Nationals Baseball: Do your job

Monday, April 17, 2017

Do your job

The Nats as a team did their job this weekend. They took 2 of 3 from the Phillies. I would have liked a sweep but I can't argue that they deserved anymore than they got.

This simple act - winning a series at home versus a team that is not as good as you - has put the Nats in a good position because the Mets failed to do their job and got swept by the Marlins. Baseball is full of simple things that are very hard to do. Throw the ball over the plate. Hit the ball with a bat. Win the games you should. Do you job and good things will happen because I guarantee most everyone else won't be able to.

But while the Nats as a team did their job, the bullpen once again failed. Oh I'm sorry, did I say "once again"? I meant twice again, as they failed on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday Glover, Treinen, and Kelley got into a close game and didn't blow it. Treinen did try though, putting two men on with one out before getting the double play. And thus you see the overall issue with Treinen. He's not a shutdown guy. Men will get on base. He will live and die with DPs and slow GBs. But DPs don't always happen and slow GBs are sometimes hits. On Friday he got lucky, on Sunday he didn't.

Gio was pitching well and Dusty tried to squeeze one more batter out of him than he should have to avoid going to the pen. Suddenly, thanks to an error (more on that in a second), you had the tying run at 2B with one out. Who do you go to close this out? Dusty chose his favorite Koda Glover who promptly wild pitched the runner to 3B then, after a K, gave up the game tying single. Rizzo chuckled to himself I'm sure thinking "should have brought in Blake". But his boy came on in the 9th and gave up the game leading run before loading the bases. It took MY favorite Shawn Kelley to come in and stop the game from becoming a blow out.

In the meantime, on Saturday Joe Blanton gave up another home run. His third of the season it was after a HBP and it gave Philadelphia the lead. Matt Albers got through the 9th - another DP needed though.

The state of the Nats pen is as follows. Blake Treinen, the annointed closer, is a mess doing basically nothing right other than amping up his Ks. His WHIP is 2.00. 2.00! Joe Blanton has near perfect control of the strike zone (no walks), but within it he's leaving the ball up and it's going out (3 homers).  Koda Glover is somewhat effective, but the one this you figured he would do - strike people out - he isn't doing (though he got two yesterday).  Kelley is doing that but he's also been giving up the long ball (though more effective recently). Romero, Solis, and Perez have each been awful leaving the Nats with no reliable LHRP.

It's a mess. I think that Glover and Kelley are finding their forms. I think. Kelley in particular looks to be past his "Hmm, everything I give up is a flyball" period. If that's the case there go the HRs and he's good again. Blanton isn't pitching particularly bad per se. He's just making one or two crushable mistakes each outing. Of course that's not workable in the long run, but right now it gives me more hope than if there was some deeper issue across the board. Treinen though - is Treinening it. He's not THIS bad but he is this type of pitcher. That may work for some teams but this one...

The Nats defense is bad. We thought it might be, but with Tre Turner out, it definitely is. I'm not sure if Turner is great, good, or passable at short but it's clear Difo is no more than passable. That creates a domino effect across the infield. The defense up the middle is shakier. Murphy can't shade to help both Zimm and cover the hole. More balls go into the hole for an old, DH to be, to field Jayson Werth. Eaton, not a plus CF to start with, has to shade over to help Werth more making his job covering the CF harder which weakens the OF.

First things first, the Nats need a healthy Turner back to reset these dominoes. I thought it would happen tomorrow so let's see.

(The good news? Even with AAAA Difo replacing Turner the offense has merely slowed, not stopped. Bryce and Murphy both look great which can be enough to carry a team a long way, shaky relief or not)


Robot said...

All of what you said is true. But we can all agree that Bryce's second homer yesterday was frickin' glorious, right?

PotomacFan said...

I don't see Difo as AAAA. Instead, he's just a AAA player. Cannot field, cannot hit for average or power. At this point, the Nats farm system is not looking very strong. But then, we already knew that.

The bullpen is a mess. No news there. The bigger question is when does Dusty take Treinen from the closer's role. Treinen is NOT a closer. He's a high leverage, induce a DP kind of guy. Kelley is a closer (although he can't pitch every day). Glover could be a closer. Unfortunately, Dusty is a bit stubborn, and I'm guessing that he sticks with Treinen at least through the beginning of May.

JE34 said...

I think the Sunday situation was more on the horrid defense than the pitching. Werth's awful play in the 8th plated a run and put another in position to score. Matt Wieters flat out missed Koda's slider... any big league catcher needs to stop a ball that was essentially thrown at his right foot. And no tag play at the plate is a given, but again, a big league catcher has to squeeze a good throw and apply a tag. That was throw-stuff-at-the-TV bad.

That said - Treinen gets behind almost every hitter, and in those most critical of situations, does not seem to have the arsenal to deal with it. Hitters are IDing his slider and laying off, and he's not throwing it for strikes. He needs to go back to less dangerous territory (i.e. not the 9th inning) until he can throw the slider for a strike.

And all THAT said... so, so awesome to be treated to a BRYCE day, when things looked pretty bleak in the waning moments.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, I thought Wieters was a much defensive catcher than he apparently is.

Thank goodness he's hitting, because right now it looks like he would have trouble blocking low balls with a pizza pie pan.

JW said...

I'm still not sure what the strategy on the bullpen is. Maybe the thought is to transition to Glover as the closer. Let him get more MLB experience as a more general late inning relief arm so as to avoid Storen-ing him (i.e., causing a mental breakdown from which he never fully recovers). I think everyone feels that Kelly is the best arm, and could potentially close, but I think his durability just won't cut it.

They almost need to put Taylor in center field starting in the 7th inning of every game. Werth just can't field anymore. Unless it's right to him, it's a hit (and often extra-bases).

Man I am so glad baseball is back.

mike k said...

Yesterday was a perfect storm of defense + pen losing (but not losing) the game. Can't really blame Glover for the blown save - the wild pitch should've been called a past ball, and he got a strikeout and a ground ball. Treinen was bad. I think you're right that there's more hope in the other three than there is in Treinen, since the way he's been bad is more indicative of the ways *he* can be bad. I also agree with JE34.

Looks like my Kelley/Glover as A/B closer and Treinen as get-out-of-jams guy idea from a few weeks ago is looking pretty good, innit?

Is Weiter's D really this bad? Hard to tell this early on. Might just be his IDing Glover, which should improve with time, and one dropped ball on a throw (which Ramos used to do consistently pre-LASIK). I hope that's what it is...

somegyinva said...

I agree with JE34; that wild pitch/passed ball from Glover on Sunday is on Wieters. Of course, I have to admit that I'm a Glover fan-boy, and I want to see him closing sooner rather than later, and put Treinen back to the role where he was so effective last year.

I've never seen a team need a late-inning defensive replacement for a catcher before, but this seems to be a team that's getting there.

Sammy Kent said...

We don't have a single guy in that bullpen that doesn't make me nervous as a closer. IMHO we haven't had a good closer EVER except for Storen and Melancon. Storen was pretty darn good-- just bad against the Cardinals. Funny thing, if Matty had simply left Jordan Zimmermann in the playoff game he might still be the manager, Storen might still be the closer, Jonathan Papelbon might have never been, and the Nationals might have had a banner or two to fly in center field.

Ole PBN said...

^^ "Might" x4... thats a lot of mights.

"Let me tell you something, friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

Rob Evans said...

The Werth and Weiters plays had me changing the channel assuming the L. Of course I missed the showing of BRYCE, but I'll take the win. The pen and the D are gonna cost the Nats a bunch of games if some changes aren't made.

Harper said...

Robot - Original lyrics : Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Bryce walk-off

PF - Difo is a little out of position. He's more a 2B. He supposed to be versatile but that means SS in a pinch - not everyday (Why Drew isn't playing there I don't know). I think he's a good bench player who can contact hit his way to .270, get a bunt down, do some PRing. Like what they pretended Lombo was but he really wasn't.

Treinen will get his full time (into middle May) unless he blows a couple Mets games in the first series. They can't afford to lose those and it will prompt an immediate response in time for the second series.

JE34 - I kind of see it a split. THe bullpen did give up the liner to Werth, throw the ball in the dirt and give up the hit that forced the tag play.

Treinen is not a strike thrower and never has been. It's kind of why he could work in high leverage situations - most of the time it's guys looking to get a big hit. Starting an inning usually means more patient batters just trying to get on.

Anon @ 7:45 / mike k - C defense is hard to read sometimes. I heard he was fine. Boz seems to say same in Q&A today. Special arm, passable rest. So maybe just a bad run.

JW - Baseball! It's terrible and we love it!

mike k - I'm on board with your closer idea but at this point you have to let Treinen run his course. Worst thing you can do is leave things open to "well maybe we pulled him too quick" and then when the next guy struggles you are looking to try to stick him back there. Give him his month, let him fail or succeed, and if he fails that's it. Maybe another team or 4 years down the road.

someguy - Nats just need to run out all bench players as B squad. Drew in for Murphy, Taylor in for Werth, get Severino up and put him in for Weiters.

SK - hell if Davey didn't mess up his usage patterns in 2012 playoffs, or if the ump had been a bit more generous...

Rob - but with those bats it'll be exciting baseball, right! Right?

Mythra said...

If Dusty makes that move to keep Gio in for one more frame, it has to be accompanied with MAT in CF or LF for Werth. We all know MAT is the blind squirrel at the plate, and maybe he runs into the ball a time or two, but up 3-1 and needing improved defense more than runs, it should be a no-brainer.

I love Werth as much as the next guy, but he's old and slow now. The eye test on Friday (Great game to be at, BTW) showed me he is more slow and rigid than years past on D. Unless the ball hangs up in the air, he's playing it off a hop or trying to knock it down. This team has Heisey or MAT on the bench for defensive replacement and PH. Double-switch and use them for it.

Anonymous said...

Since he took over from Bowden, Mike Rizzo has been a top-five MLB GM. Up until 2015, he constructed his teams religiously around pitching, pitching, pitching and up-the-middle defense. For the bullpen, he has either overpaid for closers that usually didn't work out or he has been totally ad hoc. Like with the bench, the strategy sometimes gets lucky, sometimes is miserable.

The starting pitching investments are paying off. But Rizzo may be less enamored by defense these days, particularly after working with two offensive-minded field managers.

What he learned from Murphy in 2016 is something which fans have been clamoring for since the beginning. We need a fearsome lineup. Defense can only be improved by so much (going down towards zero). An excellent offense can make a team exciting and potent.

Rizzo, perhaps, has finally given up on the defensive focus to let a strong offense make the day. Goodbye Espinosa, your weak at-bats and K's. Hello Weiters, Eaton, Murphy, Zimmerman and Werth. These are not guys that will win gold gloves.

The interesting question is: What is more valuable to a playoff team? A gold glove or a silver slugger?

Robot said...

Umm....not to undermine your point, but Zim and Werth have been on this team for quite a while now. The problem with the two of them is they have long contract and are not aging particularly gracefully.

Alan Wiecking said...

Silver slugger, no doubt. Maybe not at catcher but I'll take one everywhere else.

Harper, Drew's not playing short right now because he's still on the DL. Don't think we'll be seeing him back at the 10 day mark either since his strain was worse than Trea's, so Difo is what we've got. Wieters will be fine as a catcher, I think he's simply not up to speed with the Nat's staff yet. Maybe playing him some in spring training would have helped, eh?


Josh Higham said...

Along the lines of Alan's comment, although no one is going to argue that Wieters is a great catcher, he was the primary catcher for a bullpen that prominently features a sidearmer and a sinkerballer. Those guys throw funny pitches and he caught them well enough. I don't think we'll ever get the pitch framing we'd like from him, but passed balls/wild pitches will probably regress to a more tolerable norm. I didn't look up any numbers, so it's just a gut feeling, but it's April and gut feelings are all we really have for a while.

mike k said...

Also, I would like to lodge an official protest regarding the title of today's post. I don't like coming here while I'm at work and being told to "do my job."

Harper who's the HR rep around here?

blovy8 said...

Don't know why you think Kelley is going to stop giving up homers, it's not like the nine last year wasn't too many. Sure, you can accept that if a guy K's 13 per 9, or whatever, but what's the point of giving him the job if you have to worry about overusing him? A guy like Treinen can work a lot once he can command his stuff - it may never happen, but it's the way Britton came around.

BxJaycobb said...

Is Blanton's stuff the same as last year? I recall him living at around 93-94 on the dodgers and now he comes in and throws 91 mph in the zone, which is a disaster. His stuff looks materially worse, but maybe I'm misremembering.
Other items. I'm sorry but there's no excuse for playing Werth up multiple runs in the late innings. In addition to being a defensive disaster when we have MAT available, it also wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to take the opportunity to give him extra rest. And finally, it's not like he's Murphy with the bat, where if the game does end up in extras etc, it would be a disaster for him to not hit.
I frankly think Glover has pitched well. He came in and blew two guys away and gave up a ground ball. He will be closing by mid season IMO.

Jay said...

Werth was due up in the bottom of the 8th. I'm sure Dusty was hoping to keep Werth in to hit in the bottom of the 8th and then go to MAT. MAT has shown zero ability to make contact, so I don't know if I blame him for that. Also, the problem with the pen is that our closer can't be trusted. As such, Dusty is keeping Kelley in the pen in case he has to come in and bail out Treinen. Last year Gio is done after 7 innings. Kelley comes in for the 8th and then Papelbon or even better Melancon for the 9th. I think they should go trade for someone - Robertson has been great for Chicago. That allows everyone else to settle into better roles rather than wondering if Treinen can get anyone out.

It could be worse. The Caps look like they are in the process of going out in the first round again. They are clearly getting outplayed by the 8th seed.