Nationals Baseball: Separation

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Separation

Given what we thought of the NL East going into this year, I can think of no good reason why a healthy Nats team shouldn't be winning the East by several games over an injured Mets team. The Nats are healthy. The Mets are injured. And lo and behold, a healthy Nats team IS winning the East by several games over an injured Mets team. It's always nice to see what you feel are basic assumptions validated.

We've talked about this time frame - starting with the Phillies road trip on May 30th and ending with the Brewers series that finishes up on July 6th -  being a chance for the Nats to really separate themselves from the Mets (and Marlins). After starting red hot* - the Nats had bopped around against a decent schedule for about 30 games**.  Now the Nats were finally getting cracks at the bottom of the divisions. PHI twice, removed from their hot start. CIN twice, MIL twice, the Padres, the falling White Sox. It was as full of easily beatable teams as the stretch before was not. The stretch started as expected, the Nats playing well and extending a 1 game lead to 5, but then the losing streak happened. What had been a possibly season defining 13-4 run morphed into another pedestrian looking 13-11 one and the lead shrunk back to 2 games.

But the stretch still was only 2/3rd done. There was time for redemption. It's odd to see it work exactly like this, a long stretch of losses in between two great stretches, but it's baseball. There's an example of everything happening. And so far what we've seen suggests we may get that second great stretch. 3 wins in a row. The time frame now reading 16-11. The lead back to 4.5 games (over the Marlins). The season of fits and starts might actually punch through at the half-way point in the season.


Last nights game  - Giolito looked capable. He struck out only one but in general looked solid. He wasn't really hit hard; one sharp grounder, a couple deepish fly balls. His control did waver. His two walks were on 8 pitches total, but the Mets didn't really press that issue, swinging early in the 2nd and 3rd innings. It would have been interesting to see what the 5th and 6th innings brought. If the Mets had finally gotten it through their thick skulls to force the kid to throw strikes combined with him getting up in pitches we might have seen a shift but I guess that's for another start.

Ramos is still hitting. Murphy is still hitting. And look out because Bryce continues to be the watched kettle, heating up ever so slowly. Werth isn't hot anymore but he is mixing in timely hits with walks - 18 in June, 16 in his last 15 games, 8 int he last 5. Even the bullpen didn't blow it. Nothing but good times.

The series looked like a tough one for the Nats. Syndergaard first game. Harvey second. But thanks to Noah's bone spur that really isn't affecting him continue to let him pitch with it please, and the weather the Nats had to only face these guys for under 7 innings. That's the Mets strength and it's been effectively eliminated for the Nats the first two games. Without that the Nats are just better. Finish it out today with Matz out for injury.  The sweep is there. Take it.  

*14-4!
** 16-15!

22 comments:

Kenny B. said...

Disappointing that we didn't get to see the full Giolito last night, but maybe the weather is just trying to help us avoid a another shutdown/innings limit debacle.

Couple of things for further discussion:
- How real is Espinosa's surge, and what is driving it? Is it really just him fighting for his job?
- Is this really the new normal for Ramos? And if so, was it really Lasik-based?
- We need a rundown of the Marlins, who I have completely ignored up to now. They have kept up with the Mets well enough to make me start scoreboard watching them. I know who the Mets are, but I know next to nothing about the Fish. Fill me in, if you would.

DezoPenguin said...

Marlins seem like the anti-Mets. They hit the crap out of the ball at seven positions out of eight (Hechevarria being the only one who doesn't hit) but the starting pitching is very shaky except for Fernandez. Stanton's actually having a down year, so if he wakes up and the rest of the team keeps playing well, they stand a good chance of being in it right in it to the end given that they get to beat up on the Phillies and Braves just like we do. (With Fernandez + offense, they actually would be a pretty potent choice in a WC game, too.)

Anonymous said...

Noteworthy: Voth's line in AAA last night was 5IP, 8H, 6R, 4ER, 3BB, 0K, HR

Chas R said...

Things look good again, even the bullpen. Well, maybe not Zim... he is really hurting the offense, as is Revere. At least Revere showed some recent hope of breaking out. I think Rizzo still needs to fix the Zim situation and another backend arm in the bullpen.

Mythra said...

Marlins will be pesky, as their lineup is filled with contact guys and a few boppers. Mendoza Stanton still hasn't figured out what the league is doing to him, but as soon as he does and that Giancarlo Stanton guy returns, they could go on a run.

All that said, they are 4 starting pitchers away from a playoff team. Not saying they can't get to the WC, given the Mets issues and injured rotation guys. Just can't see them being 2016's version of the Even Year SF Giants.

I wonder if the head to heads put distance between the Nats and Mets, say 8 games back before the deadline, do the Mets turn into sellers? That would be an interesting turn of events.

Andrew said...

@Mythra: Stanton's .400/.442/.675 over his last 10 games indicates he may have figured it out.

mike k said...

...I just realized that there is 90% chance the Nats play the Giants in the NLDS. The baseball gods are cruel.

Harper said...

KB - all good ideas. I'll guess now before going in and looking
- pretty real, higher contact, no.
- probably not, so no
- Yes we do . This is probably next.

Dezo/Mythra - the pitching isn't terrible right behind Jose - Conley and Koehler are decent, but the back end is among league worst I think.

Anon - well after I said what I said the only logical outcome was a no-hitter for Gio and to Voth to do horribly and quit baseball saying "I'll never, ever, even for one start be as good as Giolito"

Chas R - just hit him 7th that's all I ask. THey can let him work it out. They have that kind of cushion

mike k - there are only so many teams in the playoffs - chances of Giants or Cards is going to be high. Nothing Nats can do about it.


Clip&Store said...

Random question, I know Harper here is appointed by ESPN correct? Is this like a paid thing, or just for fun, or what?

Clip&Store said...

And regarding last night, lito especially, I'm more concerned that he didn't look overwhelmed, and everything else moreso than the results. I still feel like he needs time in the minors, but this definitely was a confidence booster for him and gave him a taste of the show. Great night all around, and stay hot buffalo!

Zimmerman11 said...

Appointed? Anointed?

Affiliated...

YEAH HARPER... HOW MUCH YOU MAKIN OFFA THIS HERE BOARD AND WHERES MY CUT?!?!

WiredHK said...

If we won the East and I got to hand-pick playing the Cubs or Giants, it's the Giants all day long. I would like another shot at them while the Cubs choke away "Best Record in the Bigs" vs the WC winner.

/Gazes at Caps jersey in closet...deeply sighs...

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

SWEEP.

That is all...

PotomacFan said...

Is it even possible -- from an innings perspective -- that Giolito can stay in the Majors, pitch the rest of the season, and then pitch in the playoffs? On 106.7 this morning, Rizzo said that the Nationals can be flexible, and Giolito could be in the bullpen to limit innings and not disrupt the current rotation (assuming Strasburg returns). Rizzo gave a huge vote of confidence in Gio Gonzalez, and said the Nats are going to let him work through his problems.

I was not all that impressed by Giolito. Good presence, decent stuff. But, nothing like the unhittable stuff that Strasburg had in his debut and on his good days. The first inning could have looked a lot different if Rendon and Murphy don't make terrific plays on hard hit balls. And facing the Mets is not exactly a huge test.

Fries said...

Everyone was talking about Giolito's poise last night, but he definitely had some jitters because he was leaving the ball up A LOT. If he can consistently keep the ball down and mix in that curveball more (at one point he was at like 80% FB), then we'll be watching something special every 5 games in the future


And @Wired - Ugh I was just recovering...PTSD triggered...

Anonymous said...

Harper is about to take off. You can feel it. He actually looks comfortable swinging the bat again.

The amazing thing even during his slump was that he still remained very patient at the plate, so his OBP is still solid.

Harper said...

C&S / Z11 - affiliated is the best word though in a very loose sense. Basically they asked if I wanted to be affiliated and I said sure. My opinion is basically "I'm doing this anyway so whatever". I do have one caveat - I don't want to do it if there were a ton of ads (Oh god the autoplay ads from the MVN days) but it never added more than that banner on the top of the page which I find pretty unobtrusive. The first year they included these bloggers in some live chats which was fun but that didn't continue. You also get asked to put in comments into power rankings but I've completely stopped doing that as I got annoyed about being asked to provide comments by noon on Sunday for Monday - you know before Sunday games were played.

If we want to go further down the rabbit hole ESPN had some level of success with True Hoop becoming a "blog network" after they bought it and was looking to replicate it for other sports. Sweetspot started under Rob Neyer, but then he went on his internet walkabout, and I think the website itself lost interest as things changed. Now I wouldn't even know where to find any of these blogs on ESPN. They took out the direct links on the opening MLB page a while ago when they went to the "never-ending mobile feed" style.

I don't get paid for this. For a while under MVN they'd send tiny annual checks but I always chose to dontate them back to the site. Not because I liked the site, in fact I didn't, but because I figured it wasn't worth the chances of a potential tax hassle down the road to cash what amounted to little more than grandma's birthday money.

Alex Freeman said...

Just saw that the Nats signed Latos to a minor league deal, which I find interesting. He's 6-2 this year but has a high ERA. On the flipside, his ERA is miraculously lower than Gio Gonzalez's (think about that for a second, a guy no one wanted on a major league deal has double the wins and a lower ERA than big Gio). Harper what's your take on this deal? I guess for organizational depth but I would've thought that if they were to replace big (ERA) Gio they'd do it with little Gio. Maybe a long relief option?

Zimmerman11 said...

Harper, u get free ESPN insider access, admit it! That's 50 bucks a year, cut us in!

Ryan said...

You might want to take a look at more of Latos' stats from this season. He's running a 4.77 K/9 which is about half of Gio's. I like the minor league signing fine, he could start a game if they really needed just anyone to throw out there, but I'm not sure Latos even sees substantial time in the majors again.

Bjd1207 said...

There's part of me that thinks we're gonna try Latos out as a reliever, we're already chock full of MLB/AAA starters

Harper said...

Z11 - I might! I don't know. I think it was offered at some point a couple years back but I never used it bc I thought itd be like taking a payment. Missed all that great Jim Bowden insight