Nationals Baseball: Chugging along

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chugging along

Eh.

I'm giving Bryce the homestand, but in fact I'm giving everyone the homestand** and will see where things lie come Monday.  Other than the usual, "seeing more games to form a better judgment of players" there are other, season defining reasons to wait until Monday.

The Nats have a weekend series with the Padres, who are neither a good team nor are playing particularly well. The Nats should take at least 2 of 3. That's important because the Mets have a weekend series with... the Marlins! Assuming the Nats take care of business, the only way one of these two can gain ground is if either the Marlins or the Mets sweep the other. That would put the NL East at either: 

Nats; Mia 3.5 GB, Mets 8 GB or
Nats; Mets 5 GB, Mia 6.5 GB

with closing in on 60 games to go in the season. Tick tick tick. Looking at it another way, the only way the Nats won't come out of this weekend in better shape then they went in is if they screw it up, if they lose the series or worse - get swept. It's in their hands.*

Another reason to wait it out is because we get within a week of the trade deadline at that point and that's when most of the action will happen. Up until this weekend, there has always been more time to see if player X will come around or player Y will begin to fade.  After this weekend, there is no more time. You have to have a decision in mind. You've seen 100 games. You don't want a good game or two that week to change anything. 

After these games the Nats will go on the road to Cleveland, SF (who'd I expect to right themselves a little by then), and then Arizona. The D-backs aren't good but I don't automatically assume games at the end of a road trip are going to be easy, especially a Cleveland to SF to Phoenix road trip. Then it's CLE and SF at home. This is the tough stretch, where if the Nats are going to stumble in the second half, it's most likely to happen here.

That's why this Padres series matters a little bit more. Timing wise, and given the current NL East situation, it is at a point that can make all the difference. If the Nats are 3.5 and 4 games up after this weekend, then a stumble during the tough stretch could put the Nats in a three-way race. Maybe you are more likely to make that trade to try to ensure this doesn't happen. If the Nats are 6.5 and 7 games up come Monday I wouldn't even worry about a stumble. It would take a crash really for a chasing team to pull even. The team would be more likely to let the trade deadline pass.

Finish it here. Nats - win the series, so you can muddle through the tough stretch, so you can glide to the finish.


*If I were a Nats fan, what would I root for this weekend? Obviously a Nats sweep - then honestly a Marlins sweep. The Marlins are the 2nd WC right now. If they were to sweep the Mets and the Dodgers didn't tank, the Mets could find themselves FIVE game out of the WC on Monday morning. That's a team that has no reason to make a trade and I want the Mets, with those arms and with last year's run still giving them hopeful thoughts for this year, out of it. 


**Who else is of interest? Espinosa is slumping out of the gate, was playing over his head, and had a terrible 2nd half last year. Robinson/Zimmerman and Taylor/Revere haven't shown any reason to believe the 2nd half will be that different than the first. 

41 comments:

Fries said...

A few weeks back I said, post ASB, I wanted .500 going into the home and home with the O's, so 17 out of 33 with 20 out of 33 being ideal. Would I have liked to win the Dodgers series? Of course. But that gets negated with a sweep of the Padres. So it's still looking alright, I'm not too concerned. The Dodgers are a tough team, time to beat up on the lesser ones

G Cracka X said...

Regarding trades, what about preparing for the post-season? If they glide to the division title, that is great, but they may still want to add a shutdown reliever even in that scenario to prepare for the NLDS.

G Cracka X said...

Where are all the commenters? Nats are still in first place!

John C. said...

The classic formula for baseball success is to split with the good teams (Nats went 3-3 vs. the Pirates and Dodgers) and crush the scrubs. Coming out of the break so far the Nats have held to that.

Donald said...

Not as worried about the division at the moment. The Mets and Marlins have some big flaws and I'm not sure they can fix them with a trade. But I do worry about them winning a playoff series or two without a shutdown closer and with several slumping bats. Just not sure what's worth giving up for that?

Harper -- if you were GM, what trade would you try to swing?

Jay said...

I think they need a CF more than they need BP. If you do go get BP help, then I think they need a strong lefty. At what point is Revere truly is .215 average and bad OBP. He's been off the DL for 3 months. Also, not to start beating the drum again, but at what point is Espinosa unplayable.

Anonymous said...

All I know at this point is Turner needs to be playing every. single. day. And he needs to be batting leadoff every. single. day. I know it's a small sample size, but he's already created at least 2 runs with his speed by my count. If CF is the hole he needs to fill, stick him there. If it's Espi's spot at short, stick him there. If it's sliding Murph over to 1B and sticking TT at 2nd, do it. You need to build a lineup with him in it every single night

Puck_Fapelbon said...

Rendon/Espinosa/Turner/Murph is a NICE infield and I really hope it stays that way..... Zimm went 1 for 5 in a rehab game last night and if they just stick him back in there after Trea Burnah' has been smacking triples and stealing home then The Nats might be more backwards than I thought. Keep THIS INFIELD PLEASEEEEE!!! We don't owe Zimm anything, he is Mr. DC and has had a great run and is truly one of my favorite players but he has peaked and now it time for the young guys. I'm not crazy about Blackmon because his numbers seem very Coors like. Lets pick up Bruce, and Chapman (both ex-dusty guys too btw) sell anyone beside Turner and Lito and see if Pap can swallow some ego and leave the Marlins and Mets in the dust. Nats must win tonight!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

In the famous last words category (from Rizzo around last July): "I like the players we have". Last year, the Mets, who had pretty good pitchers, went out and got a bat. We sat Danny and waited for the sick and injured to return to form. Lucky for us the Marlins have too few trade chips to be a serious buyer for Sale.

Hmm, is it too early to be talking about trading bryce (i.e., not to be confused with Bryce or BRYCE)? Even in the grips of Ian Desmond season, he could net something big in return.

NotBobby said...

Harper - do you think Rizzo will take a chance and grab Storen and try to put humpty dumpty back together again?

mike k said...

Harper FYI - I keep getting re-routed to ESPN's "not found" page whenever I try to access your site - link here http://espn.go.com/mlb/sweetspot/nav?site=natsball . I'm only able to post this by hitting the "x" on my browser before getting re-routed.

Also, rumors are that a trade for Chapman is close, and that it's either the Nats or Cubs, and that Fedde is on the table.

NotBobby said...

Yeah, saying Fedde and Glover and package is still second to Tribe right now. I say let the Indians or Cubs have him. I can live with Fedde for a few month rental of Chapman, but Fedde and Glover seems to be too much. especially if Yanks will need more.

I get that prospects are worth less than MLB players, and that Fedde has injury issues and RP are the most fungible thing in baseball, but that just seems to be more than Chapman is worth.

Froggy said...

I realize that Giolito might be having an off day, but right now he isn't doing it for me. Of course it is hotter than dogs balls in Africa today, but I don't see any Plus stuff that makes him so phenom-ish.

PotomacFan said...

Giolito has shown me nothing in 3 starts. He is not getting any swings and misses. No strikeouts today. Lots of solid contact in all 3 games. I'm still perplexed as to why the Nats did not stick with a 4-man rotation during the past and upcoming weeks, where they had one off day, and will have another tomorrow.

I was much more impressed with Lopez. He has a terrific curve ball. Once he stopped throwing nothing but fastballs, he was pretty effective.

I really hope Joe Ross is ready to go, and returns to form. While Giolito may be the number 1 prospect in baseball, Joe Ross (same age) is already in his second season as a really good starting pitcher (and a heckuva an athlete).

Froggy said...

OMG Papelbon is terrible.

PotomacFan said...

Bad news and good news. The bad new: the Yankees just raised the price for Chapman. The good news: the Yankees are not asking for Giolito.

Hursty said...

Chapman will be a National by the end of the week. Its clear we've got to make an upgrade.

Ryan DC said...

@anon 2: Uh yeah Bryce in a so-called "Ian Desmond 2015" season is still one of the best 20-30 players in baseball (partially because the defensive metrics like him a lot more this year), so I'm going to assume that was a reverse jinx comment.

@notbobby: 1) I came here to say the same thing about Storen, that would be a good low-risk way to shore up the pen.
2) Fedde and Glover for chapman would be a slam dunk for us. Fedde is generally considered a good-but-not-great prospect and hasn't exactly been tearing up A-ball, and Koda Glover is an unknown quantity reliever. Probably neither of them will be significant big league contributors before Bryce is a free agent. I know that you posted before Papelbon blew up on Sunday, and he did look good enough off the DL that I was thinking we could stick with him, but after this weekend the thought of a Rivero/Treinen/Perez-Kelley-Papelbon 7-8-9 in a playoff game has become frightening. Unfortunately, the Yankees have (smartly) upped the price and now want Joe Ross, but I have no problem with doing a Ross-Koda trade and then using Giolito/Voth/Cole as a fifth starter. Given that we still don't know whether the real Joe Ross is April/May Ross or June/July/injury concern Ross, this would be the perfect time to use him as a trade chip.

@mike k: I'm having the same issue.


Apropos of nothing, random thoughts on RyanZimmerman:
Maybe I'm deluding myself about Zimmerman because he's my favorite player, but I keep thinking about how good he was coming off the DL stint last year (and the year before, and the year before that, sigh), and about how solid his batted-ball numbers were before he got hurt, and I'm not quite ready to write him off. (Tony Blengino at FG might agree: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/hitter-contact-quality-report-first-base-and-dh/)

I know I have referred to batted ball data sometimes with perhaps more certainty than it warrants, but I spent a lot of time playing around with his numbers before he went on the DL, and they were truly weird: he was crushing the ball both in the air and on the ground (according to the velocity data on both Statcast and Fangraphs), he wasn't pulling a ton, he was hitting more ground balls than fly balls but somehow still running an extremely low BABIP and a low ISO, all of which is an almost impossible combination. Think about it: hard-hit balls in the air should lead to a higher ISO, and hard-hit balls on the ground should lead to a higher BABIP, but somehow Zimmerman was getting the opposite. On top of that, despite clearly squaring the ball up well, his line drive rate was extremely low. Even with worse plate discipline than in past seasons and hitting a lot of grounders, Zimmerman's results 'should' have been much better. The only player I could find with a comparable combination of low ISO, low BABIP, a ground ball tendency, and a good hard-hit rate was Yasmani Grandal. When I conducted this (admittedly basic) research at the end of May, Grandal's wRC+ was 69; in the 40 games since it is 135 with 10 home runs. Given that Clint Robinson has been exposed, Espinosa is regressing hard, and Turner is a work in progress, a Zimmerman who can just be a league-average bat (a mark that he surpassed last year, even with all the injuries, by having a big second half) would be a huge asset for the playoff push. Even if he doesn't hit 11 home runs in 39 games like he did after his DL stint last year, he could be a difference-maker.

Anonymous said...

Just an fyi, there is something wrong with the Nats Baseball website's integration into the ESPN site. When I go out to http://natsbaseball.blogspot.com/, it automatically redirects to http://espn.go.com/mlb/sweetspot/nav?site=natsball. The page content reads, "NOT FOUND: http://espn.go.com/mlb/sweetspot/nav?site=natsball". I have to click the browser stop button during the page load to get it to stay on http://natsbaseball.blogspot.com/.

Froggy said...

Isn't Chapman a free agent at the end of this year?

I would rather keep Joe Ross and Koda Glover and deal Giolito and Fedde. Seems like a steep price for a rental unless you are 'all in' for this season, which the Cubs seem to be.

Mythra said...

I'm not a big fan of trading the farm for rentals. I'm fine with a AAA guy with high upside (Maybe a Fedde, Cole, Glover) but not a top 3 prospects + others for 60 games. Let the Cubs make that mistake and overpay.

Miller, that's different. That should be 1 near lock + some AAAA guys. Maybe Glover + MAT + Fedde. I'm torn on Glover, because he looked like he could be an impact at a young age like Ross. Also, Turner, Giolito, Lopez would be pretty much untouchables. Rizzo would need a Joe Ross + Trea Turner type of steal to trade those three.

Also, Papelbon is going to become an every other day closer going forward. 3 days in a row and things go boom. Usually off the opponent's bats.

Ole PBN said...

When evaluating these young prospects, the eye test seems to be as reliable as anything - especially with so little data at the MLB level for these guys. A couple thoughts:

- I agree with Froggy's sentiments, Giolito isn't doing it for me. I see the velocity, and a big breaking ball. But I also see poor command, not just in terms of balls and strikes, but center-cut fastballs and dirtball curveballs. I also see lateral movement on the 2-seam (not good), and with his delivery - he shows the ball way too early and high up above his head. For instance Papelbon hides the ball quite well, as does Ross and Sherzer. With Pap throwing 91mph and little movement, he relies completely on location and deception. Sherzer's got the stuff and deception, and you see what you get there.

- I was impressed with Lopez. Albeit possibly nerves and obvious command issues early on, he has the swing-and-miss stuff to succeed at this level. Not sure I'd make him a starter though, but too early to make that call. I say he should be on our postseason roster and be used similarly to what St. Louis did with Carlos Martinez a few years ago and David Price with the Rays before that.

- Trea Turner needs to play everyday. Plain and simple.

- I'd be very cautious on selling the farm for a 60-game rental. Especially for someone who will not play everyday and only be a factor if we are winning a game in the 9th inning. By that logic, it seems silly. Not to devalue those guys, but certainly be careful about overvaluing them. Cubs can have Chapman - Yanks received a haul.

- Glover is something special. Not that he can't be traded, but I see his value in a pen that needs help. And he costs NOTHING. He rose quickly through the minors, had success and the K's at every level, unlike Giolito who did well in low/high A but the K rate has been dipping as he moves up the system.

mike k said...

Obvious statement of the day: while I am disappointed Chapman isn't a Nat, I am glad the Nats didn't give up what they would have had to give up in order to get him. Wow did the Cubs give up a lot. Gave up a lot for Montgomery, too.

Now for the ridiculous statement of the day: Theo must really want that WS ring this year. When the Sox won after he left, he could still claim most of that team was him. Can't do that as much this year. Sox winning over the Cubs would be a pretty substantial hit on his pride. I wonder if that has anything to do with his aggressiveness (it doesn't, but it's fun to think about).

Mythra said...

Gotta give Rizzo credit when due. Every fan in the DMV and outside it saw Papelbon blow it yesterday. The entire fanbase is screaming for change, and he let the Cubs overpay for Chapman. 4 players for a 60 game rental. That's some serious overpay.

Miller always was the better deal, especially with the contract control for 2 more years. And with Storen DFA'd yesterday, he might even be able to see if Maddux can rebuild him for next to nothing as a Plan C.

Still don't think you sell the farm for Miller. And I don't see Rizzo overpaying if it makes 2017 or 2018 seasons bad (Still have to entice Bryce to stay, winning does that.)

DezoPenguin said...

I'm really glad that the Nats didn't trade for Chapman. Specifically, two months of Chapman. Aside from the fact that I'd rather not have domestic abusers on the team that I cheer for, that price was insane. Having to outbid that package for two months of any reliever is nuts.

The bad side, though, is that if that's the kind of return that Chapman brings, just imagine what two years and two months of Miller (statistically the *better* pitcher, willing to pitch the 8th inning without going all headcase/ego over it, and without the stink of a DV suspension) is going to cost someone. He'd be the perfect addition to our pen (or, well, anybody's pen), but if his market is going to be set by the Chapman rental, we'd be better off not getting in too deep.

Froggy said...

OlePBN, I agree Glover is special, with swing and miss stuff-at least based on what we've seen to date anyway. And I'd much rather see him out there than just about everyone else who isn't nned Belisle or Petit.

Next question is what DO you do with Papel-bomb?

Lastly, I actually feel relieved we didn't make a deal with the Devil for Chapman.

JE34 said...

We learned last year that signing a closer at the deadline is only good if he gets into the game. If you don't score enough to use him, you've wasted your money. Sunday's pen meltdown notwithstanding, I believe the Nats bigger need is fixing the clutch hitting problem by improving the CF/1B bats. Too many times, we have seen RISP with less than two outs, followed by strikeouts and pop ups.

I'll join the chorus of those who are relieved that the Nats did not spend high on a rental. Of course, when playing the Cubs, it's now that much more important to get ahead early.

Ole PBN said...

Bat over pen. They need, and always have needed to improve their lineup. Its improved with Murphy and now (for a limited time) Turner and having Rendon healthy. But something still isn't right. They have power, seem to hit 1+ homer every game (they've had power since 2012, so this has never been an issue). Its hitting with RISP and OBP. Keep in mind, we lost the NLDS in 2012 and 2014 not because our pen, but because our lineup went cold 1-9. Question: was it Familia or Cespedes who deserves the praises for getting the team to WS? Neither? Maybe Murph? Still not a relief pitcher.

Froggy said...

We need to think of a promotional way to make Papel-bombs appearance in games fun. I mean other than the drinking games we play inour row: "walked the leadoff batter= drink. Loaded the bases=drink. Serves up a Pappa John's meatball that gets laced into LF scoring 3 runs=drink. Getting yanked by Dusty=scream into our beer cups then throw up into them since they are empty from drinking away Papel-bombs mistakes.

Variant 1: If he pitches his WHIP and blows the save and Nats lose, he must buy a round for every ticket holder at Justin's after the game. Alternatively if he pitches below his WHIP and doesn't blow the save AND Nats win the fans must strangle the nearest running president and give $20 to the American Thoracic Surgeons Association.

Robot said...

IT'S TUESDAY AFTERNOON WHERE IS HARPER ARRRRGHGHGH!!!!!!

JE34 said...

Trade deadline imminent. Drop, other shoe. DROP!

PotomacFan said...

Hey, where is Harper? Did we trade Harper (not Bryce) for a center fielder or relief pitcher?

Matt said...

^ From his twitter feed, looks like he's in Texas -- has recently been to Astros and Rangers games. Good for him; hope he enjoys it (if soulless automatons enjoy things, that is).

JE34 said...

Trea in CF!

DezoPenguin said...

Turner in CF. I like this. Whether he plays 2B and Murphy 1B or he plays CF and Murphy 2B, he needs to be in the lineup.

Ideally, Zim will hit, Trea will field at least as well as Revere (whom by Fangraphs is...a hair better than average this year? Surprising, that.) and we can shore up the bullpen at the deadline. SP depth might be a thing, depending on how Ross comes along (at least the injury time off means we won't be worried about his innings limit).

All I ask is that Rizzo not make any moves like getting Jay Bruce, meh guys without a real position. No Bryce-to-CF experiments. No Giolito-for-Wade-Davis deals. Reasonable prices paid for help at positions of need, nothing more or less.

JE34 said...

Everything I said earlier... I take it all back. Pay whatever... please someone do something with Jonathan Papelbon. Would we be better off with Clippard and Storen at this point? Good gravy.

Robot said...

Well, that was terrible.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

Enough Papelbum; DFA him and Get. Miller. NOW. This team may not win a game in the postseason, if they even make it there, without a real closer. The last several games have proven that.

blovy8 said...

I don't see how Papelbum can be the closer anymore. I'd say work Kelley into that role for the time being, bring Glover back up to do it on alternate days to see if his stuff will hold up after being properly scouted, and sit Pups on the DL with "fatigue" as in we're all tired of him. I suspect there's not a closer deal out there that Rizzo would be willing to make except perhaps Robertson, who I'm not sure is your "lock down" guy anymore either.

Hopefully, Baker can go back to using Rivero a little less with Solis around.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

All that said, we're probably not raking on Paps as badly today if the Nats get just one more hit in either the 8th or the 9th with RISP. Harper's at-bat in the 9th was especially bad. A quality start from Gio, a 2-run lead into the bottom of the 9th, that should be enough to win. But in these days of shaky late-inning bullpen work, the boys with the bats need to come through and pile on when they can...and it can't be Murphy and Ramos every friggin' night...

Sammy Kent said...

Same crap, different year. It's been this way since the Davey Days. Bullpen can't hold a lead, and the Nationals can't get a frickin' base hit or even a long fly ball with the bases loaded and one out. I knew when Harper and Murphy left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth we were going to lose. I just knew it. There's no way the baseball gods will let you get away with that, even with a two run lead. The bottom of the ninth was the just the world's slowest train wreck. I wanted to turn away but I had to watch. Rivero, Papelbum, Perez, Kelley, Trienen-- it doesn't matter. They all suck right now. Gio should strangle Papelbum. He pitched a great game and had a win in his pocket.