Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Quickie

The Nats have only played 4 games this year but it feels like they've settled into a routine. Pitch effectively, though not impressively. Score a run or two to stay in the game. Wait for the other team to do something stupid. Win. While that may not seem like a winning strategy, when you play 57 games (35% of the season) versus the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, it's probably going to be fine.

Barring inclement weather then Nats are in the middle of a long stretch of games. They didn't take two games versus the Marlins, but they didn't get to play 3 so I'm not holding it against them. They finish the homestand with 4 straight versus the Braves. I said the Nats should be looking to take 3 of these. I haven't changed my mind.

The Mets struggles against Philly highlight that if the Nats stay on their target for 90 wins, the rest may take care of itself. The Mets aren't a team with no recognizable flaw (like maybe the Cubs are this year). They have issues. They could win 85. Just win your games Nats and we'll see where we are come the All-Star game.

Notes

If you are going to give Roark a bit of a leash for being bad first time out, it works both ways. Ross looked pretty good but it's only one game. Normally I'd say wait 2 more starts but now that Minnesota looks dead in the water it might be 5 starts until any of these guys face a good offense.* I guess what I'm saying is that if any of these guys has a bad April... that would be worrying to me.

Right now Bryce (2) is beating any 2 Nats combined (1) in the HR poll.  Could HR power be an issue for this team? Yes. Yes it could. 

Any real surprises in the league so far. Baltimore is 5-0! Are they good or was Minnesota (0-6) bad? Cincinnati is 5-1 and 2nd in the NL Central right now. Wouldn't have bet on that. Again WAY early so let's come back next week and see if either are alone in first. Then we can start talking about when we can start talking about them.

Question :  Do you know who played interleague so far?  No, right? Until MLB expands to 32 teams, it should be scrapped. It does nothing but serve as 6 fun games for certain teams at certain times.

Trevor Story's 7 homers are the big outlier to start the year. But how about Eugenio Suarez with 4? This is a guy with 41 homers in the minors over 5 years.  Dallas Keuchel has 10 walks in 2 games. Both Greinke and Cueto have been hit around in their first two games. Rich Hill has somehow already hit 4 batters.


*It's only one week but the NL East ranks 9th, 11th (Nats!), 13th, 14th, and 15th in R/G. 

36 comments:

Bjd1207 said...

Huh? I don't understand the interleague offshoot?

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm not too worried about the lack of home run power. Weather is a major factor. Just in the two games against the Marlins there were two Harper shots, one from den Dekker, and one from Taylor (that I can remember) that very likely would have been out in normal April temperatures, let alone midsummer ones.

Chaz R said...

It's way too early to make any judgements. I suspect the offense will come around once Werth gets comfortable and Revere returns. MAT is still a question mark, but despite the early and small sample size, you have to like what you see from Zim, Danny, Rendon,and Ramos. Bryce is Bryce, and Murphy is Murphy, which is also good to see no drop offs there.

Bryan said...

You say the whole score a few runs and pounce on other teams' errors might be a concern...

Except that if they win in the playoffs or win the Series, that becomes a defining issue/the entire story for them - this team that sits and waits and watches and then strategically and with veteran gusto and wiliness pounces on misplays by other teams.

I'm not sure that is a bad thing.

Isn't most of baseball sitting on "your pitch," which is usually a mistake by the pitcher?

Rob Evans said...

I'm pessimistic on Werth and MAT. Sure would like to have an extra OF with some pop.

Harper said...

BJD - just looking at today's games saw first one was Pit Det and thought? Hmm I have no idea who played interleague between now and Mets/Royals. (looking it up it was HOU/MIL) I often have no idea who is playing interleague. While I never loved it when it was limited to certain points in the year it could come across as special. Now not at all. If it's not special than why do it?

Anon - Sure but compare across all teams (to control kind of for early season weather) and it's still low

Chaz R - I do like what I see but we have to be careful not to only assume the sunny side "Wait till Werth comes around and Revere comes back" is fine but you can't assume everyone else is going to keep doing good stuff when that happens.

Bryan - I think the issue would be come playoff time that "don't pitch impressive, try to eek out a few runs" produces 4-0, 5-1 games going into the 7-8-9 rather than 2-1, 3-2 games. Of course let's see May first.

Rob Evans - they can get Souza back!

Mythra said...

When it's 40 degrees and windy, Bryce is the only one besides Clint/Zim who can reach the seats, and that took a fat pitch down in his happy zone to do on the opener. Nats Park plays very, very small in cold weather or wind. When it's hot a humid, that express to right center field is open all day long to the boys.

MAT has been unlucky when he has made contact. That said, I would like to see Revere's contact back at the leadoff spot. A .300 BA guy with good contact is adding another Murphy to this lineup.

Winning 3 of 4 against the Marlins and Braves is what we should be doing all season long. Mats stumbling against Philly is what we need. Take care of business, capitalize on mistakes, win.

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper - Yea I guess interleague play never came across as "special" to me, and so I'm left wondering why people have that expectation whatsoever. I wouldn't expect everyone to follow every interleague series.

If we rewind 3 years, your comment would be similar to me to saying "oh I didn't realize we had started the NL-West series so early, couldn't even tell you who else made the trip across country"

Not sure what advantage scrapping interleague altogether would have. Schedule against all available teams, imo

Dmitri Young said...

I want to know how the Marlins created a believable Christian Yelich disguise for Bonds. 2-4 with 5 walks and a bomb.

Clip&Store said...

I hate facing a team that is "due" for wins like Atlanta essentially is. Especially since they were winless at nats partk last year..they're due for wins, both at nats park and in general.

Clip&Store said...

Not to mention it is extremely hard to sweep a 4 game series, whereas a 3 game set it is very likely. In fact 3/4 is a lot harder than 2/3...and boy wouldn't a split at home be awful?

Anonymous said...

@Harper (on HR total). Sure it's still low, but every NL team with more than 3 HRs has played at least six games. Nats have played four. Also plenty of NL west teams up top not as affected by the cold on the east coast. No doubt it is a potential weakness for the team that has gone more contact/less power compared to last year, but I think it's a bit early to be concerned.

Bjd1207 said...

@Clip & Store - First, weren't you going to look for a new username? Lol

Second, "due theory" works for whatever you want it to. Atlanta has mostly been blowing late game leads, so aren't their starters "due" for a bad game. To take it to the extreme, aren't Werth/MAT "due" for their first homers of the season?

Bryceroni said...

My thoughts on the season so far:

Went to two of the marlins games and the rendon/Bryce/zim/Murphy heart of the order looks pretty formidable.

Didn't expect much from dusty, but it is hard not to get frustrated seeing MAT bat leadoff... And I like MAT.

Agree with the idea that they need 1 more position player who can hit (as many said)

Harper has been absolutely crushing the ball, remember that he didn't really get started until his 3 hr game against the marlins a month or so into the year. Get started early Bryce!

I really like interleague play, I think it's fun and I enjoy seeing teams that rarely play each other face off. I think MLB has found a nice level for it.

Josh Higham said...

The first week of the season is way too early for anyone to be "due," never mind that "due" is almost purely superstitious.

Old Man River said...

I know its early, but MAT shouldn't be leading off. What was the premise on that? I think its pretty clear that he's a guy with pop, low OBP, a .250 hitter, and K's a lot. So why would you view that as a great table setter? They had absolutely zero premise to try this out. And no, I don't view "lets see if the kid can handle it" as a strategy. Smells like Matt Williams logic. I would rather have Werth at the top, since they're both struggling. Right now, you're doing a disservice to MAT and essentially taking his potential out of the line up and adding another dead bat at the top of the order. My belief is MAT would flourish in the 7-8 spot, but maybe the Nats know something every fan watching doesn't know...

Mike M said...

If you have 15 teams in each league, you have to have an interleague game every day unless you want two teams not playing every day. Before the Astros moved to the AL, when the leagues were uneven (16, 14), you didn't need interleague games everyday.

Ric said...

@OldManRiver: The premise of MAT leading off is that Baker likes the order of 2-8, and wants to leave 2-8 intact. Put Werth at leadoff, then you have to shift someone to 6th, put MAT at 8th, drop Espinosa to...

Not saying I agree; just answering your question.

Anonymous said...

Strasburg, Max and Ross have combined for 20IP and 4ER. Only Roark had that bad first inning.

Jay said...

I like how they have started out. I agree that 3/4 is tougher than you think it is. I can't but root for Dusty. Watching the game yesterday he pointed at Ross after they scored the go ahead run. He had told Ross they were going to score and get him the win. He said you have to believe it, for it to happen or something along those lines. It's easy to see he really roots for his players. The Mets-Phillies series is proof positive of the unpredictability of baseball. If you bet on Matt Harvey versus the Phillies, you bet Harvey wins that 99 out of 100 times.

One last question for everyone. Any thoughts on DeGrom skipping a start with a lat strain? I saw two different articles on ESPN mentioning his velocity was down more than usual for spring training (I know pitchers ramp up slowly in ST). He looked fine, but now he is missing a start. Lat strains can be a big deal. Just wondering if he's compensating for something somewhere else. Any way it's been a fun first week.

Mythra said...

Had a question for other posters. Was watching the game Sunday on TV, and in the 6th inning the broadcast switched over to some lady cooking Monkey Toast with some kids. Some pre-school cooking show for all of the 6th and 7th innings. Popped over to the Orioles game and it's still on the other MASN channel.

Anyone else miss all the Nats' rally besides me?

The snarky, cynical part of me pictured Angelos as Mr Burns pushing a button and subjecting me to pre-school cooking hell as part of the MASN dispute.Then again, I always picture him that way.

Kenny B. said...

Haven't been able to follow each game closely at this point. Where are we on Dusty's WAMW? Given the late/close nature of the wins, can we safely say we are already at 2.0 WAMW?

Anonymous said...

I would say 1.5 WAMW. MW would have definitely lost the game Kelley threw 4 straight balls and Dusty immediately yanked him. Pinch Hitting denDekker in Atlanta turned out to be a stroke of genius, but it is not definitive that MW managing would have cost us that game.

Bjd1207 said...

@Mythra - I was at the game Sunday so can't comment on the actual broadcast. But to help support your point, I did find it strange that after I got back from the game at like 5:30/6:00 that Nats Extra was on still...

Clip&Store said...

Well, I suppose. But I look at it from a team perspective and "luck". The braves have been unlucky to lose 1 run games, hence they are due to win...we will see.

And yes I need a new username lol

Bryceroni said...

@clip, we should expect every team to win near 50% of their 1 run games going forward (good/great teams might get more like 55% but the point remains)

I think we are going a bit overboard on the whole WAMW thing. While MW was terrible, I think the top end of a managers influence is maybe 5 games? That even feels too high but he was reeealy bad and the nats underperformed baseruns by like 7 wins.

Unfortunately, we really have no way to evaluate dusty effectively because his strengths are supposed to be managing players and keeping them happy, which we have no way to measure. Must confess I do appreciate his quick hook with relievers, even if I'm not impressed by the rest of his usage of the bullpen.

Froggy said...

2 SB...that's why MAT is leading off.

Joshua Parker said...

What a great game! We bought tickets for our son for his birthday, which was today. He actually caught/got hit with the Murphy home run ball!!! Made his whole year! Good game guys! He will probably not sleep tonight!

Booyah Suckah! said...

If you buy into the idea of the importance of the batting order, it's hard to complain about MAT continuing to bat lead off. Stay with me. Yes, it's not ideal. In fact, it's sort of awful. But it also isn't ideal to keep shifting everyone around if you think (as the Nats apparently do) that your normal lead-off guy should be back in the order soon. Better (in my opinion) to keep everyone else in their normal spots and get them comfortable to start the season.

One of the reasons the lead-off spot is so important is that over the course of the season, they get more ABs than everyone else. But over the course of the hopefully short time Revere will be out, it shouldn't be all that noticeable. If Revere on the 60-day, I'd bet folding money you'd see the order shift around to compensate.

As for the Nats being 11th in R/G in the NL, I attribute that mostly to the abnormally high number of runs scored by everyone else. Dodgers put up, what, 25 in their first three games? SF has been scoring a ton. Padres got shut out for three and then started hitting like a team full of Bondseseses. I don't think this is the Nats not scoring enough, I think this is everyone else scoring abnormally high.

Bjd1207 said...

@Bryceroni - What problems do you have with the rest of his bullpen usage? I'm thinking any time he does something where I think "MW would never have done that" and it works out well, I give him credit for a WAMW (and yea maybe a little overboard but this is a fan forum). So the first game definitely as you mention gets 1 WAMW. And I'm saying yesterday and the other game where he threw Rivero over multiple innings each get one as well. Now I know it COULD have worked out well doing it MW's way too, so maybe we split the difference and take the number of games and divide it by 2? Lol I dunno but it's too good of a metric not to track for at least a little while.

@Froggy - Just happened to coincide with his first time on base twice in a game. You gotta get on to get steals

Robot said...

@Clip&Store - "Riv & Pap" just doesn't have the same ring, does it?

@Bryceroni, et al. - Yes, WAMW is a bit overboard, but that's the fun of it. MW had a knack for making all the wrong decisions, and having a lot of the fairly reasonable choices he made not pan out. Besides, what's the point of being a fan if you can't light your torch and sharpen your pitchfork once an appropriate scapegoat is found?

Disappointed Max and Bryce had off nights last night, but good seeing the rest of the team deliver.

Bryceroni said...

Alright, I'll allow it. Fun is acceptable.

Froggy said...

I know everyone here prefers male enhancement adds or Nigerian money laundering spam but, I'm looking for a season ticket partner or two if anyone is interested. Sec 130 10 rows up.

Details and contact info are on Nats website under Tickets / Splitseasontickets / Sec 130. Willing to break up packages to fellow Gordek blog following faithful.

Sammy Kent said...

Home run power is most certainly an issue with this team. Last year only Bryce hit as many as 20. Desi's ~20 (and 25 E) are gone. LaRoche's 30 per has yet to be replaced. Werth is on a pace to get about 20........hits. Fortunately, Daniel Murphy is picking up pretty much where he left off in last year's postseason. But so far the only pitching we've faced has been that of the Marlins and Braves--not exactly the cream of the crop--and we're already at the bottom of the power stats. This is not ecouraging.

Ric said...

@Robot, "Disappointed Max and Bryce had off nights last night, but good seeing the rest of the team deliver."

Really?!? Bryce had two walks, two stolen bases, and scored the winning run. C'mon man!

(And even though Max clearly didn't have his best stuff, he switched up his game plan and held the Braves scoreless for the last four innings, and gave the Nats six innings. Again, without his best stuff.)