Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : Keep on Truckin'

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Quickie : Keep on Truckin'

After a fair outing by Scherzer led to an defeat on Friday the Nats needed to win two in a row to win the series. They did it. That makes 4 series wins in a row and an 8-4 record in the last 12 games. They even gained a game back on the Mets who lost the series to the Red Sox, one of three lost series for the month for the Mets.  For those of you bemoaning the fact that the Nats have actually lost a game to the Mets during this recent streak (were 4.5 out, now 5.5 games out) understand that if the Nats played another middling stretch and went 6-6 or 5-7 they would now be around 8 games out and we'd be really stretching to keep them in this pennant race. It's a longshot as it is, but the recent hot streak keeps it from Hail Mary territory.

Now comes probably the biggest hurdle that sits between the last Mets series and the next one. The Mets host a three game set versus the still terrible Phillies while the Nats travel to St. Louis for three against the best in baseball Cardinals. Nothing has changed. Win the series. Hope the Mets don't. Pick up a game. However, this three day set is probably the best chance for things to go quickly south for the Nats besides the H2H match-up. If the Nats can come find themselves Thursday morning no worse for wear I'll consider that a moral victory. But I do hate moral victories, so win the series.

NOTES

Boz blames the starters. Have the starters underperformed? Absolutely. Do they share part of the blame? Of course. Are they the "biggest problem of 2015"? HA! Imagine you're driving a car on four bald donuts, out of steering fluid, with a windshield you can't see through but you do have brand-new brakes. Now you see at the last minute you need to avoid an accident, you can't steer out of the way so you hit the brakes... and they don't work perfectly. SMASH! Do you blame the brakes?

Despite Strasburg battling injuries and Fister collapsing in a heap of "we knew this would happen, we were just hoping it would be next season"  The Nats starters have an above average ERA of 3.84.  I'm going to go ahead and list the teams ahead of the Nats in ERA. Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Pirates, Cubs.  Notice a pattern? And right behind the Nats? The Giants. The Nats have a playoff caliber rotation, the fact that it's not near the best in the NL is disappointing but it can't be singled out as THE issue.

The rotation was supposed to be so good it would help overcome other issues. Guess what? THAT'S A TERRIBLE PLAN. Maybe try not to have other issues instead. It's baseball. Any aspect can be completely undermined by a couple injuries and a surprise bad performance. Any aspect.
  • I told you I'd hold off on Jayson Werth to see if the thin mountain air helped him get back on track or not. Since the Colorado series (not counting it) he's hitting .294 / .415 / .559.  Will he keep it up? Will he hit for power in September? Don't know. What I feel safe in saying is that he's as healthy as he's going to be for 2015 and therefore needs to be playing nearly everyday. I still want Robinson playing but the Span injury makes it easier to find time for him in a Taylor/Robinson quasi-platoon (Bryce takes over CF when Robinson plays).
  • Strasburg is hurt. That's not good. I think he needs the whole offseason to rest, but he's not going to get it. Since it's not his arm, I say shoot him up, get him out there, and go for it. At least until the season is decided.
  • One of Boz's points is that the offense is fine because the Nats are going to score about the same number as runs as last year. Yeah except offense is slightly up this year. The offense is actually down in comparison to the league. Slightly true but he's insinuating it might be slightly better. It's not. Context matters. 
  • You know if Ian hits in September like he did in August, turning down that 7/107 extension may turn out to be a wash. That would almost certainly put him Top 5 in the NL, maybe Top 10 overall in offense for a SS.  And that's just overall, if you want power Ian looks even better. If you need a SS next year either him or Asdrubal will be the top target. If Asdrubal fails down the stretch and Ian keeps it up, 7/107 might be a stretch but 5/80, with some team options on the back end? 
  • Weekly reminder how awesome Bryce is. Trea Turner hasn't got a hit yet. That's ok. He's still a top prospect and will have a couple years to show what he can do. He's is also only 9 months younger than Bryce who is currently hitting .331 / .457 / .629.  And we aren't being too kind to Trea.
Win the series.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looking at the remaining schedules for both teams, I have to give the Mets the MAJOR upperhand right now. I'm thinking the Nats finish with 86 wins with the way they're currently playing and with what is left on the docket. The Mets? 90 wins. The Nats desperately need to win both H2H series with one of them probably being a sweep. Not only that, the Nats need the Mets to tank it against one of the really bad teams they're facing. I'm just not optimistic at all.

Now if the Nats miraculously sweep the Cards, things may be different...

Anonymous said...

Strange things happen in baseball. Lets hope it happens this series. Go Nats!

Anonymous said...

As long as the Nats are within 6 games entering the 1st H2H series and within 3 games entering the 2nd H2H series, I'm optimistic. And they really only need to be within 3 games entering the last series.

The Mets are fool's gold. They've fattened their stats on some of the dregs, but they've struggled against below-average teams like the Rays, Orioles, and improved Red Sox. Their bullpen after Familia and Clippard is undependable. Their hitting goes hot and cold. Their fielding is shaky. Their starting pitching has been giving up more runs.

At worst, the Nats will go 4-2 in the H2H, which should get it done. 5-1 or a sweep, if needed, is realistic. The Mets got hot for a while, but they've cooled off. I think the Mets will lose more games than people think.

Harper said...

Anon - I think after the Cards the schedules are closeto a wash which makes holding ground here crucial. They SHOULD lose a game or two in the next three. Don't do it and you've survived the worst of it.

Anonymous said...

The Mets are likely to win the division. However I think the past week has given the Nats some hope. 1. We are playing better and keeping the games we lost close. 2. The Mets starters are no longer locks. They are giving up runs to the bottom of the NL East and AL East. Two of the games against the Philies were close (1 run game or extra innings). Yesterdays game against Boston could have easily turned into a loss. This obviously could be a one week bump in the road for DeGrom and Harvey but if it does represent fatigue then one can envision how the Mets lose the lead.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Put this on the last thread right at the end. Just thought I'd throw it out there again. Not that I want to reignite the "Nats fans are whiners and want to blame everything on injuries" catcalls again, but anyway:

Just a quick point to make on the injuries. Harper hinted at it, but I'll expand on it:

It isn't just the players the injuries have happened to, or how many games they missed, etc. A big part of the difference (as I see it) is the initial prognosis of the injuries.

Yes, the Mets lost Wheeler for the year. Huge loss, no question. But there was zero chance of him coming back, so the team was able to move on and find another option. Similar situation with Mejia... you know he isn't coming back before a certain number of games. And so forth.

On the other hand, all of the injuries the Nats sustained (with the exception of Stammen, who I've always been a huge fan of and think was a hugely underrated part of this team) were of the "it's no big deal, they'll be back soon" variety, even though that largely turned out to not be true. Either that or you had the repeat offenders like Zimm, Span, Strasburg, etc. Virtually none of the Nats injuries were "Oh crap, this guy is done for the season, let's find someone else".

The Nats' DL all year was like Lucy pulling the football out from in front of Charlie Brown's foot. Repeated injuries, different injuries to the same guys, injuries that seemed less severe than they were... they had it all, and all of that precluded the Nats from making moves before the deadline because "the guys we're getting back will be better than anyone we're trading for" except that we kept losing those guys again (or having them stay on the DL much longer than expected). Remember when Rendon was just day-to-day during Spring Training? How did that work out?

As Harper said, more severe injuries can actually be a blessing because it gives you more flexibility with roster management. The Mets had their #2 (?) starter on the shelf all year, but they knew it, and could move on. Meanwhile, the Nats #2 starter pitched like crap the first 2/3 of the season because he was sort of injured, went on the DL, came back, was sort of injured again, went on the DL again, came back, pitched great, and is now maybe injured again...

Just saying.

John C. said...

I assume that you are giving the Mets the upperhand because their schedules are actually very similar - and the Mets are going into the last 32/33 games with a 5.5 game lead. The Nats hope is that they can hold ground the next three games (whether that's because the Mets stumble at home against Philly - unlikely - or because the Nats rise up against the Cardinals). In addition to the H2H games, the Nats' chance to make up some more ground will come when the Mets have to play the Yankees while the Nats are playing the Marlins.

If the Nats can hold their ground now, win the series against the Mets in DC and then make up another game or two while the Mets are playing the Yankees then they will be able to stay close enough to make the Mets push their starters and make the last series in NY relevant. That's a tall order, but not inconceivable. But as Ryan Zimmerman said, the Nats have to keep winning games or it won't matter what the Mets do.

Fries said...

@ third anon,

Careful there, the way you described the Mets is exactly what the Nats were the last few seasons. Couldn't beat the good teams and beat up on the bad ones. And to say the Nats will go 4-2 in the H2H is optimistic. I think the Mets offense is still pretty potent and the reason they finally are coming back to earth is because their pitching cooled off. BUT that pitching is still very talented and it could just be a lull in the season that they'll pick back up.

The Nats are going to gain ground by season's end, but I don't think it'll be enough. Probably miss out by a game or 2

Metsfan said...

"At worst, the Nats will go 4-2 in the H2H, which should get it done. 5-1 or a sweep, if needed, is realistic."

Glad you're confident. Say that all you want, but that's why they play the games. LGM

vjwhitmore said...

To respond to an earlier poster per the SP staffs of the Mets. We can not hope that they are winding down or that they are tiring. Their starters gave up over the weekend:

Harvey - 0 ER (6IN)
DeGrom - 2 ER (6IN)
Syndergaard - 4ER (but 1 was given up via BP) (6.2IN)

That was against a very strong hitting team Boston.

Our starters gave up:

Scherzer - 4ER (7IN)
Zimmermann - 1ER (7IN)
Strasburg - 4ER (4IN)

Against a very middling hitting team in the Marlins

vjwhitmore said...

We need to be more concerned about:

Scherzer's August ERA of 6.43

And if Strasburg is injured.

vjwhitmore said...

Not to mention Gonzalez's 5.68 ERA in August

Still Optimistic said...

If the Nats can survive this series against the Cards and not lose ground, I'm optimistic they can overtake the Mets. The Mets' hot streak has really been made possible by their whole team going on an incredible hitting streak. Look at guys like d'Arnaud (.900 OPS in the last 30 days), Flores (.842 OPS in the last 30), Conforto (.860 OPS in the last 30), Dan Murphy (.876 OPS in the last 30), Cespedes (.950 OPS in the last 30), and Granderson (.948 OPS in the last 30). Those numbers are all well above their career norms. They may prove me wrong, but it does not seem likely they can sustain that pace through the end of the season (even with a weak schedule), and I think their young pitchers may lose a little effectiveness as the season winds down.

vjwhitmore said...

Also to reference last place teams.
Boston since the All Star break is 2nd in all baseball with a .280 avg

incidentally in that same period

Miami is 21st aith a .250 avg

so lets keep it in perspective.

Anonymous said...

"Look at guys like d'Arnaud (.900 OPS in the last 30 days), Flores (.842 OPS in the last 30), Conforto (.860 OPS in the last 30), Dan Murphy (.876 OPS in the last 30), Cespedes (.950 OPS in the last 30), and Granderson (.948 OPS in the last 30). Those numbers are all well above their career norms."

d'Arnaud, Flores, and Conforto have never played a full season in the Bigs so they don't have career Norms.

Still Optimistic said...

"d'Arnaud, Flores, and Conforto have never played a full season in the Bigs so they don't have career Norms."

d'Arnaud has played parts of three seasons in the majors. In 634 career at-bats, his career OPS is .732.

Flores has played parts of three seasons in the majors. In 782 career at-bats, his career OPS is .674.

Conforto is a rookie making his first time around the league, which will inevitably make adjustments to him. He's currently hitting at the level of Adrian Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Chris Davis, all of whom have around .860 OPS.

There is reason to be skeptical that any of these players will stay as hot as they have been, particularly as the pressure of the pennant race increases.

Mets2015 said...

@fellow Mets fans

No need to nitpick at any post that expresses any optimism the Nats may overtake the Mets. This is, after all, a Nats blog and they've earned the goodwill to be positive considering they've dominated the East the last few years. They have to right to be upbeat about their team, as do we.

The fact is, with the 6 H2H left, they really are within reach and have a legit shot to overtake the Mets. With that opportunity being there, there should be no excuses at the end of the year. We'll truly know who the better team is since both teams are now basically at full strength (Nats are minus Span and maybe Harper, but we are still minus Duda and Matz.) May the best team win.



Mets2015 said...

@ Booyah..

Unfortunately, the Mets are all too familiar with injuries that were "minor that turned out to be not minor"

https://twitter.com/jareddiamond/status/618829060077019136/photo

Nothing something to be proud of, but Mets are prob the king of the misdiagnosed injury

Mets2015 said...

sorry, that link should be
https://twitter.com/jareddiamond/status/618829060077019136/photo/1

Andrew said...

@Most recent anon: I don't care if you don't think there's been a large enough sample to determine the career baseline for d'Arnaud and Flores. Those guys just aren't (to name comps for that kind of production at their positions) Mike Piazza and Cal Ripken.

Maybe Conforto can keep it up, but I have my doubts. For the other two I'll believe the Phillies will win the World Series before I buy that.

Kenny B. said...

If the Nats win the Cards series, I'll hold onto that still small hope that they could win the division. Otherwise, this hope we have is only a fool's hope. If the Nats sweep the Cards, I'll be a true believer. Let's just say I'm less-than-confident with Gio on the mound.

Kenny B. said...

Oh, and can the Phillies please beat the Mets just ONE TIME?! That's all I ask. Just once.

Anonymous said...

Besides late-season tiredness, inning limits, and skipped starts reducing the impact of the Mets' big 3 and giving more opportunities for the Mets' poor middle relief to lose games, the Mets also start Colon and Niese every 4th and 5th day. Colon is throwing batting practice every other start and Niese has been hit hard in his last 3 starts. I also think the Mets went on a hot streak due largely to regulars hitting much better than normal. When they're back to normal, they're not much better than the MLB-worst hitting team they were for most of the season.

Like Harper says, as long as the Nats keep taking series, they'll be fine. The Mets aren't scary. With their weaknesses, there are too many ways for them to lose any night to any team.

The Mets had their chance to build up a comfortable lead, say, 9-10 games. They only got it up to 6.5 games, which is already down to 5.5 games. I wouldn't be surprised if the Mets' lead was down to 3 games by the 1st H2H series, not that it needs to be yet for the Nats to catch the Mets at the finish line.

Anonymous said...

"The Mets had their chance to build up a comfortable lead, say, 9-10 games."

Um.. you do know the Mets actually increased their lead slightly after the Nats series which was just at the start of this month (August). They played 8-2 in past 10, the best among any MLB team... If anything the Nats lost THEIR chances to blow the Mets away in June/July.

Bjd1207 said...

@Metsfan2015 - Why'd you say we might lose Harper (along with Span)? Do you know something I dont?

Anonymous said...

"The Mets had their chance to build up a comfortable lead, say, 9-10 games."

Mets are 19-8 in August and have gained 8.5 games in the standings...................

Bjd1207 said...

Jesus Anons take it easy...

All he was saying is that for a stretch of 8-2 you weren't able to push the lead up to 8 or 9 games. The Nats played well enough to keep it in arms reach

Zimmerman11 said...

freakin mets fans!!! it's not good enough you're gonna take the division, you gotta take our blog too? lol. GET OFF MY LAWN!

Mets2015 said...

@BJD

Sorry, I meant Strausberg. *hurries back off lawn*

Bjd1207 said...

Whew...

Robot said...

@Bjd and Mets - Whew, indeed. Nearly had a stroke when i first read that.

KingCranium said...

All we need now is for Mad Dog to take a call from John in Flushing about the Nats fans at Nats Baseball Blog still holding out foolish hope their team can catch the Mets.

Bryceroni said...

Random thought: with the blue jays hiring Shapiro from the indans, Terry francona is available (or at least has an opt out). I have paid less attention to him since he left the rsox, but thought he was a solid/above average manager there.

Thought?

Fries said...

@Bryceroni

it's a pipe dream, but i'd LOVE Francona

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Syndergaard, whose ERA has been climbing all month, sucks on the road and the Mets play on the road more than at home in September. So that's another red flag for the Mets. The Mets really only have 2 starters they can count on, and deGrom and Harvey are being pulled early out of close/tied games for middle relievers who can't protect leads/ties.

The Mets have done the Nats a favor. Storen said recently that coasting into the play-offs has held the Nats back the last couple of years and catching a team from behind is just the thing the Nats need to sharpen up for the post-season. The Mets had a nice run and excited their fans, but it's September. Here's where the Nats show the Mets what being a contender is about, close ground, and retake 1st place with an easier schedule, 6 H2H, and a better team.

blovy8 said...

I think Francona is a top five manager. Hell, I'd take Bud Black and he's available now.

Anonymous said...

oh gio....

Ryan said...

how was Siegrist facing Zimmerman in the 7th inning?? wow

Max David said...

A couple things:

1) I watch/listen to a lot of Cardinals game, and the Cards definitely win in spite of Matheny. He's not as bad as MW is, but it's a pretty close race.
2) IF the Nats can take this series I think for sure they can run down the Mets at seasons end. I know the Red Sox are playing pretty good ball but if your a team that wants in on the postseason....you win that series! They should be happy it wasn't a Boston sweep, as the Sox could've very easily won Sunday's game.
3) My 4 candidates for manager next year: Bud Black, Terry Francona (a poster above said he has an opt out), Mike Scoascia (I think he still has a lengthy contract, but the Angels are floundering in 2nd half, new GM coming in), Ron Gardenhire. For sure Gardenhire & Black will be available and possible Francona & Scoascia. If we can't snag any of those 4, I don't think any other candidate will be any better then what we've currently got, so we should stick with MW (stone me now!) if none of those 4 are available.

Myself said...

I believe that if the Nationals want in the playoffs they will have to sweep the Mets in both series. They can't rely on the likes of the Phillies or the Marlins or the Reds to do their dirty work for them. They got themselves in this mess, they'll have to be the ones to get themselves out of it.

Froggy said...

I would like to nicely ask all these nice Mets fans to go away nicely to your own blogs at Exit 9E Citi Field. So us Nats fans can have our usual pre and post game conversations / bitch sessions about all things Nats and the terrible decisions our manager. Manny Acta...er...Matt Williams makes game in and game out.

Be Calm and...
Go Mets Home!
Go Mets Home!
Go Mets Home!

David said...

Tomorrow is huge for the Nats. Scherzer really needs to right the ship here. I'm legitimate concerned the Mets will be up 8.5 come Thursday morning if we can't at minimum keep pace tomorrow with Harvey going Weds

Max David said...

Can someone sneak into MW's office, steal his "book", light it on fire, and then spread the ashes around the city??

How can someone be so ****ing clueless about how to manage a bullpen?? Help me, this guy can't be totally stupid, is he??

VI said...

I don't know that there would be that many Mets fans on this blog if they hadn't started to monitor the Nats telecasts on MASN. Once you hear Bob Carpenter describe every Nats hitter as a future HOF candidate, and every pitcher as an all star (in between reminding the viewer of the radar gun reading on every pitch), you start to wonder what fans would put up with that kind of nonsense. Sprinkle in some FP about how cool Werth is as the best OF in history and you get downright curious how a fan base of what's recently been a successful franchise could put up with that babbling diatribe. Somehow, the calls never go the Nats way, and the opponents always see pitches too close to take. So, they want to see what makes a Nat fan tick.

Andrew Louder said...

That bottom of the seventh just felt like a season killer...battle all night, big homer the ln bullpen implodes. I really wish MW would go away from the "plan" and bring storen in the get the biggest out of the season.

Anonymous said...

schoenfield understands our pain

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/62350/after-disastrous-loss-matt-williams-time-running-short-in-d-c

Anonymous said...

Still within 6 and the H2H in the loss column - the Nats still control their own destiny.

Lost opportunity to take one from the best team in the NL, but we knew the Mets had the Phillies while the Cardinals were the last tough opponent of the season. Just have to grit our teeth and look forward to the H2H and soft schedule ahead.

Anonymous said...

Are we really kidding ourselves?? Guys, the Nats are from DC. DC!! Next to to Cleveland, is there a worse sports city? Possibly Atlanta?? If the St. Louis Cardinals team that we played last night - from management to the minors - moved to our city, they would be floundering as well. Something about this city. Perhaps its an heir of entitlement? I don't like this teams attitude (ahem, their Natitude), I don't like Bob & FP, I don't like their organizational structure, I don't like their textbook manager, and I sure as hell don't like green eggs and ham...

But like I said - we could be doing everything right, and still not achieve our lofty goals. As go the Redskins, so goes the rest of the sports teams in DC. I'm 28 years old and firmly believe that I will not witness a championship parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in my lifetime. Looks like its time to move :(