Nationals Baseball: Nats probably good, Marlins probably bad

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Nats probably good, Marlins probably bad

Two games in and my general impression about this team is that it just feels right.

The players added feel right. Eaton feels like the perfect addition to the top of the order while Wieters is a more than acceptable 8th hitter.

The lineup in general feels (mostly) right.  I'd swap Zimm and Rendon but that's a minor quibble.

The bench feels right.  Drew as a PH followed by Lind? That makes sense. 

The pen feels pretty right.  Nice lead, bring in a fireballer with potential and see what he can do? Feels right. Uh oh, he's starting to waver, bring in a dependable veteran? Feels right. Big lefty batter, bring in that LOOGY. Feels right.

There will certainly be ups and downs but two days in I have no complaints. All the pieces are here.

Roark looked a little slow to come around but did eventually which is all you can ask for for an first start. Don't look terrible. Don't get hurt.

I think the key moment(s) in the game were obviously the fielding woes of the Marlins in the 4th.  The Marlins had gone out to a 2-0 lead early but the Nats had narrowed the gap on a solo HR and now had Eaton on first with the heart of the line-up coming up. Straily though got Bryce to foul out... except the Marlins couldn't make the play. Then he got him to foul out again... though this time the Marlins looked even more foolish in letting it drop. Bryce would eventually hit a run scoring double. A few batters later the Nats were up 3-2 with one out and men on 1st and 2nd. Jayson Werth hit a pop fly that should have been caught and wasn't. Instead of 2-out 1st and 2nd, with the possibility of pitching Wieters carefully to force the Nats into a "PH for Roark or not" situation, the Nats had bases loaded and 1-out. Wieters couldn't be pitched around and he promptly hit a run scoring single. Game sort of over.

Get the outs you should have gotten and the game, at least at that point, is different. Defense is important. Last night though it was the other side that proved the argument.


Man I want to do stuff like look at the stats or look around the league but none of that is remotely defensible. Even things I might be able to do 3 games from now, like simply comment on fast/slow starts from teams, is out of bounds. 2-0? 0-2? Would you ever care about that midseason?  The closest thing I can come to a story is how the Astros swept the Mariners. Some felt the Mariners could rival the Astros for a division title. You can't get these H2H games back and starting out 0-3, even away from home, is a little concerning (emphasis on little).  That's all I got.


Rob Evans said...

My early observations.

1. Zimm may end up having a serviceable year (I hope)
2. Werth looks even more like a statue in left this year. Father time is beating down his door.
3. I like the new "pitch to contact" Stras. Should decrease his pitch count a little and therefore increase his innings
4. I like the makeup of the team. Like you said Harp, it feels "right"

Carl said...

Interesting that Wieters looks like he'll shift-bunt every once in a while. I have long thought that's a tactic hitters should employ more often (I have a whole theory about when it should and shouldn't be done, which I won't bore people with unless thay really want it). And for Wieters hitting out of the 8 spot, when half the time the thought may be "just cycle the order," it's a good move.

Now, will all teams shift on him like the Fish have been doing? Especially if he starts shift-bunting? Maybe, maybe not.

Robot said...

A post about FEELZ and positivity?

::checks to make sure I typed website correctly::

WHAT'S HAPPENING?! Where is Harper???

NotBobby said...

Cautiously optimistic on Zim! I love that he hit the homer as an oppo boppo. Makes me think he really is locked in. Even if he doesn't improve a ton this year, the fact that he is not off the his annual slow start could make his overall numbers better this year.

Mike K said...

Agree with the cautious optimism for Zim. Also agree with the "feel" of the team, with the lone slight exception of the closer role...let's see how Treinan's doing in a month.

FP said during the broadcast that Dusty will move Eaton down in the lineup after the Marlins' series, as he doesn't care about having three lefties in a row now due to the Marlins' lack of lefties in their pen. Not that Rendon won't be good at #2, but I like the 1-2 punch of Turner-Eaton, and having Eaton high in the lineup. Maybe bat Eaton first and Turner second?

Scott said...

Great blog, I will be following over the season!

Harper said...

Rob - Nothing here seems out of line. Stras has tried to pitch to contact before and I don't think it worked for him at the time, but perhaps he just needed to get experience doing it.

Carl - A lot of big shifted hitters aren't usual bunters so asking them to pull out a surprise shift bunt might be asking for trouble as easy as it seems to us. I like the idea of it but you gotta look at the player first. Weiters? I bet he might be able to pull it off.

Robot - it's the 2nd game. I can't really post on anything but FEELZ. Unless we want to figure out if this is the year Gio blows up. (IMO : no but there is a possibility if he gets some bad luck)

Not Bobby - I'd like to say same but gotta keep telling myself - two games. Let's see where Zimm is on May 1st.

Mike K - Did I purposely leave Treinen off of that list of reliever situations that felt right yesterday? Maaaaaaybe. Would have loved to have finished that off with a "Now that it's a save situation hand it to our lights-out closer. Feels right" But that's not where we are now. Doesn't mean we won't get there but it's one of the few places where the "is this the best move?" thoughts come back in.

Yeah - that's exactly what I would suggest to Dusty - flip Eaton and Turner. But personally I'd just keep it as is. You can worry about the match-up issues but Murphy was so good against lefties last year and Eaton has been a capable hitter against them all his career that I think you roll with it.

bryceroni said...

i want to see eaton turner 1 2, but overall second all the good vibes.

Mythra said...

I dunno about how the season will go. I will, however, be giddy and smiling all season long if Trea and Adam get on base and force opposing pitchers to go through BRYCE, Murph and Zim/Rendon with 2 on and nobody out. I really, really will like that feeling.

Also, Bryce went up the middle on the outside fastball yesterday, something he never did when he was stepping in the bucket most of last season. Whatever that was, I hope it stayed in 2016.

I'm lowering my Gio expectations to a #5 guy. That's all he should ever be from here to end of career. If he wins at a .500 clip, he's earning his keep.

Anonymous said...

Can't say enough about how much I love the addition of Eaton to this lineup, and the subtraction of Espinosa from it.

I wonder how Luke Gigolo is looking so far.

JE34 said...

My game2 observation: how long until Derek Dietrich gets the 60 game suspension for PED? What a jackhole... looks like he has a classic case of the roid-rage. If he doesn't want to get plunked, he shouldn't stand on top of home plate.

Fries said...

Cautiously optimistic on everything but Treinen. Gave Realmuto a bit of a meatball that may have been related to Gordon's single-steal combo. Then again, his job is to pound the zone and then smoke people on that sinker/slider combo, so hits will be inevitable.

Related to that, did anyone else think his slider was exceptionally dirty yesterday? Late break, lots of movement. Feeling too lazy to check pitchf/x, though. If I were Weiters I would have told him to ditch his fastball/sinker altogether yesterday

Anonymous said...

JE34 - those were my thoughts exactly. dude looks like a Canseco wannabe

Ole PBN said...

Seeing a lotta love for Eaton so far, glad to see some of ya'll jumping on board. Dude is a quality, hard-nosed player. I said back when Rizzo pulled the trade that he's a speedier/more athletic version of Daniel Murphy and Nats fans will love him.

Do we miss Lito yet? ....

Anonymous said...

Really, after every game you are gonna switch the guy who has a bad game with the guy who had the good game in the lineup? Funny. Zimmerman shouldn't be switched for Rendon. smh

Harper said...

Fries - I say give Treinen a dozen chances and see where we are. I figure he'll blow two by that point but not in any big way that makes us want to change things. People don't realize but the best relievers blow 1 out of 10 in an average year. Ignoring everything else : 2 out of 12 is ok, 3 out of 12 would be bad. 1 out of 12 great.

Ole PBN - No, dont' miss Lito but missing Lito (and Lopez) isn't about 2017. If we miss them this year things have either gone horribly wrong for Nats or incredibly right for White Sox.

Eaton is a great addition. Certainly a bit of Lombo Love ("He's a scrappy small white guy like me!") is mixed in there but Eaton should get more real love and less snark because he's, you know, actually good.

Anon - You don't make decisions based on 2 games, you make decisions based on where these guys are in their career. Rendon is reasonably considered to be better right now at the plate so he should hit further up the line-up. Simple as that.

BxJaycobb said...

Just throwing this out there, because I'm wondering if anybody else has noticed. Wieters is the worst major league catcher I have ever seen at framing borderline pitches. Watch the next couple games closely. On borderline pitches he doesn't even bother holding his glove in place upon receiving the ball. He literally lets the baseball push his glove limply out of the zone. It's sort of astonishing. Looks like he's not even trying. And I actually didn't know this at the time, but after looking it up, he does turn out to be famously bad at framing. I would watch this as the season goes on. If everybody's ERAs go up, I would be just as inclined to blame wieters as the D. Just watch closely next game.

Anonymous said...

I was reading Rendon's lips while he was chatting with Dietrich on third last night...

Rendon: Dang, which one hurt more the one you leaned into or the 99mph fastball from Romero?

Dietrich: Waaaa...he hit me in the back! And then that guy in blue threw out my overpaid manager!

Rendon: Haha...quit whining you big baby. Speaking of baby, your shaved arms look as smooth as a baby's butt.

Dietrich: Next time, I'll put my juice where my mouth is and go after the pitcher.

Rendon: time? Do you realize Matt Wieter is a 6'5" 230lbs beast and won't let that happen.

Dietrich: But I'm strong and juiced. I'm invincible.

Rendon: were HBP 24 times last year. On pace for 160 this year. Haha!

JE34 said...

@Bx -- I saw a strike-3 against Realmuto in the top of the 1st get called a ball... which ultimately led to 2 runs for the Fish. I have heard about Wieters' reputation as a bad framer, but thanks very much for giving me a detail over which to obsess.

PhthePhillies said...

What? No mention of the Tyler Moore double?
I still can't believe the Nats let him go!

Ole PBN said...

@BxJaycobb - I whole heartedly agree on Wieters. And JE34, here's your example, as I've not noticed either until now: In tonight's game, Gio on the bump in the top of the 6th. Facing Bour. 2 outs, runners on the corners. 5th pitch of the AB in a 2-2 count. Wieters can't pull up a low borderline pitch that Ramos, Lobey, or even my college catchers could have framed as a strike. I doubt that he doesn't know how, as I've played with guys like this. Winters has always been praised as hitter, even since his Georgia Tech days. In a lot of cases, guys like that view themselves as hitters who happen to plat "catcher." It's laziness, plain and simple. This is just one instance I've seen, but will be watching closer throughout the season. Makes you wonder how many times he screws over his pitcher throughout the year... damn.

Richard Parker said...

What was that about Kelly and high-leverage situations?

BxJaycobb said...

I didn't get to watch the end of the game tonight. Can anybody explain why Dusty brought in solis in a save situation? It looks like he only brought in Treinen once solis got in trouble...from my reading of the box score. I guess despite the loss the key takeaway from the first series is that Zim really looks materially different. At least in the early going.

mike k said...

Bx - Nats scored the go-ahead run via a home run with 2 outs and no men on (iirc). Dusty understandably didn't want to warm him up in that situation, and when the Nats took the lead, it was too late to get him ready in time. Also, it looked to me that he kept Solis in to face lefties, and only put Treinen in after Moore was announced into the game. Solis pitched to a batter or two with a runner in scoring position I think.

Baseball is a funny game. Turner scorched that ball with 2 on 1 out in the bottom of the ninth. One foot to the left or right and we're talking about his walk-off, not how the pen blew it. Thems the breaks