Nationals Baseball: Hard Pard?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hard Pard?

Come on, it was Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard. You couldn't in your right mind expect a sweep. Hope, sure. Expect? Nah.

The question of the night was why did Matt Williams pull Ross for Barrett. If you squint you can kind of see where MW was coming from. Barrett had pitched well recently. Ross had been limited (on purpose) in his minor league starts, I'm guessing so if needed he could pitch for the Nats down the stretch and not increase his innings too much. Ross had been missing fewer at bats and has getting hit harder this time through the line-up. Matt probably thought that Barrett had the better chance of getting the K and keeping the Mets from tying it. Still Ross wasn't getting crushed, they hadn't reached the top of the order again, and more importantly the Mets don't have any threatening PH to bring up there. Eric Campbell? I think the kid should have had that shot to get Campbell out.

After that MW's second mistake was conceding the game in the 9th when he shouldn't have. After a single and walk and single, most relievers would be pulled to try to keep the game within a bloop and a blast. (especially with Bryce and your second best HR threat Espinosa up the next half-inning), but Matt stuck with Roark and the Mets put the game out of reach.

It's just another indication that whatever "feel" managers have for when and where to use what bullpen guys, Matt Williams still doesn't have that. Which again makes getting another arm that's unhittable important so down the stretch and in the playoffs, MW isn't forced to make these decisions. Give him an 8th inning guy he desperately needs. Let him try everyone in the 7th until someone clicks (one person will, right?) and then if the Nats need a guy before the 7th, well, the starter failed, good luck.

Ross in general? I think a good team would have gotten to him early last night when he didn't seem to have great control. I also think that he's 22 and there's something about the way he pitches where he seems able to raise his game. It's not all there yet, but it's ZNN esque. I like more about him than I don't like, but I also feel like the fanbase likes him way, way more than I do. If he pitches for a while he'll have some interesting games - rematches vs Pittsburgh and the Mets, then the D-backs, Dodgers and Giants, all good hitting clubs - that'll give us a better indication of whether he's a stud for 2016 or a rookie with some nice games and potential.

A lot of people are again on Desmond for a couple key Ks. I don't like it either but there can be a shuffling with him and Danny (middling for a month now) when Rendon comes back. What's more worrisome to me is Michael Taylor. He had a great catch in Game 1 but he's 1 for his last 23 with 10Ks and 0BBs. Makes Desmond look like Miggy. And Denard Span is the only guy not starting his rehab which means he'll play. If he keeps playing poorly the other option is denDekker which is to say there isn't another option.  Desmond's issues stink but there are solutions for today and tomorrow. Taylor's issues don't have either.

This game tonight is important.  The game tonight is not important. To me it's important only for "what if?" scenarios. What if Bryce gets hurt? What if the Mets go out and bring in a bat or two? The Nats are better. The Nats should take the NL East. Simply losing to the Mets isn't going to throw me into a panic. What it will do though, is make me very worried about the unknown.

29 comments:

Jimmy said...

I really don't see the mets getting an impact bat at the cost that they will probably be.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

This is now two out of the last 3 games where MW has made the wrong pitching choice in a late-game, high-leverage situation. In both situations, down by 1 run in the 9th, he's left his best RP in the bag and hoped to either get to a win or a tie with proven roll-the-dice guys coming out of the pen. In the other game of the last three, he's put his best RP in while up by 5 runs when it would seem like the time to use the roll-the-dice guys because there's less pressure. There can be no more lingering doubt that neither Barrett nor Roarke can handle high-leverage situations. Roarke may be useful for middle/long relief, but he's not a 9th inning down-by-one kinda pitcher; he wasn't even that kind when he was a starter.

So all that said, you're right, Harper -- the Nats need to deal for either a lights-out closer and make DROOOOOO the 8th inning setup guy, or they need to deal for a solid setup guy (BTW, I'm not so sure it's Clip...) that can keep these late inning one-run leads from blowing up. But I'm betting they don't -- unless the Mets look like they're going to deal for a bat or two. Nobody else in the NLeast matters; only the Mets can challenge the Nats for the rest of the season. But that can't be the end game -- going out in the NLDS again because they stuck with what brought them, only to find out that the bullpen can't handle post-6th-inning high-leverage situations any better than they did during the regular season, isn't a winning formula...

cass said...

The game is actually very early this afternoon, not tonight!

BxJaycobb said...

Harper--- I don't think the fans think more of Ross than you. I think it's entirely reasonable to look at his stuff and performance and think he has No. 2 upside (upside of Jordan Z). In fact his stuff is very similar. He's not a big strikeout guy and relies on a fastball with some life, location, and a slider (same as JZ). But he walks almost nobody. That will give him an excellent K/BB ratio despite not having great swing and miss stuff. I think it's pretty safe to say this is a no. 3- no. 4 major league starter and he may be a decent no. 2 even. Nobody thinks he's an ace. (That's giolitos role if he blossoms). The takeaway is that it's not unreasonable as a fan to hope that in giolito and Ross we get a pretty decent imitation of Strasburg and Jordan for many years if all goes well (and honestly giolito may end up better than stras in sheer results if not talent).
BTW re Ross's pedigree, Keith law says "kid is an absolute boss. Athlete with outstanding poise and command who pounds zone and plus slider. Mid rotation starter at least."

SM said...

This is hardly the first time MW's use of his bullpen has become a topic of discussion. But you raise an intriguing point, Harper, in noting that MW doesn't yet have that elusive "feel" for effective bullpen use.

The question, I suppose, is: Can you learn and/or develop "feel?" Refine it? Or is it just there, like red hair? Or is it a matter of talent, of how good your horses are when you hitch them to the plow? Or a combination of better "feel" with better players?

(Actually, that's more than one question.)

Robot said...

MW's bullpen decisions are terrible. Last night and Sunday, he let two 1-run games get away because he's clueless on these questions (and we won't even get to Game 4 of the NLDS last year - still haven't gotten over that). Terrible

Bjd1207 said...

1 for his last 23 does not make Desmond look like Miggy. It makes Taylor look exactly like Desmond (minus the HR of late), except you need to multiply that stretch by 3.

And I can handle a hole in the lineup for a defensive whiz, especially in CF, and even more especially knowing that it's only until Span comes back. What I can't stomach is that same line on the worst at their position defensively, who's supposed to be the regular starter

LetsGoNats said...

The concern with Taylor is what happens after Span is done with us. Taylor was supposed to be the CF of the future and now just looks very good defensively and horrible offensively. Also he should not be our lead off hitter.

Anonymous said...

MW does not just lack feel. He uses the hope and pray method where instead of adjusting to game state, you just throw people in and hope they get outs. It is baffling that someone who was a professional player and has been through thousands of games still has no clue about the strategy of pitcher batter matchups and bullpen usage.

Paul Nichols said...

MW doesn't have a "feel" for the bullpen, but a larger question for me is whether Roark is just NOT a reliever. He's had a couple of stinker innings, and it seems like he's a guy with a starter's make up - he needs to settle in to a groove, which is hard to do if you're just a reliever for an inning to two (or occasionally three).
If Zimmermann leaves after this season, is Roark a candidate to return as a starter?

Harper said...

Jimmy - neither do I (neither do they I think)

Gr8 - I do wonder sometimes if the Nats are in wait & see mode with the Mets. Rizzo has shown that he doesn't make specific moves for playoffs so if the Mets don't make a move - why make one if you believe (like I do) that the Nats are just better?

cass - It's tonight for the boys in US Army posts in Germany. Why do you hate the military?!?

Bx - I'm still not sold Ross will be a good rotation guy. I like what I've seen. I'd bet on it. But I'm not sure. I think fanbase feels sure.

SM - No idea. A lot of it is make-up of the pen and the rest is hard to tease out (you can't have different managers making decisions with same players on same day to really test out influence). So I can't say anything definitive. (most of what a manager does is like this). There are some numbers I think could be pulled (how does Nats compare to other teams when putting in a non-closer reliever when the game is within 2 runs?) But there's nowhere I can just pull that.

Robot - it comes down to faith - do you have faith in the pen in general? I don't. Do you have faith MW can maximize the talent there? I don't.

BJD - except for that HR and that single and fewer Ks and a walk they are exactly the same! And if I triple that time frame Desmond is hitting .157 / .197 / .314. Very, very, bad - not 1 for 23 territory.

Ok - "like Miggy" is an exaggeration but Desmond is doing badly still, MAT is doing worse. And I'm just saying that in the "RIGHT NOW" way. Desmond is having the worse year. But the point is - Desmond is doing bad - but he can be dealt with this year and he's gone for next. MAT is getting down to Desmond's level for the year - he may not be dealt with this year (Span is still a couple weeks away at best) and he was supposed to start next year.

LGN - SPEEDY CFs SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOUR LEADOFF HITTERS.

Anon - that's a little harsh but there is a problem here. At least I think so. Lack of feel, no consistency (early pulls or late pulls), seemingly no forthought into future...

Harper said...

Paul Nichols - also a possibility Roark is just not that good. Rangers and Nats didn't think of him as having top talent. Just kind of magically found it in 2013 and it kept up into 2014. Some odd stats helping him out. (Honestly I think he'd be a fine #5 in 2016, but he's aging out and was never a K guy so he might lose it as quickly as he found it)

Bjd1207 said...

@Haper - Hahaha OK fair enough, that statement was off the cuff as I was remembering some stat thrown out in the pregame broadcast a couple of days ago. Removing the last two games' "outburst" by Des (which I grant you is cherry picking) he was 3 for his previous 45, which is damn close if you double MAT's current stretch (2 for 46).

And I'm sticking by my broader point. Let's worry about next year after this year's over, Span may decide to re-sign on a 1 or 2 year deal anyway depending on what he gets on the market. And there's always time for MAT to still develop, as this is still just his first full year as a somewhat regular starter.

So for the remainder of this year I'm looking at a stellar defensive player who will move into a backup role when (if) we get our regular back, vs. a terrible defensive player who was planned to be the regular starter and still may be if our management are idiots. Desi's a much bigger concern from where I'm sitting

Paul Nichols said...

Harper - you may be right. I wondered how he did so well when it seems he doesn't have great stuff.

Donald said...

@Harper -- what do you think of Rivera? FP is high on him and he's looked pretty good. How about he and Janssen for the 7th and 8th?

@LetsGoNats -- I think the plan is for Trea Turner to be the lead-off guy. At least he seems better suited for it for now.

As for MW's bullpen management, I thought he subscribed to the theory that pens only thrive when relievers have assigned roles. I know a lot of managers and pitchers believe that. But MW also seems to mix things up a lot, too. I don't know if that's because he's still experimenting to find what roles people do best in, or if he's trying to break out of that model and go more by feel. I agree that managers should focus on matchups and leverage situations. I don't like the idea of them guessing who they think will have the hot hand in a given situation despite the data.

For the most part, I don't fault him too much for who he brings in when, it's more when he leaves guys in way too long, like with Roark, that irks me. I think he's still dealing with that criticism from last year from the pen where they complained about him asking them to warm up too often without being used. So now, he doesn't get guys warmed up in advance, but when someone struggles he has no choice but to leave him in for an extra few batters.

Anonymous said...

now escobar is out for an indefinite (and hopefully brief) time

Bjd1207 said...

@Donald - wait what? I never heard about that complaint from the pen last year. That's freaking absurd. You tell them to do their job, and he'll do his.

And I will admit that looking at things in hind-sight like we do probably makes it more clear cut than it actually is. But I really don't think it's that complicated. After accounting for recent workload and R/L split, line up your pitchers from best to worst and bring in the better pitchers for higher leverage situations.

In other words, not Treinen in a 1-run game and not Storen in a 5-run blowout

Ryan said...

Reynaldo Lopez, Joe Ross and Yunel Escobar for Todd Frazier, who hangs up first?

Ryan said...

Also, the problem with MW isn't really pulling starters too soon, because a fresh reliever will usually (in theory) have a better chance at getting the out; the problem is, as people have been saying, that he's picking the WRONG guy out of the pen seemingly every single time. And that's not just based on results, it's that those bad results are entirely predictable based on the information that we all have. Since the Nats' running game is no longer any good either, one wonders what utility MW provides to the ballclub at all.

Bjd1207 said...

@Ryan - what? That gives us more pop than Escobar but otherwise leaves us exactly where we are in terms of holes in the lineup and now we're out Joe Ross.

I hang up first

Harper said...

Reds - Yuney is injured!

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper - And Desmond/MAT the offensive keys to the game. Seriously does baseball ever stop f'ing with your head?

Anonymous said...

@Harper - why did we let Jose Valverde walk? Nats released him today, despite putting up solid numbers in AAA. Given the bullpen question marks this season, wouldn't it have been a good idea to call him up and see if he's still got it?

Bryceroni said...

Long time anon, finally broke down and got a name.

The prospect of MW having Jose valverde in his pen terrifies me... The carnage would be legendary.

On that trade, I would be overjoyed to get Frazier at that price which makes me think its top light for the reds.

DezoPenguin said...

While adding Frazier (particularly if Rendon returns to handle 2B and then Espi takes over SS) would be great, if we're going to trade away an asset like Ross or the like I'd prefer to use that asset on replacing one of our weaknesses with a top-level talent, not replacing the guy who's been our second-best hitter this year with a top-level talent. Let's fix the stuff that's a problem before we fix one of the few things that's actually going well. (Better yet, keep Ross, what with Fister hurt and walking, Znn walking, Stras battling injuries, and Gio and Roark unpredictable.)

Anonymous said...

I reeeaally wish you had not said 'Bryce' and 'hurt' in the same sentence especially with your history of jinxing the club Harper.

KW said...

Valverde had an opt-out clause and requested the release. Probably saw the handwriting on the wall when de los Santos and Solis were promoted over him.

John O'Connor said...

I'm sold on Michael A. Taylor. I think outfield range is a really underrated skill. Heck, the Braves competed for years with above-average starting pitching, a lights-out bullpen, and an outfield that caught EVERYTHING. If Taylor can be a .250/.320 guy with 15 homer power, we'll be happy for a long time.

As for spot in the order, I think with Taylor and Harper in the lineup, the Nats are the classic type of team that should hit the pitcher 8th and Taylor 9th. That keeps the pitcher's spot one place farther away from Harper's at bat and doesn't have a low OBP guy leading off.

Ryan said...

I really like Michael A. Taylor, as long as he's not hitting lead off. With everyone out, not really sure what the lineup should look like though. besides Espi batting 2nd and Bryce batting 3rd, the rest is so bad that I can't really fault any of the choices. I'm looking forward to everyone returning from the DL.