Nationals Baseball: G5 Morning Post

Thursday, October 13, 2016

G5 Morning Post

Here we are. Staring at the most important game in Nationals history.

It's true that it's not the most important game in the history of DC baseball. The Senators won World Series! But the last time they were in it was 1933 and they barely were in the playoff picture after that. Twist my arm and I'd say you could make an argument for the double header the end of the season in 1945 season being as important as this game because if they won both they could have set themselves up to go to the World Series but the Tigers played three games after than and controlled their destiny*. So it's not quite the same. Senators/Rangers didn't come close to playoffs. So we're arguing at best there was a bigger game played in DC baseball history 83 years ago, at worst 71?

It's true that it's not the most important game in franchise history. That was G5 of the 1981 NLCS but there isn't anybody in DC who cares about the strict interpretation of the franchise and I'm not going to argue that they should.

It definitely eclipses the games in 2014, and surpasses the previous "most important game in Nationals history" G5 of the 2012 NLDS because that game was not as team defining. The feeling after that game, other than devastation about how it went down, was that the Nats were a young team that just got their playoff experience and that they'd be back. It was a tough loss but no one was ready to give the Nats a label just yet.

So again here we are.

A win changes everything surrounding the team in terms of its impression of itself. A win makes Dusty a DC legend of sorts.

A loss cements the Nats and Dusty as chokers in the national consciousness, until they are not.

Fair or unfair as it is (pretty unfair in my opinion), this is where things stand.

The Nats should win tonight. It should be fairly easy. The Nats bats should continue to do better than the Dodgers bats. Max shouldn't give up more than a couple runs. Rich Hill should not pitch much better than last time, given he's on short rest. The Nats bullpen should be a little more rested than the Dodgers. The Nats shouldn't end up getting 2 DPs that completely erase the trouble Hill got into.

But should is should. Max should give up a couple runs instead of none, given his pitching lately and the match-up. Lobaton should do something other than hit a 3-run homerun. The Nats should still strike out a bunch, as Hill has been doing exactly that since coming back.

Not all "should"s end up being "did"s and if the wrong ones go against you that's all that matters.

Ok here we go. See you at game time!

*As you can guess the Tigers did what they needed to and went on to the Series. They needed to win the last game to avoid a 1-game playoff with Washington. They were down 3-2 heading into the top of the 9th and Hank Greenberg hit a grand slam. That's big time baseball right there.


cass said...

Not sure this is bigger than 2012 NLDS Game 5. But perhaps that's just cause I don't care very much about media narratives?

2012 felt like a magical year. The Nationals weren't supposed to win. Could have gone all the way. Felt like anything was possible. Counting down the outs till the NLCS. Coming off the Werth home run in Game 5, the barrage of offense early in the game reinforced the notion the Nationals were going to start a dynasty. And then it all slipped away.

Now the Nats are just another team. A good team trying to prove they're the best, but it's not the same as 2012. You can see that in the ticket prices - they sold for double or triple back then on the secondary market for that pivotal game, now they're less than face value. There is much less excitement. Part of that is Metro but not all. I think 2012 Game 5 was objectively significantly bigger than today.

Kenny B. said...

I posted this on the last post a little while ago, but curious to hear thoughts from the commenters/host:

"Thought: do you consider using Roark out of the pen if needed? I would imagine not, since the bullpen has been solid, but Dusty did that back before the All-Star Break just to drive home the point against the Mets. But of course that really throws off your rotation for the NLCS if you get there, and it's probably unnecessary given the aforementioned bullpen performance."

cass said...

Just to emphasize the point, I made 50 or 60 bucks selling my extra ticket for Game 5 in 2012. This year I lost money. This seems to represent a very diminished enthusiasm for this game. Subjectively, it feels like fewer people are into the Nats around town. Less excitement.

I cannot see how this is a bigger game. Certainly doesn't seem to be in DC.


How about Gio? It should be his bullpen day, shouldn't it? Getting an extra lefty reliever seems like it might be a good idea. Additionally, if we use Roark and Ross against the Cubs for Games 1 and 2, we can just use Gio as much as we want tonight. The Dodgers can't hit lefties. I wouldn't waste Roark tonight against them.

W. Patterson said...

I'm just bummed that I'll be a zombie at work tomorrow if this sucker goes until 1 AM. Of course, if Baez comes in for only one batter . . .

PotomacFan said...

I fully expect the Nats to have Gio ready to go tonight. It's his bullpen day. If Scherzer fades early (let's hope not), the Nats are going to throw ALL of their lefties, including Gio, against the Dodgers. However, I expect that Gio would only be used to start an inning. I'd be very worried about bringing him in during the middle of an inning, and especially if someone is on base.

Note that Max looked pretty bad throwing out of the stretch in Game 1. Hopefully, he doesn't have to do that too often.

I would be very surprised to see Roark tonight. He's not a strikeout pitcher. He's not as good as Kelley or Treinen. (Utley hit a pretty good pitch, so I'm not throwing Treinen overboard yet.) He's not a lefty. And he's not well rested.

Strasburger said...

Haven't posted in months, because I've been so up and down over this team, and busy. Certainly not a reflection of your posts, Harp.

Please, please, please come through tonight, Nats.

Please take the ball the other way and stop trying to pull it, Bryce.

Please be a bulldog tonight, Max.

Please get on base, Trea.

Please don't make this necessary, but continue to be clutch, Murph and Jayson.

I'm going tonight, hope a bunch of you other true fans are. Fingers crossed. I want the Cubs.

Harper said...

cass - there was magic in 2012 certainly. It captured the minds and hearts of DC in a way that it would be hard for a team to do now without a long absence. Maybe with 110+ wins or something. But that doesn't make it more important, it just reflects the shifting expectations of the fanbase. And still that kind of plays to my point. In 2012 getting to the NLCS was a big thing that people would be excited by it, in 2016 it's not enough. The stakes have been raised.

Kenny B - Yes I do but it's hard to imagine the scenario that would lead to it. You are talking like a 14+ inning game or perhaps if Max gets injured early in the 1st/2nd inning. If Max falters at a more typical early spot you start to do the bullpen 2IP a piece thing, maybe starting with Gio.

WPatterson - Take a nap now!

Zimmerman11 said...

I was 5, but remember 1981. This game is more important to me than those were.

pedrocerrano said...

When advance to the World Series, will we be able to DH for our shortstop in games 1&2 and have our pitchers hit? Is that legal?

elchupinazo said...

@pedrocerrano It's certainly legal, we would just be the only team in recent memory where it might be advisable!

Ryan said...

haha no it's not, our pitcher could hit but there would be no DH and the shortstop would still be in the lineup

I feel good about Scherzer tonight, go Nats!

W. Patterson said...

@Harper - I'd like to take a nap! Alas, my boss frowns on it and I'm supposed to set an example for the next generation.

Alan Wiecking said...

I'd vote for 2012. I was at the game where they clinched (and Teddy finally won) and have never been at a DC event like it--not the George Allen Redskins making the playoffs, not the "bandwagon" days of the Joe Gibbs 'Skins, none of it. The clinching game in 2012 was a non-stop party. The next week, the atmosphere in the park that first playoff game was a "we finally made it" kind of place.......of course, then they actually played the game. Same with Game 5 in 2012. But win this game tonight and we're way past 2012.

Chaos............gonna be a rough 6 hours before they pitch

Strasburger said...

I wish I could drink at work. I'm already getting terrible Anxiety.

Mythra said...

There is one good thing when your boss is a season ticket holder. He looks at the beer fridge in the office with the same longing looks that you do, while counting down the time for first pitch. I'll be watching from home, should I ever make it out of the city at 6pm to the NOVA burbs.

I'm actually feeling oddly calm. It's either that or the BP meds are working overtime. Have the whole routine down for tonight. Nathan's hot dogs and half smokes for the grill, cold beer in the fridge. Game day at home.

JE34 said...

I remember Rick Monday's big homerun in 1981... (I was a 9 yr old Dodger fan.)

As for fan enthusiasm, in 2012 the buzz was certainly palpable at clinch time, and after the Werth homer of course. I wouldn't expect fan buzz to be that high now... baseball playoffs were new to DC, and casual fan interest is higher in those situations.

I'm a nervous wreck already. (MOVE FASTER, CLOCK.)

@KennyB -- I wouldn't use Roark tonight regardless. Using lefties as much as possible is paramount if Max gets into trouble.

@Strasburger -- everything you said... in both posts!

Kenny B. said...

I thought about Gio, but he's on shorter rest and he has been a little less "automatic" than Roark, so despite being a lefty, he seems like a bigger gamble to me, especially on short rest. And he just seems like a guy who would struggle if pulled out of his usual routine.

Either way, let's hope it doesn't come to that. Let's see Max go 8 with 15 Ks and hand the ball to Melancon in a double-digit laugher. Or, you know, just not be losing after the first inning.

Wish I could be there. I was there with my 3-year-old son at game 2, which may also partially account for my Roark bias.

For my part, I will spend the remainder of the time left before the game in solemn prayer to the eternally capricious Baseball Gods.

Josh Higham said...

I had a job interview today, which was almost enough to distract me from my intense stress about tonight. Of course, instead I was just stressed about getting the job and about the game simultaneously and maybe almost had an aneurism. Hard to say.

Robot said...


Anonymous said...

- how well the lefties in the bullpen have pitched
- how mediocre Gio pitched in game 3
- Gio's non superlative playoff performances prior
- the bullpen has had a day off
- Gio hasn't had 4 days of rest

I don't see a need or advantage to bringing him in Gio tonight.