Nationals Baseball: One down, hopefully buried

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

One down, hopefully buried

They won. In a game that felt a lot like the end of last year (Bryce homered. Max was very good but not dominating. The bullpen was shaky) the Nats managed to pull the game out late* and in the end nothing else matters. It's a W, same as all the rest. You can say "oh this shows how the Nats aren't the same as last year!" or "oh this shows how the Nats are the same as last year!" but that's a game we've played 3 straight seasons before, coming up with armchair psychology to explain why this particular Nats team is winning/losing at the moment. It's 95% nonsense.

Revere went out with a rib injury which is perfectly ok for the moment, assuming it really is just a day to day thing. MAT is more than capable of playing everyday. It does make the first guy off the bench for the OF Heisey which isn't great but it's workable for a week or so. Let's not panic just yet.

What should the Nats goal be for April? Given how bad the NL East is the bar is probably pretty high. Take both in ATL, 5-2 vs MIA and ATL at home, 4-3 vs PHI and MIA away.  That's 11-5, maybe 10-6 by the time they hit the Twins, who may or may not be any good. You could look at it that way. You could also just say "be better than the Mets". That's fair too. Given how we see the teams are pretty even, just keeping ahead of New York - especially until H2H match-ups start, is probably good enough (unless they are tanking)

I think my goal would be hitting no worse than 13-9 by the time that first away stretch comes along.  See, the Nats toughest stretch may in fact be April into May. Starting on the 9th the Nats will play 32 games in 33 days. The back end of that has them facing the Cardinals, Royals and Cubs in succession on the road, and then the Tigers at home. That could be tough. They won't play a stretch that long again until August into September (33 in 34), but during that stretch they may not face a quality team outside the Mets. (Rockies and Orioles are the non NL East teams). If the Nats find themselves in a good spot come May 11th it could set themselves up well for the remainder of the year.

Oh and the annual reminder. I'm on twitter.  Mostly Nats stuff. If you are into that kind of stuff.

*Side bar here - why the hell does Atlanta still have Jason Grilli? The first guy to go for a rebuilding team should be the overrated closer and yet they empty the locker room for everyone but him? Yes, he got hurt but you know what? Someone would take him for a bag of balls. You get that bag of balls. 


Kenny B. said...

Yeah, it definitely felt like a little microcosm of last year, but there were positives. The performance of Murphy was really nice to see. Bryce homered. Papelbon had an uneventful closing appearance. I thought Dusty did a good job of pulling relievers quickly when it was clear they didn't have it. The Nats outhit the Braves generally. The only injury was minor, and to a position that has probably the best backup off the bench.

So, plenty of positives. That shaky bullpen still has me nervous, but at least it's not being managed by Matt Williams. Honestly, I think if Williams had managed that game, Nats would have lost. So arguably Dusty is already +1 in my new stat, Wins Above Matt Williams (WAMW).

Rob said...

I'm not a MAT fan. Maybe I'm cynical but I think what we got last year is what he'll be. I prefer Revere but I have a sneaky suspicion he pulled a lat and is going to be out for a month :-(

Donald said...

Someone asked this in a previous thread -- who leads off if Revere is out of the line-up? The easy answer is MAT since it means no one else has to move, but I don't think he's the best guy there, even given his speed. Werth's been mentioned, but only if he really does still see a lot of pitches and get on base at a good clip. And he sure didn't look very fast coming down the line last night. Murphy? You'd like his contact rate, but might miss his pop further down the order. So while I agree with Kenny B that Revere is probably the best person to get injured at this point, it does create some batting order problems. My guess is Baker puts MAT there, at least if the injury to Revere is really day to day. What would you do?

Nattydread said...

We beat an awful team.

The bad news:
1. Werth in left field.
2. Max & home runs.
3. Shaky bull pen.

The good news.
1. Dusty Baker walks out to the mound quickly & deliberately.
2. Bryce Harper.
3. Murphy is with the Nats, not the Mets.
4. Espinosa with a bunt, slick fielding. (No errors!).
5. Rendon, Zimmerman looking good.
6. Papelbon looked sharp.

Good outweighs the bad so far.

Bjd1207 said...

@Donald - It cannot be Werth up there unless we see some improvement first, yesterday and most of his spring were terrible. If he can get back closer to what he was in 2014 then I'd take him at the top of the order as a stop-gap because of his plate discipline. But based on his performance right now we can't have him leading off.

And I think we can all agree that we'd leave Bryce and Zimm (and Ramos) out of the conversation as potential leadoff candidates. Danny is too all-around dreadful to be trusted at that spot. Which leaves us with Rendon, Murph, and MAT. To me Rendon and Murph are essentially a wash at the plate. Both have good contact skills, relatively low walk rates, and a bit of power.

So to keep the L/R balance I'd probably go


Thank god we got another lefty in Murphy, otherwise we'd be so very close to the same position we were in last year, lol.

Also, anyone have an explanation as to why we used Drew to pinch hit with the bases loaded instead of Clint Robinson? One of them is on the team because he a defensive utility infielder, the other one is on the team because he can hit (since it can't be because of defense or speed). So who do you use in a late-game, impact at bat? The utility guy obviously...

Mythra said...

@Bjd1207: The only reason I could see to use Drew there is to avoid the double play ball, if that was a concern. Bat Collector is slower than Drew and has no chance to beat out a grounder. I don't recall the exact situation at the time, but I would have wanted Clint for the pop.

Maybe this is Dusty's veteran preference showing.

I agree that this would have been a blown MW game. He'd have left Kelley in for 2 more batters when it was clear he didn't have the zone. He also would have burned two relievers warming up for Max in the 6th and 7th.

I seem to recall Atlanta having weird mound issues. Strasburg always seemed to be having issues with it. Also, one game with jitters and adrenaline does not a season make. I'll give the bullpen benefit of the doubt. Trienen was good once he settled in, and Max was 3 pitches from dominant. Solo homers will happen.

Jay said...

I love the WAMW( or maybe WAW - wins above williams) stat. It should be a real thing. I remember even John McEnroe was making fun of MW at the end of last year. I'm ok with MAT leading off. The rest of the line up looks great in their respective spots from yesterday. You could really see in that first inning when everyone from 2-6 were taking a lot of pitches and really grinding at bats. That was really encouraging to see.

I am hopeful that part of the bullpen issues were opening day nerves for Rivero and Kelly. Treinen did look better. Papelbon and Perez looked great. I really wish they would have kept Burnett but oh well.

Also, I think they pinch hit with Drew bc Robinson is the guy you send up there with no one on base bc maybe he hits an extra base hit. With no one out you're just hoping Drew hits a deep fly ball. The pitch he struck out on was a great pitch, so it wasn't a bad at bat.

Anonymous said...

I would lead off with Werth. Alternatively, I would lead off with Rendon and have Werth bat second, but I prefer Werth leading off.

In a perfect world, I'd bat the pitcher 8th and MAT 9th, but flipping those two spots isn't a big deal to me.

I don't think MAT should lead off, but I suspect that's what Dusty will do.

Way to make a first impression, Shawn Kelley.

Bjd1207 said...

@Jay - LOL I'm in on the WAMW stat as well, that should be fun

Disagree on your Drew/Robinson take though. "Robinson is the guy you send up there with no one on base bc maybe he hits an extra base hit. With no one out you're just hoping Drew hits a deep fly ball."

You're telling me you DONT want an XBH in that situation? A long fly ball is exactly what Robinson is on the team to produce right? In the top of the 9th there's only so many more chances that you expect to roll around, gotta be using your hitter there IMO

Bjd1207 said...

@Mythra - Beating out the grounder does at least give some rationale for it. But with no outs that has to be of lesser concern than getting a hit/fly ball whatsoever. I agree I'd land on Robinson too but luckily the outcome was good even if I disagree with the methods.

Also Dusty is probably better at this than I am...probably

Chas R said...

@Jay- I LMAO at WAMW!

@Bjd- I also thought using Drew instead of CRob was odd. I tend to think it's either Dusty's veteran preference or his lack of knowledge of the players, or both. That's not a knock on Dusty, I thought he did a great job and no doubt much better than MW.

I totally agree with Harper on being careful not to over analyze one game, and the first of the season for that matter. They found a way to get the W, that's all that counts for me.

Robot said...

I'm on board with WAMW. There's no doubt in my mind that MW would not have pulled Kelley that quickly, and the team would have been looking at a 2-3 run deficit, rather than just one.

As I commented in the other post this morning, there was a lot to like about yesterday, particularly from Murphy and Bryce. Werth came through when we needed him, and Max was good enough, though far from great. Bullpen has me concerned, but we can't conclude too much from a single game.

We got the curly W, and ultimately, that's what matters. Let's get another one tomorrow.

Robot said...

Also, I agree with Anon 8:48 - Werth did surprisingly well at lead-off in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone happen to see what Denard Span did for the Giants yesterday. I sure wish the Nats had taken a chance with him. Great to see the effect of the new medical team with the Nats. One game and a starter is already down-shades of last year when day to day turns into months on the DL.

Anonymous said...

Expected the Braves to be a pushover. Instead tagged our best pitcher for 2 homers. Seemed a lot like previous years where our offense scores, only to have the pitcher give it right back in the next inning. I am pessimistically optimistic.

dc rl said...

We were lucky to win that game - the Barves handed it to us. But hey, I'd rather be lucky than good, and I am more than happy to take this as a sign that this year the Nats will have some good luck go their way.

Maybe dumping MW was enough to break the curse of his non-Bambino trot.

yin yang said...

Did anyone else notice that FP railed against the shift when it failed (vs Ramos in the 9th) but said nothing about shifting when it succeeded a ½ inning later? (DP grounder to Espinosa, playing behind 2nd)

nice piece of hitting by Ramos, by the way.

Unknown said...

Baker pulled the same save my closer for the save on the road which will cost a win or two. Interesting Braves put best pitcher in to match Harper in eight and shifted like crazy. Putting a stat head in the dugout - what novelty!

YetAnotherPoster said...

If Span does well this season, I hope people don't make the argument that the Nats were wrong not to resign him. The issue was the three year contract. I don't think anybody would have had an issue with a one year contract. The decision needs to be evaluated over the next three years, not just this year.

Ric said...

@Anonymous 10:47 AM: "Instead tagged our best pitcher for 2 homers... only to have the pitcher give it right back the next inning."

I mean, come on sir! You have to really be looking for the bad spin when the pitcher went 7 innings, gave up only 3 hits, and 2 ER. You aren't "pessimistically optimistic." You are pessimistically pessimistic.

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