Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Bryce is back?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Quickie - Bryce is back?

Seems like it.

I think we are all thinking the same things. Hope he's not pushing himself too hard. Hope he doesn't re-injure himself. Hope he can find his swing in a week.

Honestly I don't even really care if he doesn't find his swing. You can't learn much in a week and there is a good week off between the Nats' last game and the first game of the playoffs. If you think he looks fine, despite the results on the field, you play him. End of story.

What does this do for the roster? We'll get to that at the end of the week just because if I can wait it out maybe injuries can make it obvious. I'm pretty sure they'll go with 7 relief pitchers again which is fine. The NLDS schedule is set-up in a 2-2-1 format which means there are never three days of games in a row (barring rainout). That means it's actually more of an issue keeping guys fresh, especially after the long lay off, than it is overworking guys. Your only issue with over working arms is the aforementioned rain out or a long extra inning game.

The question now for the team, other than "watch Bryce" and which marginal player plays in the NLDS, is the Werth question. I've said from the beginning Werth will play unless he does something crazy like hit under .100 after he comes back.

Werth's splits since coming back :
.129 / .191 / .226

and that's including that first game back where he hit that homer. If I say take just September...
.100 / .179 / .140

There's nothing useful there. And given he's at best a small liability in the field, what do you do? His play is forcing an issue where no one wants one.  Dusty doesn't want to sit Werth. The team doesn't want to sit Werth. I don't want to sit Werth. That can very easily become a distracting talking point* going into the NLDS and no one wants that.

But what do you do? This isn't a key starter slumping going into the playoffs. This is an aging useful bat coming back from injury who seemingly can't hit right now. If it weren't Jayson Werth, who is what amounts to the team leader, this discussion wouldn't be happening.

So start hitting Werth! Just hit like .200 over the next week with another homer. That's it. There's the bar, we've set it down near the ground, just step over it so this isn't a "thing" come October.

*It doesn't have to be - Werth could graciously accept a bench role if he can't hit but my guess is at best we'll get an "It is what it is. He's the manager and he makes the decisions" type of response.


Fries said...

As the team leader, I hope he graciously offers himself up as first guy off the bench, and then goes on to recreate some Game 4 magic with a PH home run...but I don't see that happening

At the same time, I have to think all hell will break loose if Dusty doesn't bench him. Fans will call for his head if Werth bats 2nd while hitting .120. This is the year by all accounts (next year as well probably, but still), so the Nats have to do everything they can to win, which means sticking Howie out in LF

sirc said...

I think that batting Jayson Werth second is logical in the typical long view of a 162 game regular season. There's value in his approach and skill set which makes him a very nice hitter behind a speedster and in front of mashers.

However, in a series that doesn't guarantee anything beyond 3 games being played, I feel hesitant in my confidence in Werth there.

Lineup optimization doesn't seem to be one of Dusty's strengths (or favorite topics), so I expect that Jayson will bat second in game 1 against the Cubs. I just can't see Dusty dropping Werth to 8th, but he did bat 7th for the opening month.

So maybe?

BxJaycobb said...

Harper. Look, I'm sorry. Playing a super struggling Werth is BARELY logical against a LHP like Lester or Quintana over Howie. But against a RHP?! This dude has not hit righties any of the last 3 years, and that includes times when his timing is just SWELL....and we have Adam Lind, who MURDERS righties. This would be a move that makes sense at almost any point in their careers, let alone at a time when Lind has like a .930 OPS vs righties and Werth is not capable making contact with a soft tossing lefty righty or ambidextrous pitcher. And no, Werth is no longer a savvy skilled outfielder who is way better than Lind on Def....I watched this dude in the space of 5 games lose a ball in the sky, drop a pop up, and let a single roll through his legs.
And then....hitting 2nd? Maybe if Dusty is high. Look, if we're looking at this without "clubhouse morale" glasses on, the right baseball move is to platoon Howie and Lind and use Robles as defensive replacement and pinch runner (or maybe even start Robles if you feel super adventurous). I can concede that MAYBE non baseball considerations make you start Werth in a few games. But at the VERY VERY bare minimum, he has to (1) hit lower in lineup
and (2) not start against Hendricks or Arrieta. We're trying to win a playoff series. If the Dodgers can literally leave Adrian Gonzalez off the playoff roster---as has been reported--a WAYYY more accomplished player, then can't we merely adjust this guys playing time by following what any non biased statistical analysis says to do? Is the team really gonna be glad they appealed to nostalgia when the Nats are down a run in the 9th of Game 5 with a guy on 3rd and we need somebody to hit a sac fly and instead of Rendon up, it's Werth facing Wade Davis and unable to make contact. I understand the concerns. I do. But I'm sorry. You can't just ignore when a guy looks utterly useless because he has a cool beard and people like him. And this isn't knee jerk. Set September aside and it's still the obvious call.

BxJaycobb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BxJaycobb said...

Ps this would be the ideal lineup, setting aside WERTH IS THE LEADER!!!! emotions:
Turner SS
Bryce RF
Rendon 3B
Murphy 2B
Zim 1B
Kendrick LF (vs LHP)/Lind (vs RHP)
Taylor CF
Wieters C
Then if we're ahead in late innings, Robles into LF and Difo in for Murph at 2B......the latter is a def substitution that needs to be made following Murph's last AB and NEVER is made.

Anonymous said...

What Bx said...ditto!

Mr. T said...

People, you gotta look at this objectively. Werth is Jon Snow. You don't bench Jon Snow.

Froggy said...

How does Werth hit the Cubs? And what are his splits in Wrigley?

PotomacFan said...

If only Werth would hit another ball of his foot, or slip on a wet first base, or crash into the wall (can he even get back that far?) -- problem solved. And I like the guy, I really do. He was an expensive free agent signing, put the Nats on the map as series contender, and earned his contract. That's pretty rare. And, aside from my long past days as a Mets fan and the memory of Mookie Wilson's ground ball through the legs of Bill Buckner, the most exciting baseball moment of my life was Werth's game winning home run against the Cardinals. But still ... the guy does not belong in the starting line-up.

And yet, we all know that he WILL be in the line-up, at least for Game 1.

Anonymous said...

Dusty may have some notion of getting Bryce the 30 plate appearances he needs to qualify for the batting title, which would mean he would need to play every inning of all seven remaining games, which doesn't seem like a good idea to me. It's too bad that the batting title, which is within reach (I think he would be tied for first right now), has to be lost this way (especially after Murph's last weekend loss last year), but the playoffs are the thing, so that should be the focus.

Fries said...

@Mr T

Werth may be Jon Snow, but until a Red Priestess shows up, he's still dead

W. Patterson said...

Interesting to see if Bryce is BRYCE for these remaining games, and how he continues to stay sharp in the space leading to the playoffs. One hopes for exciting baseball, regardless.

As for Werth, I'm a Tivo baseball watcher and tend to bloop forward when Jason comes to bat. If, by chance, he gets a hit then I'll rewind. Were I watching live then I'd take the opportunity for a bathroom break. In short, the only folks who are inspired by him are the Nats - and one hopes he can do that from the bench.

John C. said...

On where Werth hits in the lineup: remember the important, rarely mentioned fact of "lineup optimization:" it doesn't matter very much over a 162 game season. Which means that it matters hardly at all in a short series (in fact, because of the fluky things that happen in terms of SSS and sequencing, it's quite possible that an "optimized" lineup hurts more than it helps in a short series).

Also, I don't confuse "many internet commenters will be incensed" with a generalized fan revolt. Certainly those willing to reach for the torches and pitchforks are most visible on the internet, but that's like trying to track public reaction by comments on media web sites. It's just not a reliable way of doing that. A lot of fans who don't participate in comment threads like Werth, or at least aren't going to be exercised if he starts.

Cheer up! Playoffs are so weird that Werth may well start and be one of the best Nats' hitters while others like Bryce, Rendon and Murphy struggle.

Ole PBN said...

When guys like Kendrick/Lind are hitting 100 points higher than Werth... I'd rather not go with the "playoffs are so weird, anything can happen" approach. Anybody rather have Stevenson in CF over Taylor??

I get the sentiment, but Werth simply isn't the best option. And with the stats/data available, its a fools errand to start him over more qualified players. An untraceable/invisible "white magic" reason would be the only thing in his favor. I'd rather go with something more concrete.

After all, if Werth could just hit a little bit, like not a lot, just even .260... just enough to not make it laughable at the plate, I could see an argument for him starting. Its his job to lose, not like he has to prove a whole lot. Just prove that he can still play this sport. Sometimes I feel like people forget/refuse to accept, just HOW BAD he has performed since his return from injury this year...

BxJaycobb said...

Yeah I believe Werth has gone 5 for 48 since his return from injury. Like....that's not struggling. That's like worse than a pitcher. And it's not like he's getting bad luck. He is utterly hopeless up there. Like he has no chance. I actually predict that if he shows zero signs of life that dusty goes with Kendrick.

WiredHK said...

I have zero faith that Dusty will/would remove Werth from the lineup and ask him to hold down a bench role, despite the sure evidence that it would give us a better chance to win. That's a tick depressing. And that has to be awkward for his teammates, who I'm sure respect his career greatly, but also want to win badly.

Jay said...

I don't disagree on Werth. The one thing Werth does well, and still does well is work the count. That is not a valueless skill. I do agree that he needs to show at least something this week to feel better about leaving him in there. A hitting Werth with Kendrick and Lind on the bench is much better than a platoon of Lind and Kendrick or Lind and Werth and Werth on the bench.

A couple other thoughts or questions. Has Robles done enough to be on the playoff roster or does DeAza make it. In my mind, I'd go with Robles.

The most important question in my opinion is if Bryce can be BRYCE. I offer up the following points as optimistic views.

1. BRYCE loves the playoffs and usually plays/shows well in high stakes games.

2. I saw on twitter last week that Bryce has been hitting for a little while now and the plan has always been for him to come back this week. His BP sessions and simulated games have shown him making good contact and hitting the ball very well. Hopefully, BRYCE gets up to speed quickly this week.

3. My most important point: BRYCE usually starts off the season quite strong. Even April last year BRYCE was crushing the first 3 weeks. He usually hits well in spring training as well. A great example of all of this is BRYCE on opening day. Needless to say he is no Zim and usually hits the ground running.

If BRYCE shows, Max pitches like he is capable, Stras pitches like he has been (he looks like a man on a mission in my mind), our bullpen holds up, and we get something out of Turner, Rendon, and/or Zim then Werth or not doesn't matter. (I realize that is a lot of ifs - hopefully most of them happen) I mean Turner absolutely killed the Cubs the last time we played them. We'll see. I'm determined to enjoy it this time. Last year I was so nervous about game 5 I could only watch when the Nats were at bat bc I was convinced the other shoe was going to drop. Not this year.

Froggy said...

Werth has 15 postseason HR's

Froggy said...

Werth is career in Wrigley .221
Kendrick is .174

JE34 said...

@bx: Werth is 9 for 66 since returning to play Aug 28, with 5 walks. He has a hit in 3 of his last 5 games, so hopefully he's starting to find his stroke. He still looks like he's guessing more than he used to, betting fastball and flailing badly when he guesses wrong. Vintage Werth was visibly comfortable with 2 strikes on him. When he gets behind in the count, he's not being a pain in the ass to the pitcher anymore... he's guessing, and selling out on that guess. And I guess that's to be expected for a late 30s big leaguer who's not on PEDs.

That said - we shouldn't expect Howie Kendrick to light the world on fire either. He has cooled considerably over the last month.

Play with Werth's numbers on Fangraphs for a bit (combined with watching him play), and it gets more clear that the odds of him returning to form are quite long. Counting on him for meaningful production is basically hope. And I'll be there hoping for the best like the rest of us, because having him close out his tenure in DC with some big postseason knocks would be awesome, and the gushing narratives would all but write themselves. Like Jay said, here's hoping a decline in Werth's production isn't consequential.

@Jay: I would go with Robles for pinch running and late inning defensive replacement. I wouldn't want him or De Aza in anything resembling a high leverage hitting situation.

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