Nationals Baseball: Bury them

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bury them

Noah Sydergaard wasn't himself last night.  Of that there can be no doubt.* The Nats needed to take advantage of that and for about 2 1/2 inning it didn't look like they were going to. Ross was having trouble finding a groove and the Mets had scored four times. Meanwhile the Nats blew a bases loaded no one out opportunity in the first.  Down 4-0 it might only take a few more bad breaks and failures for the Nats to lose a game that hindsight will tell them they should have won.

Those bad breaks and failures didn't happen. Instead the Nats got two big two-out hits in the third to take the lead. Sydergaard was pulled as a cautionary measure and the Nats teed off on Gilmartin. Meanwhile, the Mets offense got the bad breaks (three line drives at people) and Ross was able to get a big DP to keep the Mets from scoring again. By the time the dust settled 3 1/2 innings later the Nats were on their way to an 11-4 victory.

Now the pressure is off the debut of Lucas Giolito. If the Nats don't win tonight that's ok.

Oh yes, the double elephants in the room. Lucas Giolito is starting tonight and Trea Turner played CF last night for Syracuse.

The Trea Turner move I get. There is no doubt from how he's performed in AAA and in the majors that he is ready for a shot at a starting gig. However, the Nats chose control over contribution early in the year and Espinosa used that to his advantage to work out his kinks. Danny had a little run of decency in mid-May to keep the wolves at bay and in June has been the Nats best player. Seriously.  He's hit .297 / .391 / .635  which falls a half-step behind Ramos' line for the month. But Danny has 2 SBs while Ramos contributes 4 DPs and the assumption is Espinosa is still giving you plus defense.

So Trea is currently blocked there and in reality is blocked not only in the immediate future but for about a month at least.  Given how hot Danny has been you aren't going to give up on him after a couple of bad weeks. Where to find Trea some playing time? There are other positions the Nats have had issues with currently. First base is one, but it seems a waste to put Trea at that position. You could, perhaps, let Trea play 2nd and move Murphy to first, but managers are loathe to move players around who are doing well and it could be hard to sit Ryan. The other position where offense is an issue is CF. Neither Revere nor Taylor have very strong sentiment behind them like Ryan. So you give Trea a shot to see if he can play that position.

If you believe Trea is a bad SS this could be hurting him. He's not getting reps he'll need at the position he'll most likely end up at. However, that's not how I lean. I think he's a fine SS and a few games in CF won't hurt him. I wouldn't want him playing the rest of the season at CF (unless the Nats were sure he was going to come up as one), but a handful of games between now and the All-Star break to see if they have someone who can replace MAT / Revere down the stretch if need be? That seems like a smart play. Of course MAT or Revere could get hot and again block Trea, but that's a good problem to have.

The Giolito move is a bit more confusing to me. The Nats had two pitchers who would line up with a Tuesday start. In AAA they had Austin Voth and in AA they had Lucas Giolito.  Some stats please

Voth : 2.99 ERA 1.107 WHIP 7.9 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Giolito : 3.17 ERA, 1.423 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 4.3 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

but that could be all April games what about recently! June stats:

Voth : 3.30 ERA 1.264 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 11 BB, 1 HR in 30 IP
Giolito : 3.18 ERA, 1.368 WHIP,  11.9 K/9, 7 BB, 1 HR in 22.2 IP

I'd give the edge to Giolito here... until I remember he's in a whole league lower than Voth.

It's hard to read the above and not think Voth has the best chance to win tonight's game of the two and isn't that what a spot start is all about?

Well what if it's not a spot start? If they think Strasburg is done for a while - perhaps they are ready to sit him through the AS break - then it becomes more about who they think will be better overall then just who is better today. Everyone likes Giolito's stuff more so maybe they assume that in 3, 4, 5 games Giolito's advantages would begin to shine through. This is the best I can figure.

The other thing that is apparent though - you don't bring up Giolito now unless you are fully prepared to bring up Giolito later this year. Why start the clock for a game or two on a guy everyone loves but that you aren't sure will stick in the majors even to start next year? You don't.  No, you bring up Giolito now if you are ready to hand him a starting gig no later than the start of 2017. If that's the case then it brings up an interesting situation where the Nats have 6 starters for 5 slots. Stras and Max are set which means either Ross gets dealt, Roark gets dealt, or Gio doesn't get extended. Since the Gio one is the only one they really control (Rizzo is not the type to dump a player - he goes for value) then I kind of guess that decision has been made. They'd like to not resign Gio. One Gio replaces another.

That's not to say he couldn't come back. Maybe someone comes in with a deal for Roark/Ross that is killer and Rizzo pulls the trigger on that. Maybe Stras or Max goes down with TJ. In those events depth is needed and even average Gio is on a fair deal for 2017. But right now I think the Nats are ok not resigning Gio if nothing comes along that makes that necessary.

But back to Lito. Like I said, if this is one or two games, I don't like it. I don't see the point really of starting his clock for a spot start or two when a perfectly good alternate option exists that isn't making a jump from two leagues down. But if it's something longer, well then at least I can see the why there.  

*If you didn't hear he walked three in the first 11 batters and he hadn't walked three in a game since last July.


Mythra said...

Week and a half of home cooking, 4 at the Mets, the break and then another week and a half of home cooking. Good time for the Nats to get some head-to-head results against the Mets and win some series at home.

Good part of the schedule to get folks with some dings healthy as well. Really glad the 10pm starts are in the past too.

Sammy Kent said...

Every time they do something with Trea Turner, the affected roster player suddenly becomes Willie Mays. When they brought him up Danny Espinosa started hitting the ball. They started him in center at Syracuse last night, and Ben Revere went 4 for 5 and stole three bases. I think they should start Trea at first base tonight.

Sammy Kent said...

Don't look now but the blankety blank Marlins are in second place, 3 1/2 games back.

Alex Freeman said...

Harper I guess what I don't understand is why Baker wouldn't want to move Murphy to 1st. He's already played Murphy there once this year and it's not like walking over to the base to catch a throw a few times a game should do anything to stop his scorching hitting. Plus Zimmerman has been pretty woeful this year and he's not getting any younger. I believe in Revere bouncing back more than Zimmerman (and his 4 hit, 3 steal performance last night might prove my point). Turner HAS to be up at this point, Espinosa is scorching so no SS spot for him so I think you really have to substitute Turner for your weakest option which, in my humble opinion, is Zimmerman (franchise player or not, he's hurting the team)

Anonymous said...

It's worked on Werth, Espy, and Revere at the very least, so...


As far as future rotation considerations go there are likely 7-8 considerations for the rotation next year:

- Scherzer
- Strasburg
- Ross

In current rotation:
- Gonzalez
- Roark

- Voth
- Giolito
- Lopez(who arguably has better numbers than Gio this year and just got a promotion to AAA)

I think Gonzalez is definitely a goner but it depends on if Rizzo wants to force a LH into the rotation or not. Roark is useful but I'd think the FO would want Lopez and Lito over him long term so I see him as a potential trade chip with Voth being the emergency starter.

John C. said...

A few thoughts for consideration on the "why Giolito, not Voth?" question of the day:

(1) It's just possible that the Nationals, who have coached, managed, analyzed and scrutinized these players on a virtually daily basis for the past four years, are making their call that Giolito is more likely to be effective at the MLB level based on more factors than the traditional stat line.

(2) Another consideration could be that Giolito is on an innings limit this year, and if the Nats don't bring him up now then they are wasting pitches/innings in the minors that could be helping the big league team win the Division. Giolito, 21 (turns 22 on 14 July) has built from 2 IP (draft year - immediate TJ) to 36.2 to 98 to 117 IP. Compare that to Voth. Voth turned 24 on Sunday (happy birthday, Austin!), and has built from 46.1 (draft year)to 126.2 to 157.1 IP.

The upshot is that Voth is perfectly set up for a callup later in the season, but Giolito ain't going to be there. If the Nationals think they will need MLB innings from both of these guys, they've got to use Giolito now.

Bjd1207 said...

@John C - Of course the Nationals have more information than us and are very likely better at these decisions than all of us even with equal information (it is their job after all). But if this isn't the place to question/investigate/analyze those decisions just for the pure enjoyment of it then I don't know what is. I'm here because I enjoy questioning it more than "the Nats know what they're doing." But at the same time, all of my posts come with an unwritten "This is not my job and I don't claim to know anything more than a fan's propositions based off the available information"

OK with that aside, I think you hit the nail on the head with the innings limit. Even if he kills and manages to push someone out of the rotation, he's not staying the entire year and certainly not into the post season. Now is the only time of year when he'd have a chance to contribute to the big league team, so I think that's a big part of why he got the call.

Mythra said...

@John C & Bjd1207: Using Giolito in the manner John suggests also gives the Nats a very good plan B for later in the season should another starter need to skip starts or go on the DL. Keeping Voth in the back pocket for that possibility also gives us an option should another starter go down in the near term. Last resort option is Lopez, but not sure if he's on a limit or how that lines up with September.

So Giolito is the baseball analogy of making hay while the sun shines.

Chas R said...

Harper and JC make good points on why Giolito and not Voth.

@JC- good point, why waste those innings in the minors, let's see what he can in the bigs now. If LG doesn't do well or reaches his innings limit, there is always Voth.

mike k said...

Harper - spot on analysis on what bringing up little Gio now means for big Gio next year. And by that I mean I was thinking the same thing, so obviously that means your analysis is spot on. I do disagree on your point regarding whether this can be an "analysis start." Either he starts 2017, in which the clock is the same regardless of how much he pitches this year, or he doesn't start 2017, in which you're just setting him back a start or two more. This is actually a really good time to analyze little Gio, because there's room for him now and as John C points out, he might be on an innings limit so you can't do it in September.

Sammy - I mentioned in the previous thread (which I know you all read and remember that I said it, and care that I said it) that Turner might be brought up not to start at CF, but to take MAT's role as the righty platoon. I don't think it'll hurt his development because he's gotten a fair amount of AB already and it probably won't be until the end of July until he's ready at CF, during which time there's only 1.5 months left of the minor league season, anyway.

No way Zim gets kicked from the starting lineup.

DezoPenguin said...

I'm just praying that Zim doesn't become our version of Ryan Howard, the guy who used to be good and we keep running him out there to be awful because of how overpaid he is or "face of the franchise" or whatever, particularly since it seems pretty clear that the constant battering from injuries are what's taken their toll. We've seen Espinosa, Werth, Rendon, and apparently now Revere find their bats, so let's hope Zimmerman can be the next guy to do that.

Danny's hot streak currently has him as the sixth best shortstop in the National League by fWAR (Baseball Reference isn't as fond of him). Who knew? I'd prefer he be average all season instead of torrid one month and abysmal the previous month, but I'll take it.

I think we also need to accept that Tanner Roark is actually good at pitching baseballs.

Best of luck to Giolito tonight and going forward. In the best of all worlds he absolutely kills it and makes not resigning Gio the easiest move possible. If not, well, Harper already broke down that even the Kershaws of the universe can struggle early.

Fries said...

Anyone know why they released Taylor Jordan instead of just moving him to the 60 day DL?

Ric said...

@Fries said, "Anyone know why they released Taylor Jordan instead of just moving him to the 60 day DL?"

You have to remove someone from the 40-man roster to bring Giolito up to the 40-man roster (I think). And not only is Jordan out for the rest of the season because of TJ, his 2017 availability is also questionable.

mike k said...

Ric - 60-day DL kicks you off the 40-man for the duration you're on it.

They released him? That's a little surprising. Why not put him on the 60 day DL, and then put him through waivers when he's healthy if you don't want him on the 40-man?

My guess is they're doing good by him. Keeping him around only to waive him when he gets better is kinda a dick move, though it's a move the Nats are fully within their right to do.

Harper said...

Ric - you are right that you have to remove someone from the 40-man roster to bring Giolito up but moving to 60 day DL accomplishes that (they don't count against 40 man). Most likely has to do with the re-instatement. Guys on the DL have to be re-instated after the season is over (there is no DL in the off-season). If they look at the roster and already believe that Jordan isn't going to be on 40 man next year in place of any of these guys (and anyone else they may want to include) then you cut him now - rather than later.

PotomacFan said...

Can we talk about the Nationals and the All-Star team tomorrow? Bryce gets voted in. Murphy gets selected. Looks like Ramos will get selected, too. But what about Strasburg? Even if he is back by then, I don't see that he would pitch in the game. So, does NL Manager get a freebie -- selecting Strasburg, while knowing that he won't come, and thus, the Manager can select someone else. Or is that bad form? Hard to deny an invite to a guy who is 10 - 0.

Donald said...

In regards to Voth vs. Giolito, to what extent do you think there's a marketing component? Giolito is likely to be a much bigger draw, and they'll certainly sell a ton more Giolito jerseys than they would Voth jerseys. I'm not saying they'd pick a blatantly inferior pitcher just to sell shirts, but if they think it's a toss-up between the two, why not bring the guy who will generate the most revenue?

Sammy Kent said...

@ Mike K

I think you misunderstood my post. I was suggesting a little tongue-in-cheek that since everything they do with Trea Turner brings out the best in whoever might be affected by his promotion, they should start him at first base in Syracuse to see if it would work some magic for Zimmerman's bat.

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