Nationals Baseball: The Mets Problem

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Mets Problem

We talked about this in 2015 when the Mets got off to a hot start and the Nats did not. It does matter.

Our final totals should be adjusted because of what has taken place so far. You think the Mets are an 85 win team? Well then they should win the rest of their games at an 85 win pace. That means going a modest 79-72.  But the 10-1 they have now? That's in the bank. There's no changing that - so your 85 win team is now an 89 win team. Along with this is any change in expectation. Is there something about the Mets that made you say 85 that you like better now? Maybe you think Adrian Gonzalez could put up a good year or Michael Conforto could be a star player. Maybe now they are an 86 win team or an 87.  That 79-72 becomes 80-71 or 81-71 for the rest of the year and 90 or 91 for the season because of what's in the bank.  It does matter.

You can reverse it for the Nats though the Nats start at 6-6 won't have as big an impact as the Mets start. If you liked the Mets at 85, then they "should" be 6-5 so 10-1 is a four game positive swing in the bank. If you like the Nats at 95 then they "should" be 7-5 so 6-6 is just a one game negative swing. It does matter but just barely.

We can talk about a number of things but let's focus on the two most important ones. First, the Nats need to finish the home stand strong. 3-1 at least versus the Rockies. That only gives them a 5-5 homestand, and failure to hit either of the homestand goals (6-4 and/or a Mets series win) but it's the best you can expect after an 0-3 start. Then the Nats need to go into NY and not get swept. As of today they don't need to win that series. They might have to if things go wrong against Colorado and the Mets keep streaking, but as of today a simple 1-2 series would be acceptable. Get one win in their place and say "see you in July" and then let the season play out.

But first things first - beat up the Rockies. That's not a given. The Rockies are not a bad team. But it's a necessary thing.

Other notes

Montero is out. There are some rumors about why he was here and why he is gone so fast but it doesn't really matter does it? He hasn't been a regularly good player on offense since 2012 and a good player on defense since hurting his back in 2016. I'm not as high on Pedro Severino as... well as probably anyone, I think he stinks... but if your choice is play the stinky vet or play the stinky 24 year old, you play the stinky 24 year old and hope you get lucky. Why do I think he stinks? Because years of minor league play tells me so and his current major league bat is being held up by an unsustainable BABIP.  I suppose if his increase in BB-rate is real and he can settle down on D he's worth playing. Otherwise he's a placeholder for whoever will really be the Nats catcher in the future.

Matt Adams homer was his second of the year tying him with Adam Eaton for second on the Nats... with 2.  It's still early but right now the team's home run power is Bryce on an 80 home run pace and a bunch of pop guns. This needs to, and should, change. We'll come back to it if the problem lingers until the end of the month

25 comments:

Nick said...

I don't think anybody doubted that the Mets have the talent to compete for the division, but the great equalizer for the them though is health...and so it begins.

https://nypost.com/2018/04/11/travis-darnaud-may-need-surgery-in-big-mets-blow/

Jimmy said...

We started in way worst shape in 2015 as I recall (5-7). Oh god maybe it is time to panic.

G Cracka X said...

The specter of 2015 will loom over the Nats as long as the Mets are in first place. Fangraphs gives them about a 59% chance of winning the division, while 538 only gives them a 45% chance at this point. Not good for a team that has World Series aspirations.

G Cracka X said...

Also, per 538, the Nats are favored in all four Rockies games, but I don't know how to do the math to determine what the chances are of the Nats taking 3 out of 4. I think offhand it is certainly south of 50%

TWV said...

I think the Nats HR power will sort itself out. In the past few days there have been a couple of balls hit by Rendon and at least one from Turner that I thought would have been HRs on a normal day. The cold weather and wind have really killed anything that isn't hit by Bryce. If you take away the Cinci series, Eaton doesn't have any and Matt Adams has 1. The offense as a whole seems to be off to a slow start, but I would assume we start seeing more balls leave the yard now that it's set to warm up this weekend.

Mark said...

I suspect the Mets projections take some degree of injury into account. If they somehow stay healthy all year, they probably are a comparable team to the Nationals. It might be good for the Nationals to have to fight all year and even the wild card might be OK... Getting 20 games ahead hasn't helped them in the playoffs so far.

Robot said...

Gotta echo TWV there. I think the unseasonably cold weather and wind has suppressed the HRs. (Hopefully, including Bryce's).

PotomacFan said...

The cold weather and wind almost surely suppresses the home runs -- but it does so for BOTH teams in a game. So, if you think AJ Cole or Shawn Kelley have trouble keeping the ball in the park now, wait until the weather warms up.

Harper said...

Nick - that hurts but not that much given d'Arnaud never really became an impact player. If Plawecki ins't complete garbage it'll be acceptable given pre-season expectations (and it'll force an eventual trade for a catcher - which should put them H2H with the Nats for most needed trade target which should be interesting)

GCX - with their numbers today there's a 48.8% chance the Nats take 3 (or 4) out of 4.

TWV/ Robot - OK but doesn't everyone play in cold weather? But like I said - I don't think it's a problem right now - I think it's an oddity that will work itself out but it's there until it isn't. (which could easily be this weekend)

PF - I don't think we'll have to worry about AJ Cole when the weather is much warmer

Huzzah! said...

Yeah the weather debate is a wash since I’ve seen plenty of nats outfielders make catches close to the wall. I know it’s still early but it’s really hard not to be upset about the Nats front office standing mostly pat this offseason and thinking getting Eaton back was enough to stay ahead of the Mets. 2015 isn’t far enough back in history to forget that the Mets can field a team.

W. Patterson said...

As in years past, I enjoy the game for the game's sake and watch the players "find their grooves" in preparation for the hot and fast games in the heart of the summer.

The few bits of games that I've seen so far suggests that said groove has a lot of finding to do, however, I'm sure they'll find it before too long.

Unknown said...

Pedro's bat may be "stinky" as you say, but his glove plays. Who was that umpire that gave glowing praise of him to Dusty last year? i'm guessing that doesn't happen all to frequently. I see a good future for Pedro. and truth be told, when healthy, the Nats have a pretty solid 1 thru 6 that will compete with most any other NL lineup. I'm actually glad things have worked this way as i was worried Pedro would see little major league time, and now, if his bat is even adequate he may see a good percentage of the ABs at the catcher position in 2018.

Harper said...

Huzzah - I think the got caught off-guard by some ST issues (MAT, Zimm?) I mean they are really only one game off pace. The problem is the Mets are 4 games ahead of their pace.

W. Patterson - might help if they fielded the same team / batting twice in a row.

Unknown - That's what I've heard but I'm kind of shoulder shrugging at it. I haven't seen greatness. I'll admit I'm not the best catcher defense scout. My hope is that Pedro can field and can hit enough to stick around as a back-up catcher, like a little below average, because guys totally do that for a dozen years. You need guys like that

SM said...

My thanks, Harper, for resuscitating the serviceable, plain-spoken (and wonderfully bracing) adjective "stinky." It's a word you just don't see anywhere these days.

In the case of Severino, stinky is as stinky does. "Stinky" by any other name would still stink.

If the opportunity ever arises, could you please resuscitate another comatose adjective and find a way to describe an overly overweight player as "porky?" (Pablo Sandoval wasn't "out of shape" or "carrying extra weight": He was porky.)

We who read you always appreciate it when you tell it like it is.

W. Patterson said...

@Harper - I see guys like Turner still looking for his groove. Ditto Zimmerman. Rendon is doing well but still has moments when he appears to have forgotten.

Overall, I think they're close but still in search of the seegar. And we'll see what happens with the warmer weather.

Ole PBN said...

Nats picked up Mark Reynolds? Interesting... im okay with that. Looks like Adams or Zimmy-pants are out of a job... I’m picking the guy batting under .100 ....

sirc said...

So, I wonder what Rick Schu is up to these days?

=)

Dave said...

This team is like most of the other past versions that are good, but missing some key parts to go all the way. Wash, rinse, repeat. They are becoming more like idle entertainment for me. I am not willing to invest more only to allow them to become a source of stress and frustration for me.

Dmitri Young said...

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/kevin-plawecki-reportedly-has-broken-hand.html

JE34 said...

Nats sign Mark Reynolds... cue up the Zim-health discussions.

(Maybe we will see the rare full name on the backs of Matt and Mark Reynolds. Or they'll just save money on jersey and send Matt down.)

Don't mind me... I'll be here in the corner, slowly starting to panic.

Josh Higham said...

Saw the same news as Dmitri. The Mets are now almost unquestionably worse at catcher than the Nats, which matters a lot since their pitching is so important to their success.

JE34 said...

Jose Lobaton calls a decent game behind the dish... he just doesn't hit. The delta at catcher with the Nats probably won't move the needle, as production from Wieters and Severino is not likely to be *that* much better, unless young Pedro can keep his good production going (would be great, but I wouldn't make that wager).

At two weeks in, offensive production from Harper, Rendon, Kendrick, and Severino has been good (plus one week of Eaton). Offensive production from the rest has been... offensive. The timing of the Mets' streak is most unfortunate.

Josh Higham said...

@JE34, I agree about Lobaton's merits. D'Arnaud and Plawecki have caught the vast majority of the whole Mets cadre of starting pitchers. In the long run, neither of the two regulars are particularly special (though most likely better than Wieters/Severino), but in the short run it has to hurt the Mets to have two unfamiliar guys behind the dish.

Nick said...

IIRC from his days in Baltimore Mark Reynolds is just another strikeout artist who occasionally can poke one out, with numbers that were justifiably inflated in Colorado. I don't see how that's going to help the 1st base situation much except for maybe lighting a fire under Zim's behind that maybe now his job's in jeopardy.

Get well soon, Murph.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: one large change in projection I would make about the Mets is that I think it’s entirely possible that they have an elite bullpen, whereas in the past even in good years it’s just been fine. They have Familia in the back end plus AJ Ramos. Then Seth Lugo and Gsellman have been converted into middle relief beasts—or so it might appear. Maybe small sample, but maybe this is an enormous strength over the Nats, whereas our middle relief is worst in NL basically, their middle relief is best, and then we have comparable (ish) back ends, with theirs definitely a bit better. That’s a big big difference though with the amount bullpens pitch these days, and with their beast front end starters, it allows them to lean on gsellman and Lugo etc on days their bad starters pitch. We don’t have that luxury and thus will probably win much fewer of those number 4/5 starter games.