Nationals Baseball: 86-31

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

86-31

That's the Nats record in 2016 & 2017 when Max or Strasburg have been on the mound.  That's a 73.5% win percentage or a 119 win pace. This is why, if these two are healthy, Nats fans shouldn't worry too much.  To counter this pace - a pace 25 wins better than 94 wins which should comfortably win a division most of the time - the Nats would have to be a below .500 team in all their other games. While Roark and Gio aren't perfect, they should be better than .500 pitchers.

That leaves the fifth spot to be a complete disaster, like a win a quarter of your game situation. Last year the Nats had a mess at 5th starter. They still almost went .500 in that spot (20-21).  Even taking out Ross (they went 9-4 in Ross games, which is better than you'd expect) they still went 11-17 which is simply not bad enough to counter all the above. Take out Ross, stretch that to a full season and the Nats win 93 games.

This is the cushion the Nats have. As long as Max and Strasburg are healthy and great, Gio and Roark don't have to be any better than a little over .500. As long as Gio and Roark are healthy and good the 5th spot just has to be not the worst in the league. I think the Nats can manage that. This isn't even noting that the bullpen should in fact be better this year.

I guess you could worry that the offense may not be as good. Eaton is now looking at a DL stint. Murphy isn't closing in on coming back like we'd hope we'd start to hear about by now. Zimmerman, Turner and MAT all are struggling. But Bryce is a star and Rendon keeps doing what he does, so as long as they don't falter it only takes one or two more bats to create a couple runs and a couple runs is often enough with this pitching staff.  I wouldn't make this a formula for winning in the playoffs, and yes, all this being wrong all year would probably mean a fight for the division title, but enough to knock the Nats out of contention? Nah it would take more than that.

You might be thinking - hey but in 2015 they had Bryce being BRYCE OMG and great Max and didn't even have that faltering a 5th starter and they didn't stay in contention. True. But they scored the 3rd most runs in the league with little else than Bryce. The second best hitter on the team was Escobar as Zimm, Werth, Ramos and Rendon all battled back from injuries. They had the 6th best ERA in the league despite fighting a faltering pen. That's usually a team that will compete for a Wild Card. What they also had was a little bad luck - Runs scored and runs allowed suggested an 89 win team, not an 83 win team; a little bad timing - the Mets would win 90 games that year the one of two times from 2014-2017 an NL East team other than the Nats would break 79 wins as well as the WCs having 98 and 97 wins crazy numbers possibly never to be repeated; and a little bad clutch performance - 8-11 vs the Mets, including 0-6 during stretch run series. It was a better team than it showed. In a normal season that team is competing for a Wild Card down the stretch

The short of it is - give me healthy Max, healthy Stras, healthy Bryce, and healthy Rendon and don't have everything else become a complete mess and that's enough to challenge for the playoffs and likely the NL East crown. Win it? Well that has something to do with the other teams competing.

17 comments:

John O'Connor said...

You omitted that the 2015 Nats also had the gigantic albatross that is Matt "just when did you lose this clubhouse" Williams.

Ole PBN said...

Good analysis Harper. But doesn’t this speak to the fact that we need a 3rd starter capable of performing in the postseason? Not to beat a dead horse, but we’re not going anywhere fast in October if we only have Max and Stras. Especially given the fact that those postseason games that our aces start aren’t exactly guarunteed wins (we’re 1-5 in those starts). Probably proof that the playoffs are a crapshoot (which no one is denying). But why not try to improve that area as an insurance for a dead offense?

Harper said...

Yeah - something else was going on in 2015 anyway you slice it. It's the only year from 2012-2017 where the Nats were more than 2 games off their expected record. In fact the only time this decade.

Ole PBN - well before you beat the dead horse, make sure you aren't putting him behind the cart or something. Basically at this point I want to see the Nats in contention in June before I start worrying about playoff caliber 3rd starter. (and honestly I wouldn't write off Roark just yet - he's only gotten one chance)

Mark said...

IF the Nats have a healthy Harper, Murphy and Eaton in the line up, and Rendon plays like he's capable, they will score enough runs to get Max and Stephen wins in the playoffs... at least until the WS.

Huzzah! said...

Read on ESPN’s article about teams with hot starts so far this year that Syndergaard and deGrom have started 6 of the Mets first 10 games...this obviously won’t be the case over the course of the season, and especially not if one of those two misses time on the DL. Mets will come back down to Earth but this hot start could be difference maker if it’s close in September

JE34 said...

Montero DFA'd! Severino stays!

Zimmerman11 said...

No EATON, no Zim and no Murphy. :( :( :( I don't like our lineup so much today.

Ole PBN said...

Quote of the year so far: (FP talking about AJ Cole)... “if you’re a Brave hitter, you’re looking for the pitch you saw last time from A.J. Cole. But right now, he’s making the adjust...[gives up a home run]...ments.” Pure gold on the microphone up there, thanks for the laugh FP!

TwoGloves said...

Huz, I agree with you regarding their starts, but the article doesn't mention that they both have been hit hard in those starts, especially Thor, and the Mets are still winning. Those two getting hit hard isn't going to last all year either.

Josh Higham said...

UCL injury to D'Arnaud. I'm not wishing injury on anyone, but that's a meaningful blow to the Mets, especially the pitching staff.

Huzzah! said...

@twogloves true they've each had one poor start apiece...in other news Bob Henley sent Water Buffalo 2018 (matt adams) to home and from 2nd and he was thrown out by a mile...im seeing a trend here

PotomacFan said...

Whoa! AJ Cole makes it to the 6th inning, giving up (only) two solo homers, and the Nats can't score! 4 double plays, and a runner (I use that term loosely) thrown out a home plate, in the first 6 innings. Daniel Murphy and Victor Robles: get well soon.

JE34 said...

Oy this bullpen. Last 4 innings:

1 inning, 1 hit 1 walk
1 inning, 2 walks
1 inning, 3 hits
1 inning, 3 hits 2 walks

That is a LOT of baserunners.

Robot said...

This lack of scoring is worrisome.

Froggy said...

Bob "Windmill" Henley throws out yet another Nationals base runner at home!

Anonymous said...

The thing is, most good teams can say the same thing. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yanks, Sox, Mets, D-backs. Hell, even the Phillies have Arrieta and Nola. Many teams have two good to great starters at the front of the rotation. It's the back that separates the good from the also-rans and the Nationals have little depth. The Mets have eight starters so if Harvey implodes they have Wheeler who pitched a two hitter tonight or Gsellman or Lugo. If Cole can't get it together, where do the Nats go? And two of the three games the Nats lost to the Mets were due to the bullpen. The Nationals have Scherzer and Strasburg and a great offense. But the Mets have a deeper rotation, a deeper pen and the knowledge that three years ago they ran the Nats down. The National may still be the better team, but history says that letting the Mets hang around come back to bite them in the backside.

PotomacFan said...

Exactly. Most of the teams that will go to the playoffs have very good, if not excellent, SP 1 and 2. They mostly balance each other out. If the Nats play the Dodgers, I don't think Max has an advantage over Kershaw. It's the numbers 3 and 4, and the bullpen that make the difference.