Nationals Baseball: Season Over

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Season Over

Early season analysis is great, isn't it? Nats lose and in what was basically a slide show of all the things you might worry about with the Nats this season.

You might worry that the Nats won't hit with Rendon, Werth, and Span out.

First of all Span? Come on, he had one good year. He really could regress to below average and it should be no surprise. But yes, I do like him better than Taylor so him being out does matter and yes, Rendon and Werth are big bats to be taken out of the lineup. And hey - they didn't hit! What has been undersold, though, has been the loss of patience. Adam LaRoche was a patient bat, he's gone. Werth works counts, he's out. Rendon saw a fair amount of pitchers, he's out. The Nats walked once yesterday. Not a coincidence.

You might worry that the pen will be shaky

Well they didn't give up any runs but Barrett, in line to be the next back end star, couldn't finish out a single inning.You can lose a guy or two from the pen and make it work. You can't cut two of your top three and a couple other pieces and expect to be the same. At least not right off the bat.

You might worry that the defense may suffer

 Remember Yuney was terrible last year. Rendon was great. Span held the outfield together. Tyler Moore and Dan Uggla are playing. No, none of these directly came into play yesterday (it was all Desmond's fault, and I don't think Span would make that catch... I don't think) but it's a general worry that came true, if not exactly how you envisioned it.

You might worry that the Mets may be a threat to the Nats

They won. Nats lost.

Yesterday is what you should expect until at least two of the three bats missing are back. Close game, where the starting pitcher dominates. The Nats should win more of these than they lose. Hell, Max almost won that game by himself. This is just one game and even if the Nats are 5-5 after ten, whatever. Don't worry about it.

But let's not get swept by the Mets at home, ok.


Donald said...

So now we have our answer -- this year is 2013!. Seriously, though, there were some bright spots -- Scherzer pitched like an ace and Harper seems like he's hitting. The down-side is that no one else is hitting, and in particular, the situational hitting sucked. But that's who the Nats are. Things should even out.

One note -- if it had been Strasburg on the mound, everyone would be talking about how he gave up big hits immediately following an error and how that shows he's so easily rattled.

Harper said...

Well if Rendon and Span never come back (I'm assuming Werth does) it could be 2013... although probably also helped by a crashing pen rather than a step back rotation.

You see? That's a alot! So it's probably not 2013. Maybe the first month will look like it, but that should be it.

Yes - Strasburg gets the blame no doubt. It's the curse of not being able to get fans over to your side.

Karl Kolchak said...

This game reminded me of last year's playoffs--excellent starting pitching, only one player bothered to bring his bat and they were one defensive mistake or bad bullpen outing away from blowing the game.

One thing that people ignore when they talk about the Nats having the best team ERA in the league is that the game has changed in the last ten years and there are so many more good pitchers nowadays. Last year, they were tops in MLB at in team ERA at 3.03, but only five teams were more than one run worse. In 2005, the Cardinals had the best team ERA at 3.48, and there were ELEVEN teams more than one run worse.

These days most teams have at least a decent amount of pitching, and a mediocre lineup is going to get shut down more often than not, and winning one run games is as often as much a matter of luck as it is talent.

JWLumley said...

@Harper - I think you make an excellent point about the loss of patience. Taylor will literally swing at anything, I would expect that pitchers will soon stop throwing him strikes all together. Of course Ole PBN bats him leadoff, but it wouldn't be such a big deal if literally every other player in their LOLineup wasn't a free swinger other than Harper & Zim. Guys like Big Fat Bartolo Colon will continue to give this lineup fits, but I expect it will be better against guys with less control. Also, it doesn't sound like Werth will be out for much longer, he may play by next weekend.

I think the game really highlighted the weakness of Mike Rizzo, who is a great GM. However, he still struggles to build a good bench and hire good managers. A better manager would have put people in better spots to be successful. As in don't bat a free swinger leadoff, perhaps bat Desmond in the 1 or 2 spot so he gets to the plate more often and doesn't end the game in the on deck circle and recognize that Tyler Moore is a 4A player and should be the 25th man on the roster, not starting. Also, don't bring in den Dekker (sp?) to face a pitcher he doesn't match up well with, when you have Robinson on the bench who can hit a fastball and/or Espi who showed good patience in the spring. But PBN didn't have much to work with because once again, Rizzo hasn't built a good bench. Why not sign Mike Morse? He's not getting playing time in Miami, he could be a 4th OFer, possible Zim injury replacement in DC.

Still, it's just one game and there were shadows involved so it's a lot tougher to hit. This really can't be overstated. I think parks should be built with some type of awning that made it impossible for shadows to be present. You just can't see the spin.

JWLumley said...

@Karl You make a good point. Good pitching is pretty prevalent these days, good hitting isn't. I think that's why you're seeing the younger, stat driven GM's like Epstein loading up on position players, but not paying as much attention to pitching. The one caveat I would add is that Great pitching, will shut down good hitting. Problem is, the Nats bullpen may not be great and it's tough to win 1-0 when that's not the case. I know everyone loved the trade at the time and I still think it was a good deal, but Steven Souza would be pretty nice to have right about now.

Jimmy said...

@JW Honestly I'm no the biggest MW fan but come on let the guy manage another year before we completely dismiss his potential.

Bjd1207 said...

1. It was Strasburg's fault. He got so rattled by Desmond's error that he projected his fragile psyche onto Max who was unable to "dig in" with enough "grit" to get the last out. Seriously like 4 or 5 beat writers (and about a dozen more commenters) are trying to pin a bad attitude (or even the inability to pitch OUT of that unforced jam) on Max. Ludicrous

2. While we should absolutely not be panicking about the state of the regular season, these types of plays/games can absolutely KILL a 3-game series (and probably a 5-game series, if you catch my meaning).

3. Mike Morse played the whole game at 1st for the Marlins. Plus he's a free-swinging righty that has no patience and a bit of pop...sounds like 5 other guys we have in our lineup right now (Taylor, Desmond, Uggla, Moore, Ramos). No, we don't need another serviceable righty with no defense and only has power going for him.

Harper said...

Krispy Kreme - It's a flatter spread. They are roughly the same distance from the average (closing in on 15% better in R/G) I don't think that's because there are more good pitchers in general. I'd say though more teams are focusing on pitching, so that stands out less.

Time to focus on the bats! (actually serious)

JWL - i don't think it's necessarily struggling to build a good bench - in general his bench is fine in comparison. It's that for THIS team with Werth, Bryce, Span, Rendon, Zimm, and Ramos all missing major time since 2012, THIS team needs a very good bench, not just an average one.

Harper said...

Jimmy - MW is fine. Just fine. Average. i Don't expect a revelation but I'm not going to worry about him right now. Get the team healthy first.

BJD - 1) AND BRYCE'S - HR motivated other team. Real star would have doubled and scored so as to not get Mets riled up.

2) Yes, but it's game 1. I give shaky play in April a pass, especially this early.

3) Morse is going to play close to everyday for Marlins, doesn't want to sit for Nats

Anthony Rendon said...

It's what we said last week until our lineup is healthy there are going to be a lot of 2-1 or in this case 3-1 games.

Great pitching will beat great hitting but poor defense and no hitting offset great pitching. We lost opening day all it means is we're not going undefeated.

Yes we have a weak bench, but it won't matter that much when healthy. Take three starters from any team and the fans would realize how bad the bench is compared to the starters.

Man I hate off days.

Kenny B. said...

Counter-narrative: The Nats have now quickly learned that their raw talent won't take them to the WS. They are going to have to develop TOUGHNESS and GRIT. They are going to have to GEL as a TEAM in the CLUBHOUSE to overcome ADVERSITY. This is not just a loss, it is a LESSON, one that is better for them to learn sooner rather than later. This kind of loss is even more valuable than a win.

Can I be a beat writer now?

Anthony rendon said...

Kenny b Definitely

Harper said...

Kenny B - Yes but be sure you save the column for when they get hot. Drip these nonsense opinions out in Q&As and tweets first.

Kenny B. said...

You call my opinion nonsense, yet you can't produce a single figure to disprove my analysis. Say what you will in defense of your precious data, but my baseless meandering pontification has never been thoroughly disproven.

Anonymous said...

The bench will be fine, if the guys in starting roles now return to bench roles when Span, Rendon and Werth return. I like TyMo, Taylor, and Uggla as bench roles or spot starters and not so much as starters. Get back to what the roles should be, and everything evens out.

Remember, during the injuries stretch last season, the Nats were actually in 3rd place at one point in the NL East standings. Get healthy, and someone get a live chicken for Ian's glove/error problems.

JWLumley said...

People don't simply adopt new personalities or change their way of thinking with practice or experience. As George Brett said, "Perfect practice makes perfect." MW isn't going to change, he's not going to become a great manager, yes he'll get marginally better with experience, but he'll still be basically the same manager unless something changes. Dusty Baker didn't get better when he was with the Cubs or the Reds, wrong-thinking is still wrong-thinking and it perpetuates itself.

JWLumley said...

As for arguments about the bench being good. The bench contains Tyler Moore, your arguments have been soundly defeated.

Captain Nat said...

Theres no reason to be upset!! They will come back better th

G Cracka X said...

Is it possible to think that this year's Opening Day was less bad than last year? Of course, last year they won but Ramos got hurt and was out for about a month or so. Isn't an Opening Day with no injuries to regular starters worth more than one win?

Kenny B. said...

@GCX: I'd be inclined to agree if three starting position players weren't on the DL *before the season even started.*