Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - See Last Monday

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Quickie - See Last Monday

Are you still worried? Miami has won 3 in a row. The Mets 2 (like for the second time since June or something like that). The Nats have arguably played terribly and their pen was taxed to the max. God - it must be close now!

Nats Monday August 15th - 8.5 game lead over Marlins, 10.5 over Mets
Nats Monday August 22nd - 8.5 game lead over Marlins, 11.5 over Mets

Just saying your energy should probably be directed to making sure the Yankees sweep the Mariners to (1) hold onto their slim Wild Card chances and (2) keep Seattle from making it. Personally I'd rather have Detroit, or Kansas City or Houston before Seattle. Baltimore's kind of a toss-up for me. If it's Boston or Seattle, of course, Seattle. But pretty much everyone else above the Mariners.

Oh wait - Nats blog, right.

That was some pretty terrible baseball. Especially last night - five errors! But there were also four in the three games before and that led to a lot of runs being scored that shouldn't have. The Braves are not a sneaky good offensive team. They are a bad one. In the 8 games before the Nats series the Braves scored 3 or fewer runs 6 times. So the Nats should have won these handily, especially given the starters performances. Lopez did exactly what they all should have.* Roark was ok. Max and Gio were passable. But errors and some poorly timed failures to get outs forced the pen into progressively more work. 2 IP to 2 2/3 to 2 2/3 to 4. That's a lot of innings for a pen in four days. Worse, outside of Treinen, pretty much everyone got hit. Again, Braves have a bad offense, so it's a bit more concerning, right now just as something to note.

Now it's up to Strasburg to go deep into the game, 7+ one hopes, and give the pen some rest. But it's not just the pen that makes this a big start for Stras. He's been progressively worse the past three outings. He was SHELLED the last time. He needs a good outing. The incidentals all line up for him. The weather should be fine (sorry "sweat excusers"). He only threw 71 pitches last time, and has only gone over 100 once in his past 4 starts, so he shouldn't be gassed. If not at home, he's close enough that I assume he stayed in his own place last night. The game itself will be hard though because the Orioles have a good offense with the only real hole in the line-up being Weiters, who hasn't gotten himself going all year. Is that an excuse? The other team is good? Sorry, not for me. I think Stras has to be good tonight. If he's mediocre, oh well, I'll take it in the sense it won't make me worry more and that's something. If he's bad though - don't come here with that "don't worry" stuff.

Ok let's get this going. The 40 game race to get the Wild Card winner starts now and the Cubs have a 5 games lead. The Nats can't afford a slip up.

*Please remember this. We seem to treat all good major league performances the same. They are not. Lopez faced the Dodgers - an average offensive team - and got shelled.  He faced the Giants - with a below average post-break offense - and got hit a bit. It's only when he faced the Braves - worst offense in the NL, still below average post-break - when he had good performances. Show me something against Baltimore, Colorado, and a healthy Mets team and I'll buy into it. 

It's funny how optimistic fans can be some times. Strasburg has three bad outings against mediocre offenses. "It's not enough to judge him. Give him a couple more starts" Lopez has two good outings against mediocre offenses. "He's a stud! Keep him in the rotation! Trade Gio when Ross is back!"


Froggy said...

Well the weather tonight is supposed to be low humidity and mild summer temps for Strasburg but the Orioles do like to hit fastballs, so...we'll see.

The other thing that might work in his favor is not having to bat with the DH.

Harper, is it just my eyes or does Gio simply not have the gas to go 3 times through the opposing teams order without getting shelled?

I like what I see with Lopez, but am not ready to say he is Gio's replacement...maybe after his next start tho.

Andrew said...

I take your point about Lopez, but with Stras in his last three starts I'd say the Giants are probably a better than mediocre offense and the Rockies in Coors are very much better than mediocre. He's still been a disaster over the last two weeks, but I wouldn't overstate it, particularly in Coors where you basically have to be a ground ball pitcher to have any success.

cass said...

Weather will not be a problem tonight - upper 70s, dew point in the upper 50s. Okay, looking at it that way, I'm wondering why I'm not heading to Camden Yards. Should be perfect.

The park is hitter-friendly and the Orioles are good, but this is not a mile-high or freakishly hot and humid weather, so we're just talking a difficult opponent in normal conditions. So yes, no excuses. You've got a deal there.

Not on your Yankees, though. Ew. Why would anyone root for the Yanks over the Mariners? Besides, New York is just a farm team for Cleveland these days, right?

G Cracka X said...

Baltimore will be a tough test for Stras. They are 5th in MLB in OPS and 1st in HRs

Harper said...

Froggy - Gio is Gio. He doesn't get gassed any sooner than anyone else in terms of pitches but he walks people and strikes out people so he throws a ton of them early. That's the main issue. He's not bad, but he's aging into a part of his career where he'll be a back of the rotation guy. (He is that for the Nats now but only bc Nats have a great rotation)

Andrew - I get the Coors argument but it wasn't like he did poorly. He didn't make it out of the 2nd. He gave up NINE runs. There's a difference between bad and what that was.

cass - I know! Go!

Well growing up in NY is a big reason, but I'm still not over the strike zone they gave Randy Johnson in relief in Game 5 of the ALDS. I even watched it again a few months ago to make sure I wasn't crazy and I wasn't. Also Seattle is one of those teams where the public face of the fans - the sabr guys tweaking their analysis to show the Mariners were awesome - turns me off still. Probably not fair as that was more 5 years ago but whatever.

GCX - If you want to be the ace gotta pass the tough tests.

Anonymous said...

We need to bring our A game, because the Orioles always play us like it's their World Series. It's that whole bitter, angry, resentful, we-hate-that-you-even exist, inferiority complex attitude thing that permeates the whole city of Baltimore and the Orioles fans. Playing the kind of ball we did over the last week won't cut it.

Flapjack said...

It's nice to begin a week without worries about Harper... uh, I mean Bryce.

SM said...

Interesting aside about the strike zone accorded Randy Johnson in that game. That strike zone
seemed to duplicate the kind of strike zone Steve Carlton--another stellar lefty in his late 30s finally given the opportunity to pitch in the World Series--was similarly given. At least it appeared that way.

Which, of course, raises a question that's nagged at me periodically over the years:

Is there (or has there been) a published study analyzing umpiring crews? You know: A breakdown of pitcher-friendly crews; crews who squeeze the strike zone; unfocused crews who call balls and strikes before a late-breaking ball crosses the plate; crews who umpire a disproportionate number of pitchers' duels versus slugfests; umpires with quick-trigger tempers who toss managers and players more often; crews in whose games brawls break out with greater frequency; and so on, and so on.

I'm sure those tendencies are being tracked by teams. But have they ever surfaced for the enlightenment of the general baseball public?

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: nobody thinks Lopez is a stud. If they do they're idiots. Every respectable scout in the universe says his arm motion and delivery are borderline impossible to sustain as a starter. But it is perfectly ok to say "wow that 98-99 with a fairly ridiculous curve is some great stuff....he could be a future dominant closer."
Regarding Strasburg, remember that time at the beginning of the season when Harper was fairly close to convinced that Scherzer's rough 3-4 start run meant something was really wrong with him and meant not only that he would be unrecognizable this year, but also that the Nats were in for 6 years of a pitcher that was breaking down before our eyes? This despite the fact the nothing appeared wrong with his stuff at all?
Incidentally, that post also expresses concern that Murphy clearly could not continue to hit as well as he was hitting to start the year, and the offense may be destined to rely way to heavily on Bryce, and we should give Rendon the rest of April before freaking out about him? I say this not to embarrass Harper's prognosticating---for gods sake, every single one of us would sound off on many things in hindsight---but rather to point out two things: (1) baseball is a large sample size game. Predicting ANYTHING from 3-4 starts or a month of hitting is just incredibly dubious. Yes we do it as fans, but really though, it onto makes sense if somebody looks injured or something. (2) For pitchers especially, if velocity is holding steady and things like K/BB rate are not doing crazy stuff, GENERALLY getting shelled over a few starts signifies poor location and rough luck, not the beginning of the end. Is it possible Stras is hurt or spiraling downward? I guess. It's also possible Reynaldo Lopez will be a top of rotation starter. But saying either based on a few starts is not based on much. If stras comes out and throws 92-93 or looks uncomfortable or starts walking everybody then I'll be concerned. Results don't concern me over a 3 start sample.

PotomacFan said...

Anyone worried about the Nationals sloppy play over the weekend? Particularly Danny Espinosa, who is playing because of his fielding skills. Were the players just playing down to Atlanta's level? Were they tired? Was it just an aberration?

Bjd1207 said...

annnndddddd Stras to the DL

NotBobby said...


I think it is probably a mixture of tired and regression. Home for three against atl, three at col starting the next day, four at atl s5arting the next day. Sneaky hard stretch bc of the travel with no day off.

Also probably some regression bc much ballyhoo has been made over defensive stats rating Was as best in league. I dont think this team is best team in league in defense.

DezoPenguin said...

Yep, like Bjd1207 said, Stras to the DL. "Elbow soreness," which could be anything from "Dude needs a rest for the stretch run" to "See you in 2018; good luck on recovering from your second Tommy John." If this were last year's Nats medical staff, I'd automatically assume the latter, but this being 2016 I'll just content myself with being nervous until further news. If anything's seriously wrong with him, it makes getting Joe Ross back in full early-season form from a luxury into a need, because we don't need to see 2 Gio starts and 1 Lopez start in a 7-game playoff series.

Meanwhile, tired bullpen + AJ Cole starting tonight against Baltimore *in* Baltimore. Not ideal. With Bundy looking like a competent pitcher of late, this game could be trouble for us.

Froggy said...

Good news: Strasburg is getting some rest at a good time in the season to get some rest, Marlins 9 back, and the Mehts...well...LoL

Bad news: AJ Cole is going to get shelled by the Orioles.


Josh Higham said...

You know, it's a remarkable thing that a rotation (even just for two weeks) headlined by Scherzer and Roark, with serviceable Gio, a rookie with wicked stuff, and underwhelming AJ Cole is horrifying to us. Without Ross and Stras, this is still a solidly average rotation.

That said, I'm so not excited for Cole against the mashers in Baltimore.

Sammy Kent said...

If you keep letting teams come back on you game after game, eventually they'll win one. I've heard enough about how our bullpen is tired and overworked. It's tired and overworked because the pitchers comprising it are sucking humongous donkey weenies. If the first guys out of the pen would do their jobs Dusty wouldn't have to use five or six guys every game to finish the last two innings. A lot of this the bullpen is spent talk is horse hockey. Don't tell me a guy that comes in and throws four pitches to get out of a jam today can't go an inning tomorrow without giving up five hits and two runs because he threw four pitches the day before.

F.P., Bob, Ray, and Dusty, stop making excuses for the Nationals' lousy bullpen. If we're going to give Mike Maddux the credit for the pitching, both starting and relief, being stellar in May and June, then it's time for him to figure out why the only starter still pitching worth a dang is Roark, and why the only reliever pitching worth a dang is Melancon--the only one he hasn't had under his tutelage since spring training.

There is one "rest" consideration that is very valid IMHO, though. The Nats have now played thirteen consecutive games with no break, and have to play another seven before getting one. The Nationals have exactly three --that's right. Count 'em. THREE -- days off between now and the end of the season. A couple of weeks ago they got three days off in eight calendar days. Crazy stuff. If I were Dusty I think I might pick one game against the weakest team remaining and put every reserve in (plus Zim, since he's already rested), call up Giolito for one start, and tell him and maybe one reliever (Petit?) to go out there and take one for the team. Seriously. Giolito and Lobaton for the battery, Zim, Bostick, Difo, and Drew (if we can get him back healthy) in the infield, Heisey, Revere, and Goodwin in the outfield. Tell them the game is their's to win. Everybody else take a powder.

The next four days are hell for me. I hate the Orioles worse than Islamic State. If we don't at least split with them sumbucks I'm not going to be anything close to my usual jovial self.

Anonymous said...

And we see yet again the real reason why he was so quick to jump at the Nats extension and didn't even test out free agency, which is unheard of for a Boras client.

Caution, glass China doll, contents are fragile, handle with extreme care.

Anonymous said...

Sammy Kent:

C'mon, Sammy, stop mincing words. How do you really feel?

JE34 said...

I grew up in the former AAA home of the hated (PeterAngel)O's. Got to see Ripken, got to listen to the longest pro baseball game ever (until I fell asleep, of course... but I didn't miss grade school the next day). After decades of pumping out good major leaguers, there's a reason we became the first minor league club to fire its parent organization. I think I hate everything about Peter Angelos.

So yeah. Cole and Lopez starting in Baltimore against the Ooooeeeewwws isn't anyone's idea of a good scenario. Thank goodness that Strasburg is getting DL time now, after going 15-4, with an 8.5 game division lead. That is a sweet luxury. Here's hoping he comes back 100%, after 15 days.

Who knows - maybe AJ Cole will wow everyone and pitch his way into being nice trade chip. I wouldn't run to Vegas with that bet, but stranger things have happened. Like Sandy Leon turning into Johnny Bench in Boston.

Blake Treinen has pitched pretty well out of the pen, post ASB.

@Sammy - I think Mike Maddux should come rub your shoulder, and whisper sweet nothings through his fingers at you. We'll get you through this, buddy! ;-)

Froggy said...

Sammy-Is it the donkeys or the weenies that are humongous?

I don't necessarily disagree with you and would love to see a game with a bunch if hungry Killer B's in the lineup.

Mythra said...

One week down, 0 change in the lead. 15 days with Stras on DL, I predict the same will be the case. 7-9 game lead on the Fish, and the Mets are done.

Dusty might have to go Davey for a couple days, an A bullpen and B bullpen, to give guys a day off. Today is an A day, tomorrow is a B day.

Rosters expand and you toss some youngsters out to eat innings, and use the BP arms just enough to stay sharp for the October run.

Sammy Kent said...

Well, what do you know? The pitchers do their job tonight, and the batters go on weenie detail. If AJ Cole had laid an egg and the Nats had gotten their clock cleaned it would have been much easier to take than what happened tonight. What a pitiful waste of a gutsy pitching performance. 1 for 9 with men in scoring position, and we lose 4-3. 1 for 9. To quote Marion Barry, make me wanna vomit. Lopez tomorrow. They have to face Roark and Scherzer in our house. That SHOULD bode well for at least a split, but...........

Rob Evans said...

I like Lopez. For some reason, I feel good about him today against Bodymore,Murderland. I'm thinking he shuts them down and the Nats win 6 to 2.

Go Nats!

NotBobby said...

All depends on which Gausman shows up...