Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Back in Whatever Color It Is I Am In To Work in My Office, Today It is a Green Striped Shirt

Monday, April 02, 2018

Monday Quickie - Back in Whatever Color It Is I Am In To Work in My Office, Today It is a Green Striped Shirt

I'm back from vacation and the Nats are back where they belong and where they will probably remain for most of the season - atop the NL East. Nothing about the results of the first series should shock you. The Nats won 97 games last year and are effectively the same team with a healthy Adam Eaton taking over for a hurt Daniel Murphy in the lineup.  The Reds won 68 games last year and lost their second best hitter to free agency.  Still, being on the road you'd probably have the Nats pegged for 2 wins and they got 3 so they are ahead of the game.

What can you glean from one game? Well here's your annual early season reminder that it's not much.  One game is meaningless. One series is also pretty meaningless. One week is almost meaningless. Two weeks is still better off ignored. Three weeks? Ok now we need to start talking. A month? Hey we've reached relevance!

To highlight that fact here's a couple of weeks from last year

Player A (April 5th, 2017 through April 11th) :  26 PA,  .450 / .577 / .800

Player B (May 29th through June 7th) : 26 PA, .095 / .231 / .143

You know where this is going but Player A was the worst regular hitter on the Nationals last year, Matt Wieters, and Player B was the best one Bryce Harper.

That's not to say that all weeks are equal. This is the ONLY regular season information we have right now so you can weight that a little more in your head than a week pulled from the middle of the season. However, that Matt Wieters week above should show you that you do that at your own risk.

So if we can't look at what the Nats have done so far what can we take away? Health. Vague overall team trends. You know I had my worry about the OF given Adam Eaton's return from injury, MATs limited amount of good play and also injury. Well Adam Eaton looks fine. Jury is still out on if MAT is right though (again - can't say anything about his stats too early).  Zimmerman too has the jury out after basically skipping Spring Training. One telling thing could be the lineup tonight. If Zimm or MAT are out again - once again failing to play back to back games it will look a little suspicious regardless of the reasons given.

Despite some guys not clicking you see the depth in the Nats starting lineup. Bryce can carry the team. Eaton was a very good offensive player before losing a year to injury. Trea seems to have a similar "at least ok" floor. The Nats have 6-8 guys you want and are usually going to have 3+ guys going at the same time. Against a bad team that's enough. You also see the top half of the rotation remains strong. The bullpen? Well it should be fine, but you also once again understand the extensional worry of not having that one guy you rely on to be dominant. Could Doolittle have a bad year? Yes! Could Madson have a bad year? Yes! Could Kintzler have a bad year? Yes! Could all three? Well, yes technically but it's pretty damn unlikely. But that last answer is the one you want for your main guy alone. The Nats don't have that. Still it'll almost certainly work out - at least the back end. So the questionable showings from some guys is more a "dammit, don't play with me like this. Not after last year" than a "OH NO DOOM" situation.

Onto the Braves and the first games that may actually matter in more than a counting sense.


Mainelaker said...

Does it matter that Weiters is apparently hurt and Severino on way to Atlanta? Do we care? I guess we will see alot more of Montero.

Harper said...

Ml - We probably should because Wieters shouldn't be as bad and Severino can't hit but given that Wieters didn't do anything the first series I doubt anyone will

Andrew said...

I guess it matters in that catcher depth is pretty thin with Read's suspension. Also as little in offense as I expect from Wieters, he'd probably hit better than Severino. I really wish they'd signed Lucroy.

KingCranium said...

For some unknown reason I've already come to regret, I clicked on Peter King's football rumors column at SI. Near the end he says:

i. The Miami Marlins have eight uber-attractive home games this season: four against the Cubs, two against the Red Sox, two against the Yankees. Six will be finished tomorrow: the four Cubs games that opened the season and the two against Boston that followed. That leaves two against the Yankees, on Aug. 21 and 22, remaining.

j. Interesting scheduling.

The Marlins have home series against the Dodgers, Cardinals, Mets, and of course our own Nats this season. I love the outright statement that only those matchups he names are attractive, and the implication that MLB somehow owes it to the Marlins (or possibly Jeter, who King has had a longstanding man-crush on) to parcel out those games to benefit the Marlins a bit more.

PotomacFan said...

@KingCranium: Peter King is not incorrect. The only interest in attending any Marlins games is from folks in the Northeast (NY and Boston) and Chicago who have moved to South Florida. You are correct that the Dodgers, Cardinals and Nats are great series for baseball fans, but there just aren't many folks from LA, STL or DC living in South Florida. As for the Mets, they just don't have the loyal following that the Yankees have.

Anyone care to guess as to how long Shawn Kelley lasts? I say he's gone by the end of April -- although if D. Martinez never uses him, he could last longer. I believe that Kelley was the only relief pitcher not used in the Cincy series. It wouldn't surprise me to see Hellickson moved into the 5 slot, and Cole moved to long relief.

KW said...

PotomacFan -- you forgot the couple of games a year that Gio starts in Miami! But yeah, other than that . . .

It's pretty telling that Davey doesn't trust Kelley even with a four-run lead, isn't it? Yeah, the Reds had LH-heavy lineups, but Kelley still was pretty conspicuous for by his absence. By playoff time, Kelley, Romero, Grace, and Cole will all be barely remembered.

As for beating the Braves, it should be simple, but the Nats only won the season series 10-9 last year. They shouldn't mess around like that with such a crappy team. Loved that they methodically took care of business in Cincy to start the season.

A minor detail that could signal a major step forward if it holds: Turner worked three walks over the weekend while only striking out once.

Andrew said...

It could be that Martinez doesn't trust Kelley. There are reasons not to, had seven relief pitchers go 8.2 IP between them, with four of them pitching an inning or less. It might be easy to read too much into the fact that Kelley, for example, saw just one batter less than Gott.

Robot said...

I noticed that about Trea, as well, KW. Hope that's a trend and not a fluke

Ole PBN said...

@ KW, I loved what I saw from Turner in terms of approach a the plate this weekend. Never like him in the leadoff spot. With him down in the order, he has a different/more selective approach, while also flies under the radar a little. I like it.

DezoPenguin said...

Well, Zim and Taylor are both in today's lineup. Eaton is getting his promised day off, which puts Turner back at leadoff. And Severino is starting at catcher over Montero.

Rendon (3B)
Harper (RF)
Zimmerman (1B)
Kendrick (LF)
Taylor (CF)
Difo (2B)
Severino (C)
Roark (P)

I guess Roark is hitting ninth because Davey doesn't think Severino is good enough for seventh?

Nattydread said...

Another first week take-away: Martinez is a sabermetric manager that will play with line-ups based on match ups and probability. I like that he sat Zimm to give Adams some playing time and had strong reasoning for doing it.

It doesn't look like he's going to simply roll out the same line up every day as if each player has earned their particular slot.

If he does this well, its only a few extra wins. What it does for morale is worth a lot more. Putting Trea down the line up does take pressure off him -- and it gets more fastballs for MJT when Trea is on base. Nice to see a different type of manager.

BxJaycobb said...

I have to say. I’ve agreed with basically every move Martinez has made. Including the ones that didn’t work out—Solis, etc. I think hitting Tuner lower in order and rendon 2nd is great and shows real intelligence. Hitting a top of order requires high OBP....and actually if you’re somebody who wants to run a ton, you’re better off middle of order where you can create runs when the less talented players are hitting. The one problem I see: murphy need to come back or NOBODY is going to throw Bryce a strike with Zim on deck. He just doesn’t scare anybody. Even when he’s hitting well he’s not scaring anybody. And there’s no guarantee he will hit well.

Dusty's Toothpick said...

I hope Pedro Severino sticks around!!!! Harper what is your thoughts on Matt Grace?.. do you think he hangs around? He pitches longer than most LOOGYs and always makes me nervous....

Josh Higham said...

@Bx, Zim's bad hitting is definitely a problem, but the problem is that he's a likely out, not that he's failing to protect Bryce. Would I rather Bryce hit doubles and homers than walk? Of course. But I don't mind at all if Bryce gets on base fully half of his PAs because pitchers are nibbling. Now, if he gets desperate for hits and starts flailing, then I'll join in the chorus complaining about Zim not protecting Bryce.

But the evidence for protection is basically just a small uptick in walks. Nobody wants to pitch to Bryce under any circumstances when he's hitting well, and nobody minds pitching to him when he's flailing and pulling off toward first base. Zim is only a Bryce problem if he somehow causes the latter.

KW said...

For the record, I would be glad to be wrong about Kelley and have the 2016 version reappear. I would also be glad to be wrong about Cole and have the, um, 2015 AAA version of him reappear. That's the last time he's been good, so there seems like some wishful thinking in his case.

I'm concerned about Zim, but they've got a real ace in the hole in Adams.

Ole PBN said...

Is it just me or does Eaton look like he's hobbling around the bases? It's like a cautious spring on that knee. Perhaps its not 100%, but good enough to play (and play well?) Just wary of it resurfacing, the guy is a force at the top of the order right now and good for the clubhouse.

And I just have to say it: that is why we gave up so much for him. Unless Giolito turns into Strasburg, I'm not regretting this trade. We lose Werth and all that he brought to the table (ehhh) and put in Eaton and all he offers. Who is unimpressed?

And lastly, glad to see no more helmet removing after a homer. The guys just seem to be going to work so far and I think Martinez has done a supreme job. Keep up the good work!

Ole PBN said...

*sorry, cautious SPRINT for Eaton* ... damn fingers.