Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Quickie

It's cliche to say it but it's true. You are going to lose at least 60 times in a season. That's a lot! The best team in baseball history basically lost every third game and a 90 win team is like 14-11 in a randomly chosen 25 games. That doesn't seem very good but it adds up over time. So the Nats lost a game. No worries.

until you lose that third in a row. Then you panic

The starting pitching looked good (21 2/3rds IP, 12 H, 3BB, 2 ER). Especially of interest was seeing a good game from Max, who looked off against some lesser opponents early.

The offense finally broke out scoring 17 runs in those first two games. MAT and Werth haven't quite broken out of their slump but MAT did homer and all 3 of Werth's hits were doubles. Bryce put his foot on the gas going 7-11 with 3 homers.

Nearly everything looks rosy.

Ok ok there is Papelbon. He did blow the save yesterday. He hasn't looked particularly sharp despite good results. It's still early but we're rounding into third when it comes to "ok now we can do some evaluation".  What do the early fancy stats say?

FB MPH : 90.9
Suggests loss of arm speed but not unusual for older pitchers to start slower.

Swing% - 45.4% 
SwStr% - 8.1%
Contact% - 82.1%
Suggests batters are waiting for hittable pitches then hitting them.

LD% - 30%
Soft% - 0.0%
Oppo% - 20%
Suggests batters are not fooled or behind.

Of course - it is still early. He has appeared alot but it still only amounts to 5.2 IP and 24 batters faced. Werth gets a month. Papelbon wasn't hurt or terrible last year. He gets more time.

Of course that depends on results but understand when your job is simply to get through one inning with 1 or fewer runs allowed against a random part of the order your job isn't very hard in the baseball scheme of things. While a lot is made about great relievers who seemingly struggled in the closer's role, the truth is a lot of mediocre pitchers have been just fine closers. Even if Papelbon is off his game, he'll probably be good enough.

Notes:

Bryce 6, Any random two Nationals 3.  Who bet on any random two? You guys are fools!

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was worried about Werth to start the season but am worried no longer (at least at the plate). He's hit a bunch of line drives, and had at least one homer knocked down by the wind/cold weather last week. His BB% and K% are both right in line with his career averages. He's BABIPing .200, which explains the low batting average. I'm confident we'll see ~.260/~.350/~.420 if he's reasonably healthy.

I'm much less confident about Werth's defense and Taylor's offense, both of which are worrisome. Having said that, BRYCE covers up a lot of problems!

SM said...

I might as well be the first to offer the cheap, obvious joke: Bryce had the perfect motive to throttle Pabelbon yesterday.

BxJaycobb said...

Quick note: as amazing as this seems, Bryce appears to have improved from last year. Why do I say this? Because his K rate and swing-miss rate % have plummeted, even from his MVP season. Bryce didn't strike out a ton last year, but he struck out and swung and missed about an average amount. You would normally say small sample size, but these are some of the earliest stat rates to stabilize (K/BB also stabilize early). He's literally swinging and missing pitches at a Dee Gordon rate. Disclaimer: he hasn't faced great pitching yet. Still though....Jeff Passan and Fangraphs have already noticed this with glee: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/how-to-strike-out-bryce-harper/ . There is every reason to think Bryce's 2016 has a good chance to be as good or (gasp) better than his 2015. Seems impossible, but the early stats suggest that (again they're early but they're also the only meaningful stats we have.)

Dustin M. Smith said...

I thought I heard on the broadcast yesterday that Papelbon was actually throwing a lot harder (they were saying 93-95 several times). Any idea if that was true? And if so was it just the one game? Seems like quite a spike for him, no?

Bjd1207 said...

@BxJaycobb - While its true that BB% and K% stabilize quicker than most other hitting stats (and way ahead of things like avg or BABIP), it's important to remember that they just stabilize quickER, not instantly. We're still not yet at the point where anyone would reasonably call them "stable." Usually that happens between 60-100 PA's for plate discipline stats and he's only at 48 PA's.

For a cherry picked (but ultimately relevant) example, through 11 games (48 PA's) last season he was at 16.7% BB and 35.4% K, and he ended up at 19%BB/20%K at the end of the year. So even the stats were seeing now could have +/-15% variance

Kenny B. said...

@SM, he didn't need to. Papelbon was perfectly capable of choking on his own. HEY-OH!

SM said...

Kenny B. - I knew if I played the straight man, good punchlines would follow.

Anonymous said...

Werth's throw from shallow left field on the tying run was so damn soft, it looked like it was made by one of the middle aged fat guys on my softball team. Just embarrassing and pathetic.

Harper said...

DMS - Yes! Part of it had to be the gun (I looked at all the Nats and two Phillies and they were all fastest) but he was definitely throwing harder. Of course if it's flat that's not good. Every pitcher out there can probably dial it up for an inning just to do it, but don't bc control / movement issues.

Clip&Store said...

Werth would make a nice DH (assuming he is coming back to form as it appears), maybe occasional fill in to give guys a rest in the field.

Thats about it at this point...which for his age isn't too bad.

BTW anyone know if i can change my username without losing the account? This is a bit dated to say the least!

Bryceroni said...

Is Bryce just going to be BRYCE all the time now?

Aw yeah

Dukes34eva said...

@Clip&Store, I was wondering the same thing.

JE34 said...

Yes, it's one blown save... but the good news re Papelbon is that if he becomes a late inning problem, Dusty's favorite bullpen arm - Senor Smoke II, Felipe Rivero - will likely get the opportunity for the job.

Bryan said...

For me, it isn't that they lost; its the opportunity they lost. Had they lost 2-1 or 1-0, or some such, you write it off. You lose games in the season. Oh well.

Here, the team battled back and had a fairly good chance at a win against a bad team they SHOULD beat. The high-priced, high-profile, overly sure of himself closer blows it.

It wasn't that they lost, it was that they all but had the game in hand and lost it. Its just one game, but its one more they could (should) have had. That is what bothers me.

Old Man River said...

@ Bryan

While I agree, I will say that starting a game without Zimmerman, Ramos, Taylor, and Espinosa certainly doesn't increase your chances of winning. I would go as far as saying they were lucky to be in it (even if it is the Phils). I think they were satisfied taking the series and heading into tougher competition with all regulars rested. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Pap was actually throwing 95 yesterday, that's why he was missing his spots.

Mythra said...

2 weeks ago, when the season started, we were all lamenting the fact that the Mets and Nats had comparatively weak schedules. I'd rather be 9-2 than near .500. Certainly better to have picked up a 4 game lead early than have to chase early.

Werth looks like an aging player. His bat is waking up and unlucky in BABIP. Defense looks to have lost a step, which was the main reason he moved to LF last season. Less of a hole or throwing arm problem there than CF or RF. Will be good when Revere is back and MAT becomes a late inning defensive Werth replacement.

The bench is still making contributions in spot starts and PH appearances. Can't ask for more than that.

One blown save aside, the bullpen seems to be holding leads and closing doors. A bunch of people hated Soriano when he threw some junk innings in closing, and I remember Chief always being a roller coaster in the 9th. Teams rally, especially at home in front of a large crowd. What a difference 2 weeks makes.

Vdub said...

Dusty painted himself into a corner (PBN moment?) by his pitcher being the leadoff guy in the 10th after he double switched in the 8th. He couldn't take Werth out for a defensive substitution after we had the lead because both Taylor and denDekker were used up. I am giving him -0.5 WAMW. In a 1-1 game in the 8th, I think pinch hitting Zim, or even Espinosa if you wanted a speedy leadoff type guy, would have been the play. That would have left both his replacement outfielders available if necessary. Being a hindsight arm chair manager is so easy. But alas to the point. Through 11 games Dusty currently sitting at 1.0 WAMW in my opinion.

Bjd1207 said...

@Vdub - I'll buy it, sound reasoning. I liked the double switch in the 8th when it was happening, but now with your reasoning (and as you mention the benefit of hindsight) using your 4OF as your first pinch hitter kind of puts you in a bind later on.

Another option could have been denDekker into the pitchers spot, Ramos into Werth's spot, and then switch out Lobaton leaving the pitcher now in the 8 spot. But then you burn 2 guys, so you'd REALLY have to betting on the win and hope they don't just tie it up

Vdub said...

rply Bjd: I actually think the double switch in the 8th was fine as it was a move to bring in a defensive upgrade (Taylor over Heisey) and pinch hit for the pitcher. I didn't like the double switch in the 10th. I would have just brought in Zim to pinch hit, or double switched Espinosa in for Drew at that time so you still have denDekker to sub in for Werth if you need to. All 3 of his usable defensive outfielders ended up getting burned before the tie was broken. Taylor ended up on the bench with denDekker in Center (not a defensive upgrade I don't think). And, we were stuck with the bearded statue in left with the game on the line.

Jay said...

I would give Dusty a good 2 maybe 2.5 WAMW at this point in the season. The Nats lost yesterday when they left all those guys on base throughout the game. Werth hit a leadoff double late in the game. Robinson and Drew both wiff. They walked Lobaton to get to Taylor. Out. End of rally. You can't miss multiple opportunities at a rally and expect to win (even against the Phils). Papelbon was throwing 95 yesterday. His location wasn't too great. Despite all people resting, missed opportunities to drive people. Harper almost won the game with a mammoth home run in the 10th.

The thing that hurts the most is that Jose Fernandez is pitching tonight against Tanner - I can't get the Marlins out - Roark.

Robot said...

Hmm...well, that just won't do....

Sammy Kent said...

My biggest disappointment Sunday was that Dusty had run out of fast outfielders. Either Ben Revere or Matt den Dekker (or Michael A. Taylor for that matter) would have gotten to both of those 10th inning hits that Werth failed to get to. But Ben's on the DL and Matt was in center.

But we really REALLY got screwed by the replay ump in the eighth inning. The ump on the field correctly called Heisey safe. Ruf was off the bag, and he clearly did NOT tag Heisey, but the replay ump called him out anyway. In a situation that required indisputable evidence to overturn, the evidence was indisputable that the ump on the field got it right. Even the Phillies' announcers thought the call would stand, and why not? It was clear as the headwaters of the South Toe River. Heisey would have scored on Rendon's double, and maybe Rendon, now on with only one out instead of two, gets knocked in later. The Nationals have gotten screwed so many times on the replay challenge it's making me seriously start to believe the system is skewed for the Mets. It IS New York after all.

And once again a Jonathan Papelbon choke ruins Bryce Harper's day for all of us.

Robot said...

Yeah, that overturned call against Heisey was awful. On replay, I thought he absolutely looked safe, but even if you thought it was questionable, I don't buy that there was "indisputable evidence" that he was tagged.