Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : On Target

Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Quickie : On Target

Hey look.  On Friday I said 1-2 vs the Diamondbacks.  The Nats went 1-2 vs the Diamondbacks. I can't go back and today say that's not good enough. Sure you can point to this game or that point and say "They should have done this and won" but that'll happen like a few times every week in the baseball season and the baseball season is LONG. You'll drive yourself crazy thinking like that. The Diamondbacks are playing like one of the best teams in baseball. The Nats are injured and not doing that. 1-2 is a perfectly acceptable outcome.

What does 1-2 mean? It means they are less likely to have some sort of crazy positive streak start this homestand and it means they don't have any leeway for what's to come. They can't split a homestand like this so they need to win 5 more games. They don't want to fall farther behind so they have to take at least two games from the Phillies. In short, they need to win the series versus the Pirates* and they need to win the series versus the Phillies. It's a shame that they didn't get leeway because Pirates are pretty hot right now but that's the position they are in.

But it's not a bad position. It could be by the end of the week, but not today. Not yet. I mean they went 1-2 and lost all of a half-game in the standings to the first place Mets.  Big picture people. Eyes on the prize. You want to panic? Fine. But can you wait until the second Pirates loss happens and the homestand is officially derailed first?

The thing is - coming back from the hole the Nats dug is usually a long slog. You gain a game here, two games there, lose a game here, get it back over there. At the end of a couple months you are back where you should be. I think there is a lot of impatience with Nats fans. The firing of Dusty was made so the team could supposedly take the next step. They were supposed to be better than all these teams ahead of them. They don't want anything worse than last year. And so right now they want an immediate correction. They want the Nats to roll off 8 wins here, 6 wins there and be back in the hunt in two weeks not two months. That can happen (see : NYY) but that's not typical. You are just going to have to get used to appreciating minor victories and small steps.

Other notes :

Atlanta took 2 of 3 from Philly and given their relative positions that was probably the best case scenario for the Nationals. Mets took 2 of 3 from the Padres but lost on the Thursday the Nats were off so the total ground lost since coming back to DC is a half game. Mets take on Braves next so another likely place for the Nats to gain ground on someone. Cespedes is out for a few games with a thumb injury.

We're here! We're at the end of the month and is Zimmerman in "usual bad" or "OMG this is new territory"? We said we'd check and.... it's only "usual bad"! So that's good news I guess. And it's not just that one 2 homer game that's carrying him. After that game he's hit .250 / .294 / .438. That's not good but it's kind of in the realm of what you may expect.

There were a ton of injury updates coming back from the homestand and here's the quick rundown
No news and that's ok
No update on Koda Glover but right now we're just assuming he's out for a long time. This changes nothing

No news and that's not ok for him, for you maybe though
No update on Matt Grace. Not sure any fan really cares that he comes back soon though.

Good news
Rendon is progressing as expected. I wanted him back today. That seems unlikely but the Phillies series to me seems like the longest he'll be out.
Benoit is throwing for anyone that cares. Which does suggest he could be back this year.
Kelley is still throwing suggesting that this isn't necessarily a 60 day DL situation like initially thought. Maybe. 

Neutral news
Murphy is still doing what he's doing. No setbacks noted but no plans currently on whether to send him for a rehab assignment. Given we set the new line at Memorial Day this changes nothing.

Bad news
Eaton and Goodwin who both should have been back for the Diamondback series are both in "day to day" limbo. Essentially it seems like they have no idea what's going on with either of these two and they could just as likely be out a few more days as a few more weeks. 

*OK yes they could split - then sweep the Phillies, I guess.


Jon Quimby said...

I'm taking in my second game of the season on Wednesday. I want to see Rendon and Eaton on the field. With Turner starting to hit, it sure would be nice to have that lineup at the top of the order.

Harper said...

JQ - hold out hope for Rendon but not Eaton. Seems like at this point even if he is ready they may send him down to the minors for a few games

Ole PBN said...

I totally agree about the patience preaching, Harper. Though difficult to stick to - as we fans are impatient - this team is not healthy and it will be a couple months of wins here and there to get back in the hunt. What I have zero tolerance for is the mental mistakes. For example, things that I cannot get mad at: a fielding error, a robbed hit, a walk, a strikeout on a good pitch, a home run by an opposing hitter. Sometimes you get beat or make a physical error (swings and misses, pitcher missing his spots). You hope these don't happen, but it does happen to everyone. Then there are the things I hate to see: striking out looking with RISP on a 1-2 count. Flailing at pitches way outside the zone. Standing in the box with no plan of attack in mind. Not making an adjustment to your approach based on a change in the situation (two strikes/runners on/late in the game, etc.) I truly believe that a AAA player and an MLB All-Star can possess this mental awareness. The physical tools are not comparable of those two players and I'm accepting of that. But, bone-headed plays, knowledge of the strike zone, a lack of awareness is tough to watch whether its Bryce or Matt Reynolds. And I have to say, Michael A. Taylor is public enemy #1 when it comes to these issues. I appreciate his defense in CF, so I'm all for him being a late inning defensive sub or a bat off the bench. The guy has all the physical tools in the world to make you drool and zero awareness at the plate - so in my book, he's one of the toughest Nats to watch.

G Cracka X said...

On the bright side, so far Matt Wieters has a WRC+ of 117, compared to 62 last year. Both he and Pedro have positive WAR this year (both of them had negative WAR last year).

Hoo said...

One thing that is fascinating about the Nats is that when it is time to win and take the next step they roll with a rookie manager. The organization usually goes safe and a. It cheap. But with managers it is let’s roll the dice and hope a roomie guy takes us the whole way.

Johnny Callison said...

Agree with Hoo on the manager situation; a rookie manager rarely wins (I know a couple are doing well right now). The idea that Martinez isn't a rookie because of all his years with Maddon is inaccurate. It's very different to be a coach.

I also agree with Ole PBN about that Nats' situational hitting. Their record with RISP and also with the bases loaded is terrible and has cost them several games. They were in position to win all three of the D'Back games and either their RISP problems or their pitching's tendency to give up runs in the half innning following the team scoring cost them dearly.

In better news, it looks like the three teams ahead of the Nats probably can't sustain their hot paces. I think one of the three will have staying power, but if two of them do, the Nats are in trouble.

SM said...

Two more "manager" comments today (implying Dusty Baker wouldn't be losing all these 1-run games).

Martinez, Schmartinez--the Nats could have re-signed Dusty or, better yet, Jim Riggleman (he of the "most of the time you've got to manage for 25, not the one," and who is going "with offense over defense" in Cincinnati.

Maybe if Dusty told another Jimi Hendrix story, Murphy would be in the lineup. Or shared a blunt with Rendon and Eaton to make the pain go away, not only keeping them in the lineup but ensuring they deliver in the clutch.

Then God would be in His heaven and all would be right with the world.

JE34 said...

@SM: LOL -- now THAT was funny.

You have to play the players you have, and several active roster players should be in Syracuse. Can't hang too much of that on the manager.

But -- Martinez's use of Austin Adams in extra innings showed an appalling lack of knowledge, even when running out of arms. Leaving Zimmerman behind Harper as long as he did was borderline negligent. A manager's impact is usually at the margins... and job 1 is to do no harm. He's done a little harm so far.

Jay said...

The hard part about letting Dusty leave is that all the guy has done in the regular season is win. He won 95+ each of his two years. However, I did say regular season. I also think it is telling that Dusty didn't ask for a ruling on catcher interference. More importantly, he left Jayson Werth in bc Werth was a veteran that deserved the opportunity. It was problematic that the manager says, "I've been that guy, that veteran guy like Jayson". Dusty should be thinking about the team not Werth deserving to play or not. Werth is in the minors this year trying to earn his way back to the bigs. Finally, Dusty's complete debacle of handling Strasburg was also worrisome. One it made the Nats seem like a laughingstock again. Plus, it made Dusty seem asleep at the wheel in my opinion.

I think the Nats still have time, but do need to start turning it around. Also, I can see both sides of the Dusty as manager argument. Of course, if the Lerners don't completely botch negotiations with Bud Black it may not have mattered.

W. Patterson said...

It's either time to panic, or it's time to look forward to an exciting rest of the season. Since I can do nothing to influence - but do really enjoy reading what Harper and his minions have to say - think I"ll do the later.

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Robot said...

"Since I can do nothing to influence"

Is this some sort of reverse-anti-jinx?

W. Patterson said...

@Robot - I hadn't thought of it as a revere-anti-jinx although that's not a bad idea. I think of it more as a case of no matter how much I yell at the TV, it doesn't do any good.

Josh Higham said...

I have found that Gio responds extremely well to my couch-shouts.