams who win 95 games have a dip like this. However "a dip" is an important phrasing. It is doubtful that they would manage two separate dips of this magnitude and still win 95+ games. Not impossible, just doubtful.
Also we were looking at a Nationals team that started 7-13. How did that '79 Orioles team look after 20 games? They would be 12-8. Again poor comparison, dear chap.
The '80 Orioles looked like a disaster and started 16-21 -- six games behind at the peak of the buy-a-pennant Yankees. They won 100.This is a better comparison. However the lesson learned is questionable. The Baltimore squad did find themselves in a hole after 37 games (this would be their nadir - but it's fine to cherry pick in this case) and they did come back to win 100 games. However they would finish the season 3 games behind the team they would chase the rest of the year, and they would miss the playoffs. To me the lesson is not "The Nationals could still have a very good year". I would hope everyone understands that is easily a possibility. To me the lesson is "Dig yourself a hole and you may not be able to catch up"
What's happened so far that matters? Harper looks excellent, more mature. You couldn't have better news. Nobody (yet) appears to have a serious injury.This is an interesting take on the first 22 games of the year. He is of course correct. Bryce does look better at the plate to me. And there haven't been any new serious injuries. But forgive my impertinence, but there are certainly things that matter that are not positive. Jordan Zimmermann has seen a marked drop in performance backed by a drop in velocity. Ryan Zimmerman may have a nagging injury that could affect his performance all year long. Jayson Werth, who is 36, has not looked good coming back from injury. Several potential key bullpen pieces have performed poorly in pressure situations. And most importantly Anthony Rendon has yet to see the field, playing in a single minor league baseball game so far.
The Nats think that, until the last half of last season, Janssen had actually been etter than Clippard over a 3 1/2-year period. Yes, analytics -- performance adjusted for everything, including phases of the moon. But what if the second half of '14 was the true indicator of Janssen's career stage -- injuries, aging. We'll see. But he is the hidden player that fans don't realize is important to Rizzo and the front offices plans.This won't be a direct dismissal of Boz, because he does deliver both sides but it will be a more truthful accounting. Is it true that from 2011 through the middle of 2014, Tyler Clippard and Casey Janssen prouced similar results, with perhaps Janssen being better? Yes. However the Nats do not have Casey Janssen magically transported from July 1st 2014. They have the Casey Janssen of today. Do not gloss over the injuries and age. Janssen has a shoulder injury. Most will tell you shoulder injuries are much harder than other injuries for pitchers to return to form from. Janssen is an old 33 (he'll be 34 in Sept). The smart money would be on Janssen being far less effective in 2015 than in the recent past.
That's why baseball is the sport where the SAME team can go 14-3, 15-4, 3-14 and 1-12 in the same season. Happens all the time.This is what we call hyperbole. Remember what I said earlier? About "a dip". Great teams can and occasionally do go 3-14 (and 14-3 and 15-4), bad teams can and occasionally do go 15-4 (and 1-12 and 3-14) but multiple great and multiple terrible streaks all in the same season? Happens far from "all the time" I suppose a middle of the road team could be exceptionally streaky and produce runs like this, but just looking at some recent .500 ish teams I couldn't find any examples with two great streaks and two terrible ones. Baseball has so much history I'm sure we can find an example or two but they are the exceptions not the rule.
Baseball streaks tend to top/bottom out in the 12-5/5-12 range (if looking at 17 games you can extrapolate from there). The better your team is the more chances you have for great streaks, but conversely the less chances you have for terrible ones (and vice versa). On a certain level Boz is right, teams get hot and cold all through out the baseball season. But rather than 14-3, 15-4, 3-14 and 1-12, if you are going for "all the time" its more like 9-3, 11-4, 6-14, and 5-12
And for the Nats - the great teams (note I'm not saying the "playoff teams") rarely have two terrible streaks. They've had one. If they want to be great they'll be hard pressed if they have another.
Last year, the Giants had a 20-36 slump that lasted two MONTHS. By August 12th, they were 5 1/2 games behind and you couldn't find 10 people in the Northern Hemisphere that thought they had a chance in hell to win the World SeriesYes again. If Boz's point is that you can play poorly for a long period of time - like 2 months and still end up in the playoffs then yes. That is completely true. The Nats proved that just last year. You can even win the division if your division is terrible. Again - Nats last year. But Nats fans aren't looking to get in through the Wild Card. They want the division title and that's different. The 2014 Giants mentioned above? Much like the 1980 Orioles they had a hot finish... and never caught the team ahead.
Since Storen came back from the DL and the minor in August of '13, he has pitched in 93 games. His ERA is (pick one): 1.31, 2.31, 3.31, 4.31 or 198.31? Answer: 1.31. All his other statistics in those 92 games are: awful, mediocre or Better Than Mariano. 82 2/3 innings, 66 hits. 19-70 W/K ratio. Home runs allowed in his last 93 games: 2.
Yes, and how many of those 93 games were in the closer role? About 20. I'm very very dismissive of the whole "can't be a closer" thing. But for Drew post 2012 I don't feel one can be. We'll see.