Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : Weekend in reveiw.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Quickie : Weekend in reveiw.

While you were off doing whatever it is you do on the weekend the Nats lost a series to the Braves, and the Mets swept the Twins. Fortunately this late in the year, that does little but push back the clinching date* and give the Dodgers a reason to check the HFA standings after they are done with this Giants series. For Joe Q Fan, now you are far more likely to see a NL East clinch in person if you grab one of the first couple games versus the D-Backs. So maybe do that!

For the Nats, the story of the weekend was Trea Turner - who bashed 3 homers in the first two games and who sits with a .355 / .377 / .590 line right now.  The only downside? Trea doesn't get to face the Braves again. He's hitting .475 / .492 / 1.424 against Atlanta. He his them so well that before this weekend he already had more of his HRs against Atlanta than any other team.  Is he as good as Mike Trout as Ray Knight suggests? Well in Mike Trout's second season he hit .326 / .399 / .564 for the year. That's right about what Trea is doing. Except that was a full year. Oh and Mike Trout was 20-21 that year. And he played GG defense in center. "But Trea steals bases and hits triples. Did he steal bases and hit triples?", you ask. Yes, yes he did. 49SBs and eight triples. So.... no, Trea isn't Trout. But if Trea can be say 90% Trout? Take it and run with it. 90% Trout is still a HOFer.

The second story is Joe Ross is back! And in limited time he was... alright, I guess! He got into trouble, but worked out of it. Given that it was his first outing back I'm not going to read much into it. Really all I was looking for was "not terrible" and he cleared that low bar easily. Let's see how he does in 5 days going 5 innings or so. If he's let's say... "fair" or better then we are moving along nicely. It may not mean he pitches in the playoffs but it means the Nats will start to have that as an option and the more options the better. Because...

The third story was Gio struggled. This isn't itself that surprising. Gio is who he is. A decent pitcher who's a little inconsistent and can toss out too short outings at the drop of a hat. The thing is he had been pitching better recently. That gave Nats fans this idea that if he just rolled through his last few starts against middling competition, that putting him out there in the NLDS versus the Dodgers would be an obvious move. The Dodgers do struggle against LHP. However a game like this puts doubt back. 2016 Gio can deliver a stinker anytime and anyplace. Is that who you want on the mound in a short series even with a distince platoon advantage?

How did the offense do otherwise? Well the Nats crushed John Gant on Friday scoring five in an inning and 2/3rds. Great start! They would go on to score only 7 more runs in the next 25 and a third. Bad finish. Murphy keeps hitting and Werth had an ok series 4-13 with a double. Pretty much everyone else continues to be stuck in a rut.  If you're looking for good news, no one started more than one game and went 0-fer weekend.  If you're looking for bad news, well just look at the arms the Braves tossed out there this weekend. No good excuse why they didn't score more or at least hit more.

In other pitching news, Max helped his Cy Young case (a little) with a very good but not dominant outing. (For those on the Cy Max bandwagon tonight's a big night. Syndergaard, Bumgarner and Kershaw all go).  Relief wise only Gott pitched more than once as Dusty saves up the arms. The kids you were hoping would play the role of unstoppable rookie fire-ballers in the playoffs, Lopez and Glover, both didn't do well. Rep also had a rough outing but he's not going to be used to face righties in the playoffs (one would think). Yeah Freeman got a big hit but that was 4 batters in. Rep shouldn't be going 4 batters in in the playoffs. That's not his role.


Tonight's games of choice BOS @ BAL - can Baltimore keep the division race interesting or will Boston get the separation it wants to set up for the playoffs?; SF @ LAD - Like BOS/BAL but higher stakes. SF is fighting for its playoff life as much as the division, LA could all but end the West race with a sweep. TOR @ SEA - two teams travelling in opposite directions but the Blue Jays still have a two-game edge. The Blue Jays could fortify their position with a series win. Seattle (2 out) really needs it to keep playoff hopes up. Detroit (2), Houston (3), New York (4), and KC (5) all take on the lower half of the AL in the mad dash to a Wild Card.

*when would we talk collapse? I suppose if the Nats lost 5 in a row and the Mets won 5 in a row, you could bring that up.

31 comments:

G Cracka X said...

Gio didn't do great, but he was also a victim of bad sequencing. Even after that start, in which he struck out 7 in less than 5 innings, gave up no walks, and only 1 XBH (a double), his FIP is still just .12 higher than Tanner Roark, whose ERA is almost 2 runs better. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Gio is probably better than 4.48 ERA and Tanner is somewhat worse than a 2.75. I guess you would have to look at their respective Batted Ball profiles to determine how much to weight their current numbers for an overall rating of their 2016 season. WAR probably does a good job of that: Gio's at 2.7 fWAR and Tanner's at 3.2. A noticeable difference, but not a huge difference (compare to Max at 5.6!)

Anonymous said...

About this weekend in Atlanta...[insert Sammy Kent comment regarding offense]

John C. said...

Gio got ferociously BABIP'd in his game against the Braves (who had a much better BABIP weekend than the Nats did). He gave up the leadoff double to Inciarte - which was the only batted ball he gave up >88mph. Despite not getting particularly hard hit, he gave up nine hits on 15 balls in play (he got 13 outs, but seven of those 13 were via strikeout). A .600 BABIP off of mediocre contact? C'mon, man - that is simply luck (bad for the pitcher, good for the hitters).

To sum up, Gio threw 88 pitches, 58 strikes. He struck out seven in 4 1/3 innings and walked none, and hit a batter. After the leadoff batter, no one hit the ball hard at all. Great peripherals, but lousy results (nine hits, six R/ER). Oh, and the bullpen let in two of his baserunners to add insult to injury.

Robot said...

Bryce must be saving all of his home runs for the NLDS. Wouldn't want to use them up ahead of time on games that barely matter.

Ramos, too.

::muttering:: please please please be the case...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Bryce, what in Sam Hill is he doing playing Little League depth in the outfield for every batter? Being hurt might be able to explain his plate struggles, but they can't explain this.

And Dusty implied that he's doing this all on his own. WHAT?? This is insane. For all the greatness he showed last year, Bryce remains inconsistent, immature, and unwilling to listen to others.

It's time to reel him in. He is NOT bigger than the team, no matter what he may think.

John C. said...

Oh, and happy birthday, Gio! He turned 31 today. In terms of "the regression that we've witnessed" with Gio, his peripherals have been remarkably consistent other than his career year in 2012. His K/9 is 8.64, basically his career mark (8.8). His BB/9 (2.89) is better than his career average (3.73) and is in fact the best of his career. His GB% (46.5%) is basically his career average (47.5%). His hard contact is up a bit (33%, up from 27.7%), but he had not exhibited any significant change in that before. His swinging strike rate (9.4%) is essentially unchanged from his career rate (9.5%). Gio is who he is, and pretty much who he has always been. His fastball is a few ticks slower, but Gio has compensated by making his changeup a weapon, particularly against RH batters. As a result he has continued to be solid, putting up 3+ fWAR every year (he's at 2.7 so far this year, probably with three more starts to go) for the past six, soon to be seven, seasons. bWAR calculates differently, but even so Gio has averaged 2.88 bWAR over those seasons even if you don't count 2012.

More importantly the Dodgers also lost yesterday, so the Nats' held their four game lead over the Dodgers for home field advantage in the NLDS.

Carl said...

FWIW, the Marlins were eliminated from division title contention this weekend. Meanlingless? Mostly, sure. But I hate those fishy bastards, so, good.

The Nats + the Mets' opponents need to go 6-20 to give the Nats the division. That's a .231 winning percentage. I still think they'll get there.

Fries said...

I'm not concerned about the division, nor should anybody else really. I'm also not super concerned about pitching because anything can happen in a small sample size BUT given the level of talent in our rotation/bullpen, it's more likely than not that they'll perform well enough to win.

The offense though...it ain't pretty. Bryce NEEDS to figure his swing out, his hips are flying open more than a lady of the night in his hometown Vegas. Rendon/Werth/Murphy I'm not too concerned about given the level of consistency. Everyone is still on the Turner Trean (which is how it should be). But Ramos needs to snap his funk, and for the love of God please move Zimm to first off the bench and stick Murph out there. I really don't care how you shuffle it, but almost anybody would be better than Zimm right now. Get healthy, try again next year.

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


I just can't wait until the Nats clinch so we can stop talking about the chances of them not clinching. I was content with calling it when Harper did, which was around a Month ago.
Though to tell the truth, I'm constantly going through the numbers in my head anyways, so I'm still guilty of over-worrying.

Hopefully we can get a decent Joe Ross for the post season. The starting pitching is worrying me more than the offense at this point.

@Harper re:Yankees how was that for soul crushing :'(

G Cracka X said...

@John C Exactly!

Chas R said...

I agree with JD... please end it! I can't help but obsess even though I know better...

Josh Higham said...

On Bryce: I'm a bit perplexed. It almost feels like he thinks his swing will sort itself out if he tries to be the RF reincarnation of Ken Griffey Jr. I'm no expert in body language, baseball, or poutiness, but it sure looks to me like he's just angry about everything and thinks all his problems will sort themselves out if he is stubborn enough.

If I'm the Nats, watching him struggle and seemingly get unproductively angry about it makes me extremely hesitant to offer him anything like the contract he wants. As much as I love the guy, I'm getting ready to say the Yanks can have him if they're willing to give him the contract he wants but doesn't seem to deserve.

Harper said...

JD - amazingly I'd still give them a chance - though at this point it's definitely "Sweep - see where you stand" and repeat as long as necessary. I'm ready to write them off (and KC) completely with the next loss.

Froggy said...

I really don't think Bryce is so bad we need to ADVOCATE letting the Jankees have him. Yeah he is having a subpar year (for BRYCE) but let's remember that this is his 5th season. He has over 105 BB and 19 IBB (leading the majors?), and his OBP is better than any previous year other than his MVP year.

Robot said...

@Josh Higham: Whoa, buddy, let's not say things we can't take back. He's having a relatively down year, but he's still posting a .822 OPS, with 20+ in both HRs and SBs. And we've seen what he's capable of when he's at the top of his game. And he's 23 years old.

Chas R said...

Totally agree with Froggy and Robot- Bryce is having a 20/20 year and has 3.6 fWAR. Even in what is considered a "bad" year for Bryce, these are good numbers. Some players have this numbers as their professional goals.

Harper said...

The problem with Bryce is how do you replace him if he leaves. You're talking about a guy who in an off year is a Top 50ish type player. Those aren't available en masse every off-season, especially not at an age where a 7+ of similar performance would not be unreasonable. You'll likely have to make your own lesser overpay for a guy also far less likely to be productive for the entirity of his contract, or go with someone less productive that you hope gives you a lucky year.

(also - come on, he's injured, right? Isn't that where the smart money is?) Sometimes that works (SPAN!) sometimes it doesn't (REVERE!)

Josh Higham said...

I'm not saying I want him gone, but I don't see the Nats throwing down anything close to player of the century money, which as of last offseason he clearly expected. I'd be thrilled to give him Giancarlo's contract. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see him signing for anything with a precedent.

I'm never gonna advocate giving him away or whatever, but last year he was a "keep at any cost" kind of guy. This year, he's a "Good piece. Glad he's under contract" guy. Moving forward, assuming better health (should we, though? if he is indeed hurt this year, that's a lot of hurt in 5 youthful seasons), I think he projects to be a "try hard to keep him, but no bidding wars" kind of player.

If he had stayed at last year's level, overpaying substantially was probably gonna be the only way to keep him, and looking at this year and last (decent confidence bounds for expected performance moving forward), overpaying for more than a decade doesn't seem smart.

BxJaycobb said...

@Josh and @Anon: apologies I kind of forgot which of you made which Bryce comments, but: uh, guys. He has a shoulder injury and is playing through it. Like...its not even a matter of "smart money." Tom Verducci reported he's been playing without shoulder pain since late May. He can't even swing hard. He winces when he swings and misses a pitch. When he connects perfectly it goes like 340 feet. There is one reason the exit velocity of a 23 year old plummets and his SLG% drops 200 points: hurt. Let's take it easy on somebody who isn't grinning like an idiot when he's probably in pain and playing through it because a hurt Bryce sapped of power is still an All-Star level player. (Yes, that's what 24 HR, 21 SB, .380 OBP is...) I have to say, I've been pretty amazed by how insanely short folks memory is (I'm not even necessarily talking about you guys so much as commentators around baseball who have now decided that Mookie Betts and like Jose Altuve are clearly better baseball players than Bryce Harper. This guy had the best non steroid season in like a half century last year. Murphy was really good this year right? Bryce was worth two of him (10 vs 5-ish WAR). At age 22. Let's take the whole "injury concern" thing. He has accumulated 20 WAR in his age 19-23 seasons. Do you know how rare that is? There are probably like 5 guys in baseball history. That's essentially averaging a borderline Hall of Fame year at ages when most STARS are in the minors. I find that recency bias these days has never been more insane. Trea Turner is a great example. Mike Trout? Is Ray Knight on drugs? Trea Turner is a super exciting player. If he hit like .300/.350/.450 with 15 homers and 40 SB a year and played solid defense in CF that would be AWESOME. But good god. This is not Willie Mays. And Bryce Harper is not Joc Pederson. It's just what they seem like this second. You really want to give away a guy who will quite possibly finish his career as the best left handed hitter of his generation because you don't like his body language and outfield positioning? Goodness gracious.

Sammy Kent said...

Let's just hope we can put some hits together and produce some runs against Fernandez. We're three-fifths of the way to panic mode except the Mets lose to the Braves, who just keep winning.

NotBobby said...

amazing article. Basically Rendon, Trout and Lucroy are only player above average at EVERYTHING.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/anthony-rendon-is-no-mike-trout-but/

Froggy said...

So, Max, Roark, AJ Cole, Gio, and Ross appears to be the rotation (or some form of it).

Doom

Fries said...

@Froggy

Max, Roark, and Cole I'm not too concerned about. Cole has consistently given the team a good enough outing to win, it's not his fault the bats aren't doing him any justice. Gio has to be the 4th guy for the fact that he's a lefty. Everyone points out his "terrible" last outing, but all in all it wasn't actually THAT bad, he got screwed by a couple of softly hit balls and then the bullpen not bailing him out. And Ross was promising in his very first start back, so I have to think the rotation will be fine, not exactly "doom"

Sammy Kent said...

My rotation for the division series would be Max, Tanner, Gio, and Joe with Max pitching Game 5 if it goes five. If we should advance, obviously Max would go Game 1 in my world if he didn't pitch Game 5 of the NLDS. If he did, then I'd use Tanner in Game 1 and put Max in at the first available start on his normal rest (probably Game 4). I honestly don't know if my fifth starter would be A.J. Cole or Mat Latos at this point. I think it's a good problem for Dusty to have, as they are both capable of pitching us into a position to win. You just don't want to pick the wrong one.

Of course if we're all fooled and Stras comes back somehow, that would change everything.

Right now I'll settle for a win in a single game: the one tonight.

Froggy said...

Fries ~
Problem is we look at the pitching performances (Cole, Gio, Ross...) from a regular season optic where there is the always 'another game' in the series. For example, people aren't loosing their minds because we lost the series with Atlanta because it is meaningless nor are they upset with Cole's performance because "Cole has consistently given the team a good enough outing to win, it's not his fault the bats aren't doing him any justice", even though this is how Cole pitches every game. He is not a dominant, shut-down guy. He has a middling fastball and location issues. Against Miami, Philly, or Atlanta it doesn't mean much, but get into a must win 5 game series against the Dodgers or Cards or Giants and it matters a whole lot.

Max or Roark will give you enough of a chance to overcome subpar hitting. Cole, Gio and Ross MIGHT give you 4 innings of 2-5 runs minimum, and Latos is a complete bust.

Ok, so not DOOM...maybe more like whatever is just less than small caps doom....regardless, it means in a 5 game set Max and Roark MUST win their games and we hope we get a W in the other three opportunities.

Josh Higham said...

Back of the rotation pitching is a bit of a problem. Like Harper keeps reminding us, the offense isn't a problem now, but it will be if it remains like this through the end of the season and into the playoffs. It's worth remembering that the Orioles look like a playoff team in spite of their starters typically providing between 0 and 2 decent starts a week all season. The Nats have two great or borderline great starting pitchers but they're unlikely to matter if the offense doesn't click some. They have about 5 mediocre starting pitchers who are plenty good to win, even against a better pitcher, if several of the Nats many potentially very good bats heat up. The plan was always "go into the playoffs with consistently good pitching, hope the offense can score 3-5 runs at least 3 times in the NLDS." The plan is basically the same now, although it's iffier than we hoped, now that Ross is probably a bit rusty/limited and Stras is hurt.

Froggy said...

I don't see how people keep saying the offense 'isnt a problem right now' when other than TT, Werth and Rendon, (and Espinosa running into one every two weeks) there isn't any offense.

Just being a realist here.

Josh Higham said...

@Froggy it isn't a problem right now, because the Nats don't need offense. They can play .500 ball and probably still get HFA in the NLDS. "Right now" is the key phrase. They've had hot stretches before, and have the potential to have one again. If they don't, the season's over. If they do, they have a reasonable shot at the WS. That's what we mean when we say it isn't a problem now. Like Harper keeps saying, if they don't heat up by the last week of the season, worry (or despair, more realistically).

Froggy said...

Josh,
Isn't your 'Nats don't need offense' explanation akin to saying an Army that can't shoot doesn't have a problem as long as no one is shooting at them?

Also, hoping the Nats 'heat up by the last week of the season' is not a good strategy.

BTW, the last week of the season starts next Monday.

Josh Higham said...

Froggy, sure. I admit it's not a good strategy, but I don't see what is to be gained by worrying about it. The only move that seems likely to do much of anything is to bench Zimm and play Drew at second, but now we have a grand total of zero bench players who are likely to do anything as pinch hitters (Heisey has 9 hr, yes, but those are 1/3 of his hits total). All we can do is wait and hope that things heat up and fast. Robinson or Difo to replace Zimm are marginal upgrades at best.