Nationals Baseball: What is there to say?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What is there to say?

Not as gutting as 2012.

Not as infuriating as 2014.

But in the end, same result.

Should have won this game. Scherzer wasn't on the top of his game but he had enough big pitches and got enough breaks to get the Nats to one out in the 7th with their opponent scoring only one run. The Nats should have been winning by more at that point. They were not. After that the Max vs whoever advantage was lost and it came down to the pens and the Dodgers arms and moves were better than the Nats.

Sigh. Well do what you need to. Vent. Swear. Get it out. I'll be back tomorrow as usual.


Dave said...

You say they choked.

The pen pitched like they were scared tonight.

The offense was as putrid as we knew they were a lot during the season. Huge zeros in that batting order. Too may.

Henley is not good at his assignment at 3rd. He is clueless too many times.He should watch the replay to realize how stupid he looked. It isn't the first time this season though.

These guys weren't going anywhere against the Cubs, so this failure just saves us a week delay before we see them slink out to go golfing.

So now we get to see our closer most likely leave, our freshly signed #1a pitcher try to become healthy and remain that way for longer than a portion of the season (for once), our catcher recover AGAIN from a serious injury, more age added to the old guys and more decline from Glass Jaw Gio. Splendid.

Sammy Kent said...

The Dodgers are better than us BECAUSE they don't shoot themselves in the foot. Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Anthony Rendon failed repeatedly to deliver the clutch timely hits needed to win this game. Rick Schu needs to go. And I will believe to my dying breath that leaving Sean Burnette off the roster cost us the series. We needed him badly both Tuesday and tonight. Against the Dodgers you throw every lefty you have. If he had been in the pen Tuesday there probably wouldn't have been a tonight. No excuse for taking Taylor and leaving off Burnette.

Rizzo gets to hide behind Strasburg and Ramos for another year.

Froggy said...

Really was one of the greatest games I've ever seen. Definitely the best in person. Heroic performance by the Dodgers and Jansen and Kershaw in particular.

But, Bob 'Windmill' Henley really should do the honorable thing and retire. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Your tears are so delicious. Go Cubs GOOOO!

BornInDC said...

I agree with Sammy Kent about taking Taylor and leaving off Burnette. With Ramos gone and the way Espinosa had been batting going into the series, the Nats could never afford to have him come to bat; just too many auto-outs in the line-up.

On the other hand, the top of the line-up other than Rendon did a good job of getting on-based during the series:

Turner: 318/333/318 (not a great slugging/OPS number, but with him, it was important for him to just get on and when he did get on, he scored almost every time.

Harper: 235/458/294

Werth 389/522/667

Murphy 438/545/438

Zimmerman 353/450/471 (And who predicted Zimmerman doing anything like this before the series?)

I just think the injuries to Strasburg, Ramos, Ross and the probable injury to Harper (his HR production dropped off a cliff in the 2nd half of the year) finally caught up with the Nats and they still nearly won this series.

With the injuries to Strasburg and Ross, the Nats felt short of starting pitching the whole series. And Game 5 was exemplary in this respect: the Dodgers had the luxury of using 3 starting pitchers in the game while the Nats used just 1 and I think by Game 5 there was a lot more reason to trust the bullpen than the Nats' starters other than Scherzer. With Strasburg out, the Nats needed one of the other starters to step up and pitch lights out, like Detwiler did in 2012 and that just did not happen.

Even if the Nats had won this series, I think they would have been beaten by the Cubs in 4 or 5 games. Scherzer would not have been available until game 3 so the Nats would have been looking at Roark and Gio in Games 1 and 2.

Of the three NLDS for the Nats, this is the first time it felt like the Nats were potentially outmatched in terms of starting pitching and starting pitching is normally the Nats' big edge as a team.

Max David said...

With the injuries to Ramos & Stras and Ross pitching a potential game 4 I didn't have any expectations for them this year. I figured they'd lose to the Dodgers, but had no chance against the Cubs, so this just delayed the inevitable by a week, so I'm not as frustrated as I was after 2014, but still sucks none-the-less.

The single biggest difference in the game was the horrific send by Henley. They probably don't score anyways with strikeout Espi coming up, but you could've brought Scherzer and or the bullpen a couple extra minutes, and maybe that's the difference. IIRC, Werth had a pretty long AB in drawing a walk, but the other 3 batters that inning (Murph, Rendon, & Zim) went down pretty quickly if I recall. Rendon popped up on the first pitch of the AB, the Zim double was on the 3rd pitch of the AB, and I think Murphy only saw 3 or 4 in his plate appearance that inning.

cass said...


All the key points will be analyzed a million times tonight and tomorrow and for a few weeks or maybe years. Brutal game. It was like the epitome of the whole series - every single moment is life or death, no lead is safe, always close, always edge-of-your-seat.

Incredible crowd at the game. Nearly every single person stayed long past Metro closing, past midnight, even down three runs late, even with a million and one pitching changes. The Nats may not have won on the field, but we had way better fans than the Dodgers.

Just heartbreaking to go through all that. All those moments you believe this time will be different. Werth just two bases away from tying it after Jansen's arm fell off and Murphy up and they can't walk him finally. But then his magic runs out.

Brutal, brutal game.

Nattydread said...

Great crowd. Some fine individual performances. Gripping contest. What baseball is supposed to be.

Crappy base runner management. Poor hitting with RISP.

Bad luck. Sad outcome.

Nothing else to say. I'm out.

Fries said...

What irked me most about that game is that you knew the Dodgers were going to win. That 7th inning (after the HR) must have had 3 or 4 hits that are normally outs, just barely beating the defensive positioning. And then the Nats (particularly Werth) being completely incapable of putting the ball in play with a man on 3rd. On a night when the Nats had multiple opportunities to win the game, they failed MISERABLY.

I'm also going to hate the narrative about the "gutsy" performance by Jansen and Kershaw. They both pitched like crap and got lucky. Jansen burned a ton of pitches on the nobodies in the lineup during the 8th while also having 4 walks. Not a good outing by any means. Then Kershaw clearly couldn't hit his spots, why Murphy didn't try and take him deeper into the count is beyond frustrating. But you get Murphy to pop out and then you face a young'un with one AB the entire postseason, of course you'll get the save.

Robot said...

Max was left in the game a pitch too long, but one run in six and a bit shouldn't break your season. The team made some mistakes that they should never have made, much less during an elimination game.

1) Sending Werth in the 6th
2) Bryce's pick-off
3) Rzzzzzzzzski's inability to find the plate
4) Having MAT on the team
5) Letting MAT bat. I was impressed that it took a full four pitches to K that time.

I guess we can now focus on NFL season. Oh look, the Skins have fought their way to a .500 record.


::Looks at watch::

Is it April 3 yet?

Robot said...

Oh, yeah, thanks to Fries for reminding me. The inability to get a run across with a man on third and one out. C'mon!

ClassOf87 said...

It's so frustrating being a fan of this good but never quite good enough team. In time we will all probably appreciate that this was a good season, but right now, I just feel gutted.

Anonymous said...

Scherzer wasn't left in too long; he was taken out too soon. Ace on full rest pumping 96-97 gives up a HR on the knees and outside black on pitch 99? He should be good for two more innings.

Fries said...


I 100% agree. If I'm Dusty I know that my bullpen is pretty gassed, and Max was still dealing. He let up a homer, he ALWAYS let's up a homer. This time it was a solo shot on a good pitch, tough but nothing to worry about. I would've liked to see him pitch through the 7th, or at least given him another batter or two so we didn't have to rush the relief staff out there and risk injury like with Kelley

Hoo said...

The Henley send was just an epic bad move. Even if Espi fails, He gets double-switched out. Zim is the in the game still batting 6.

That send not only cost the team a key out with men in scoring position, it set up a cascade of awful hitters ensuring that 6-9 were automatic outs once the Heisey/Robinson bullets were fired.

One of the all-time great blunders there.

Carl said...

Interesting that both here and elsewhere, people are split between "Left Max in one batter too long" and "Took Max out too soon." I know after the 5th, a lot of people on Twitter, myself included, thought that should have been the end of his night right there. But it wasn't, and for the 6th it turned out fine. So could Max have done better than four in the 7th? We'll never know. But I think the "Took Max out too soon" contingent has the benefit of hindsight.

And yeah, Werth at the plate, and the inability to get guys in from third with less than two outs, and the bullpen CF in the 7th. All those things, and yet they still had chances to tie or even win it after all that. Having Kershaw come in to close it out... jaw-dropping.

I am not down with the whole "championships are the only thing that matters" mindset, nor with the "DC sports are cursed" mantra which is driven by the former. This is painful, sure, but on the whole, a remarkable season.

Mythra said...

While I appreciate Rizzo's philosophy of pitching and the stock he's built in the farms and the rotation, there is a clear change that needs to be made in 2 areas of the Nats to ever get past this narrative.

First, the medical decisions need to be made by the medical staff. If Harper missed 2 months this season for an injury, he might have been the BRYCE we all expected in October. This is the myth that 80% of Bryce is better than 100% Goodwin. Sorry, but Goodwin is a decent fielder and could hit .242 while Bryce recovered. Hindsight, I know, but they seem to have no problem in shutting down pitchers to heal, the same should go for injuries that turn BRYCE into bryce.

Second, gut the hitting coaches at all levels and start teaching contact. Start going after hitters like Murphy who make contact and put the ball in play. What infuriated me watching the Giants and Cards in 2014 and 2012, respectively, is they always were making contact or battling. Werth does it, Murphy does it, and who else have we got? Bryce does it when he's BRYCE. The days of Danny the K and MAT looping swings for the fences should be numbered.

My heart goes out to Difo. As a rookie, put in that position you knew he was in swing mode. Kershaw knew it too. I don't know that any of those cutters were strikes, and the curveball bounced. Tough spot for a rookie under the big lights. Also, how about Trea? Hitting over .300 for the series and swiping some bags to keep the offense going. He caused some crooked number innings.

And @Sammy: I didn't agree with you as often this season, but I have to say you were right about parts of the offense. I would disagree and say for the series, Zim was much better than anyone thought going in.

Sammy Kent said...

No Sean Burnett on the post-season roster cost the Nationals this series. If he's on the roster Tuesday, there's no game 5. If he's on the roster Thursday, the Nationals go to Chicago. The Dodgers are NOT a normal baseball team. In a short series you have to manage against them like Bochy did the last weekend of the regular season. Throw every lefty you got at them.

Plus, as the Nationals have shown for the last six seasons, they cannot hit first-place pitching. There's an old adage about not changing strategy or approach in the post-season--dance with who brung you and all that jazz. Well, the Nationals certainly did just that. For six years they have proven very accomplished at hitting bad pitching and running up scores on fourth and fifth place teams enough to win a division--while at the same time playing less than .500 ball against first and second place teams, unable to hit even above average pitching, much less good or great pitching.

And Bryce Harper was picked off on a balk. That little fat-faced weasel balked on the pitch before too. What's with the stupid umpire? Ray Charles could have seen it. I was waking the neighbors up on the FIRST pickoff throw. If the blankety blank ump didn't want to call the balk either time for the right foot going behind the plane of the pitcher's plate, he could have called it either time for the pitcher failing to step toward first base while in contact with the plate. Both are balk moves, both were clear and blatant, and either should have been called on both pickoff throws. I want to hear Dusty explain why he and Davey Lopes weren't raising holy hell to that first base ump about it even before the successful "pickoff." I also want to hear MLB explain why such a clear deception of the runner specifically forbidden in the gotdang baseball rulebook is allowed to occur repeatedly without penalty. So help me God if I were Dusty I'd call the umps and MLB out if the Commissioner fined me a million dollars.

Robot said...

Plus, as the Nationals have shown for the last six seasons, they cannot hit first-place pitching

I think you're wrong on this point. They have often been beaten by first-place pitching because, well, that's why it's first place pitching. But the Nats beat Arrieta earlier this year, and roughed up Kershaw twice, among others. They were, as I recall (and this is off the top of my head and not backed up by any stats or research, so anyone is welcome to correct me), so-so against top-level pitching, which is fine.

Agreed on the lack of balk calls. Charlie and Dave were pretty worked up over that, as well.

Chas R said...

Very depressing, but honestly they played their hearts out. That was a tight tough contest, the Dodgers played a little better, pitched a little, and made a few more aggressive moves than us. I do think we had the better team, but just came up on the wrong side of the ledger (again). There certainly are some holes that can be fixed, but overall this was a very good team and winning in the post season is so different than anything else and such a "crapshoot"

Ole PBN said...

Hoo - you hit it right on the money. That double switch burned us almost more than the the poor Henley send all together. Still can't believe it.

Kenny B. said...

It was a good series. Nats outscored the Dodgers over the series. Each Dodger win was by 1 run, and somehow involved Kershaw. It goes to show 1) Having the best pitcher in baseball counts for a lot, even if he's not at his best and 2) the Dodgers were very, very lucky.

In the end, it was a good season, and the Nats still have a really good core of relatively young players to work with moving forward.

NC said...

The preposterous send by Henley, the pop-up sac bunt, and waayy too many strikeouts against middling pitching. But, for my money, the biggest gaffe was the quick hook on Max. This was a "formula" decision, made without enough consideration of the context of the game. It was truly shades of Matt Williams. Max was under 100, and still had command and movement (backed-up by the fact that his fastball had the highest average velocity of his CAREER last night). He was yanked with the bases empty. Does Max really give up another 3 runs in the 7th - with the bottom third of lineup coming?!? It was an insanely poor move.

Overall, the 4.5 hour games made this a really painful and grotesque series to watch. The shear length of the games and lack of flow to the late innings didn't add any drama for me. The gratuitous pitching changes (like bringing in Kelley to face Turner) were stomach turning. Not to mention all of the double-switches that took our better bats out of the game. Difo in the middle of the lineup in the 9th? That's a crime. A systematic failure of game management. The trend has now reached 9 losses in a row for Dusty in series-clinchers.

This game was painfully lost without our best horses in the race.

Managers need to get their noses out of their stat binders sometimes. Get a feel for the game and the intangibles. Or else they should just let computers make the moves and get rid of the managers. Now that would speed up the game.

Gr8day4Bsbll said...

MAT and Difo proved yet again that you can't take AAA players and have them get at bats in a game 5 divisional series against some of the best pitchers in the game and expect miracles. Taking these two on this roster and leaving Burnett and perhaps even Revere off of the roster was inexcusable.

As, perhaps, was keeping Send-ley in the game after the Werth debacle; he should have been fired on the spot... And I hate to say it, but this outcome is, sadly, what we DC sports fans have become accustomed to over the last couple of decades...

But still, what an epic game, and what a great crowd to be a part of...and although I felt gut punched at the end, and my voice is gone this morning, and I spent a lot more time on South Cap last night (actually, this morning...) than I wanted to after the game, last night was just more proof of why baseball is the greatest game in the world...

Kenny B. said...

Even the TV commentators were pretty jazzed about the obvious balk on the Bryce pickoff throw. We'll never know if it cost us the game, but it was a pretty terrible no-call, made even worse by the fact that he did it several times.

Although it was still not as bad a call as Henley sending Werth, which due to its occurrence in a playoff elimination game now approaches the double swinging gate in terms of stupidest calls in DC sports history.

Anonymous said...

Season on the line...tying run on 2nd base...pinch hitting??? Difo!!!! 'nuf said

Anonymous said...

"Even the TV commentators were pretty jazzed about the obvious balk on the Bryce pickoff throw. We'll never know if it cost us the game, but it was a pretty terrible no-call, made even worse by the fact that he did it several times."

The fact that umpire did it several times puts the blame on Harper. He should have adjusted.

Its like an umpire calling a low strike. The first batter is called out for looking at a low strike - blame the umpire. But the third or fourth batters called for the same low pitch - blame the batters for not adjusting.

Apparently this pitcher gets away with this move all the time. Why was this not on the scouting report?

Mitch said...

^Thank you, Anonymous. Balk or no balk, Bryce should have been glued to first after nearly getting picked off on the previous pitch. Who does he think he is, Michael A. Taylor?