Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Series win!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Quickie - Series win!

Hey everyone! Series win! Like I said last time and on twitter after Friday's game, I'm not going to make pronouncements after any one loss. The Nats are going to lose games. The Nats are going to lose games to teams they are better than. That's just baseball. They key is to keep winning series. They lost the first game, won the next two, series win. Mission accomplished. Now the next mission starts.

The best thing to come out of the weekend beyond the wins was the play of Werth and Rendon. Werth was 4-11, with a double and 2 walks. Rendon was 3-9 with 4 walks, a double, and 2 homeruns. Are they back? Hard to say after one non-Rockies series but I think you can start asking the question, which is a positive. We'll see if the good hitting continues in this series and/or next before judgments are made.

The Nats didn't pick up ground on the Mets thanks to the Rockies being terrible. In fact despite going a very nice 4-2 in the past week the Nats actually lost half a game in the standings. Again, this is the hole the Nats dug for themselves. Simply playing well will not be enough. They have to hold their own in the remaining head to head games and be consistently better in the rest; or they have to dominate the head to head games and be no worse than the Mets in the rest. That's what they have to do. There isn't room for the Nats to either play consistently worse than the Mets or to lose more of the head to head games than they win. It won't work that way.

Mets are at the Phillies, Nats are hosting the Padres. Both those teams are playing a little better recently.

I wrote something over the weekend for Vice Sports about the Nats. You can read it here. Pay no attention to the factual error at the start (it wasn't me! really!)

The crux of the whole Nats not meeting their expectations thing is that a team is a series of defenses. Offensively first the starters have to fail, then the bench does, then you have to be able to fail to upgrade. On the mound first the rotation and a couple key relievers have to fail, then the middle inning guys, then the manager, then again you have to fail to upgrade. Usually these defenses are more likely to fail the deeper you get. That's the way it was for the Nats, that's the way it is for most teams. Fiscally it just makes sense to put more money in those first lines of defense.

What made the Nats different is (1) offensively because of big injury issues, that first line of defense was fairly likely to fail*, (2) we had real questions about Williams' ability to work a bad pen situation, and (3) there was a strong likelihood of having difficulty upgrading due to likely financial constraints. If the rotation, for some reason, didn't live up to it's billing (and arguably starting pitching is pretty variable in itself) then things could get very bad very easily. That's what happened.

Lesson to be learned : really pay attention to injury concerns. Regression to means and regressions due to age are real things but they generally follow a slow curve. Injuries can take a player from sixty to zero in no time flat. That type of season changing event should not be taken lightly, even if the team is telling you it's not an issue. Never believe the team. 

*Especially for a 95+ win team.

31 comments:

Rob Evans said...

Stole this from a committer on WaPo, but it fits. The Nats are pretty much done for this year :-(

"The Nats have 13 series left. 1 of which is a 4 gamer against the Braves. and 1 game against the Reds. if they just win each series, they'll have 13 loses. Mets would have to go 20-19 then for the Nats to catch em. Both scenarios - Nats playing their minds out, and Mets playing Nats baseball - are very unlikely individually , and astronomically improbably when combined."

cass said...

Rob:

That's a good point, but the key is that these two events are not unrelated. There are six head-to-head games. If the Nats win those games, the Mets will lose them. So that makes a difference.

As long as both the Nats play even or a little better than the Mets, they'll have a chance because of those six games. The better they play, the more wiggle room they have head-to-head. Right now, they have to basically double-sweep. If they gain some games, they'll get wiggle room.

Mets are in driver's seat, but Nats are still in it (barely).

Chris Needham said...

That's pretty much wrong. If the Nats go 5-1 against the Mets in their remaining games, even playing .500 ball in every other game is pretty much enough for the Nats to take the division.

Those head to head games are all that matters. Any on-pace stats that don't acknowledge that are pretty much worthless.

Hoo said...

I still think the pen construction is the most bewildering part of the season. You have a manager who struggled a bit with the pen last year and management made things even more risky for Williams this year relying on injury reclamation projects and rookies. Yes, yes, relievers are mostly fungible. But when you're in your World Series or bust year going cheap on relievers maximized your manager's biggest weakness. And everyone knew this before the season. Williams would have to sort through a variety of arms to figure out his pen other than Storen in the 9th.

Maybe the Nat's most important arm in the pen was Stammen who would have been the security blanket to get to the 9th. He could have gone 7 and 8 at times.

Never understood the pen construction and letting someone like Blevins walk for org filler. To a division rival! Another thing is clear is that Rizzo/Williams had no respect for the Mets and have likely been blindsided by NYC Ie Blevins deal and All Star Break Fiasco.

Anonymous said...

There are a huge number of examples one could find of teams coming back from down 5 with approximately 40 games. Is it easy? Of course not but it is not "astronomical" because it would not have happened on multiple occasions in the past decade (ask the Mets about it).

Harper said...

cass has it right. The way to look at it is this:

Less likely : Nats vs Mets H2H goes 3-3 or 4-2, Nats play much better than Mets rest of games
More likely : Nats vs Mets H2H goes 5-1 or 6-0, Nats match Mets rest of games.

Now "more likely" doesn't mean "likely" just that if less likely has a 5% chance of happening more likely has a 10% or something like that. Probably underselling a little (but just a little)

We'll get close to true impossibility if the Nats flounder over the next 10+ games leading up to the H2H or the Mets blow them out during that set.

Rob Evans said...

"That's pretty much wrong. If the Nats go 5-1 against the Mets in their remaining games, even playing .500 ball in every other game is pretty much enough for the Nats to take the division."

Chris - this is assuming the Mets play .500 ball as well. If they get up, say 6.5 games, then the H2H doesn't matter

WiredHK said...

Hoo - I agree with you, and the only way I can see it is that Rizzo had such supreme faith in his SPs after the Max deal that he honestly thought he hadn't only minimized MW's weakness, he had rendered it meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Pretty disheartening to win a series and actually lose a game in the standings. But that's what happens when you go 3-3 against one of the worst teams in baseball, while the Mets go 7-0 against that same team in the same timespan. Using the back end of their rotation, and a spot starter to give Harvey some rest. AND they get Wright back today and Matz back next week.

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon- yea but they lost Lucas Duda who was hot for the past month and half

W. Patterson said...

Lots of "what ifs" and "if onlys." It boils down to the Nats scoring more runs - in each game - than their opponents. That's something that they appear to have problems with.

And when guys come off the DL who haven't been playing and replace guys that are hitting, it goes against the "dance with the guys that brung ya" principle.

One can only hope that it's a fun ride.

Anonymous said...

I stopped caring. All I want at this point is:

1) The Orioles to fail
2) Matt Williams to be fired
3) Choking dog loser Drew Storen to be traded.

Anonymous said...

Losing Craig Stammen has probably been a much a bigger hit than people thought it would be. Roark, Stammen, Jannsen, Storen was probably thought of as being enough to get through with the starting rotation as good as it was supposed to be. Losing Stammen really increased reliance on the young guys who have been unable to find any sort of consistency.

They just have to keep doing what they can and hope a few things break for them. Given the injury issues, maybe a little better luck is due.

Anonymous said...

As long as the Nats stay within reach of the H2Hs, they're in it.

I think the Phillies will a be difference maker. The Phillies have been one of the hottest teams since the all-star break, including wins over top contenders like the Blue Jays and Cubs. Mets have 10 games left against the Phillies. Nats have 6 games left against the Phillies.

Max David said...

I think I said this last week, but we just have to be within 2-3 games once October 2 rolls around to at least give themselves a chance at the division. Making up 2-3 games in a what, 4.5 week span shouldn't be that difficult. The Nats win 2 of 3 the first Mets series in a couple weeks, there's your 2 games right there!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but instead of the Phillies the Nats draw San Diego, St Louis and Baltimore. Mets get Yankees as the only other tough team. Seems like Nats have a tougher road to hoe.

Mattyice said...

@max David - if the nats win 2/3 they only make up 1 game :(

Anonymous said...

Bryce Harper was just placed on the 60-day DL with torn rotator cuff.

blovy8 said...

Losing Duda and/or him getting colder hurts, there's also the issue of whether Wright will have his version of spring training and does that actually mean he'll be better than who he's replacing? Matz is still inexperienced and now has a little injury history to be wary of, so maybe he's not as confident. Then, you have the Mets skipping starts for some guys or giving them more rest, will this screw up their routine the point where they're less effective? Is there a wall coming for going more innings for their best guy DeGrom? I bet there's lots of stuff for their fans to fret about.

I can't imagine they'd exactly do this, but if the Nats win every series, they'd go 27-12. Take out the 2-4 against the Nats and the Mets have to go 20-13 in the rest of their schedule to avoid a playoff. That's .600 ball. The key will be playing well enough/getting lucky at the right time to compete with St. Louis and Baltimore, who really give them trouble. All of it is a tall order, but I expect them to stay close just to screw with us more.

blovy8 said...

Or I suppose they'd need to go better than 20-13.

Anonymous said...

so let me understand something that was written in this article. The Rockies are terrible, that's why the mets swept the Rockies because there terrible. If that is the case than what happen when the Nats only won 1 of 3 against the Rockies? If the Rockies are so horrible than what is the excuse for the Nats losing 2 0f 3?

Anonymous said...

mets are 9-1 against the phillies this year, yea, philly is playing better but so are the mets. Keep convincing yourselves that the nats are the 27 yankees and the mets are garbage. I like being the underdog.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

The Mets only have to go 23-16 to get to 90 wins. RIP Nationals season.

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to assume the Nationals will win out, and Werth will hit .837 with 31 homers, and Scherzer and Zimmerman will both pitch with an ERA below 1.oo. Harper will double his RBIs for the year too. And most likely Harvey and DeGrom will both have 238298329.32 ERAs. I would also say Cespedes will get abducted by Aliens, and the Mets will only win 2 more games. Allll the baseball pundits picked us to win it all, so I'm not worried about the LOLMets.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, the Nats have gone down the toilet since the All-Star Break, despite the bravado from Werth and others that "we're a second half team." Never has one team guaranteed so much and won so little.

blovy8 said...

I beginning to think there's a reason why anonymous only seems to do well at poetry. Ok, maybe he can paint a little...

Anonymous said...

5 and a Half and Counting Losers....

Face facts Nats Fans, you should have never sat Strasburg in the playoffs
because that's probably the closest you'll EVER get to being relevant in the Postseason.

Your season is over.

Time to get your RG3 Jersey and focus on a different sport.

Max David said...

I didn't know the season ended September 1 I thought that was the AAA season that ended then??

Ollie said...

Looks like Vinnie from Queens finally got the courage to post on a mild-mannered Nationals blog after years of lurking. Big moment for the Mets.

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