Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Sticking to my guns

Monday, April 09, 2018

Monday Quickie - Sticking to my guns

"Perhaps if they got swept by the Mets and followed that with losing 2 of three to Atlanta you could start to sweat"

Is it getting a little hot in here? Yes. Yes it is.

What is going on?  A couple things. First and foremost you have the magnification that comes along with a start of a season. It's only been 9 games and a 4-5 record in 9 games is pretty unremarkable. But have it be the only 9 games you see and you can't help but think "well maybe this is the team - a .500 bunch".

Second you have a rare event - the other NL East teams starting well.  Let's look back for a second at last couple of years.
  • In 2017 the Nats started 3-3 and 6-5. At the time they were tied for first, and a half-game behind respectively. 
  • In 2016 the Nats started 9-1. They beat up on the Braves, but only won 2 vs Philly and had split 2 versus the Marlins. Still they found themselves up by 5 games. 5! A mere 10 games in.
The Nats didn't ever really have a chance to feel threatened because they haven't started this slowly in a while, nor has the NL East had this fast a start in a while. In combination with this is the sweep at the hands of the Mets, who the Nats have handled in the past two years at a 25-13 pace. This all reminds Nats fans a bit too much of 2015 where a 13-3 Mets team jumped out to an early lead on a 7-9 Nats team and then were able to hold on as the season progressed.

But this still doesn't get to the why and stat-wise it's simple. The Nats have given up a ton of runs. No starter has been dominant. Because of that the bullpen has been asked to do more. While some have been fine, the last few arms out have been iffy as expected with Gott and Romero blowing up and more importantly the key piece of Brandon Kintzler, the guy most likely to put out fires in the 6th and 7th has been terrible. He's made the fires into infernos.

The Kintzler work will sort itself out. If he keeps struggling he'll lose that role and it'll go to a Shawn Kelly, who's looked pretty good in his few appearances, or Sammy Solis who has been solid lately. The last arms situation though will not. That's fine if the starters reset themselves and give the Nats a ton of very good innings. But if they can't this couple arm short pen could plague the Nats as the season goes on.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

i'd like to see a Eaton, Turner, Harper, Rendon batting order. with Rendon behind Harper, Bryce might see better pitches and take advantage of his typically HOT April. also, Turner needs to be closer to the top of the order I think. While i'd prefer we took a couple games from both the Braves and the Mets, maybe playimg from the middle of the pack will allow them to be less complacent and more focused and maybe play a little with the "hair on fire" Natitude that Bryce plays with. a little adversity and hearing Mets fans gleefully shouting down Nats fans might build some comradery and team spirit/identity that any playoff bound team will need to push them thru the tough parts. i liked seeing Doolittle's fire last night. he's proving to be "that guy" as the closer. maybe he can be the leader/motivator in the pen to get them sparking. this team has the talent. does it have the heart? the eyes will turn to Dave Martinez to see how he drives this ship. They don't need camels, they need a pack of hungry wolves for inspiration!

Chas R said...

Good analysis Harper. There also seems to be too many base running mistakes and failures to get key hits with RISP. I am wondering how much of the lack of Spring Training preparation is catching up to them- particularly Zim?

Ole PBN said...

Since we all can't help but look at these games under a microscope, I'll start. Last night was frustrating. Pedro Severino caught looking a two fastballs right down the middle with two strikes and with men on. MAT striking out with the bases loaded, swinging at two pitches way out of the zone and making the pitchers job easy (in a bases-loaded situation, the pressure is on the pitcher... thanks Mike). Base running error by Harper not advancing to 3rd. Having played and coached this game, so much of this stuff is about mental errors. Everyone playing in that game last night has supreme talent to execute a job, very frustrating to see these lapses occur in such crucial situations. These are different than Kintzler's past couple of outings - he was just bad and didn't have it. There's a difference between getting beat by a better pitch/swing/play or player and giving it away by yourself. How you watch two fastballs right now broadway with two strikes is simply inexcusable. 4-17 tells the story of last night's game and not the pitching performances. And I think it needs to be said that the Mets are going to be around all season (barring injury of course). All the more reason to come mentally-prepared to play everyday.

Also, never a good feeling when you feel like the only shot the Nats have of scoring a run is Eaton-Rendon-Harper. If those three can't plate a teammate or two, we have to wait until the lineup cycles through again to pose any sort of threat.

Ole PBN said...

@Anon 6:51 - I'm all for a slight lineup adjustment, but I don't know what Trea's .235/.381/.704 has done to earn him being slotted in a 2nd in the order. Plus I'm not a fan of his style of hitting being a catalyst for our entire offense, just because he's "fast.". If Zimmerman can't hit (which he isn't), I'm leaning more towards Eaton, Rendon, Bryce, Kendrick, Turner... or... Eaton, Kendrick, Bryce, Rendon, Turner... Howie looks great so far. 4 K's in 32 AB (fewer K's than Bryce) and most importantly: HE PUTS THE BALL IN PLAY. Something MAT should be benched for.

Dusty's Toothpick said...

I think Davey needs to set the tone a bit more in the clubhouse. I mean Turner is blatantly disregarding signs. This needs to get under control quick before they loose the team. Really poor disciplined baseball as of late. Bring Jayson Werth back as a player coach like the good ol' days!!! Get the Ju Ju right on this team because something feels off, and can we not roll AJ Cole out there?! It is not the right message to send to the team.

G Cracka X said...

I'm feeling some eerie parallels to 2015. But then again, its probably just confirmation bias since my pre-season prediction was that 2015 would repeat itself, at least in that the Mets would win the division and the Nats would miss the playoffs. No two seasons are ever exactly alike.....

Anonymous said...

The Nats got knocked around on Thursday. Yesterday was a classic toss up game, and last night the Nats should have won but blew it.

A few thoughts about last night: (1) Bryce should have made it to 3rd in the 9th on the wild pitch, but being cautious in that situation is generally the correct move. There were no outs and a run wins the game, so making an out at 3B is far worse than not making it to 3B; (2) between Trea's Nook Logan maneuver and Bryce staying at second in the 9th, the Nats made two bad plays by NOT listening to Bob Henley. How weird is that? (3) Kintzler is no good right now. He has a decent enough track record that you figure he'll right the ship, but he's always going to be a guy who relies on balls in play becoming outs, which is a dangerous game; (4) the bloviating of the ESPN analysts notwithstanding, Matt Harvey still stinks. Harvey threw 85 pitches and had 2Ks, with one of them being a three-pitch K to Roark. He had precious few swinging strikes, and many of the ones he did have were by Tanner. There were a number of roasted GBs right at infielders. He's not missing bats. This is the same guy as last year, and that guy is no good. I set the over/under for his 2018 ERA at 5.00 and I don't expect him to last the season in the rotation. Syndergaard and deGrom are legit, but they need a third good starter to compete for the division title. It aint gonna be Harvey; (5) Zim crushed a ball during his PH appearance but Conforto made a nice play; (6) V. Robles went 4-4 with a BB and an SB Saturday and Juan Soto went 4-5 with a HR, 3B, and an SB yesterday.

Huzzah! said...

Seemed like the nats we’re getting on base a good amount all night, but just couldn’t turn them into runs. Horrible at bats with RISP and a bunch of mistakes on the base paths too. Is this something that is the fault of individual players or coaching? And if so, can this be addressed and improved?

Ps- Rendons bunt was one of the most effortless bunts I’ve ever seen

Josh Higham said...

Re moving Rendon: I don't think it makes any sense to have anyone but Bryce, Rendon, Murphy in the 2 and 3 spots. Assuming Murphy hit like last year (not quite the herculean 2016, but excellent), they are the 3 best hitters on the team, and you need to get them as many ABs as possible. Turner is a special player, but not so special at this point that you want him extra ABs (late in games) over those guys.

BxJaycobb said...

I actually took something else away from last night that will be important in the long run this year. Matt Harvey stinks. His swing and miss is still gone. He is at the mercy of batted ball luck. And even the Nats crappy strikeout hitters hit him hard and made easy contact. He was about two feet away from giving up 9 runs on that Rendon near homer. I guarantee you he will be a 4+ ERA starter this year. And he might be worse than that. To me he looked identical to last year. That’s big. Because there’s a huge difference between the Mets having 3 excellent starters and 2 beasts.

Josh Higham said...

@Bx, I agree. Harvey was tremendously lucky last night that it was so cold. No swing and miss stuff, no easy innings, even against the black hole bottom of the order.

sirc said...

I dunno.

Roark gave up a grand slam after having 2 outs and no one on base. Whatever gripes might come up from last night, that was the ballgame.

Everything else doesn't matter. If Roark doesn't walk the bases loaded the Nats win. It was weirdness, not symptomatic.

The Nats will have another 5 or 6 game losing streak this year. Maybe a few more. So will every other team, including the Mets. It happens, and is indicative of nothing.

I resent the implication that we know anything after 9 games.

Stephen said...

Mets fan here. I heard the streets in DC are extra clean today because you just got SWEPT! Its ok, Nats fans. Murphy will be back soon. In the mean time LETS GO METS!!!!

Bjd1207 said...

Guys, I'm freaking out

Stephen said...

@Ole PBN: Remember this gem of a comment "Last year was last year, and this year is still this year. And you're still posting anonymously. Its hard to take anything you say seriously."

Here I am, and my comment is relevant. Last year WAS last year, and this year IS this year. Yes, I know its early, but god it feels good to make Nats fans eat their words this early on. Maybe you will have that moment where you can throw it back in my face (and I am all for it if its deserved), but for now you gotta swallow that pill, bruh.

Chas R said...

@Stephen- thanks for the gloating and trolling. We will be sure to remember that when the Mess turn back into a pumpkin

Stephen said...

@Chas R: Fair enough, I won't stop you. I enjoy trash talking and trolling. But for now LETS GO METS!

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem here, for everyone talking about Matt Harvey...he's had a good start and a bad start. Last night was the bad start. And he beat you. In your own park. You have to ask yourselves, is there truly a huge difference between the Mets having two top flight starters and three? Because their bullpen is better and deeper than it's been in the past

Anonymous said...

"Here's the problem here, for everyone talking about Matt Harvey...he's had a good start and a bad start. Last night was the bad start. And he beat you. In your own park."

No, he didn't. The game went to extra innings.

"is there truly a huge difference between the Mets having two top flight starters and three?"

Yes.

The reason last night's bad start for Matt Harvey is significant is because it looked a lot like the 35 shitty starts Matt Harvey had in 2016-17. His first start in 2018 was fine, but it's not like he generated a bunch of swinging strikes then either. He can't strike anybody out. This, more than any commentary about his velocity, whether he's not as fat as he was, or his nightlife behavior, is relevant to Harvey's performance in 2018. Harvey is going to suck in 2018, which is too bad, because he was so so good in 2013 and pretty damn good in 2015. That guy is gone. The best case scenario for Harvey going forward is a reality TV show with Tim Lincecum about once-great MLB starting pitchers who are washed up before 30.

Karl Kolchak said...

Freaking out? Not yet. Highly concerned? Absolutely. In addition to being worried about the very thin pitching depth, Dave Martinez looks like the exact opposite of a guy who has spent years grooming to be a manager. Frankly, he looks like a deer in the headlights--a guy who only knows how to pull lame camel stunts and doesn't have the stones to (for example) tell his aging slugger first baseman that he needs to fully participate in spring training like everybody else. When he tried to look tough by kicking home plate Saturday, he came off looking more like a pouting little kid.

Anonymous said...

@anon I don't think there's any denying that that Harvey is gone. My point is that it may not make as big a difference to the Mets as you think it does. Not having an elite Harvey didn't stop the Mets from beating you guys last night, so I'm not sure it will stop them from beating you guys the rest of the season

JC said...

@anon Mets fan - I think you do not understand the idea of regression to the mean

Anonymous said...

I come to this thread to read good discussion about my team, the nats, not to read some Mets fans gloating about an April win

Ole PBN said...

@Stephen - and there you are. Thanks for joining the party. Hard to keep track of all these Anonymous posters, all of you are basically white noise to the discussion. I appreciate a good trash talk and the Mets fans deserve to gloat about that series, regardless of how early it is. Nats have to bring it, it's all they can do. As for the "tough pill" we had to swallow, it was similar to the multi-vitamin I took this morning; not phased. It's a long season, we'll see ya'll next go around, maybe when Matt Reynolds isn't at the dish in extras.

Steven said...

Here's one of the many things I love about this blog community: you guys are astute and have your minds in the game. Example: almost to a non-anon commentor, we were all concerned about starting catching going into Spring Training, and here it is biting us in the @$$...our starting catching has been awful. Wieters injured (gasp, surprise, even fit-and-40 catchers get injured). Montero seems to get shaken off a lot from his starters, which leaves me observing he isn't on the same page. MAT and others were known quantities taking maybe three steps forward and two back, but catching was easily summed up by this blog as the glaring weakness that it is now. Kinztler wouln't have given up the grand slammy a few days ago had Montero not called a fastball meat pitch to a fastball meat pitch HR hitter. I mean, c'mon!!

So I could be very nervous about some of the bullpen or hitters, but catching is most galringly concerning to me right now.

For now, let the Mets fans have their cake, we have a lot of baseball ahead of us, and I love a good rivalry [although one where we are 5 to 7 games ahead all season ;-)]

JDBrew said...

Why did you have to mention Robles going 4 for 4. Looks like he just destroyed his elbow... here’s hoping for a healthy and productive MAT... and a speedy recovery by Robles.

PotomacFan said...

MAX! When you can't hit, and your bullpen is ineffective (Kintzler) or just plain tired (Madson, Doolittle), just let Max pitch a complete game 2 hitter. And even steal a base.

Robot said...

So the Mers fans are crawling out of the woodwork to gloat already? C'mon, guys, it's April 9th. You understand there's still like 150 games to go, right?

Harvey and Thor lasted a full two weeks without injury. Hurray, time to break out the champagne. Nevermind that the 35 degree weather and wind were the only things keeping Harvey from giving 6+ last night. I would concerned when it warms up.

Jay said...

Max is the man. That is all.

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