Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Once more

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Quickie - Once more

Well that was a bad stretch now wasn't it?   But look! Nats are still in first. They are still pacing for the 90s in wins (93/94 if you must know). And they still have a chance to knock the Mets for a loop. Three games at home starting tonight. Four games, in NY, right after the 4th.  In between, what should be 7 games vs patsies, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

If all goes according to plan the Nats will be 4 games up over the Mets by Thursday morning. Five or 6 games up coming into the July 7th series. Then they are a soul crushing 3-1 series win from being around 8 games up. Season over? Not quite. But the ride on out would be smoother. This is what I'm expecting. Well maybe not the 3-1, but being up around 6 games going into that series.

That may be big talk coming off a 7 game slide but the Nats didn't actually play all that badly during that slide.  They didn't get blown out in any game losing by 4 - 3 - 3 - 1 - 1- 2 - 1. That's not usually how 0-7 teams play. I'm not saying the Nats played well. I'm just saying that the Nats played not terribly enough that it really should have been a 2-5 ish slide. If the Nats had done that they'd be up by 5 and we'd be nothing more than mildly annoyed they aren't playing better.  "Mildly annoyed they aren't playing better" had been the team slogan from Mid April until very recently.

Any way. Mets series. Win tonight. Win the series.

We won't of course, get out of here without talking about Strasburg. A weight room incident? I guess.

The Nats need Strasburg if only to help avoid streaks like they just had. Scherzer should be the stopper but showed that he's just flaky enough with the HRs this year that you can't count on him 100%.  I'd probably say the same thing sort of thing about Stras. He's just not great enough that I'm not sure he'll win. However, you give me Max and Stras back to back and I'll bet on a win. Now that there's no Stras a lot falls on Max.

Ross and Roark are solid, but they aren't stoppers. Gio, well Gio might actually be a problem to solve, which is another reason they need Strasburg back. The Nats aren't exactly swimming in SP depth. Yes there are Giolito and Lopez but both are still in AA more likely to be held back for 2017. Austin Voth is a decent enough arm to give a chance to but he's just one. If Stras is here you can work out between those three, who can replace a Gio if that becomes necessary.  If Stras isn't here, then you need two. Are there two here for 2016? I don't know.

When will we see Stras again? It might have to do with how the Nats handle the next few games. If the Nats take a nice lead, there is little reason to rush him back and for the sake of three more starts you could rest him right through the All-Star break. If it gets close there will be more pressure on him to return, certainly for that big 4 game set at CitiField. Hopefully he's not all that injured and he'll be back next go around.

The Nats need Stras this year. There's too much of the season left not to.  They can live without him though, for a few weeks, as long as they take care of business vs the Mets and some middling teams in the meantime.


Carl said...

"Ross and Roark are solid, but they aren't stoppers."

MASN flashed a stat yesterday round about the 6th inning, NL starters with the most starts of 7 IP+ and 0 ER. Kershaw was first with 5, then the guys with 4 were something like Arrieta, Bumgarner, Syndegaard, and Roark. (I may be off on the other three, but they were clearly "consensus NL elite starting pitchers.) And now Roark is up to 5 such starts.

Granted, that's a convoluted cherry-picked stat, but dang if it isn't impressive. Maybe Roark's better than we're giving him credit for.

Robot said...

Harper, on behalf of all Nats fans who were reading your blog last year, I must insist:


Ever. Not if they have a five-gamen lead or a fifteen-game lead. Not even after they've clinched.

Just don't.

Anonymous said...

I still thnk we are "ok" too. Honestly if we can win one against the Mets that's all we need. They've finally got some tough games coming up, 4 against the Cubs, etc. I think we can def. take two however, and we're back up to a nice 4 game lead as our schedule gets softer as theirs gets harder.

However, we can't count them out. They're pulling out all the stops...AGAIN....while we fliunder around and play the long game. Conftro not hitting? Hello Las Vegas, hello Nimmo. Wright and Duda down? Hello Loney and Johnson (not great but decent fill-ins when they needed em). Reyes......hey, if he can hit .265 that will be a nice pickup for them. Now theyre going after the Cuban player as well.

The Nats? Trea Turner? Oh, let him go 10-16 w 2 walks over the weekend in AAA.....we don't need that kind of production on the Nats do we? We were one or 2 hits away from turning this pdisaster of a week into a much less disatrous 1-6 or 2-5.....but no, we dont wanna rush the kid, do we??

NOw we have Gio falling off a cliff and Stars hurt. I'm sure they won't even consider Giolito, we'll probably get Cole and a 7 run loss as he gets rocked by the Mets. Hopefully they chose Voth at least.

It's time to stop being conseravtive. We need to test some guys out, we need to make some bold moves. I ASSURE you, the Mets will scrape and claw and take some risk sto win this thing, and if we stand pat we'll be watching them ce;lebarte in Spetmeber again wondering what happened. I hope Rizzo and Dusty are up for it.

Chas R said...

That was a painful 7 game stretch, even more so since the last time they did that was 2009 when they lost 102 games (!), but I agree that it didn't seem like they played that bad. They couldn't get key hits at times, but they also seemed to hit the ball hard a lot without getting hits. It felt like there was some bad luck over that period.

Gio needs to go on the DL. I'm not sure who would replace him, but I just don't see how they can keep running him out there, and if he does "ok" on Thursday, he will almost certainly have bought himself more time.

Harper said...

Carl - Roark has great games and he also has bad ones. (which is why he isn't in those guys class) In fact 3 out of his last 5 have been meh or worse. I like Roark. Bargain 4/5 guy. Not a stopper thought

Robot - to be fair to Past Harper, when I did call it (MAY!) I specifically stated that it was under the caveat that the rosters not significantly change. I held firm to that call right up until the Mets significantly changed their roster. When your opponent takes three below average bats and replaces them with two average and one above average bats - all former predictions have to get thrown out.

But if you like I can just not call anything ever because, you know, a bus could crash in mid September and science could find a super steroid that isn't banned at the same time and only let your opponent use it.

Anon - Nats are by their nature, not in-season bold. It'll be interesting though this year. There was a lot of thought that "ok we're 15 million less in salary than last year - we'll use it in-season" They still might not find themselves in a situation where they have to do this but it's getting close.

Harper said...

Chas R - at this point he at least stays until Stras is back - likely through All-Star game. He did have two decent games earlier this month. Just keep hoping I guess.

Anonymous said...

Nobody should kid themselves, we're seeing once again the real reason why Strasburg was so quick to accept the Nationals offer and didn't even risk testing out free agency. Because he's smart and he knows it's very doubtful anyone else would have risked making that kind of offer given his injury-proneness and lack of dependability.

You think he doesn't know how fragile and non-tough his body is? Believe me, he knows it better than anyone.

Matt said...

I commented the other day discussing the Mets rotation...Amazing this Mets team should be even, but instead went 2-5 against the freakin' Braves.

To say I am nervous about this stretch would be an understatement. I would sign for 7-7 over the next 14 just to tread water with 4 of those wins hopefully coming against the Nats. That would level off most of what happened against the Cubs and Marlins.

Nats are in a spot they can bury the Mets. Mets can pitch, but can't hit so any advantage they have in pitching is nullified by, in most accounts, the worst offense in the NL. So while you look at the pitching matchups this week and would say advantage Mets in the first two, it really doesn't matter.

Anyway, great post as always Harper. I am hoping for an entertaining series.

Ole PBN said...

@ Anonymous 8:26am

Yeah, I could see Strasburg standing in front of a mirror every morning saying to himself, "I am weak. I am fragile. I pitch not wanting to succeed, just merely hoping not to lose. I hope I make it to the 4th inning today. I am lucky have at least one team see some talent in me." So you feel that this is what Strasburg, a professional competitive athlete, feels about himself?

And you close with: "Believe me, he knows it better than anyone." I'm sorry, I just cannot believe you.

Froggy said...

If the Marlins go get a Chapman or Rodney as the scuttlebutt on MLBTR suggests, I think they become the team to watch in the second half.

Of course, one should be mindful of the 'R' in MLBTR as well.

Harper said...

Froggy - I have to think they need a starter more.

Chaos56 said...

Giolito tomorrow! Wow, that's a shocker!

Froggy said...

Harper - How about Gio and Lobaton for say, a bag of balls? You know he would love to be closer to Biogenesis... er, I mean home.

Kenny B. said...

You have to be pleased that you can come out of a 7-game losing streak and still be a full series sweep ahead of your closest rivals. The biggest concern for me was, and remains after the losing streak, the bullpen. They need some help there. Maybe a closer, maybe just a good deal on a strong 7th or 8th inning guy. Whatever they do, they need to inject some life into that group.

At long last it looks like we will get to see Giolito. He's only got like 70 innings left this year. I bet Dusty can run those out before Stras gets back. I kid, but seriously, I'm excited to see the kid get his first big league shot. I envision him being Kershaw-level incredible for the duration of his stay, forcing the team to leave him up in place for the struggling Gio Gonzalez. This will perfectly set the table for another shutdown argument. The organization will preserve the arm again, as they did with Strasburg, lose in the first round of the playoffs behind a shoddy bullpen and an anemic offense, and everyone will blame the shutdown for the loss. Then the Giants will win the World Series because the ownership apparently got 50% off on a deal with the devil.

Anecdotally, Stras does seem to benefit from taking a mid-season rest. I predict that he will come back strong from a relatively brief DL stint.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

Giolito tomorrow, Turner sometime in the next few weeks (to plug into the leadoff and replace the anemia twins that inhabit that spot now...), and maybe a trade with the Yanks to get Miller to replace Papelbum. This could get very interesting very quickly...

mike k said...

Excited to see Gioloto tomorrow. A little surprised they're doing it with his walk rate in AA. But I can't say I'm not excited.

I read somewhere else that Turner is starting in CF in AAA. Who would've thought on April 1 that the Nats would be flirting with the idea of Turner starting in CF over Revere/Taylor and not SS instead of Espinosa. Though I have a feeling that if they do bring Turner up for CF (assuming he proves he can field the position), it will be to replace Taylor in a platoon with Revere, not as an everyday starter. Which shouldn't hurt his development too bad as he'll be mostly done with the minor league season by the time he learns CF, anyway.

I agree the Nats need pen help. Problem is I'm not sure any of the sellers of bullpen arms will give the Nats a deal. You really hate to give up a good position player prospect for a few months of a closer.

Anonymous said...

More of the same - bases loaded, no outs, and can't manage even a sac fly. Going to be a long series...

Josh Higham said...

@Anonymous 4:34, o ye of little faith. Nats just knocked Syndergaard out after 3 and bashed up 6 innings of bullpen. Hot and mostly cold Harvey tomorrow means Giolito might get away with giving up 4 runs in 5+ innings and still get the win. Matz apparently has a bone spur in his elbow and might get skipped on Wednesday. Of course, we could still be in for a long and miserable series, but it sure looks good right now.

Because I'm begging for a jinx right now, Werthess needs to ride the pine and maybe be cremated, and Revere ought to go back to the Phillies where he could remember how to play and Espinosa will never get on base again without getting drilled. I think we should be fine now.

Ryan DC said...

Stray musings:

1) That was an awesome game.


3) The underlying numbers suggest that Gio's results have been worse than they "should" have been. His left on base % over the past month is something like 55%, meaning that almost half of the baserunners he allowed came around to score. That is the worst in the majors over that span, and completely unsustainable. Also, Gio has pitched much MUCH worse in high leverage situations than in low leverage situations this season. So the question is whether Gio's poor performance in 'clutch' situations this season is more due to bad timing--which should even out--or due to Gio being a headcase. Well Gio's LOB% last year was 72%, which matches his career 73%, and in high-leverage situations last year he had a 3.41 FIP, about the same as his career high-leverage FIP of 3.22. This season, Gio's ERA and FIP are basically indistinguishable from David Price and Matt Harvey--the difference is they started slow and then improved, whereas Gio's worst starts were his most recent ones. But there's no reason to think that Gio is as bad as he's been pitching over the last month; nor was he as good as his results in April.

So: I'd give him another 3-4 starts to get it together. Hell, remember how bad Scherzer was from late July to early September last year? Over 9 starts he gave up 14 home runs and had a 5.54 ERA, but a 2.92 xFIP. Over Gio's last 9 starts he has a 6.66 ERA and a 3.33 xFIP. Now obviously Gio isn't as good as Max, and he doesn't have the spare velocity to lose, but Gio was pitching just fine through mid-May with a 90mph fastball (which isn't even that bad for a lefty). Unless Gio is actually hurt, which right now we have no evidence of, the best explanation is that he went from one of the luckier pitchers in baseball to one of the unluckiest, and the best course of action in the near-term is to let him pitch his way out of his slump.

Sammy Kent said...
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