Nationals Baseball: Nats Lose but win

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nats Lose but win

Nats lost last night and Gio was Gio. With each terribly maddening and unimpressive start the "Gio Game 1" bandwagon grows.  I now assume he'll start Game 162, give up 5 walks and 4 runs in 3 innings and everyone will agree he should somehow pitch three times against the Dodgers.

I'm not saying Gio starting game 1 is a bad idea. He's going to start anyway. It would be silly not to try to take advantage of the Dodgers splits. Max isn't going 1 and 4. He said as much. Dusty said as much. So either Roark goes 1 and 4 or Gio goes 1 and 4  or, far more likelier, no one does and if no one does, what's it matter if Gio starts G1 or G3?

My big concern is what I have talked about before. With Max or Roark if they start G1 and are terrible you chalk it up to a fluke and use that short outing to bring them back in G4*. Gio doesn't get that benefit of the doubt. If he's terrible then he is done for the series outside maybe an emergency LOOGY situation.  So if Gio goes G1 and is terrible and the Nats make it to G4, you have a situation where you are going to be forced to start Ross/Latos/Cole etc. To make matters worse you'll have no Max or Roark available in emergency. They'll have pitched too recently. 

The idea that the Nats could do a bullpen thing, go with Solis for 2, Rep for 2, Perez for two - throw in a righty when needed - to get to the 7th/8th and the usual closers is a nice idea but too unusual for the playoffs. I just don't see it happening unless forced into it by a terrible start by a normal starter. It's not happening to start a game.

Further, I wonder about the things we can't measure. What does it say to the team when you decide "We're not going with Max Game 1. Kershaw is real good. We're going with Gio and maybe hope to steal one" Maybe you can convince them you'd be doing what is best for the team. Talk about home away splits (Max is better at home - Roark and Gio don't have big splits). Talk about Gio's starts against the Dodgers and how he's never been hit by them (5 starts as a Nat against LA:  32 IP, 20H, 6ER, 12BB, 34K or something close to that I did this quick). Maybe that works. But maybe they see it as giving away a game they can ill afford to lose. Any game in a short series is crucial. This is Dusty's job, to read the team, but I have a suspicion that they'd want to go with their big gun first.

Also I think it's important to remember that all these machinations, they probably don't really matter all that much. The change in the chance to win the series isn't going to be all that great and it's going to be overwhelmed by the simple luck that happens in any short series. Is the starter on his game? Do you get a few seeing-eye hits or bloops in the same inning? That'll be the driving force for winning the series - not idealized pitching match-ups. If you want to go ahead and do it. Maximize your advantage, but don't kid yourself that that is going to be the tipping point because it almost certainly won't be. This isn't like running with Strasburg or shutting him down. It's just shuffling stuff around.

So in the end I like just going with Max G1, Roark G2 (or flip that if you want), Gio G3 and worrying about G4 if and when you get there.  It's like how I feel about planning out how the NLDS rotation leads into the NLCS rotation. You can worry about setting up for the NLCS. I don't. I worry about winning the NLDS then figuring out the NLCS.

Anyway Dodgers lost too and the Nats keep a 2 game lead for HFA which at some point was going to be my point here. There are 4 games left so probably the Nats only need 2 wins to clinch it, maybe even 1. Let's hope the rain holds off and the Nats (and Padres) finish it today.

*Yeah I just said Max wouldn't go G1 and G4. But in this scenario he's going like 3 1/3 in G1.  I think that would change things

28 comments:

cass said...

Who is on the Gio Game 1 bandwagon? Everything I've seen seems to assume it's virtually set in stone as Scherzer/Roark/Gio with Dusty conceding it's obvious even if they won't confirm.

I thought I was the most pro-Gio-vs-Dodgers here and even I said Max G1 and Gio G2 and use Gio in G5 if he was good in G2. Which... I'm not so sure about anymore. Though I think it makes more sense than Roark G2 cause Gio and Max give you maximal options for Game 5 while Roark and Max are both righties. You could even use both Gio and Max in case you had to on G5 and worry about the NLCS when you get there.

Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, but he shouldn't be much better than Scherzer if the game's in Nat's Park. Scherzer is still one of the best pitchers in baseball and has been pitching well.

I might be biased cause I have good seats for Game 1 and I want to see Kershaw vs. Scherzer pretty badly. That also may factor into my staying up late every night to watch the Dodgers counting down our HFA magic number (3!).

In summary, I am sure Baker and Rizzo will go with:
1. Max 2. Roark 3. Gio

I'd probably swallow hard and go with
1. Max 2. Gio 3. Roark

JD said...

I'm just going to hope we get Playoff Kershaw instead of Kershaw Kershaw.

PotomacFan said...

@Cass: It will almost surely be 1. Max, 2. Roark, 3. Gio, 4. Ross, 5. Max. I also have tix to Game 1 and want to see Kershaw v. Scherzer. That said, I would go with Roark in Game 1, Scherzer in Game 2, Gio in Game 3, Ross or Roark in Game 4, and Scherzer in Game 5 (which would be on four days rest). I think Nats will keep Cole and Lopez for long relief, and Melancon, Kelley, Treinen, Solis, Belisle and Zep (LOOGY) for short relief. Petit won't be on the roster, nor will Oliver Perez or Blake Treinen. I really wanted Koda Glover to show well, but he's been terrible after his first few outings.

Harper said...

cass - various media and twitter personae. I think everyone does assume what you say though.

PotomacFan said...

Correction: Blake Treinen will, of course, be on the post-season roster.

G Cracka X said...

Given the Dodgers' weakness against lefties, should they go with three lefties in the 'pen?

If the HFA magic number is 3, then the earliest they could clinch is manana.

Richard Parker said...

Sorry, can't finish it today. A 3-game lead with three left would mean the Dodgers could still finish with the same record -- and they have the tie-breaker.

cass said...

I would go with three lefties in the pen. Zep, Solis, and Burnett? I'd like to see Burnett get more reps, to be honest.

Froggy said...

Harper~
Since it is highly probably that we see Kershaw in game 1, who do you think the Dodgers pitch in games 2-5?

Other than the satisfaction as a fan to watch a Kershaw / Scherzer matchup, I also think it make more sense to go with Roark in game 1 and 'steal one' like you say.

Also, what about using Sammy Solis as a starter?

Anonymous said...

@Froggy - the dodgers said they are going Kershaw - hill - maeda and then tbd for game 4 but will probably be kershaw on short rest

Jay said...

I agree that it's probably not that big of a deal. Gio has been a hot mess in the playoffs and there is no way I pitch him game 1. Maybe game 2 if it's in DC bc maybe he'd do better in front of the home crowd. Having said that, do you really want to rely on Gio to keep us from going down 0-2 if Kershaw and the Dodgers beat the Nats in game 1? Also, word on the street Murphy is out for the rest of the year. Harper isn't playing again today. I think the NLDS is more likely to come down to if Murphy and Harper can play, and if so do they play up to their capabilities. No Murphy or Harper and the Nats would be lucky to win 1 game. Michael A Taylor is starting today - yikes.

Is Murphy's injury secondary to overuse bc Drew was out for so long?? Diff and Turner could both play 2b, so my rational side says no. My irrational fan side says - it has to be somebody's fault and blame Dusty...

Rob Evans said...

I'm not sure which Nat drive me crazier, Gio or Zim. They both make me want to pull my hair our with their performances this year.

Anonymous said...

Will there be a Game 4 and/or Game 5?

Harper said...

GCX - RP : you can worry about the double sweep ending in tie if the Nats win and Dodgers lose today. I won't consider that a serious possibility, especially with Giants fighting for playoff lives.

Froggy / Anon - I bet it'll be McCarthy if LA leads 2-1, Kershaw if down.

Jay - nah not overuse. He's a guy recently that gets some dings. The timing is just bad.

Is he out for year... I wouldn't be surprised. But he'll have plenty of rest. I expect Bryce tomorrow. If you don't get him - worry.

Rob Evans - Gio bc there isn't an easy reason to point to like their is with Zimm and injuries.




Harper said...

Anon @ 10:26 - I'll say yes to 4, no to 5.

ClassOf87 said...


Have seen/read/heard nothing from "the street" or otherwise that Murphy is out for the season. Baker said concretely the other day that Murphy would play in the DS. Only question is whether he'll play in any of the last three RS games this weekend. As far as DS rotation, you have to go with Max/Roark in 1-2. You cannot not pitch your two best guys to open a five-game series. How could you possibly explain you didn't give your team the best chance to take a 2-0 lead or, at the least, avoid an 0-2 hole going to L.A.? It's also the only way you can assure that Max would be available for potential G5. If they put ANYONE other than Max on the hill for a deciding game at home to get to the NLCS, all of them would be, and should be, crushed for dereliction.

Richard Parker said...

Last I heard was that Murphy's next scheduled game is October 7. Dusty also wants to play an intra-squad "scrimmage" between the end of the season and the beginning of the playoffs, Murph included.

I don't think I've ever heard the word "buttocks" take on such prominence since Forrest Gump.

Looks like the HFA magic number will soon be two. Is it too late to make Reynaldo Lopez our Game 1 starter?

Richard Parker said...

Okay, one little glitch there at the end, but he's still been looking pretty good (I was kidding about starting Game 1).

Mythra said...

I doubt you'll see either Harper or Murphy until the rains stop. No way they run them out on a muddy or wet field to risk an injury. Not to mention, the weather gives Dusty and Rizzo and excuse to plant Harper on the bench and milk a few days of healing to make sure his hand and neck/shoulder are better.

Difo got his first MLB dinger today and the AAA guys got some good bats in (MAT got 3 hits, even.) If Rendon and Turner can go into the NLDS doing what they are now, and we see an appearance of October Bryce and 2016 Murphy, things could get pretty interesting.

Was listening to Charlie and Dave, and Ross seemed to have his good stuff today. Even almost legged out an infield hit. Gio may not have that 3rd spot locked up.

Ole PBN said...

But what if Max or Roark aren't terrible. Give you 7 solid innings and we lose 3-1 to Kershaw in game 1? Then what? Throw Gio in game 1, if we win - hell yes! If we lose, at lease we have 2 bullets in the chamber. Otherwise we have.... Gio. In a possible 1-0 or down 2-0 in the series. No thanks.

Harper said...

Ole PBN - the ol' "What if?' game. I'll play. What if you put Gio out G1 and Kershaw is off his game but Gio blows it and the Nats lose 7-5? You got your two bullets sure, but I'll trade all the bullets in the chamber for the one in the body.

Mythra said...

It's the playoffs. You throw Max against Kershaw. Remember, Max is in the same conversation for Cy Young as Kershaw this year. The Dodgers will be trying to hit a Max as much as we're trying to hit Kershaw. Fire your best shot. See what happens. Nats Park will be loud and filled with screaming fans in red. That's got to help Max.

Jay said...

Big win today. Sorry about the "word on the street" comment. That is my code for according to various sources on twitter. Dusty said today that Murphy won't play this weekend. He is hoping that he can play in the intrasquad game they play sometime next Tuesday or Wednesday as a warm up for the playoffs next Friday. My rest of the year comment was meant to mean the - the rest of the regular season. I worry that both Harper and Murphy haven't played in a while now and that if they play in the playoffs that they will be a shell of their former selves ala R Zimmerman style. Having stated that, we'll have to wait and see. It's amazing how different things look now versus September 7 when Strasburg was throwing 97 in that first inning. Ross was on his way back and things were looking great. Amazing how things can change in 3 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Looking through this blog, not a single post about Jose Fernandez. Stay classy, douchebags.

Fries said...

@anon

uhhhhh what? We all talked about Jose earlier in the week. Do you expect us to grieve daily until they announce a Jose Fernandez Spirit Award? It's undoubtedly a tragedy to the game, but how does not bringing him up in the comments section of a Nationals blog equate to being "douchebags"...?

As for what's relevant to the rest of the comments, I'm actually starting to feel okay with the team right now. Yeah there are the injuries, but the B and C squad are showing some flashes of brilliance. Dusty is going to have options and that makes me much less worried about poor decisions in a close game.

Alan Wiecking said...

I would take the Scherzer/Roark combo over anybody right now, Gio as a third is fine against the Dodgers (probably not beyond that) and Ross sure looks like he would be good for 4-5 innings in Game 4, if necessary and (I can't believe I'm saying this) I trust the Nat's bullpen beyond that.
Career in the playoffs? Scherzer 62.2/3.73/1.13 WHIP versus Kershaw 64.2/4.59/1.16

Chaos

Anonymous said...

@ Jay

Its really not amazing. It's called, "DC Sports."

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