Nationals Baseball: Wednesday quickie

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wednesday quickie

What!? You got two good posts to start the week. Don't be greedy

Max goes out last night. It highlights how precarious the Nats situation is but it also highlights how precarious most series hopes are. Each team has one or two pitchers whose injuries would dramatically tip the odds against them. Each team has a handful of batters who, if out for the playoffs, would have them scrambling to replace that production. Before the trade deadline there's usually only one or two guys out there able to match a real star type player.  After the trade deadline there usually none. At this point it's up to the fates.

You can and you can't blame Rizzo, so both sides should be happy.  You can because, like we've talked about, betting on the Nats having 4 healthy and good rotation arms seemed like a risky bet. Chances seemed likely that Strasburg will be hurt OR Gio would crash OR Roark would never get it going. Given that, bringing in another "playoff caliber" arm would have been nice. This doesn't mean a Darvish or a Gray. It could mean a Lance Lynn or an R.A. Dickey. There's still time for a deal like this - veteran guys with large deals often can pass through waivers - but Rizzo missed one chance to make it happen.

You can't because no one expected Max to go down and you can't make up for losing the 2nd best pitcher in baseball. Whatever Rizzo would have done would not have fully compensated for a Scherzer season-ending injury.  Luckily that didn't happen so this argument is moot but we got a glimpse of what that would be like and it would be BAD.

So while the Nats are cruising to an NL East title and this weekend will be looking to solidify home-field advantage during that series, they are cruising like a sober person driving home at 3AM on January 1st, hoping that nothing out of their control wrecks their drive.


21 comments:

DezoPenguin said...

That was a terrifying moment last night, that's for certain. Just how terrifying was made plain by the Nats organization choosing to immediately release info about Max's neck instead of following their usual policy of holding injury updates until after the game.

Robot said...

Still worried though. It's hard to recall an instance when a player's injury wasn't drastically worse than the Nats initially reported

Sammy Kent said...

Grace, Albers, Solis, and when he's back from the DL Kelley all need to be shipped out. Rizzo, as usual, has gone into overkill mode on two things (short relief and outfielders) and ignored the rest. Why do you pick up three back-end relievers and ignore the need for 1. a long man that can pitch a four or five inning hold 'em and 2. a fifth starter when you have two on the DL and another pitching inconsistently????????

I'll give him kudos for dealing for Howie Kendrick, but why nab yet another outfielder when you have two or three ready to come off the DL unless you're going to use a couple to sweeten a trade for above noted pitching needs? Instead of doing that, he just gave Heisey his release. My gosh, deal Heisey and any two of those bullpen clowns [or whatever....be creative, Rizzo] for someone like Warwick Saupold of the Tigers--a former starter now doing very well in long relief, and someone that isn't just a situational match up guy. He could pitch either long relief or 5th starter until Strasburg is healthy.

JE34 said...

Grace has pitched reasonably well of late...

Albers has a WHIP under 1 and can give you multiple innings in a game.

Solis is the one I don't understand. He has been as bad as (or worse than) Kelley/Blanton were in the first half.

It is very tough to deal damaged guys like Kelley and Heisey... injured, aging, AND performing very poorly. Other teams would be profoundly dumb to surrender talent with upside in exchange.

Kendrick can play LF, 3B, 2B, 1B. He was a great addition, in exchange for a big-maybe prospect.

Ben said...

Yes, Harper, tell us what the Nationals' could have gotten in return for a 32-year old backup OF hitting .162 (.485 OPS)?

Not to say Sammy is wrong about the need to think creatively and find somebody who can eat large chunks of innings in relief. But Kendrick can pinch hit and back up more than LF if/when guys start coming back, and is the kind of upgrade saavy playoff teams (i.e. even-year Giants) make for those critical late inning moments we always seem to fail at.

PhthePhillies said...

Number 4 guy (Probably Tanner) can be a long man if needed in the postseason. Also, where do you put a long reliever who is good? You put him in the rotation. There is a reason why middle inning relievers are in the bullpen. They didn't make it to the rotation.
One more thing, something tells me it will take more than a stiff neck to knock Max out of a playoff game.

Jon Quimby said...

Edwin Jackson is our long relief man. He just is not available to do that while we wait for playoffs to arrive. Rizzo bet on our existing 4 starters being available for the playoffs. It's a risk but most teams are taking a risk somewhere.

Fries said...

The only thing that's got me worried about Max is that he NEVER wants to come out of a game. He's just that kind of competitor. Now maybe this time he was being level-headed and sane after realizing the Nats were up 6-0 and there's a huge division lead so maybe he shouldn't push it. But there's just that nagging feeling in the back of my head that this could be something worse than "slept on it funny"

PhthePhillies said...

I'm with you, Fries.
I would add that if he is healthy for the rest of the season, I really hope Dusty limits him a little. I think he was gassed by the end of the season and we didn't see the best version of him in the playoffs. He threw a lot of pitches in September pursuing that 20th win and nailing down the Cy Young.

Chas R said...

No one predicted Kelley and Solis would completely fall of a cliff this season? No one thought our pen was going to be a strength, but no one thought they would have been Worst in Baseball kind of bad. Rizzo has done well to shore up a surprisingly bad bullpen and added a solid hitting very versatile player who can fill in at multiple positions. I would have liked to see him pick up another Starter, but they have better info about the health of the Starters than we do, so I'm guessing there is a level of comfort in letting that ride as is.

PhthePhillies said...

Chas add to the list Blanton and Treinen for pitchers falling off the cliff. Solis, too. It would not have been surprising if half those guys sh*t the bed. But all of them? Hard to blame Rizzo, IMHO.

Jay said...

I don't disagree that it was unexpected how poorly they did. However, I do think you had a bullpen with no real closer. I think that rattled a lot of those guys. Also, injuries have really caught up with pretty much everyone in the pen.

I do wonder if part of that is Dusty just not handling the pen very well. In no way am I saying he is at fault. The Lerners are at fault when they time and again refused to pay for anyone this offseason. The plan of Melancon or Jansen with a fall black plan of trading for Robertson for Drew Ward and a throw in prospect and signing Holland was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, I feel like Dusty has an excellent feel for hitters and his bench. His feel for pitchers is at best ok. He overuses his starters. Having Scherzer throw 130 pitches his last start before the All Star break and justify it by saying - he has a week off - is a bit clueless. Stras, Roark, Ross, Scherzer, and even Gio have thrown too many pitches this year. Most managers look to get guys out of the game at around 100 pitches. Dusty consistently looks to get them out of the game in the 110-115+. They don't throw 130 (except in my one example) but they do consistently do throw more. I'll admit the bullpen has been part of that but I don't think that is all of it.

As far as the bullpen, Dusty tends to get stuck on guys and not use other guys. Sort of the opposite of how he uses his bench. Remember Felipe Rivero last year started out well and was pretty much pitching every other day until he wore down. He did that a little with Romero this year. I wonder if that is part of their injury problem? Kelley, Glover, Blanton (though his was questionable), Solis. All have had injury problems this year. Part of why we traded Rivero last year was bc Solis was one of our best relievers. It also matters with Doolittle who has an injury history. I think it all has added up to a pretty bad bullpen. I think it is much improved now. Hopefully their starters don't start dropping off now.

Froggy said...

I Wilhelm scream at the TV whenever AJ Cole pitches.

Jay said...

I totally agree with Froggy on this one. How Cole manages to keep getting opportunities to pitch is beyond me.

Prolestes said...

@Jay

Not once has scherzer thrown 130 pitches this season. The start you're referencing, july 7th, he threw 120. The most he's thrown in one game this year is 121.

As a team, the change in number of pitches they've thrown this year vs last year is minimal. The only pitcher that has thrown "significantly" more pitches than last year is gio, but that's only because he's managing to get out of jams this year and earning himself a longer stay on the mound. Roark has thrown more pitches this year vs. last, but that can be explained away by him appearing in relief in 2 games at this point in time last year. Scherzer (not counting his last start b/c 1 IP and injury) has thrown 17 more pitches this year vs. last, but he's also faced 6 more batters. As for strasburg (again not counting his last start b/c injury), he's actually thrown less pitches.

Dusty's not working our 4 best starters (4 b/c our 5th hasn't been a constant single player either year) any harder this year than he did last year. Gio's the only one that's pitched more, but that can easily be attributed to him earning it (it may be smoke and mirrors, but he's getting results and going a bit deeper into games this year).


2016

games pitches IP BF

Gio 22 2199 128.2 552

Roark 21 2054 129.2 527

Max 21 2215 141.2 554

Stras 19 1982 127.2 501




2017

games pitches IP BF

Gio 22 2334 142.1 580

Roark 21 2134 118.2 516

Max 21 2232 145.1 560

Stras 19 1927 119.2 492

IP = innings pitched
BF = batters faced

JE34 said...

@prolestes: thank you! This topic has been bugging me, but I've stopped short of replying to it. Pitches thrown tells the story.

BTW... In digging into this, I was alarmed to see that Stras has thrown more than 3000 pitches in a season exactly *once* in his career. (IIRC)

Jay said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I thought I read he threw 127 the game before the All Star break. I do still worry that Dusty looks for 110+ out of pitchers where it seemed Davey Johnson always looked to get them out of the game once they broke 100. They're averaging over 100 pitches per game but not by much if any in the case of Stras.

Kevin Rusch said...

If the guys come back healthy, I'd sure love to see, for all of September, the starters going one inning less per start to keep them a little better-rested for October. Expanded rosters will mean more relievers and hopefully a comfortable lead.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jay. I worry about how Baker uses pitchers. Comparing Dusty's use from 2016 to 2017 won't rebut that - Dusty was managing the team in both cases and 2016 is hardly a textbook case of quality usage. By the end of the season, Strasburg was on the DL, the seemingly ineffective Rivero was traded away, and Ross was shadow of his former self.

Also recall how Dusty twice pitched Melancon five times in six games. The Nats were a team that had very little pennant chase yet Baker still felt compelled to go to his security blanket.

Like Jay said, factor in how well Rivero did in 2015 with Williams, early in 2016 before the overuse kicked in, late to 2016 when the Pirates got him, and in 2017 season to date with the Pirates.

The Rivero trade will go down as one of Rizzo's costliest trades. Given where the Nats were at the time, it was a trade that had to happen, but would it have happened if Rivero were more effective in mid 2016? Maybe if Baker would have used him more effectively, the Nats wouldn't have used him as trade bait or perhaps they could have gone a larger catch for giving up a young, talented player with years of contractual club control.

While it is still early, do note that Treinen has had nine appearance with the Athletics, pitching a little over 9 innings, and has only given up one run.

Would anybody be surprised if, by the the season, Doolittle's ERA goes up since the trade and Treinen's ERA goes down since the trade, much like Melancon's ERA went up with Nats after the trade and Rivero's ERA goes down.

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