Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - almost right

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Quickie - almost right

I had the Nats at 16-16 3.5 (maybe 2.5) from the Mets by today. Well they are better than that 17-15, but the Mets still have that 3.5 game lead. Again. That's what a fast start affords you. Still think the Nats are in a good place but they sit in an area where they don't have much of a cushion for bad play.  Luckily they aren't a bad team, so bad play isn't likely.

Outside of one random Phillies series this marks the end of the Nats NL East play until June 23rd. If they are going to keep up the winning play they are going to have to do it against the rest of the league.  They'll start with the worst non NL East team they'll play for a month, in Arizona. After that it's a mix of solid teams. It'll be an interesting arguably defining stretch.

Bryce Harper spent the weekend turning a hot homer stretch into a "here's where he becomes BRYCE HARPER" which is fine because at 22 that's actually something you can say.  That, if it continues, will go a long way to covering for the still MIA Werth and the MII Rendon.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Huge sweep of the braves. Does this series count on the not mentally tough ledger, or do we forget the questionable bullpen and base running because we won?

Jimmy said...

@Anonymous- No, Yes and Yes.

WiredHK said...

Aside from Harper doing his Superman impression, I was especially encouraged by Zimmerman, Ramos and to lesser degrees, Espy and Desi at the plate. Z and Ramos really contributed big-time this weekend and, most importantly, I think provided the reasons why Bryce started getting pitches to hit (he's leading in walks because nobody has been scared of facing Z instead of him every time through).

This is the lineup production we'll be looking for -- and it can survive varying outages like the one Werth is in currently.

I still don't understand many, many Williams decisions, though. Small example: letting Robinson face Wood with Taylor on 1st yesterday, down a run late, are just ridiculous (unless Tyler Moore was hurt?). You bring in Moore, you force a RHP in the game, giving Taylor a chance to swipe a bag (our only SB threat). And/or, maybe Freddy leaves Wood out there and Moore plugs a gap to tie the game. Lots more where this came from, too (i.e. a few RP-matchup errors on Saturday).

Anyway, great to sweep the Braves in heartbreaking fashion for them. I can never get enough of that...

The NATural said...

First series since the 2012 meltdown it was clear that the Braves weren't "in their heads." Just another opponent we had to climb over.

Bjd1207 said...

@WiredHK - I'm right with you. I don't want to overexaggerate the impact, but I find fault with almost every one of MW's decisions.

Go back and look at the box scores and you'll see Desi and Werth are by far the two least valuable hitters (not counting Uggla when he's in). They were in the 2/3 slot on Sunday (and we even had Uggla leading off after Escobar went out, so Uggla, Desi, Werth as 1-3). Relative impact aside, just wtf? What's the logic in a move like that?

Similarly with bringing Grace in when he did, the Robinson PH decision, starting Uggla against Latos, pinch running Espi and batting T Moore against Cishesk because he's "1 for 1 lifetime against him"...just all strange decisions and I'd like to think there's something besides stupidity at work

John C. said...

As I understand it, the reason for not bringing in Moore against the LHP is because at that point Moore was the last "infielder" on the bench (non-first base division). Moore has been taking some work at 3b (he has limited minor league experience there) and when Escobar's stomach flu forced Uggla into the lineup the bench was down to MAT, Robinson, Moore, and the catcher.

I put quotes around the word infielder because obviously you don't want to go to Moore there.

Bjd1207 said...

@John C - Yea I heard the Nats radio broadcast/postgame peddling that explanation but I'm not sure I buy it. Would T-Mo really be that much better than Clint Robinson over there? Do you play for 'reserves' that late in the game or should you be going for the win?

G Cracka X said...

Nats scored, I think, 6 runs a game average over the last 6 games. That's a good sign; let's hope it continues on the road trip

WiredHK said...

Yeah that explanation (emergency IF) doesn't fly one bit for me, sorry. It would be great to get to a point where we had that issue -- you don't penalize yourself in the NOW (while losing, late) for the MAYBE later. If that was really the reason, it's an even worse indictment of Williams and a lack of logical thinking. You pull out all stops to tie/win a game now, and deal with ancillary issues later if you get in a bad spot.

I'm guess a bullpen guy or SP has enough athletic ability to stand somewhere on a diamond or in the OF in a pinch later. And if that happens and you lose as a result, the explanation is pretty easy to understand...

Anthony Rendon said...

Now we're at the worst part of the schedule 10 pm games.

Zimmerman11 said...

An awful lot of road games coming up, (13 of next 18) but there are a LOT of names in the opposing pitchers column that I don't recognize, so that has to be a good thing. Here's hoping the Nats can keep coming out on top.

Mets basically play the next three weeks at home, with one quick trip over to Pittsburgh. Doesn't seem like the Mets are going to just give up like the Braves did last season. Let's keep the deficit at 3.5... I'd be happy with that. I don't wanna wake up in June and be 6 or 7 games back of the Mets.

John C. said...

Wired (et al), I get that the "emergency infielder" rationale doesn't fly with you, and I see your point (you may not have noticed, but MW is also willing roll the dice on this from time to time like he did when he pinch ran for Lobaton in the 8th on Saturday).

The question is, is the chance of a solid return worth the risk? In the bottom of the 8th inning of a tie game, when you have a speed upgrade from Lobaton to MAT, the answer is a pretty easy yes. Given Moore's struggles as a PH (.151/.215/.288), and that he actually has reverse platoon splits (.731 vs. RHP, .683 vs. LHP), I can understand why the a manager might have found the incentive to take that risk to be underwhelming.

And yes, Moore would be a lot better than Clint Robinson at 3b. Even putting aside that Moore has played there before (in college), the important part is that Robinson throws LH as well as bats LH. When was the last time you saw a LH third baseman?

Clip&Store said...

MII?

WiredHK said...

John C - Ok (I guess), I didn't want this to degenerate into a back and forth - and I certainly don't have TMo's career minor league splits to see if there is evidence that 200 ABs on either side doesn't tell the whole story on his RHP vs LHP lifetime avgs, so I'll leave this one small example alone (although, you're assuming Freddy would see that odd difference under a small(ish) splits sample size on Moore and this leave his LHP in the game accordingly).

There were other weird moves over the weekend by him, and his main problems stem from how he handles the bullpen vs how he uses PH subs (see: Barrett forced into the "8th inning he's-my-guy" roll Saturday despite being slated to face a stream of never-ending LHBs after Simmons - who lined the first pitch he saw for a single, anyway. Barrett is dramatically worse vs LHB than RHB, and Williams sent him out there to face not just a bunch of lefties, but the Braves top of the order lefties that won't be lifted from the contest regardless of pitcher faced. Solis and Grace are sitting there (or heck, leave Thornton in to face Simmons and then the lefties; or let Barrett pitch to Simmons and bring Solis in for the rest; etc), and this is the move. The resulting bases loaded mess by the time AB was lifted was not really surprising.

Anyway, we can move on - Bryce Harper can hide a lot of sins. I am fully on-board with the idea that a Manager doesn't cost a team that many games over a year, but bad ones can cost a team SOME games. And since we lost our margin for error with the slow season start, this may get magnified this year...

John C. said...

Fair enough - I certainly find some of MW's bullpen moves to be counter-intuitive. I'm at least open to the idea that he is giving players some run in the regular season in certain roles to see how they respond, with the additional benefit of (hopefully) saving wear & tear on the bullpen over the six month season by not using multiple matchup relievers every game.

The important part is that MW learn, and realize that playoffs =/= regular season in that regard. I will say that MW has shown some growth, and more willingness to roll the dice. I was pleasantly surprised when he PR Taylor for Lobaton on Saturday. Some managers will only do that when the potential run gets into scoring position, and others not at all (to avoid having to use the emergency catcher). By going to Taylor early, MW got the stolen base that wiped out Espinosa's strikeout, and Taylor nearly (and arguably should have) scored on Uggla's hit.

Zimmerman11 said...

giggity

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Like, where's my ring, dude?