Nationals Baseball: Tick - Part 2

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tick - Part 2

A win. No games gained. Just keep trucking. 2 games left to win at least one and hope the Mets don't win 2. (I'm asking the minimum here - obviously winning both and Mets losing both would be the aim)

Shields was a little off last night. He's run hot and cold all year, but let's face it, recently running into the Nats was a guarantee of running hot. The Nats instead got to him pretty well, bunch of hits, bunch of walks and the fewest Ks he's gotten all year. Meanwhile Strasburg looked strong as he has since coming back and Blake Treinen continues his "as long as no one is noticing me, I'm fine" restoration of his season. We'll see what happens when he's noticed again.

We know what the Nats have to do. At this point, with Span back,  the question is how best to do it. The Nats made a hard choice sitting Fister for Ross. Are they going to continue to make the hard choices?

Will the Nats keep Ross pitching until the season is decided or he looks decidely tired? 

MW noted that Roark will get stretched out in Potomac to potentially take over for Ross as the 5th starter. Even though I'm a Ross doubter (I think he'll be a fine piece of the rotation in 2016 but nothing special) I can see he does do very well chewing up bad teams when he faces them. The Nats remainder of the season is mostly bad teams.  He should pitch until it's clear he shouldn't.

Will the Nats continue to sit Trea Turner? 

Yep sit. They shouldn't sit Yuney. He's been good at the plate all year. They shouldn't sit Ian.  He's been arguably the best hitter on the Nats for over a month. They shouldn't sit Rendon. He's probably their 2nd most important bat and after fits and starts he may be finally heating up. They should use Espinosa when possible. He's a reliable source of power and a steady fielder. Where does that leave Turner? Exactly as described. Late inning D replacement and pinch runner.  So why call him up? Because Uggla and Moore ain't giving you that and he can do more if needed and by now I hope you know all these guys could go down to injury in a heartbeat.

Will the Nats give Werth rest and work in Clint Robinson? 

Werth talked his way into the lineup this weekend. That shouldn't happen. While Werth may also be heating up he isn't hitting for power (espeically vs RHP - .287 SLG this year. .287!), probably won't (nature of injury he had), and he's a statue in the field.  Clint Robinson is a better choice to go up against RHP.  He won't get every RHP or else Werth wouldn't get regular at bats, but every 4th or 5th day we should see Robinson in there. He's earned it and give the Nats the best chance.

Will Michael Taylor get starts versus LHP and be a constant late-inning D replacement for Werth/Robinson? 

The latter question is a no-doubter. Every game that's close enough Taylor should be coming into the OF so the Nats can have the best D out there.  The former point is about keeping Span fresh and Taylor involved. Like almost all lefties, Span doesn't hit LHP well. Taylor is no lefty-mashing beast so this is more about when to give Span time off, which he needs. Don't make the same "gotta play these guys everyday" mistake you just made with Werth & Rendon coming back.

Will the Nats keep Papelbon involved? 

The whole season proved that Storen can close if needed. Hell, Janssen did it for like three years. So please pitch Papelbon more than the every 5th day thing you got going on now.  It doesn't do him much good and keeps a good pitcher out of some close games for no good reason.

Will the Nats get back to using Storen more AND be ready to bury him?

Storen was awesome for most of the year. You brought Papelbon in to have a killer 8-9. Start using Storen to shut down things again. The last close game he was in was on August 12th. He's been buried since then. Everyone has a bad run. If you are thinking - why not stick with what's working, Well the Nats have had 5 close-ish games since Storen appeared in his last. Which relievers have given up a run or more in these games? That would be Rivero, Thornton, Papelbon, and Janssen. So yeah. It's not like you are looking at forcing Storen into the Nasty Boys. 

That being said the Nats can't afford many more losses so let's say two more blown games and yeah, you have to stick him in blowout middle relief and work with the "hopefully fine" options you have left. This is the basic truth facing EVERY reliever in the pen right now. You don't have time to work out issues. If in September you aren't performing, you aren't pitching.

What do I think will be the answers to these questions? I think they'll sit Ross after first Mets series. I think they will sit Turner. I think Werth will force his way into the line-up more than he should be. I think Taylor will get to play for Span and as late inning D. I think Papelbon won't be used as much as he should be and I think Storen is already buried effectively making the trade moot.

Ok let's see what happens. Win tonight.

34 comments:

W. Patterson said...

I like your comment about Werth being a statue in left field and only wish I'd have thought of using the comparison. I applaud his career but he's just not been "there" this season.

Anonymous said...

With all our guys back for the first time last night, it was nice to see a full lineup. I'm curious Harper, what would your "optimal lineup order" be given that we have bats finally off the DL?

Harper said...

WP - At his absolute best he's maybe passable and you can't expect that from him after sitting much of the year.

Anon - Hmmm Right NOW like today -
Yuney, Bryce, Rendon, Zimm, Desmond, Werth, Span, Ramos

Max David said...

I know Turner is up for a late inning pinch runner down 1 in the 9th sort of deal, but really he shouldn't be up.....now. The only reason, imo, he should be up is if he plays and starts every day, and right now there's no place to do that. The AAA season down in Syracuse ends I think September 6 or 7th (and they aren't making the IL playoffs this year)so keep Turner down in Syracuse until then so he starts every day, on September 6th or 7th (or whatever the Chiefs season ends) then bring up Turner for the role he's in now. We don't need a another version of Danny Espinosa 2.0, when Turner can still continue his progression for another week or two.

Harper said...

MD - I guess you can say NOW with Escobar back, since it would take two injuries to force him in. Before that one injury - that's like a given with this year's team. Still I say let's have all hands on deck ASAP and if you look at his AAA work - there doesn't seem to be a learning curve there. He got it quickly and kept it. I'm not sure what another 20-30PAs would do.

Anonymous said...

@ Harper - Wow. While I agree with your point of hitting Bryce second, thus getting him the most AB's possible, does it bother you that that particular lineup you just suggested will never happen? I mean, would Bryce ever bat anything but 3rd or 4th? Would Span ever not be a leadoff man? Would Werth ever hit that low in the order?

Not that I dislike your order, I feel like its a good lineup - just that it is sooooo far from what Matt would actually put out there makes me feel like we're lost in that regard :/

Jay said...

If Storen is buried then MW is dumber than I think - which would mean he essentially has the baseball IQ of a rock. Burying Storen nullifies the one and only move you made a the deadline to make this team better.

I still don't see them catching the Mets. Hoping I'm wrong.

Ken Rosenthal mentions he has heard rumblings that Ripken my be the next Nats manager. Not sure how I feel about this. Another guy with no experience, but his dad was a manager for a long time and he was considered a very bright player. Thoughts??

I still figure they had to go 30-9 to make the playoffs. 1 win down. 29 to go.

Anonymous said...

I predict the Nats get close enough to the Mets to make MW's bullpen management relevant, that MW again decides not to use his best relievers in non-save/hold situations, and that the Nats give up game-winning run(s) to the Mets with Rivero on the hill. I also predict that MW returns next year since the Nats already picked up his option.

Bryce Harper said...

Don't worry guys, tonight I'll try to get away with getting hit by an outside pitch.

Harper said...

Anon #1 - Not too much. 2nd behind a decent OBP to me would be ideal but it's not going to make or break a season. Honestly nothing will in itself. Span shouldn't get the most ABs until he's ok. Werth shouldn't be put in likely RBI positions until he's back. Of course the if the combination costs even just a game over last 40...

Jay - To give MW the benefit of the doubt, the team really can't even afford the two potential losses I sit out there and he might see something about Storen we can't. Of course thats giving MW credit...

If I were to guess I think they have a "make up 2-3 game run" in them and an 2-1 H@H in them. That still wouldn't be enough though it could put them 2 or 3 games out after Labor Day if this happens now rather than later.

Eh. I'd see it like I did hiring Williams. Probably not impactful. Even Williams with his bullpen mismanagement isn't the main reason the Nats are in this big a hole.

Anon #2 - Fair predictions. Jeanne Dixon, look out! Oh wait she's dead. You are the new Jeanne Dixon

SM said...

The new Jeanne Dixon. Whew! Much more reliable than Ed Wood's Amazing Criswell.

Max David said...

@ anon 9:55: Wasn't Werth hitting 7th in San Francisco??

Anonymous said...

In 2007, the Phillies were in 2nd place by 5.5 games on Sept 14, game 146. They were tied for 1st place on Sept 27, game 159. The Phillies played the Mets for one 3-game series in that stretch. The Nats are back to full strength and playing like it. They have 3x the games and two 3-game series with the Mets to make up the same 5.5 games. Can of corn.

Robot said...

Jay - there has been a small but not negligible contingent of fans clamoring for Ripken ever since Riggleman's unceremonious departure in the middle of the 2011 season. I'm pretty sure the job could be his if he asked for it.

Anonymous said...

@Anon, I'm sure you get all that info from Wikipedia since you're a Nats fan and were 3 years old in 2007.

Harper said...

MD : yeah he did for 2 games before moving him to leadoff in COL. Rather than a "I think it's best he hits lower" the quick moves struck me as "Maybe here! No? Maybe here!" thinking.

Anon #1 - Yes, but as I've said before when you have to go back to 2007 you are skipping over like 50 divisional races. Not exactly inspiring confidence.

Robot - and he had reasonable salary demands...

Anon #2 - if you are going to go with tired "Nats fans are young because they are only around since 2005" joke at least make him 7 or 8 in 2007.

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper - No, all Nats fan were birthed exactly on Apr 4, 2005. It was a very stressful (but joyous) day for Washington area hospitals

VI said...

Ripken would really have to scratch his baseball itch to take the job. He was pretty annoyed and outspoken about the DC cell phone crowd at Camden Yards.

Anonymous said...

RG3 is pitching for the Nats tonight

Anonymous said...

@Harper

Yeah, there have been other division races but only one LOLMets born in 2007. I'd maybe be worried if it was the Phillies or the Braves. Now that the Nats are back to full strength, 38 games are plenty to make up 5 games on the Mets. 6 H2H, too? The Nats don't even need help.

Anonymous said...

I've been rooting for Washington baseball since the 50s, when the only bright spots were Bob Allison, Mickey Vernon and Harmon Killebrew, I hope the Nats can pull this off. They have the talent. But, win or lose, I'm still counting my blessings!

JE34 said...

Escobar is a disaster at 3rd. Surprised he only has 5 errors.

Anonymous said...

We can all stop pretending that there's still a chance now. They're done.

And not just for this year either. Their window of contention is gone for a while.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, there have been other division races but only one LOLMets born in 2007. I'd maybe be worried if it was the Phillies or the Braves. Now that the Nats are back to full strength, 37 games are plenty to make up 6.5 games on the Mets. 6 H2H, too? The Nats don't even need help.

Anonymous said...

The only national that will get a world series ring this year is dan uggla courtesy of the giants. Yes Im a trolling mets fan but you know Im right.

Booyah Suckah! said...

JE34-

Not sure how you can legitimately call someone a "disaster" and then cite a stat that says they're not the disaster you'd love to think they are. You might as well have said "He's awful at 3B! I can't believe his play at 3B doesn't show how awful he is!"

Not saying he's the greatest 3B ever. He's not. But Fan Graphs has him at -6.9 UZR150. Good for middle-of-the-pack out of players with a minimum of 50 innings at 3B this year. Not bad for a guy playing completely out of his natural spot at the hardest position on the field.

JE34 said...

@Booyah - I admit I emoted at a particularly infuriating moment. That said, there are some Escobarian playing traits that (perhaps?) don't show up in the fancy stats, things that I think are observable just watching him in the field, both on TV and at closer quarters at the park.

--> He gets lousy breaks on slow ground balls in front of him. (A really bad instance of this was on an "infield hit" right before Storen gave up the grand slam to CarGo a few weeks ago. He barely moved on a slow roller his way.)
--> He is too quick to give up, if he doesn't think he'll get an out on a play.

You're right that he's playing out of his natural spot. Yunel plays 3B like it's shortstop, and it shows in his habits. There are times when he plays as if his mind is elsewhere (y'know, like when he's running the bases). Perhaps someone should try coaching him. Maybe the former gold glove third baseman who manages the team?

Your Fangraphs numbers almost had me. Among full time "qualified" third basemen, Yunel is 16th out of 20 in UZR150. Which puts him squarely ahead of the likes of Pablo Sandoval.

50 innings is barely a sample size (5-6 games), but it's an interesting cutoff point. Number 1 fielding third baseman with a 50 inning minimum? Anthony Rendon. He plays 3B on his toes, as it should be.

Jay said...

I agree with JE34. Escobar also plays too shallow from what I've seen and heard. It limits the number of balls he can get to. They don't count as errors - he never got to it, but Rendon may have. I think the Escobar trade in general was a mistake - much like the Jerry Blevins trade. Rizzo decided to hate the bullpen this year. Keeping Clippard and Blevins would have minimized the MW BP fiasco. Escobar has hit, but mostly singles. Some nice games here and there, but I'd rather have Clippard. Plus, the Mets wouldn't have Clippard now. Trading Blevins (a legitimate LOOGY for a 5th or 6th outfielder - den Decker - was a joke of a trade. I guess Rizzo isn't perfect, and we'll have all offseason to think about what all went wrong.

Zimmerman11 said...

Well, we're behind by more games than we have remaining head to head. Game. Over.

Rob Evans said...

yeah, the only story left at this point is if they completely stop giving effort or if they play this thing out like pros.

Robot said...

DOOOOOOMMMMM

Froggy said...

Like I mentioned in a previous thread, As goes Desmond, so goes the Nats.

Tuesday's game won 8-3 Desmond goes 2-4, rbi and NO K's

Last night, Nats lose 5-6 he goes 0-4 with 3 K's.
2nd inning Escobar on base, Desmond 5 pitch AB strikes out swinging on ball 3 sinker.
4th inning no one on, grounds out to SS on first pitch.
6th inning runners on 2nd and 3rd, 5 pitch AB...K's swinging on ball 3 slider
8th inning 4 pitch AB...strikes out swinging.

Alternatively in Tuesday's game he only had one swinging strike, lined out to right then got 2 hits to the right side. That suggests he had a more patient approach and went with Shields' down and away pitches.


Froggy said...

Like I mentioned in a previous thread, As goes Desmond, so goes the Nats.

Tuesday's game won 8-3 Desmond goes 2-4, rbi and NO K's

Last night, Nats lose 5-6 he goes 0-4 with 3 K's.
2nd inning Escobar on base, Desmond 5 pitch AB strikes out swinging on ball 3 sinker.
4th inning no one on, grounds out to SS on first pitch.
6th inning runners on 2nd and 3rd, 5 pitch AB...K's swinging on ball 3 slider
8th inning 4 pitch AB...strikes out swinging.

Alternatively in Tuesday's game he only had one swinging strike, lined out to right then got 2 hits to the right side. That suggests he had a more patient approach and went with Shields' down and away pitches.


Booyah Suckah! said...

JE34-

You're right, I did play with the numbers a bit, but only to increase the sample size. Having only 20 qualified infielders is a bit limited. There's also the issue of the inherent crappiness of defensive stats. They're generally only useful with multiple years of sample, which we don't have.

I guess I was just making the point that he may not be good... he may even be bad... but I don't think he's a disaster.

As for the eye test? I guess I see both sides. Yes, he plays shallow, much like Zim had to because of his destroyed shoulder. Maybe he's not used to throwing that much further (which we can support, since all five errors have been throwing errors, not fielding errors). And yes, it seems like he gives up a bit.

On the other hand, listening to FP (ASIDE: love him or hate him, FP does his legwork, watches BP, watches practice, talks to the players, and offers pretty good takes on what it's like in the dugout), it seems like he's trying. He spends a ton of time fielding grounders (from his knees, no less) and generally working on his skills. I guess I give him a pass.

As for the trade itself, it's hard to judge. Rizzo didn't trade for Yuney the Third Baseman. He traded for Yuney the Shortstop/Presumptive Second Baseman. Since he's basically played nowhere but 3B this season, it's sort of hard to judge the trade. Yes, I wish we still had Clippard. But a not-god-awful 3B who gets on base a ton (relative to the rest of the offense) and has some power isn't a terrible thing to have. They couldn't have possibly foreseen losing Rendon for so long, the godawfulness of the rest of the bullpen, or the mini-resurgence of Danny that made getting a second baseman in the off season maybe not the biggest concern.