Nationals Baseball: What's a chance

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's a chance

Now as we get into the real stretch run I want to be absolutely clear what I mean when I say the Nats have a chance. I mean exactly that "a chance". It's not a "good chance" like Giants have with the Dodgers (only 1.5 games behind, and with  seven H2H games to go).  It's also not a "bad chance" like the Twins have with the Royals, where essentially Minnesota has to play like the best team in baseball and Kansas City the worst, for the Twins to capture the division. It's a chance.

I'll say it again. The Nats can either beat up the Mets H2H and match them otherwise, or they can match them H2H and play much better than them otherwise. Either of those scenarios would get the Nats close. Neither of those scenarios is very likely though. Fangraphs has the Nats odds sitting at 18.6% using projections or 11.8% using season stats to date. A chance. If it came down to a dice roll the Nats would get #6 and the Mets would get #1-#5.

I also said yesterday that the Nats can't play poorly. They can't go 4-9 in the next 13 games (before the H2H) and hope to win the division.  Of course they CAN technically, same way the Twins CAN win the Central, but it would take something that right now involves nothing crazy (just unlikely) and makes it involves something crazy.

The flipside of this, and the part really out of the Nats hands, is that the Mets can't play great. The Mets are in control. They can play well enough that how the Nats do is moot. If in their next 12 games the Mets go 9-3 it will probably work just as same as the Nats playing poorly. The Nats regardless of how they play will lose a game or two, meaning that in order to catch the Mets a sweep of H2H is almost necessary along with playing better in the 20 games between series. It's a lot to ask. Too much probably, I bet the odds would drop closer to 5% or "I'm thinking of a number 1 through 20. Guess what it is" stage.

For anyone vaguely holding onto "well maybe the Wild Card" hopes, I wouldn't bother. Pittsburgh and Chicago are the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the NL right now (3rd and 4th in the majors) I expect the Cubs to slow down a bit but still they have a 6.5 game lead over the Giants for the 2nd Wild Card. If the Giants don't sweep this series starting today...

So again here we are. The plan is still the same. Win the series in front of you. Hope the Mets don't. Get to the next H2H series closer than you are right now. Win that, sweeping if possible. Repeat until the season end. That's the most reasonable plan for the Nats right now. Let's hope the Mets cooperate.

49 comments:

Bjd1207 said...

To preempt Mets trolling, please note that nowhere in this post will you find:

- That the Mets are a bad team
- That the Nats are a good team
- That Bryce Harper is our Lord and Savior
- Any mention of Strasburg or anything that happened 3 years ago

Please find a more constructive use of your time then ruining the days of a handful of Nats fans by pissing us off in this thread. If the Mets are truly a team steeped in rich history and a tradition of winning (compared to these come-uppin Nats) then start to act like it.

Onto the actual topic of the post, we at least get to finally see our projected Opening Day lineup for the first time. Hoping to see us knock around the Padres a little bit so we can start to gain ground. As a comment mentioned the other day, it's definitely disconcerting to go 4-2 and lose a game and half in the standings over the same stretch.

Nattydread said...

Since July 20th or so, we have seen nothing that makes the Nats look like they can win this. We know, theoretically, that they can, but what we have seen is quite a lot of mediocre.

Once I've seen a streak where we take 8 out of 10, I will allow myself some hope. But, sitting one game away from .500, I will not jump up and down about this yet.

The more I watch, the more I think Matt Williams has to go. And not because of his poor bullpen management (but that factors in). Its because, from what I can see, he has zero ability to motivate or inspire. This team is missing something that Williams cannot provide.

I'm happy to be convinced otherwise in the next 5 weeks. Maybe its all part of the plan.

Anonymous said...

Natty, there are no baseball managers that give fiery speeches to inspire. This is not football nonsense. Yes they make the right bullpen moves and put right players in tough situations.

Harper said...

BJD - The Padres series features 3 good starters. I'd love to see the Nats actually hit a couple of those in the same series. Been at least a month probably more like 2.

ND - MW has to go for the reasons managers usually have to go. They haven't poroven they can win and it's a lot easier to get rid of them than change the make-up of your team. I'm actually not favoring getting rid of him or keeping him. I don't see the obviously better replacement sitting out there.

Froggy said...

Starting with this series a couple things have to be different:

1) Desmond MUst hit for average and NOt strike out with runners on base.

2) No errors by anyone.

After the season regardless MW has to go.

Robot said...

Seeing the Mets come back from a 7-1 deficit last night was painful. We can't catch a break here.

I hope to see the hitting from the last few games keep up. Rendon and Werth both looked like themselves for the first time all season. I'm hoping that they are finally back.

Win the series. Pray the Nymets go totally Mets on the season. That's all we fans can hope for at this point.

Robot said...

Also, just read that D-Span might be in the line up today. Great news (even though MAT has been killing it lately.)

WiredHK said...

I actually don't think Vinny from Queens (who graduated from TrollSoHard University) is a Mets fan. Sounds more like a bitter O's fan, since he constantly says "you guys" and "them" for us and the Mets respectively. Maybe it's Angelos himself, who knows. But he's having fun, God bless it.

I'm interested to see how the projected regular lineup does over the next week. I'd like to see this team finish well (play .600 ball) and, despite missing the playoffs, show us that they would have been a quality team if not for the major, lengthy injuries to multiple extremely key players. Or, maybe that will just make me feel worse? :)

Donald said...

The Mets are on an incredible hitting tear. There are warning signs for them, though. They've given up a lot of runs in that stretch and made a bunch of errors. Scoring double digits in runs covers up for a lot of issues. If they keep hitting like this, there's no way the Nats catch them. But if their bats cool off, they could lose a bunch in a run. That's really the Nats only chance, I think.

Gabby Frankel said...

The Mets are running so far above expectation. Also how unlucky are the Nats? The Mets give up 9 runs in back to back games but still win. Then the Mets throw some no name rookie who has been cut twice and he pitches basically a shut out in Colorado. They win when Colon gets shelled. Last night deGrom finally gets rocked and lasts 2 innings but the bullpen shuts them out the rest of the way and the Mets set records hitting.

Ollie said...

WiredHK--The thought that he might actually be an embittered Braves fan has crossed my mind. If he were a Phillies fan it'd just be one long unfiltered, unspaced string of expletives.

Anonymous said...

Mets have a chance to finsh with 2nd best record in NL with their schedule

Harper said...

Anon - I don't know. They are 7.5 behind the Pirates now. That's a big jump. Plus you'd have to have Pirates crash but not lose a bunch to Cubs (6 games left) since the Cubs are also ahead of Mets. I'll give em a chance to catch the Cubs though.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

I was listening to the Mets-Phils game last night on XM, with the Phils' announcers. At one point, early in the game, they were commenting on how the Mets fans who were there in Philly last night were trying to start a "Let's Go Mets" cheer but were being drowned out by boos from the Phillies fans. Then one of the announcers noted that, "given the choice, I'll take Nats fans over Mets fans every time. The Mets fans are just OBNOXIOUS." I got a good laugh out of that one, for two reasons: (1) it's funny to hear the Phillies announcers calling ANY fan base "obnoxious" given what they have in their stadium 81 games a year; and (2) it's funny to think that Mets fans have suddenly become obnoxious (no argument there -- I've experienced it person) in the last month, when they haven't had anything to be obnoxious about (except towards their own team) for the first half of the season and for the last several years.

Plus, it's nice as a Nats fan to get a compliment (backhanded though it may be) from the Phillies announcers...small solace in a seemingly lost season that started with great expectations, but I guess we'll take the good where we can get it...

Anonymous said...

At Gr8 its not a compliment. Mets and Phillies fans love their team. Nats fans are all 12.

Anonymous said...

When you are talking about a sample size of literally millions of people, of course you will find fans at the extreme limits of decorum.

There are many people that find some Nats fans to be extremely entitled and arrogant considering their franchise has literally won as many championships (a big fat zero) as the Mets have since 2005. And it doesn't help when you have guys like Werth and Harper (LOL we got Scherzer..just give us our rings now, BRO!! *chuckle chuckle*) not knowing when to keep their mouths shut.

Jay said...

I have to say that I just don't see it. I think MW has to go for no other reason than his failure to point out the obvious - the Nats are in all likelihood missing the playoffs. This team all year has played like they were getting a bye into the playoffs. Bryce Harper after the Colorado series states they just need to "win series" and they'll be fine. Um... no just winning series won't be fine. The Nats are going to need to pull off something like Colorado or even further back St Louis did to make the playoffs. Winning 2/3 won't do it. They're going to need to go something like 30-9. There's going to need to be a couple of 5-10 game win streaks in there.

Also, this will make 3 years in a row that this team has grossly underachieved. 2013 - didn't make playoffs. 2014 - lost in playoffs to Giants after being told they have no marbles. 2015 - didn't make playoffs with no legitimately good team in their division.

I would say Nats 2015 may rank as one of the most disappointing sports years for me in my lifetime. Consensus pick to win division by miles and world series favorite to .500 team.

Harper said...

Anon #2 - Yes - every team has a section of the fanbase get arrogant as soon as they win. It's just how fanbases are. I'm assuming Central teams are dealing with arrogant Pirates fans. If the Jaguars were to wake up and win 12 games this year - arrogant fans. Just the way sports is.

I've never understood the Bryce hatred. It's not like he honestly believed they didn't have to play. I don't agree that you can't mention or joke about the fact you might be good, that you have to shut up and be overly humble until you win. They're playing a game. Hell I'd love it if Cespedes hit a homer, pointed at the camera and said "Catch us if you can, Nats". Act like you've been there before? Nah. Have fun because you are there right now, who knows when you'll be there again.

Jay - You'd have to say that the Mets were a good team. Certainly ok/.500ish up until late July and with the improvements a definite high 80s type team. That's good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Harper, I'm Anon #2 - I actually like Bryce. Unlike 95% of the posters on here, he actually gives the Mets credit for being a good team. I like confidence but there is a fine line. If any Met came out right now said "Oh we got Cespedes...we are just STUPID good..might as well just ship us our rings now!!" I would wish he STFU until we actually you know, won something.

Anonymous said...

@Donald

Bingo.

The Mets put on a hitting display in Denver and now in Philly. But it's not like they won the games 14-1 and 16-1. They needed to score a lot because their pitching gave up a lot of runs.

Before last night, deGrom managed to work his way out of jams so his stats still look good, but including last night, he's actually been off his game for a 5-start span. Syndergaard has been knocked around since beating the Nats at home. Colon has been up and down, and more down than up.

Like you said, if the Mets hitting cools off, it'll expose their pitching has cooled off, too.

There have been 5+ game swings in the standings all season. As long as the division lead is within reach of the 6 H2H, the Nats are in it. With Span back, the gang's back together. I expect the Nats to at least stay within stalking distance of the 6 H2H.

Anonymous said...

The Mets are definitely a good team. That had a huge weakness with their lineup and bench for most of the year and have improved it a lot with Uribe, Johnson, Cespedes, Conforto, d'Arnaud and Wright. Now they are a league average or even slightly above average offense. And they still have great starting pitching. The Mets have really benefited from the weak opponents in the division. The Nats have not but have had the same opportunity. That's the only real difference in my mind. The Mets have owned the bottom feeders and not just to the tune of winning 4 of 6. The Mets swept the season series from the Reds and Rockies, going 10-0, have gone 9-1 (and counting) against the Phillies, 9-4 against the Marlins, 5-2 against the D'Backs.

The Nats have gone 0-5 against the Reds, 3-3 against the Rockies, 4-5 against the Marlins, 8-5 against the Phillies and 4-3 against the D'Backs.

In fact, the Mets/Nats have played each other even so far (6-7), but the only teams the Nats have a noticeably better records against are the Brave (9-3 to 6-6) and the Pirates (4-3 to 0-6).

Basically it just comes down to this: The Mets are not just beating the teams they are supposed to beat, they are consistently sweeping them. Just taking care of business. The Nats have not rolled like that all season.

John C. said...

Anon, that Harper quote is so overblown, in large part because the quote that got picked up is completely misleading as to what Harper said/felt at the time. The complete quote basically amounted to: "I like our talent, but the other teams in the Division are all really good so nothing is guaranteed. We're going to have grind and work and try our best."

Yeah, really controversial stuff there. But all that didn't get reported, because "Harper respects his opponents and the game" doesn't generate clicks. "Harper is an entitled [jerk]" DOES get clicks. And so that's what gets put out there. It's sort of sad and funny at the same time.

John C. said...

And add the Cubs to the list of teams the Nats (3-4) have done noticeably better than the Mets (0-7). FWIW

Anonymous said...

Yea, DeGrom has been awfulllll his last few starts. Especially his two starts before last night when he gave up a total of 1 run in 14 2/3

Harper said...

Anon #2 - Do you feel that way because of superstition or because you don't want it thrown back in your face if you fail to live up to it? First one strikes me as silly but I can see why a fan might cringe hearing something like "where's my ring" because they know if they don't come close it's going to be brought up over and over.

I'd also expect Nats to stay 4-7 games out. Which means that first H2H could do them in. If they are still around 7 out after that I just don't see them making up 4 games in 20 and sweeping.

Last Anon (if diff't) - Hey! The Nats totally rolled late April to Late June 21-6! Which just tells you how blecch they've been the rest of the year.

W. Patterson said...

So Span is back - or might be. How long for him to get his "timing" at the plate and his ability to get a jump on the ball out in center field? Maybe MAT keeps playing and Span comes in when (if) there's a blowout.

I like the guy but this isn't a time for players to get their groove back.

Anonymous said...

@John - I have to admit I've never heard the whole quote in context, only the sound bytes. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for Bryce because he's insanely talented and fun to watch and he's always been complimentary of the Mets and their pitching (when he didn't have to be).

Bjd1207 said...

CF Denard Span
LF Jayson Werth
2B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
3B Yunel Escobar
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Stephen Strasburg

VI said...

For me, it's not what Harper says, or how he comes off as a spoiled brat. I don't care what gets said off the field. What's telling, though is what gets done on the field, and maybe in the clubhouse. Harper's constant whining to umpires on balls and strikes is counterproductive, and the umps seem to be losing patience with his lack of maturity. Similarly, watching him swing out of his shoes trying to splash a ball in the ninth during the SF finale is just the latest exhibition of me first. The team needed base runners, and he appeared to be determined to get himself a Sportscenter moment. In the end, he did as his strikeout played through the next morning.

The whispers of him maybe needing some mentoring in the clubhouse have now started. It may be nothing more than too many talking heads needing something to fill up air time, but it's begun.

Anonymous said...

@VI - "It may be nothing more that too many talking heads needing something to fill up air time, but it's begun." Or maybe it is a fool like yourself taking up thread space on a Nats baseball blog.

Also, you say "him swinging out of his shoes trying to splash a ball in the ninth inning during the SF finale is just the latest exhibition of me first." That swing of his has him ranked in the top 5 in nearly every offensive category this season. This is when the "he is only 22" comments start to be a real thing of optimism.

I don't know if you are a fan of this team or not, but the post you just put on here is ridiculous to say the least. There are many things wrong with a team that was projected to be as good as the Nats were this year. And Bryce is not one of them. Take this trash elsewhere.

Robot said...

Jeebus,VI. Bryce is having an MVP caliber season, including one of the best months in baseball history, and you people still find something to whine about.

Bryce's only problem is that he had reverted to merely BRYCE, rather than BRYCETRON THE DESTROYER. But mere BRYCE is still one of the top three hitters in the NL. I'll settle for that.

VI said...

Last I checked baseball is a team sport and all that matters is winning. As the Branch Rickey once said to Ralph Kiner when he asked for a raise after leading the league in home runs, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you."

BRYCETRON THE DESTROYER? Are you 12?

VI said...

On second thought, are you FP?

Robot said...

Yes, i am 12. You caught me. And my disguise was so clever, too.

Ryan said...

Well Bryce did put together possibly the greatest 50-at bat stretch in the history of the sport, so what would you prefer to call it?

Froggy said...

Of course having Bryce, Rendon, Werth, Yunel, Zimmy and even Ramos all finding their strokes is important (and fun!), but I think Desmond will be the key to the remainder of the Nats season. Instead of swinging for the fences, Desmond went with his pitches and got a key double, did NOT strikeout and the team played error free baseball.

As goes Desmond so go the Nats.

Kenny B. said...

You see this complaining about Bryce Harper upthread? This is why DC sports fans can't have nice things.

WiredHK said...

Desmond looks far more comfortable, doesn't he, Froggy? With the full lineup back, perhaps the pressure of being a major run producer has also subsided significantly for Ian and it's helped him get to a better place in the box. Probably an important sign for the team that's looking to sign Desi this offseason: if you have a strong lineup, adding Ian will likely be a very good, complimentary move. But if you're going to be counting on Ian for big offense in a somewhat weaker lineup, it may not be the best move. Just my two cent psycho-analysis, but offered here free of charge (bargain!).

Kenny B. said...

It bears a second comment. This team has fallen apart this season on the mound, in the field, in the batter's box, and almost everyone has been a disappointment *EXCEPT* Bryce Harper. And here's some troll with some nonsense picked up from some malcontent radio jockey based on a dubiously subjective analysis of one at bat from one game, repeated for the sake of blaming the one bright spot in this season for the year's disappointment. That is not analysis; that is trolling.

Every time someone utters "Bryce Harper is arrogant/entitled" or "Stephen Strasburg is a headcase," the Mets get another back-of-the-order, late-inning homerun.

Robot said...

@Kenny B - Totally agree. I almost made the exact same comment about DC sports fans not being allowed to have nice things.

Anonymous said...

"This lineup we have right now, this is what we wanted all year long," slugger Bryce Harper said. "If we play like this, I think we'll be just fine."

Exactly right. With Span back, these are the Nats we've been waiting for that are dominant on both sides of the ball.

Meanwhile in Philly,, Syndergaard struggled again. The Mets pitching is looking ragged lately.

The Nats are going on a run. I'll be surprised if the Mets gain another game on the Nats. From here on out, I expect the Mets lead to shrink only.

WiredHK said...

Spot on, Kenny. What Bryce has done on the field this season is shut up all the jackasses (and there were many of them) who said he was overrated and will never be good before the kid hit his 22nd bday. So, now faced with cold reality (hey, he might be decent?? what??? he had room to grow as a player and grew?), they need to turn to other horseshit narratives. It reminds me of a small child -- "What? He's good?? Well...well...he's still a me-first ass!! Take that!"

Bryce is not allowed to be frustrated (ever), Bryce is not allowed to get annoyed with umps periodically, Bryce is not allowed to make a baserunning mistake or over throw a base -- shit every young player, and plenty of veterans, make all the time during the course of a 162 game season (oh, except Trout, who has never been annoyed with an ump or shown frustration). Any examples of him doing any of these things just go to show he is "arrogant, me-first and simply out for himself" -- in their minds.

GMAFB

Anonymous said...

Bryce should win an oscar for the show he put on last night with that "foul ball." Nats haven't gained game in a week and they're talking like they're a game out.

Robot said...

Anon, wtf are you blathering about? The team is simply trying to put a positive/optimistic spin on things for the media. The Mets are playing some utterly killer ball right now, and the Nationals don't want "panic" to be the clubhouse mood.


Harper, is there anyway to incinerate all these goddamned trolls that have popped up since the All-Star Break? If not, I'd settle for a throat-punch or two.

Froggy said...

How about making the annons choose a logon handle instead. No more annonymous postings.

NatsfanSince2012 said...

Ok, No more annon!

Froggy said...

Yay! Welcome NatsfanSince2012!

Harper said...

I've never felt the need to ban anyone unless they aggressively use bad language which I don't really want here. It's easy for me to either not engage and certainly not escalate. But then again soulless automaton, here.

The Nats attitude is what you want. You want them to play hard, try to win every game and believing that they have a chance without really quanitfying what that chance is. The alternative is what "F it, the chances of us coming back aren't really good so we'll try but maybe not so hard. Depends on how the game is going"? Who thinks that is better even if it is more realistic.

Bryce - On the foul ball - you gotta do what you gotta do, take the bases they give you. There is no honesty prize here. No batter's going to do anything different. On SF - a two-out top of the ninth strikeout when down by five runs is probably not the best play to base your "BRYCE is not a winner" argument.

Robot said...

Not advocating bans-I appreciate the free exchange of ideas here-just physical violence toward ideas expressed in a manner i find irksome.