Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Cruisin'

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Quickie - Cruisin'

Remember when you all said the NL East was super tough? That the Nats not only had an equal challenger in the Mets but game 3rd and 4th place teams with the Phillies and Marlins? Well the Phillies are garbage (6th worst record! congrats on the free fall) and with a few injuries the Mets are close to a .500 team. I guess the Marlins are ok, which is amazing considering the year Stanton has had. Still I can't look at that rotation and feel worried at all.

The Nats have a nice opportunity to put the reeling Mets and the Marlins away but haven't yet.  Part of the reason is the pen which had another rough go on Saturday. I know I said recently that the pen is ok, but man, watching those Padres games shook my faith in the stats.  One clean outing (Kelly had a 2/3rds of a inning with no runners in the first game) compared to 6 shaky ones (where you give up at least two baserunners in an inning).

Here are the WHIPs for the reliever over the past two weeks

Kelley 0.706
Belisle 1.125
Solis 1.400
Petit 1.500
Treinen 1.571 (0.00 ERA! Not my guys scoring!)
Perez 1.875
Rivero 2.250

That's not pretty.  Basically you like Kelley and that's it.  Maybe Belisle is ok, we'll probably see it put to the test over the next week or two. The structure of the pen has rapidly changed. For a long time is was basically a very good Rivero (occasionally Kelley) rolling into an effective (but yes scary) Papelbon closing games. Other guys fit into situations that were most advantageous. Now Rivero looks broken and Papelbon is. Kelley is shunted toward the closer role, Solis/Treinen taking over for Rivero/Kelley. But Solis isn't as effective as April/May Rivero. Treinen isn't as effective as Kelley. Perez is out of the LOOGY position. Petit is forced to get a scoreless inning rather than what he had been doing - soaking up a few frames limiting damage.

These things are all about timing and context though. We've mentioned this a few times this season, but good teams have one aspect cover another. That allows for problems to work themselves out rather than trying to force quick solutions. In this case, the bats have been hot and had helped cover the recent issues with the pen. Plus, as we noted before the Mets have tanked. I think we'd really be upset with the pen if the Nats had lost that last game to the Phillies and the game to the Cubs and were looking at a 3-5 run right now, with the Mets 2 games behind.

But the bats have cooled down a bit the last few games and get Kershaw next, then a much better Urias (at least for 4-5 innings) to end the series. If the pen wants to stay as is, the pen needs to get better sooner, rather than later.

Other notes

MAT is red hot.  .500 with 2 homers and a double in the last week. What does this mean? I don't know. I'd rather see one of these guys (Revere) start everyday and one back-up but Dusty might be going back and forth looking for, then riding out, the hot hand.

On the flip side Rendon is ice cold. Part of that is your usual small sample size bad luck (.083 BABIP) but he has struck out 9 times in the past week. Only the contractual obligation that is Ryan Zimmerman has struck out more times.

It's easy to forget Gio's last couple games weren't that bad.  But last nights' game was. Gio's season has had a general trend that's bothersome, but the last couple of games had me hoping he had pulled out of things. An excellent game vs the Padres would have been a capper. Instead we get that. Oh well. The bad game is not completely telling either.  Yes, the Padres aren't great offensively and yes, it's Petco, but they've been hitting better lately and hit lefties better. So let's see what he does next time.


Froggy said...

I share the concerns over the pen as well. Ugh!

What are your thoughts on dealing for Fernando Rodney as a stopgap Harper? I know he is due for a regression to norm but he has been pretty lights out and would be a bargain.

Fries said...

I know I SHOULD be happy with a split on the road, but ugh that Saturday night game hurt. FP alluded to it (as did you, Harper) and I think Felipe is dropping is arm a little bit. He's always been a 3/4 guy and now he's almost a pure side-armer. Yeah you get better rotation on the slider, but you don't get the same movement on your fastball necessarily, which makes sense since batters are making contact on over 80% of his fastballs (when they swing that is)

JE34 said...

More command issues for Gio... 8 hits, 4 walks, 2 hit batters, and a throwing error too, all in 5 1/3 innings. Almost 3 baserunners per inning. Ugh.

Glad to see Rivero have a reasonably good inning. Back on the horse and all that.

Nattydread said...

The collapse Saturday night was painful. The way he lobbied to stay in, it was almost as if Scherzer knew the pen would lose a his well-earned win.

Rizzo is definitely on the phones right now.

BxJaycobb said...

Not too worried about Rendon. He hit 3 separate rockets early in the series right at outfielders (two to kemp I recall).

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

Watching Gio pitch drives me up the wall. He has avg to good stuff, but he nibbles like he's throwing a BP fastball. I'd love to see him challenge hitters a little more. He'd get hit more but at least he wouldn't walk so many and might be able to go longer in the game. It goes without saying, but it's much harder to get on base via a hit than a walk. Last night I wanted Dusty to yank him after 4, but the BP is maxed out right now. Ugh!

Ric said...

Even taking away MAT's Super Sunday (4 for 4, 2HRs), he was leading Revere in every stat. Now we are talking an OWAR of 0.1 vs -0.7.

With 150+ ABs for both, at what point do you consider that MAT should be the starter?

(A question I never thought I'd contemplate at the beginning of the season; I've always been a fan of MAT, but always thought Revere was a much better fit in our lineup.)

Anonymous said...

Straight talk: Gio has been slowly but steadily declining ever since Biogenesis got shut down. Coincidence? Maybe. But I kind of doubt it.

More straight talk: he's a complete head case and a loser of almost Storenesque proportions. Zero mental toughness; zero ability to work through adversity. We can all see his patented nuclear meltdowns coming from a mile away, and there's nothing we can do but watch in disgust. His numbers with runners in scoring position are so disgraceful this year, it's almost comical.

Zimmerman11 said...

Where is the Nats' killer instinct? We should be up EIGHT on the Mets. :(

If I weren't busy being sorry for, then happy for both Dustin Johnson AND the Believeland Cavaliers, I'd have been really really really really angery about those to bullpen implosions this w/e.

BUT, I did get an ugly tie and a backscratcher for Father's Day, so there's that :)

Mythra said...

True event in the household. Wife has a very tepid love of baseball. She knows I love it, thus she watches the games and being Arlington local-born, she loves DC sports teams, so a bonus when it comes to Nats games.

Listening to Charlie and Dave as we run errands and get dinner stuff from the market, she states rather bluntly, "How long does Rizzo give a headcase that melts down between the 4th and 6th inning regularly and insists on having a personal catcher hitting 200 points lower than Ramos that adds an out to the lineup?"

My shock was from several things at once:

1) I realized she was, and has always been, paying attention to the games. Pretty closely and analytically.
2) I couldn't argue with her logic in any reasonable way. Every 5th day we put a headcase on the mound and subtract .200 BA from the catcher spot (And slide that catcher to 8th, changing the bottom of the order that works the 4 other days.

She raised a good point, so figured I'd pass it on.

mike k said...

The reason why the "personal catcher" issue doesn't bother me too much is because starting catchers aren't going to play more than 80% of games, anyway. So this hamstrings Baker's flexibility in deciding when Ramos is out of the lineup, but I don't think it has a large effect on the amount of games he plays over the course of the season. Maybe 4-5 games, at most.

It's a bigger issue in the playoffs, but I'm not sure if Gio is going to be starting in the playoffs.

JE34 said...

Mrs Mythra can see it... we can see it... my kids can see it... the answer must be that (a) the organization doesn't have a Plan B for Gio right now, or (b) the organization is hoping he will work through his control problems, or (c) both A and B.

Is it not deeply satisfying when one's wife chimes in with such baseball insight? Had a similar event in my house a couple years ago... out of nowhere, my wife says, "Why do they keep using Tyler Clippard if he puts guys on base every time he pitches?" She was more tuned to stress levels than actual results... but still, gotta love it.

Ryan said...

Kelley is the only real big league reliever they have right now. Rivero is the only one on their current roster that you can hope gets better, hopefully they figure out what is mechanically wrong and get him back to his early season success. They should make a move soon, either trying someone in the minors or by making a trade. Would be okay with never seeing most of these guys pitch again.

Ryan said...

Koda Glover was just promoted to Triple-A, he could be coming up soon.

PotomacFan said...

Gio pitches because the Nats have a lot invested in him, because they hope he works through this (I'm skeptical), and because there really is not replacement for him in the organization.

Mythra and JE34 -- congratulations, you married well! My wife will go to a game once or twice a year, but she hasn't picked up on the nuances (although Gio's consistent failures are not exactly a nuance at this point).

Nats are really going to have to find another pitcher for the playoffs. Assuming that they'll need 4 starters, they start with 2, and then what. Ross is the 3rd best pitcher, but I don't see how he can pitch 200 innings in the regular season, let alone make it through the playoffs. Roark is 4th, and it looks like he'll be one of the playoff starters. Gio is 5th, and for now, he does not appear to be well-suited to helping the Nats in the playoffs. Hey, maybe we bring back Doug Fister, the only Nats pitcher who beat the Giants in 2014!

BxJaycobb said...

I mean, there definitely are replacements in the organization. Reynaldo Lopez and Giolito, for example. But I think the Nats don't want to start the clock of either yet, and might want to use Lopez for trade bait (they are going to either trade him or turn him into a reliever--something incidentally that folks like Keith Law thinks they should anyway due to his stuff and delivery) the Nats certainly could just replace Gio with Giolito and try to deal Gio to a team that could use a decent innings eater at a reasonable price in next couple years (Yankees? Harper). I can understand why the Nats don't want to bring Giolito up quite yet, if he's not ready---although his last few starts suggest he might be close. But what I don't understand is why they don't try Lopez in the pen. He apparently as closer stuff that could blow away major leaguers like RIGHT NOW. This is what contending teams will do with an arm like that when there's no room in rotation---put in pen (think for example about Carlos Martinez for Cardinals or Brandon Finnegan for Royals).

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Speaking of guys lacking in mental toughness, it looks like Strasburg has come down with a sudden acute onset of Kershawitis and won't be pitching tonight.

blovy8 said...

Don't forget about Arroyo...

Jay said...

I agree that Glover may be close, but does that help in the playoffs. Remember Barrett took a similar trajectory and ended up losing the game against the Giants. He never should have been in the game in that spot, but what are you going to do when MW is your manager. Which does make one think about how painful the two years the Nats pretty much threw away with MW as the manager. Oh well.

Last night was why Saturday and Sunday were so painful. You knew the Nats weren't going to beat Kershaw unless Murphy had a huge game like last year's playoffs. That reminds me that the Nats have some good bats in the line up, but very few great ones. They are up 5.5 games, which is great.

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