Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Another look around

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Quickie - Another look around

The Nats didn't need to win last night. After losing the first two, any thoughts of taking HFA throughout the playoffs, or through the NL side at least were pretty much dashed and the Nats were all but officially set in the #2 spot. However, the Nats still wanted to show they could beat the Dodgers, something they failed to do in the first two games with reasonable line-ups. The difference Sunday was they didn't trot out Edwin Jackson or AJ Cole. They brought Strasburg to the mound. If they failed to beat LA this time, that would resonate.

But they did! AND Bryce took BP before the game!

Now some bad news as Bryce is aiming not toward coming back in the regular season but for the first game of the NLDS. That's an extra 5 days of recovery for him and it seems like he is conceding he will probably need that.  The Nats are still good without Bryce, but it can't be denied that the offense is less potent without a healthy Bryce. Let's hope for nothing but good news and Bryce taking the field for that final regular season series.

Taking a look around the league, what could have been a weekend that set up a furious finish instead solidified what we already knew. Along with LA putting distance between them and the Nats, the Cubs swept the Cardinals effectively closing them out. Milwaukee failed to make up ground on Colorado. The Yankees failed to make-up ground on Boston. Only the Angels made up a game on the Twins while the Royals, Rangers, Orioles, and Rays all spun their wheels and the Mariners lost a game.

Where we stand now in terms of interesting games -

The Brewers still haven't been knocked out of the NL Central though at 4 games out it's close to dire.  The saving grace is a four game set with the Cubs starting Thursday.  If they can do what the Cardinals could not, and not immediately make the series moot, then it could be a fun finish with the Cardinals given chance to spoil the Cubs season at the end (or spoil the Brewers' one) 

The Brewers are also 2.5 out from the Rockies whose difficult schedule has gotten significantly easier with SFG, SD, and MIA lined up before the Dodgers to end the year. While no one was looking at them, they swept the Dodgers and took the first two in Arizona in a four game series to set themselves up nicely for the finish. Milwaukee on the other had has the aforementioned Cubs series and a Cardinals one. You have to like the Rockies chances but it's close enough to warrant a glance.  If the Rockies pull away that isn't all bad because it makes the NL Central "Win or Out".

In the AL the Red Sox still haven't put away the Yankees, despite being crowned at least 3 times in the past month. However, they keep playing good ball and keep the Yankees at bay. With no H2H games left the Yankees chances at a division title are beginning to boil down to needing an epic run or an epic crash. Still despite being closer and featuring better teams, it's a less compelling race than the NL Central one with the lack of H2H games and the fact the loser is almost guaranteed a WC spot.

The 2nd WC spot in the AL is down to two teams as everyone else in the AL that was in contention can barely bring themselves to play .500 ball. Which is fair, because they are a bunch of barely .500 teams. The Angels are 2 games behind the Twins (who are 4 behind NYY, FYI). The Angels have a killer week lined up with Houston and Cleveland. Their saving grace might be that the Twins have a couple tough series left themselves with the Yankees next and Cleveland in a week. Even though we'd all love some important games here, the likely scenario is the Angels lose a game or two of ground this week and are just too far out to make a real play in the final one.

We'll see though. Tonight the "big game" is the WC preview Yankees Twins. Other games of interest - Brewers need a win versus the Pirates and Kershaw is pitching tonight after missing the Nats. 


KW said...

I would SO love to laugh the holier-than-thou Cubs out of the playoffs. That said, the Brewers took a significant hit when Jimmy Nelson went down. Also, for whatever it's worth, I think the Nats would get up more for a series with the Cubs than they would the Brewers. It's just human nature.

Nothing against the scrappy Twins, but it sure would be fun to see Trout in the playoffs.

Josh Higham said...

Fun Zim fact I looked up today. By WRC+ he's been at least a hair above the average hitter every calendar month this year except June. And September so far has been his second best month after April.

W. Patterson said...

Having Strasburg on the mound Sunday contributed to the Dodgers not getting the hits - or runs - that they needed. The prior two games, though, and the Nats couldn't get a run to save their collective lives, it appears. And it's not like the Dodgers brought Kershaw or Darvish to the mound.

The worst thing about September is that baseball is coming to a close. The good thing is that we should have some great baseball to close out the season.

PotomacFan said...

Just yesterday (before the game) I expressed my dismay that official scorers do not give outfielders errors when they drop the ball. So, last night, MAT dropped the ball, which would have been the third out, and a run scored. The only run that Strasburg allowed. Strasburg's scoreless streak would still be alive (for earned runs) but for the official scorer. Now, truth be told, I think it is a bit of a relief that the streak is over, because Strasburg might have been stressing over it for the rest of the season, or until he gave up a run, whichever came sooner. But still. The standard applied to outfielders is a lot more lenient than the standard applied to infielders.

Ric said...


I tend to focus on the other side of the coin. I think outfielders like Werth get less errors than they deserve, because they never get to the ball in the first place. Better outfielders like MAT, who take better angles or have more speed, get to more tough balls and subsequently get errors on tough plays that the Werths of the league would not get because they would be five yards away from where the ball drops.

Josh Higham said...

The error is a horrible statistic and it needs to die. Those are both huge problems. I honestly think baseball would be better off with no defensive metrics accessible to casual fans than with errors and fielding percentage.

PotomacFan said...

The fly ball to Werth should have been ruled an error. The fly ball dropped by Kendrick should have been an error. The fly ball dropped by MAT should have been an error. All were ruled hits. And sometimes there should be team errors -- like when no one catches a lazy fly ball. OTOH, when the pitcher makes an "error" it should be ruledan error BUT any runs resulting from that error should be EARNED -- because it was the pitcher's fault.

Chris said...

If I was an umpire I'd have to tell Grandal to knock it off. Dude literally tries to frame every. single. pitch.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper: based on Buster Olney's reporting/impression, the Nats are more optimistic about Bryce's timeline than they are saying on the record. And supposedly Bryce has actually been hitting for literally weeks. I now have zero question he will be back for playoffs, and would be quite surprised if he doesn't play regular season games first---barring some bad setback I mean.
@Harper Relatedly, I know that down the stretch performance doesn't correlate with playoffs performance, but man. The offense has been a REAL problem since the AS Break. I believe the Nats offense has been in the bottom half of the majors since then; and 22nd in MLB sans Bryce. In particular, Werth, Wieters, and Taylor seem likely to be auto-outs against playoff caliber pitching. Frankly I am tempted to play Robles or Kendrick in LF and Severino behind plate.

Ole PBN said...

Simple rule: If it hits you in the glove, it needs to be caught. With the obvious exceptions when someone is laid out for the ball, this is generally how errors should be judged. Yet somehow, it's so difficult.

*Conversely, if Zim ever attempts to throw a baseball, it should be ruled an error regardless of whether the receiving player catches it or not.*

Ric said...

@PotomacFan said: "OTOH, when the pitcher makes an "error" it should be ruledan error BUT any runs resulting from that error should be EARNED -- because it was the pitcher's fault."


@OldPBN said: "If it hits you in the glove, it needs to be caught."

I tend to agree. But, then it penalizes better outfielders who get to more balls to begin with. By that metric, Werth would be an All-Star. He can't get to most balls, so few will hit his glove.

And a person like Harper, who books it to the wall to make a great attempt, but gets turned around the wrong side because ball hooked as he sprinted to warning track, gets an error. Even though just to get there is better than most outfielders.

Mr. T said...

Why should pitcher errors should count against ERA? ERA doesn't measure fielding percentage. It measures--or ought to measure--whether or not the opposing team EARNS the runs they score. If they reach via hits or walks, they earned the runs. If they reach via error, and the runs wouldn't have scored otherwise, then they didn't earn them.

OTOH, runs that score on balks and wild pitches are earned, but passed balls are not. Which is stupid. They should all be unearned.

Ole PBN said...

@Ric - Right, I understand your point. But my argument is just in determining errors. Other fancy stats like range factor, defensive runs saved, DWAR, etc. aren't dependent on fielding %, correct? You never hear anyone bring up a gold glove caliber outfielder because of his .991 fielding %. Correct me if I'm wrong...

For example, I believe Murphy rates so low as a 2B because of the fancy stats, not because of the number of errors he's committed. Murph ranks middle-of-the-road in number of errors among qualifying 2B in the MLB, but we all know he is among the worst defensive middle infielders in the game. Thus, it doesn't seem that the overall judgement of a player's defensive metric is aptly dependent on errors, but rather sabermetrics instead. Errors is just not a good way to judge a player defensively, unless it is a Darwin Barney-esque errorless streak that's noteworthy or someone who leads the league by a long shot in errors committed.