Nationals Baseball: At least the Mets lost right?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

At least the Mets lost right?

We're beginning to see some patterns emerge from Dusty and one of those is trying to squeeze each last bit he can from his starter. It's one thing when you bring out a starter performing well to try to see how many more easy outs you can get, a la Strasburg two night ago. It's another when you can't bring yourself to pull a struggling starter because you want to at least get to PH for him in the bottom of the inning. That can lead to digging a hole you can't get out of and that's what happened last night. Ross lost his effectiveness in the 6th but Dusty kept him in too long. A few hard grounders and soft liners later and the Nats were down two.

It wasn't Dusty's finest moment but hey 20-13 so for now complaints should be at a minimum. For now.

If you are a glass half-empty kind of guy the Nats have not been playing well for a while. They are actually 3 1/2 weeks into an 11-12 stretch*. The question of "who have they beat" didn't go away like we thought it would during this time. The Cardinals are probably good (I'll hold onto that belief right now). The Marlins are probably ok. But the Twins are garbage and it wasn't the Nats beating the Royals that made them "bad". They really are not playing well. Bryce is being thrown for a loop it seems by all the walks. Since that first 3 walk game Bryce is hitting .146 with 1 HR and no other XBH. Plus he's struck out 19 times in these 15 games after starting out with only 9 Ks in the first 18. He does have a .463 OBP but taking the bat out of his hands is messing him up and therefore messing up the Nats offense.

The other concerning thing is the slow start for Revere. God knows he's going to (and should) get what, six weeks? two months? to get going but the hope was he'd provide an immediate spark for the Nationals. Instead he's actually hitting worse than MAT did. You didn't think it was possible did you? This is almost certainly temporary. Unlike MAT being a question mark with little major league success to base opinions on, Revere has been Revere for years. He may do a little worse, time and injury gets all players, but to be this bad for an extended time would be shocking. 

There was good from last night. Ryan Zimmerman FINALLY got going, hitting two home runs, one after a Bryce walk. He did fail to come up big in the 9th when they again challenged him but the guy was directly responsible for 3 of the Nats 4 runs last night. You can't ask for much more. We'll see if this keeps up.

The pen was ok and thanks to that was used as little as possible. Solis ate up two innings and Kelley one which is perfect. With the day off tomorrow a bunch of guys should be available for today. That's great because I'd love to get out of today with the likely overtaxed Rivero (10 appearances in 20 days) not throwing. Make it happen Dusty.

So now we come to the end of the long trip. Sixteen days of baseball in a row comes to an end today with Scherzer vs Zimmermann. Scherzer needs a good game today, not because of the whole Max vs ZNN thing we got going here (that's still a 3 year minimum analysis so call me at the end of 2017) but because he followed up his best game of the year; a 4-hit, 9K gem vs the Cardinals, with his worst game of the year; a 4 homer garbage fire against the Cubs. We thought he righted the ship. He didn't. A decent game or better today would go a long way to comforting Nats fans while another bad game could warrant some deep questions.


*If you prefer not to split series you can go 13-12 or 11-11, still pretty mediocre play.

32 comments:

John C. said...

As soon as they beat the Royals and Cardinals I knew that the "but who have they beat" meme would move the goalposts. No, the Royals haven't played well yet, but there is a lot of talent on that team. Same with the Cardinals. OTOH, no one is talking about the fact that the Phillies and Marlins are still playing good ball - both are still over .500 - and the Nats played the Marlins before Dee Gordon got himself suspended. So other than the Braves (who are a dumpster fire, and may lose 110 games) the Nats "easy" stretch was, in hindsight, not so easy and the "hard" stretch not so hard.

B-R uses a "simple rating system" based on run differential and strength of schedule. The Nationals' rating (+1.1) is tied with the Red Sox for third best in all of MLB behind the Cubs (+3.2!) and ... the Cardinals (+1.4). The Mets (+0.8) are tied for 6th in MLB.

Anonymous said...

Love Bryce, but he desperately needs to learn how to control his emotions a little better. Because last night was what happens when you scream "**** you" at an ump and show him up in such a public fashion.

It's not helping the team, at all.

Froggy said...

With roughly a fifth of the season in the books it looks like we are in agreement hat I said last week about Baker going 'a half an inning-ish too long' with his starters (and yes, I know there is no such thing as an inning!)

Harper said...

John C - Well I'd say it's not moving the goalposts, it's kicking into a fog then going "Oh the goalposts were a lot closer than we thought". If you want to be fair about it - sure the Nats do well in the SRS, but based on that the Marlins and Phillies are both mediocre and the Royals are starting to close in on the worst teams in baseball, talent there or not.

But I'll buy all this. I'll buy both that the Nats are one of the best teams in baseball but also haven't beaten anyone. How does this work? Well there simply aren't a lot of good teams and the wins the Nats have were impressive. They beat up teams and aren't losing by much.

But that is taking the whole season into account and there is at least some fair thinking that the start could have been a fluke of timing. That the 10 games they played to start the year will be their best 10 game stretch of the season. The next 20+ have been far less impressive (though really they should have probably been more like 12-11 or 13-10 than 11-12). But that's not anything we can say yet. 23 games have more weight than 10 but not much more. If they get to Memorial Day and they are still playing .500 ball since mid April then it's fairer to say something like this. Now it's a worry, but an eye-on worry, not a change the team worry.

Anonymous said...

For Pete's sake, Revere has had 23 ABs! MAT has PROVEN over 1+ season who he is, and Revere has proven who he is over 3-4 seasons, he is incredibly consistent. He also has been robbed a coupole times, ripped that liner to right that would have broken open the game on Monday. he's going to be fine, and awesome with this lineup.

Zimm I knew would/will come around. I also believe in Rendon, but I'm slightly worried. Werth has been the opposite of what I thought. Thought he'd have a good avg and no power, instead he has 6 homers and a low BA. Still feel he can hit close to .270 and 15-20 homers by the time its all sadi and done.

The offense is sooo close to clicking.....we're just right there. It'll happen....just wait.

Harper said...

Anon - Hit better. That's what I care about.

Froggy - I'm still ok with that mostly. I think managers actually pull starters too early sometimes. Let an effective guy keep being effective. But that's gotta be the point - results shown.

Harper said...

Anon @ 8:41 - I said he should have 2 months, and it would be shocking if this continued. It just warrants discussion because fans were hoping for an immediate impact and didn't get it. He could go 10-20 more games like this and I'd still just ignore it in terms of worry that he's going to drastically underperform.

JE34 said...

@Anon - yes indeed. His strike zone was big, and he got called out at first on a play that was a relatively easy safe call (FP was pretty funny on this point).

Bryce's circumstances are clearly driving him bonkers. Gets almost nothing to hit, his timing is thrown off so when he gets something to hit he's unsuccessful, plus major struggles behind him in the lineup... so a guy that intense is going to boil over under those conditions. Hats off to Zim and his composure under increasingly intense pressure, by contrast. Those 2 dingers should loosen everyone up a bit, as he demonstrated the right way to deal with a difficult situation - calm confidence in his ability.

When Barry Bonds was in his pharmaceutically-enhanced heyday, pitchers would steer clear of him, but his confidence never wavered. Seems like Bryce needs to remember how good he is, and stay focused.

Speaking of self-knowledge, poor Jayson Werth. He's a mess at the plate.

1natsfan said...

They truly need to get rid of the sliding into second rule. There is no reason why that call shouldn't have been reversed. The guy didn't even slide anywhere near second. Yet, I've seen the umps call a runner out if he reaches for the shortstop or second baseman as he's sliding or if he slides past the base, he's out. Truly stupid. I get the protecting the defense but there is no way to break up the double play anymore with this rule.

Rob Evans said...

The way the rule is written, it should have been a double play. Truly amazing that wasn't reversed. If they're not going to enforce the rule when it clearly applies, why have the rule? Beyond frustrated with that one. Plus it had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Instant replay need to be sh*t-canned!

Bjd1207 said...

@JE34 - I'm glad you brought up Werth. WTF was with him last night? I dunno that I've ever seen him that disoriented at the plate. Fullmer did NOT have strikeout stuff (FP's comments notwithstanding). All his breaking balls were up, his fastball was straight as an arrow, and Werth was up there flailing away at everything

Harper said...

FYI - even Tigers radio was surprised the slide call wasn't reversed )

Anonymous said...

Anyone else suspect that call was an indirect consequence of Bryce's Monday night, potty-mouth exhibition?

JE34 said...

@BJD - exactly. Kinda makes one want to see Heisey play more, doesn't it? Something tells me that if a hitter goes down to one knee on 1/3 of his swings, he might need some help, or time off, or some Ramos-style LASIK. Or all of the above. It is times like these that you wonder what hitting coaches do for some guys. I think I saw Jacque Jones give a big hug to Zim after that first HR, along with some sort of gesturing that implied some mechanics-related dialogue. I can imagine Zim doing extra work with his hitting coaches during a slump. I can also imagine Werth insisting on working his own way out of his problems... bc he leads one to believe that he's that kind of guy.

Jay said...

I'm ok with how things are going currently. I agree that the offense is very close. Plus the big thing is now with Strasburg signed the Nats have some pieces to trade. You have a rotation of Sherzer, Strasburg, Gio (he's a lefty so he isn't going anywhere), Ross, Roark, and Giolito this year or next. You have a couple guys in the minors - Fedde and others. You have Espinosa and maybe even Taylor. I vote sign Ramos to an extension. Then trade for a big outfield bat or Andrew Miller or both. The fact that the Nats now have their rotation locked up for a while is huge. Plus there is no guarantee that Strasburg will exercise that opt out. He signed with the Nats because he wanted to stay with the Nats. His idol is Tony Gwynn, who spent his entire career with one team. Also, this confirms to me that Zimmermann wanted to be back in the midwest. Good for him. Last thing - IMO no way they beat Zimmermann today. I just don't see it happening. He's too much of a competitor.

mike k said...

It doesn't bother me that the Nats have gone .500 for the last three weeks or so. The Royals' struggles notwithstanding, this should be the toughest, or one of the toughest, stretches for the Nats this year. Going .500 during one of those is fine. Especially if you beat up on bad teams during easy stretches. The only way I'm getting worried, at this point, is if they get swept by the Mets or continue their .500 play when the schedule gets easier.

Harper, it may be early in the year for this, but I'd be interested in a post about just how good the Cubs are. I don't think I've ever seen a team that's top-to-bottom better than the Cubs. I think they're better than the 98 Yankees (which are my go-to since I was a Yankee fan at the time). And the B-R stat posted above by John C. puts into perspective just how good they are - more than twice as good than the 2nd team!!

Kenny B. said...

Umps affecting the course of games by going after specific players because that player failed to control his emotions seems pretty egregious hypocrisy to me. "Because you made me look bad when you failed to control your emotions, I shall take revenge upon you."

Sure, you can't prove it's happening, but it's petty behavior as retaliation for petty behavior, and it alters games and careers. The league fines or whatever are supposed to be the punishment, not the umpire's discretionary domain.

SM said...

mike k - Interesting proposal to Harper. Just how good is this Cubbie team?

But permit me to reformulate your question from an oblique angle:

The Cubs have played Cincinnati 7 times, beating them six times. Their only loss was a 13-5 blowout. Despite the blowout, the Cubs outscored the Reds 60-20. (Two of the wins were shutouts, and twice the Reds were held to one run.)

Now if the Nats had done that, which way would the arc of the conversation have bent on this blog?

mike k said...

Not sure if I understand your position. The Nats did beat the Braves a bunch, though the Braves are unequivocally worse than the Reds and the run differential wasn't as high. I suppose this blog would still have wondered "yea, but can they do it against good teams", but not as much so because the Reds are better and the quality of the victories was higher, and then the Cubs followed it up by beating up on the Pirates and Nats.

Their run differential is 103. That's over 3 runs per game!!! B-R has them at the same level after taking into account strength of schedule. I did some checking of great teams of the past 30 years (98 Yankees, 2001 Mariners) and none of them were even close to that level of dominance. Of course, it's still early, but this really has been an historic 30+ games. I wonder if there is even a team in history that had any stretch this good, over 30+ games, in terms of run differential, at any time of the year. Seriously.

Harper said...

SM - the arc probably would have went :
Nats are great beating up on a decent Cincy team!
followed by
Oh Cincy sucks, but the Nats are still great because they beat up on everyone else! (9-2 since last Cincy series including, as mike said, sweeping PIT and WSN who are probably among the better other teams)


Mike k - how good are they? Not THIS good (130 win pace). The main worry I'd have as a Cubs fan is OF production. Dexter Fowler and Tommy LeStella are not Bryce and Trout so they will come back down and the other guys are struggling. So the offense may suffer a bit. But just a bit as 1st, 2nd and 3rd are great bats and SS is above average. Their other weakness is middle relief but the starting pitching has been very good that it hasn't mattered.

Given no injury I'd say they have 100 win talent which with this start puts them at 105+ for the season.

Mythra said...

@mike k: '84 Tigers were 1 game better in the W/L column, but only a 91 run differential. That's likely due to the DH in the AL, but does put the current Cubs start into historical perspective. They are on an '84 Tigers pace.

Tigers won the Series that year in 5 over the Padres. If the Cubs keep up this pace, it will make for a fun summer to watch from afar. I grew up an Iowa kid, saw many of the Cubs stars of the 80s playing AAA and rehabs for the Iowa Cubs, so my inner child is glad to see them having some success finally.

As for the Nats, they have been and will be my #1 team as long as they are in DC. (Which I hope is until I'm watching games in heaven). Hope the rain lets the game get played tonight. Would like to see Good Max show up tonight.

SM said...

Harper and mike k-I intend (and take) this all in the spirit of good fun, as I'm sure you do.

mike k - my point was two-fold: 1)Greatness (a word used far too loosely) is not established in 30-game chunks (the 2015 Blue Jays, by the way, had a 30-game chunk where they fashioned a 3-run-per-game differential). And 2) Unlike the Nats on this blog, the Cubs' record hasn't exactly been subjected to the kind of agonized scrutiny.

Harper - No it wouldn't, you rascally contrarian.

Froggy said...

How about Desmond playing LF-CF, hitting cleanup and tearing it up with a HR and a 3bagger last night!

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

So tonight's lineup has Murph batting 4th and Zim in the 5 hole. I wonder if Dusty is doing this because he thinks it's time to try it to make sure Harp gets pitched to, or if he's just doing it to shut us all up...

Yeah, I think it's the former too...

Old Man River said...

So Bryce will be serving a 1-game suspension for mouthing off last night (pending his appeal). And Ortiz gets no suspension for his antics towards Culpa this past weekend against the Yankees? What H-E-double hockey sticks is going on here?!?!

Fries said...

So are we still worried about Max?

BornInDC said...

So do we consider 20 Ks at least "decent"?

BornInDC said...

Old Man River,

The suspension appears to be for Bryce not leaving the dugout after he was thrown out.

Alan Wiecking said...

96 strikes? That was sick.

MAX.

blovy8 said...

I was there and still don't understand how he gave up that homer to Igleias.

BxJaycobb said...

I actually think Brycd might win this appeal. I don't think there's much precedent for suspending somebody for mouthing off after an ejection (it happens literally every ejection....the player or manager always gets their money's worth).....nor do I remember a precedent for a situation like this...Bryce did leave dugout pretty quickly actually. He just came out after game ended. I think more likely it's upheld then hopefully he can serve it one of the 2 double header games with MIA. But I think there's a non negligible chance he wins appeal.

Anonymous said...

and the mets are still better...... haha sherzer wont picth good the rest of the year, waait till u guys come back down to earth