Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - 15 games

Monday, May 08, 2017

Monday Quickie - 15 games

The Nats have to win the NL East by 15 games.  That's it.

Now granted that only has a small part to do with the Nats. The rest of it is up to four other franchises playing terribly but who's betting against that?

The Mets are an imploding mess just 6 weeks into the season. They've had a heaping handful of injuries, several seemingly made worse by trying to play through the initial pain. Their best pitcher, Syndergaard, will likely be out until the All-Star game. They have just had to suspend Harvey without pay for some sort of insubordination to which he's going to sue the Mets to get that money back. It's hard to see this team challenging for anything

The Braves have failed to develop into any sort of threat. Instead of helping to lead them forward Dansby Swanson looks like the worst regular in baseball at the plate. Bartolo Colon finally looks done and the bullpen is an a horror show. It's almost Nats bad! It's hard to see this team challenging for anything.

The Marlins' rotation is as bad as you thought it would be, and the bullpen isn't good enough to cover for that. The offense is full of middling bats and there is no help in sight for any of these problems. The Marlins were always an "if this and if this and if this" type of challenger and pretty much none of those ifs look like they'll come true this year. It's hard to see this team challenging for anything.

You almost feel good about the Phillies by default. They aren't good at anything, and pretty much every team is good at something. But they aren't bad at anything, either. Of course all that means is they are a team that if they are lucky may challenge .500 and most likely will win 70 games but deservedly so this time, instead of the lucky 71 of last year. Still 71 or 81, it's hard to see this team challenging for anything.

Don't think I'm calling it - I'm not. The Nats still haven't put that lead up I want to see. Hell, the Mets are still only 6.5 games out when a week ago we were hoping to put them 10 games behind. Without that lead the Nats are still subject to the surprise. Maybe that will be a surprise awesome run by some NL East team, but more likely it would be a surprise run of injuries for the Nats dragging them down. They are obviously deep enough to weather losing Eaton. But another bat and Scherzer? No. Of course that's worst case and we're more likely to see say Rendon miss a month and 5th starter continue to flounder with a league average 5th starter type - which is to say "not good".

The season is almost 20% over. A good chunk is done. The Nats seem to be in complete command of the division. They need to keep winning and keep pulling away slowly between bursts. They need to win by 15 because I don't see how the 2nd place team in this division finishes much over .500.

Now let's see what they do against a real league.

24 comments:

John C. said...

Actually no, they don't need to win the division by 15 games. They just need to win it to get into the dance because, as we've seen over and over again in the playoffs (but still need to re-learn every year), having the better record/being the better team means very little in the playoffs. Not quite nothing, but not much either. There have been plenty of WS teams even in the past few years that were seriously flawed as teams but went on a well-timed run.

And while the Nats have been beating up on the NL East (14-7, .667), their record is actually better against non-NL East teams (7-3, .700). And the teams that they've been beating have actually been playing well. The Nats took 2 of 3 vs. Arizona, and the Diamondbacks are over .500 (18-15) and showing signs of being a contending team. The are 2.5 games behind the NL West leader, the surprising Rockies, who the Nats beat 3 of 4 times in Colorado. The Nats also took 2 of 3 from the perennially irritating Cardinals, who are also over .500 (16-14) and just a half game out of first place in the NL Central.

Harper said...

Of course they don't HAVE to do anything. They don't even need to win it, just get the WC, right? But the Nats are very good and the NL East is garbage. So that's what I want to see. A representation of the talent gap I see between this team and the rest of the division. A summer of great winning baseball where they run away and hide from the injured Mets and the subpar rest.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if we had truly gone 100% all-in instead of 90% all-in like we always do and gotten Greg Holland, who just picked up his Major League leading 13th save and is pitching out of his mind.

We would almost certainly have that double-digit division lead already and we'd be a legitimate championship contender instead of a fraudulent contender that will probably get knocked out in the first round once again.

Harper said...

Anon @7:38. At this point the Nats will be thought of as a fraudulent contender regardless of what they do in the offseason. Fair or not (almost completely not) the Nats haven't won in the playoffs three times, plus Dusty has had recent failings himself and that's what people hang on.

G Cracka X said...

Per Fangraphs, Nats are projected for 92 wins and the Mets 82 wins. So I think a 10-win margin is more of a fair request to make. 15 feels too high, especially given the injury potential of the Nats

#Werthquake (Formerly clip & store) said...

It's incredible how the Nats have the best offense in the league even without Eaton... Kinda like schwarber going down for the year early last year...

Let's hope history repeats itself ;)

Fries said...

I'm with you, the artist formerly known as clip&store.

In all seriousness, though, as 7:38 Anon points out, this team needs a quality bullpen arm. I'm so tired of watching them blow or nearly blow late leads. We're a month in and this team literally has the worst bullpen in baseball and -0.9 WAR, and they've only pitched more innings than 3 other teams. That's not just bad, that's horrendous. This isn't a "sit around and wait til the ASB" kind of problem like getting a CF might be. This is an immediate issue that the team is very very lucky to not have impacting their record so far

Jay said...

I agree with Fries. I think they need to sort out the pen much sooner than later. I have two reasons for that thought. One, I worry that Rizzo and the Nats braintrust is going to spend the next few months saying - let's just wait for everyone in our pen to get healthy and then we'll be fine. The pen wasn't that great before Solis, Glover, and Kelley went down. Plus, all three may get hurt again this year. Second and this is the bigger worry for me. I worry that Dusty is going to keep overusing the starters to try and make up for the pen. Roark at 125, Scherzer was in 1-teens I think, Strasburg at 119. This team is built on its starting pitching. They can't afford for Dusty to blow up someone's arm by leaving them out there until there arm falls off.

Karl Kolchak said...

Last two posters have it dead on--the bullpen issue should be treated like an emergency situation. If two of their starters go down because of overuse, suddenly they are no better than their divisional opponents even with that great offense. That said, I'm not sure what they can do. No other team is going to want to be seen as throwing in the towel this early, and they have NOTHING save Fedde down on the farm that can help them.

Froggy said...

Hypothetical...in order to address the pen issues, I wonder what the group thinks if the Giants keep on melting downn do you think they consider unloading Melancon at the deadline? And would the Nats be in a position to be takers?

Dusty's Toothpick said...

I am seriously still distraught about Eaton's injury. I thought I would have moved on by now but MAT just hurts to watch and...and..and.. this was THE TEAM with Eaton, I just loved the way Eaton played with such tenacity.


Harper do you think he goes full out rehab and returns in time for October ala Schwarber or do you think the Nats baby him because of the team control if he could actually go?....

Also, who do you think takes that position Stevenson, Goodwin, Bautista, MAT (whomp ,whomp, whomp) maybe even Drew?....

Jimmy said...

@froggy- Look at that contract no way Rizzo takes on that bad boy. Doubtful anybody else would either, not for the type of prospects the Giants would probably be looking for. Also the Giants don't strike me as sellers regardless of what their record is this year.

Josh Higham said...

Toothpick, I don't see Eaton playing again because Schwarber's value was at the plate much more than in the field, and he had 3 more weeks of recovery time. I wish it was more plausible though.

Nattydread said...

I was going to write a comment on the Nats relief pitching saying that commenters have exaggerated the crisis. We're winning, right? So, before writing anything, I researched the MLB stats. I checked team pitching statistics for the 7th inning and after. And it's true. They are in the bottom three in just about every category. HRs allowed, HBB, OPS, BA, slugging, batting average, anything. If there is a bright spot, its that they are in the top 5 in double plays --- but this may be a result of the high number of baserunners. So yes, things are bad. Very bad.

BxJaycobb said...

Eatons not coming back. First, his injury is worse than schwarbers (it's 3 injuries not one). Second the injury happened like 3 weeks later in the year. Third schwarber came back in WS and only as a DH. It's not happening.

Re the bullpen. I'll say it again. Why not try Fedde as a 5th starter, and use Ross in the bullpen with Turner, who looks good. With Kelley and Glover coming back from injures, is a Kelley-Glover-Ross-Albers-Turner late innings team great? No. But it's not bad at all. And you never know how Ross might pitch out of pen, especially against righties. Romero, Albers, and especially Turner have been bright spots. Maybe we end up discovering a couple decent arms to pair with whatever we get at the deadline. There is another downside with trading for a reliever on the earlier side this season: it increases amount of time for them to get injured before the playoffs. We can't afford to trade like fedde for K Herrera or Colome in may and then have that relieve get injured and then have to trade another person for another reliever in July. We don't have those kinds of resources.

Lastly, Michael Taylor is absolutely horrendous and borderline not a major leaguer. We all like the kid and he seems like a good guy. But he can't stop striking out at obscene rates and despite being fast is also a total spaz in the OF. When he has to come within like 10 feet of the wall I feel like the balls going to bounce off his head into the stands like Jose Canseco. I fear that we will also have to either make a move or try to bring up Stevenson early and count on him to make contact with zero power and good defense. That's better than MAT. I think a Herrera + Cain trade is still what probably makes sense. The problem will be the cost. Either Robles or everything but Robles.

Jay said...

I think they shouldn't make a move for CF for the very reason Bx mentions. Bullpen help is a must at this point. However, I'm hoping someone from within the system works out at CF. It would make a huge difference for next year as well. Move Eaton over to LF and have Bautista, Stevenson, or Taylor in CF. That is a big cost savings if it works out. But they must do something about the pen. It's pretty awful.

PotomacFan said...

MAT has to go. Nice guy, but just not a major leaguer. He's gotten multiple long chances to improve his game, and he has utterly failed. Until they get rid of him, he should bat 9th. Really. At least some of our pitchers can bunt runners over. MAT is a strikeout machine --
40.7% this year! The Phillies kept walking the guy in front of MAT to load the bases, and MAT obliged them by striking out.

Harper said...

Dusty - listen to the nay sayers on Eaton. It's not that they are planning on babying him. I think he'll do rehab on schedule. But with the multiple injuries the time line just doesn't work. I'm sure they'll check in each month and see if he's progressing and not make an official decision until it has to be made (say early Sept if obvious, late-Sept if not) but it's extremely unlikely he plays again this year.

JE34 said...

Victor Robles is only at A-ball in Potomac?

JE34 said...

{sigh}

Alan Wiecking said...

I would not be shocked if the Nats "big move" this year is to give Victor a shot in July. It would have media value and distract from the fact that they are not going to spend big money to chase any reliever this year, unless the Rays tank and then maybe Colome is in the conversation.

Chaos..........and I do believe Robles is ready to play at the ML level. Right now. Certainly in a couple of months.

Sammy Kent said...

Adam Lind, you have got to be kidding me. What a forked up game. There is no instrument invented that can measure how much I hate losing to the blankety blankety blank blank Orioles.

Robot said...

Can we all agree that Michael K Taylor doesn't belong in the majors? I know problem #1 right now is bullpen, but sweet Jeebus, the strikeouts!

BxJaycobb said...

I would be utterly shocked if Robles saw the majors this year. I don't think any evaluator thinks he is ready to hit at this level (he can defend I'm sure in majors) and there's a reason it's so rare to have a 19 year old skip levels and he in the majors (happens like once a decade in MLB, Bryce being last position player I think) and they're not going to take a chance on ruining their best and only blue chip prospect. It's not even worth discussing until he advances to AA. I think Stevenson is the person worth speculating about.