Nationals Baseball: On streaks

Friday, August 14, 2015

On streaks

A couple people commented that they don't like the use of "If the Mets go... then the Nats have to go..." talk. I get that. Teams don't get to .500 by winning every other game. Everyone goes 7-3. Everyone goes 3-7.  So while it may be unlikely that the Mets go under .500 or the Nats play 95 win ball from here on out, it's not unusual. Some team over .500 will probably play under .500 from here on out. Some team around .500 will probably play like the best team in the league. Might as well be the Mets and Nats, right?

But still I do like the use of trends occasionally because it helps highlight how big leads (or deficits) actually are.  When you are down say 3 games the optimistic part of your mind tells you "Oh that's just a series. We sweep, they get swept and everything is good" or "We have 6 games head to head left so even if we simply match these guys in the other games we can almost make that up by going 4-2 against them".  These are completely fair and true views, but they are one-sided. Being 3 games out is as close to 6 games out as it is to first. You are one series away from a big hole, a bad head to head record from your performance in the other X number of games to not matter. By giving you an idea of how the Nats would have to perform if the Mets do nothing special I hope to show you how big the hole the Nats have dug actually is. Because it's there.

It's certainly a hole that the Nats can dig out of. The head to head alone would cover it (although at this point a 6-0 sweep would be required to make up enough games) but it's dire times for the Nats.

What can I say that's positive? As I noted the starting pitching has picked up. Strasburg looked on the ropes early and often but pulled off 2 runs in 6 innings, a performance you'd take every time. In the past two weeks Gio (2 starts - 1.38 ERA), Strasburg (2 - 2.08), and ZNN (3 - 3.20) have done very well and even though he's struggling a bit Scherzer has kept the team in the game. In fact before Ross' performance in LA you might find yourself going all the way back to Jun 28th to find a game where you can flat out say the starter lost it (Roark bombed in Philly). I'd probably quibble with that - I don't think 5IP, 5ER games help anyone, but the fact is the starting pitching is good. Maybe not great like advertised but good enough to win games by itself when doing well, and good enough to keep the Nats in it when it's not. The SP ERA looks only good (6th in NL at 3.68) but replace Fister with Ross and assume Strasburg now is not Strasburg before and it would be right up there with the best. This is the Nats strength.  Always has been.

Treinen has looked good. Last night it wasn't even a blowout and he came through. As terrible as it may sound, it might be time again to try handing him the 7th. Desperate times.

It hasn't been a good last couple of games but both Zimm and Ian have done well recently*. Ian has even started walking and apparently not in the "I'm going to defensively take pitches to try to get on base because I can't hit" way. In 64 games from May1st to July 19th Ian walked 10 times. In the 23 games since, he's walked 10 times.

Trea Turner is still crushing it in AAA. A little less pop and patience than in AA, but with a .315 average you don't complain. He could be called up and although I think taking over for Ian is not the right idea (see above), there's no reason he couldn't start spelling guys all over the IF/OF. 

Although Bryce's power has mysteriously vanished** He's still hitting and still getting on base. A .462 clip. He stole a base (finally) last night. If this is the role the opposing pitchers are going to force on him because he has no real protection, well he can flourish here too.

Whatever deal Yunel made with whatever demon - looks like it's good for the whole season.

There's your positives. Run with it!

*As hard as it may be to do, Zimm may need a day off. After being in a nice groove since coming back, he's 1-11 with 7 Ks in the past 3 games.

**Well not that mysteriously. Bryce had been pounded low and away all year, but occasionally either by mistake or on purpose pitchers would challenge him up in the zone. He would punish those pitches. That's happening less and low and away is happening more. To the tune of like 50% of the pitches he's seen. Now we get to the guessing game - It probably reached a tipping point in mid July (he hit .240 for a stretch) where he decided he was going to change his approach and if they were going to let him get singles he was going to try to take them. Then going after the singles made it a little harder for him to drive the balls for big hits. Just a guess.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's my thing. Are the Mets really any good? I mean maybe I'm relying too much on recent history, but this whole "Mets in 1st" thing just feels like the kind of strange standings you see sometimes in April. I mean, the Twins were right with the Royals for awhile and that corrected itself. The Angels have finally caught the Astros. The Mets are still the Mets. What is it one division title in the past 25 years?

I just see the lead as an illusion that will right itself over the next month and a half. Sure, their pitching is good. But it's also young except for Colon who is bad. So those guys are all gonna hit a wall very soon. Harvey is just off TJ. He's great, but he's gotta be out of gas. Stras' first year back same kind of thing happened. Hit a wall, they shut him down. Harvey will hit a wall too. Syndegard is too young and has never thrown this many innings. He got hit his last two starts and is weakening. His ERA will balloon from this point on.

DeGrom is legit. I noticed that for real for the first time at the All-Star game. The guy has great stuff. But I really think that with Harvey and Syndegard tiring out, one pitcher isn't going to be enough to carry the Mets horrible offense. Cespedes is a spark but he still can't cover the whole lineup.

Still not worried. If this were September 14 and we're 4.5 out, then I'd be a little concerned.

Harper said...

Anon - 9/14, 4.5 out and you would be a little concerned? That's confidence!


The Mets pitching is really this good. Harvey and DeGrom both have the track records and Syndergaaaard was one of the best pitching prospects before coming up. Do they tire out? That's a pitcher by pitcher thing. I don't think we can say anything for sure. Matz will be back if one of them does and he's almost as good a prospect as Noah. The only this I would say is Neise is likely to slow down (but he's still ok)

If the Nats are going to catch the Mets it's probably going to be the hitting slumping. Right now only Uribe is flat out struggling. Things like that don't last months.

cass said...

I think the Mets are legit. They remind me of 2012 Nats. Incredible starting pitching and then they added enough offense and bullpen help at the deadline to win the division. And this hot streak got them the lead. I don't see them letting go.

Our odds of winning the division are now 33%. I feel like we're the Braves in 2012. Too confident and thinking our experience will trump these upstarts. Worried the Mets will win the division for the next few years as well. That's some incredible starting pitching they've got.

I just don't see the case for optimism. Two of our three outfield positions are complete holes in the lineup. Add in the catcher's spot as well. And the pitcher. That's 4/9ths of our lineup right there - zilch. KKKK. Then you're relying on Escobar (fine), Rendon (oh wait, he's a hole too - how did this happen?), Harper (fine, but not BRYCE anymore), Zimm (old beyond his years), and Desmond (good luck with that).

I don't see how we make up four and a half games without ace-level pitching from everyone and our vets finding some kind of fountain of youth.

And as Harper alluded too, Bryce needs more power. I love his walks and singles but he's gotta start dropping bombs again. He's not really the problem but at least it'd make the losing more pleasant to watch. And if we want to win the division, he has to go into the phone booth and change back into Bryce Bonds. I don't see that happening. He's banged up and tired. Prove me wrong, Bryce.

Anonymous said...

The first comment is the dumbest argument I'v ever heard and I won't even bother to pick it a part.

Anonymous said...

As a Mets fan, anon #1 sounds eerily like our fanbase did back in late 2007.

"Oh these Phillies are perpetual losers..Utley, Hamels Werth, etc. are too young and unproven..nothing too worry about."

Didn't work out so well for us.

Nattydread said...

The last three games have really exposed the Nats for what they are. A team with good pitching, that can hang in there until the 6th inning. But also a team that is aging, beat up and without a plan at the plate. It seemed as if Greinke, Kershaw and Volgelsang all had been handed the playbook on the Nats before the game. Nothing unexpected happened.

As a Boswell-reading fan boy since 2005 (and a fan of the Senators long before), I am easily lulled into false optimism. But there was little in these games to get excited about. If you get one runner on Kershaw, whoever comes up next needs a plan. Werth's at bats were weak. Zimmerman looked lost. Ramos didn't have anything. Harper, you are right --- a good team has to compete against good pitching --- and this team --- at this stage of this season --- can't. Matt Williams "well-go-getum-tommorow" looks like Manny Acta out there. Never thought I'd say that.

Please guys. Give me a spark. Matt, light a fire. Bryce, for christ sake, go down in the tunnel and pummel the wall with your bat. Get in a fight. Kick some dirt and curse. I can't stand seeing the team go down in slow motion as if they were on a pleasure cruise to wherever the last place Nats used to go in years past. Please.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I can stomach 2.3 more years of Werth, no matter how tchotckes they put out.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've been watching too much MASN - who almost always show the MLB Buck Showalter commercial 4 or 5 times - but I'm still holding to Showalter's observation: "There are no Cinderellas in baseball. "Who you are and what you are will show itself sooner or later." That goes for the Nats and the Mets. The issue is, when it does show who and what you are, can management and ownership be honest and deal with it?

Orlando said...

@Anon: Mets have added D'arnaud and Cespedes in the past few weeks. Add that with a stronger bench, a surging Duda, and a returning Wright, and their offense is not the same as it was in the past. At worst, it's in the middle of the pack of the NL now.

Their pitching is young, but you're trying really hard to find flaws in their staff. Talent-wise, it's top 3 in the NL. We get Matz back in September as well, so that's a young, fresh arm.

Also, the past has very little to do with their future success. Just because we won 1 division title in the past 25 years means very little. You could've said the same thing about the Nationals/Expos in 2012 or Royals in 2014.

SM said...

Sounds like the off-season will begin in about 2 weeks.

Matt said...

As a Mets fan (alluded to earlier by Anon), we've been the Nats. Overly confident when we have done NOTHING. I've watched the Nats the last 3 weeks. Stayed up late and they look like a dead team. now you guys watch this team everyday, so I could be wrong, but something isn't right.

The first Anon has some sort of delusional entitlement. What exactly makes you think Harvey or Thor is going to slow down? Everyone knows what the Nats did in 2012 was dumb. Cost them a ring (maybe more), based on a theory that pitchers have "innings" limits. Harvey has been lights out over the last 6 weeks and Noah, even though he had a hiccup the last two games, didn't give up a hit yesterday after the 2nd. Yes, the pitching could slow down, but expect a 6 man rotation to begin in 2-3 weeks.

Probably playing with fire here, but as a whole the Mets roster is better. Flat out. I'll take our top four over Max, Gio, and Zimm. I'll take our lineup. The back end of your pen is probably better, and our bench is a lot better. Add a D. Wright next week and wow, a pretty damn good team (Also T. collins is probably better than Matt Williams...still confused how we did not see Storen no Paps in the Mets series).

Anonymous said...

Mets lead league in runs scored since July 24th. MATZ coming back Sept 1st. Thor and harvey show no signs of hitting wall. You're delusional.

Anonymous said...

For those that agree with the first post here is some sobering news. Latest WS odds (via Bovado)

TEAM WORLD SERIES ODDS
Toronto Blue Jays 4/1
Kansas City Royals 5/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 8/1
St. Louis Cardinals 8/1
New York Mets 9/1
Washington Nationals 14/1

Anonymous said...

What difference does it make what they did in last 25 years? Different team.
you say you first observed degree at ASG but the guy won ROY last year.

SM said...

"Also, T. Collins is probably better than Matt Wills."

That's not what Mets fans were saying earlier this year. A double-dog damning with faint praise if ever I've seen it.

David said...

Way too many Mets fans posting here. I am not only concerned the Mets are legit now, but that they are legit for the future. To think next season their rotation could be deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, Matz, Wheeler is scary and could match the 2011 Phillies as one of the best of all time. Plus they are all young and under control.

The Mets offense went from pathetic and extremely short, to actually being a pretty decent NL lineup. If Wright comes back next weekend and can contribute they will get to 92 wins imo.

Anonymous said...

"Way too many Mets fans posting here."

That's because we go back a lot longer than the baby Nats, and there's a lot more of us and our team means a lot more to us.

Anonymous said...

I THINK THE METS ARE LEGIT, ALSO BRYCE HARPER IS A BIG BABY

Ben said...

Mets fans go back a lot longer than baby nats but only started posting here 2 weeks ago ... did mets fans only just discover the Internet? I am confused as to how being fair weather braggarts equals loving your team more.

P.s. Did Harper just write the word "protection"?!

Anonymous said...

@Matt

The Mets are the ones saying there will be innings limits for their aces. Oddly, they haven't done anything about it since Matz got hurt and it's mid-August already.

As far as hitting a wall, Harvey has seemed stronger in his last few starts. But Harvey started the season strong, too, then struggled. He may lose it again.

deGrom and Syndergaard have each shown signs over their last 3 starts of wearing down. deGrom struggled with his command against the Nats and Rays. Then in an otherwise good start against the Rockies, he walked 4 batters. Syndergaard sandwiched a bad start against the Rays with 2 better starts against the Nats and Rockies. What stood out, though, was the HRs. Syndergaard has given up 5 HRs over his last 3 starts with 2 HRs in each of the better starts, both at home. He's lost some life off his fastball and hitters are catching up to it.

Yes, deGrom and Syndergaard still pitched well in the 6 starts other than Syndergaard's bad start against the Rays. But some cracks are showing. Those cracks may widen.

Besides wearing down, Syndergaard is flat out a bad pitcher on the road (5.01 ERA!), and the Mets have 26 road games vs 21 home games left.

I'll take the proven aces of Scherzer, Strasburg, and Zimmermann over the young, maybe tiring aces of deGrom, Harvey, and Syndergaard for the stretch run. I'll take Gonzalez and Ross over Niese and Colon, too.

Robot said...

Ben - Agreed. Sounds like a bunch of band-wagonners anonymously chiming in because their team has briefly stopped sucking.

blovy8 said...

Internet trolls notwithstanding,don't blame Mets fans for sounding psychotic. Their bi-polar behavior is natural. After all, they did actually choose the worse of the two franchises in their city to follow, and they haven't had much experience with sustained success recently. There's always some new embarrassment lurking. Think about the excuses you have to make to yourself for your loyalty to the lesser team, which naturally leads to lashing out at everyone else for your own problems. A month of watching decent baseball to a real Met fan is the peak just waiting for the next valley.

Anonymous said...

As a Mets fan I admittedly lurked this blog in the beginning of the season for the schadenfreude and to see what Nats fans thought of the Mets. But I stayed as a reader because Harper is a damn good writer and many of the comments were surprisingly insightful on a baseball level.

Anyways, just wanted to point out we are not all here to troll, I genuinely enjoy reading this blog and keeping tabs on our biggest rival. I personally think the Mets will win the division and the Nats are on the down slope but of course, no one knows for sure what will happen.

JE34 said...

Perhaps I don't know the best places to look for this, but what are the odds we see Denard Span back this season? I can't find anything further than "resuming baseball activities" and other Bill Ladson-esque fluff.

Chaz R said...

how weird is today's blog... where did all these Mets fans come from? Have you guys been in a weird kind of troll stalking role on here for years???

And, what's with the "That's because we go back a lot longer than the baby Nats, and there's a lot more of us and our team means a lot more to us." Good grief... I think we've created another Phillies Monster.

egoodman8 said...

"That's because we go back a lot longer than the baby Nats, and there's a lot more of us and our team means a lot more to us."

What an obnoxious comment. The fans that comment here care as much about the Nats as you care about the Mets. By that logic, Yankee fans care more about their team because the baby Mets have only been around since 1962. The Mets fans that have showed up recently are mostly fair-weather trolls. Didn't hear much from you all year or the last 9 years for that matter.

JE34 said...

Way to go, Harper! Garnering the respect of the baseball world, you are.

We are fortunate to have Harper to get us through things like the soul-sucking whiff parade that was last night's Nats performance in SFO. I've never had the curiosity (or time, really) to seek out other team blogs... if the Nats aren't delivering the goods, I can't muster the energy to scout out what people are saying about other teams. Besides, I have a hard time imagining (for example) that there's a great Atlanta Braves blog out there. That idea barely makes sense.

Kenny B. said...

"That's because we go back a lot longer than the baby Nats, and there's a lot more of us and our team means a lot more to us."

Yes, you are very special because your geographic sports loyalties led you to like a sports team that through happenstance and random historical trends is older than the current iteration of the Washington team. The fact that you spend your time and money investing in your team rather than any of the other 29 you could have presumably selected makes you a better person than the rest of us who chose the objectively inferior team that was geographically closer to us.

Or, you know, you're a troll.

Anonymous said...

I'm a NATS fan. But I honestly can't see Mets staff not continuing to dominate. Matz is coming in a few weeks and most scouts say he next year would be an ACE on 22 teams in baseball.

VI said...

Actually, I enjoy reading the "analyses," using various "add up and divide by N" metrics to extrapolate beyond data ranges with no allowance for variance, no attempts to isolate and avoid chasing noise, no tests for independence of variables, repetitive confusion of correlation with cause and effect, and no means to validate models. Then, instead of reevaluating forecasting errors, just moving on with what is assumed to be a newer and better model that's certain to do better next time. As the old saying goes, "all models are wrong, some are useful."

Anonymous said...

It's easy to explain why Mets fans are posting obviously trollish comments. They want a passionate rivalry. They're used to going at it with the likes of Yankees fans and Phillies fans, not to mention the rivalries with their other sports teams. They want to go at it the same way with riled up Nationals fans.

Robot said...

Two weeks of competitive baseball does not a rivalry make.

Robot said...

Exception: Playoffs

i will ALWAYS hate Pete Kozma

Froggy said...

Rizzo should have got Carlos Gonzalez when the Rockies were shopping him before the trading deadline two weeks ago.

Just saying...

nLeast said...

"Two weeks of competitive baseball does not a rivalry make."

Yes, that's true. But four aces does.

David said...

Like none of this is remotely close to true.

David said...

Like none of this is remotely close to true.

David said...

Like none of this is remotely close to true.

Anonymous said...

1 game over .500...:(

Max David said...

We're like the 2012 Braves and the Mets are like the 2012 Nats.

The Braves that year we're supposed to run away with the division, and if the Nats got lucky I thought they could get 85-87 wins and maybe finish 5-8 games out of the Wildcard at seasons end. The Nats in 2012 hung around, the Braves went through the motions the entire year, got passed in the second half by a team with a young pitching staff, a good bullpen, and timely hits. The Braves never recovered and bottomed out with the fans littering Turner Field with garbage in the Wildcard game.

The 2015 Nats were crowned by pundits as the "best team in baseball." I though the Mets could finish .500 if things broke right. The Nats have been going through the motions the entire season. The Mets couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag through the All Star Break yet the Nats couldn't take advantage. The the Mets added Uribe, Johnson & Cespedes, while the Nats added Papelbon (which has been a complete disaster) and since then the Mets have run circles around us. I know its August 15 and it's ONLY 4.5 but I have a hard time seeing us catch the Mets again this season.

Froggy said...

I would like to go on record to say I was wrong when I said getting Papelbon for the closer and moving Storen to the 8th would make the last 2 innings 'Williams Proof'.

I wonder if going from being The Closer to 8th inning mop up duties can be messing with Storen's head.

Anonymous said...

Storen is one of the most selfish, "me first" ballplayers I've ever seen in my life, and frankly I'm sick and tired of it. Just get him out of here.

Anonymous said...

The Papelbon move has backfired, and the way the Nats have used him is utterly puzzling. He's appeared in 5 games in three weeks. Were the Nats arrogant enough to think they were acquiring him to set up the post-season, because the division title was a given?

If the Nats don't come back, I think Rizzo and Williams have some explaining to do. I get that injuries hit this team disproportionately, but some of that should have been anticipated (with Werth's age and injury history, and Span's two surgeries before the season, Rizzo should have picked up a serious bat or two). As Harper states, the offense is just not there.

Escobar has been great this season, but the Nats gave up Clippard and Blevins in trade and the BP has not recovered.

Froggy said...

How many losses in a row does it take for everyone to get a haircut and shave off facial hair? Seemed to work for Strasburg...

Mattyice said...

Harper, you can rewrite your post about what the nats and Mets need to do, just subtract a couple games. What a wasted weekend. At this point we need at least 4, but probably 5 or 6 victories in our head to head games...ugh!

Max David said...

All I can say is 2 things:

1) Thank you Jesus the Dodgers played the Sunday night game last week and played the back ups to the back ups on that Monday night. 1-6 is bad but 0-7 would've been a complete disaster.
2) Thank you Jesus the Pirates swept the Mets this weekend! Yes it's ONLY 4.5 but we should be thankful it's not 6.5. had the Mets swept the Pirates instead I think you could start digging the grave for the 2015 Nats.

David said...

Unfortunately, i believe this weekend dug the final nail in the nationals proverbial casket. Not being able to take advantage of the mets being swept with colon, niese and harvey pitching is as brutal as it gets. even losing 2 out of 3 would've meant gaining a game on them. the mets schedule the rest of the way now is a joke and they only have 5 games remaining against teams above .500

blovy8 said...

I keep hearing the word arrogant used regarding the Nats. It's totally inappropriate. Obstinate, unimaginative, phlegmatic - these are the adjectives that apply as far as I'm concerned.

Rob Evans said...

Was a "make or break" trip for the Nats. Unfortunately they "broke". I feared being 5-7 games out after this trip and that's pretty much where they are.

Time to start thinking about the off season because it's all over but the crying this year.

Mattyice said...

I was as bummed as anyone yesterday, but it's a bit early to throw in the towel. If we sweep the Rockies and the Mets lose 2/3 against the O's then we are right back in it.
We have played awful lately, but maybe a trip to Coors will awaken our bats. And the Mets were on fire for a couple weeks, they were bound to return to reality. Not saying this is the most likely scenario, but it's definitely not beyond the realm if possibility.

Max David said...

They only play 2 against the Orioles and they have deGrom & Syndergaard starting those games.