Nationals Baseball: Well, it was a big day for Zimm at least

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Well, it was a big day for Zimm at least

All in all, it was the start to the road trip you want. Took two of three from the Mets in New York before heading to the West Coast. Still you hate losing and you hate losing when you can see losing coming.

The Nats had not had a day off in a while and the team had leaned pretty heavily on its relief arms over the past few games. Every decent pitcher (KMD and Solis) had gone at least twice in the past three games and Kintzler had gone three times. The strange thing is - the Nats needed at least 7 innings from Roark and they got it. All they had to do was close out the 8th and 9th, with Kintzler out. Smart money would have assumed a Solis - Doolittle finish, because Madson had pitched twice in a row and would normally only be available in the emergency sense. Also Conforto, a lefty, was leading off the 8th.  But Martinez went with Madson, perhaps because of Cespedes and Asdrubal*, and Madson blew up.

Why not replace Madson then after three straight single with lefty Jay Bruce coming up? Or let Solis try to get out Adrian Gonzalez? I can't give you a good answer. But by the time Solis came in and issued two walks the damage was done. Cole's "Send this ball and me to Syracuse" pitch to Cespedes was the icing on the cake.

The Nats now have some time to regroup. They have a travel day going to CA and a travel day back, so a couple days of rest in a week. That'll help. But long stretches without days off happen all the time in baseball. This 12 game stretch is not unusual, and they'll face longer stretches this season.  A 17 game stretch after the West Coast swing which includes NO break going from Philly to San Diego, for example. Nor were there like 3 back to back extra inning games that would explain a tired pen. This was a rookie manager making some mistakes. It happens. Hopefully he learns you can't play to win 162. 

*Better righty bat in recent years

33 comments:

W. Patterson said...

Hokay. I didn't watch the game but checked the score periodically. When I saw that the Mets jumped nine runs, I figured something was wrong.

The other day I defended Cole, and that was after one game. I'm convinced that perhaps he's not big league material.

Jimmy said...

Are we forgetting Kelley is in the bp?

Anonymous said...

Harper, if Davey had gone to Solis against A Gone, it would have been a no brainer for Callaway to pinch hit Flores in that spot. If it were me, I just wouldn't have used Madson at all. But with Kintzler out, there weren't many good options there

Anonymous said...

On Tuesday night, I thought it was great that Davey used Madson in the 7th (having to face Cespedes) and Kintzler in the 8th, rather than being married to the he's-our-7th-inning-guy approach our prior managers followed.

The Mets have two good hitters (Cespedes and Conforto) and a hodgepodge of bad-to-okay hitters that can be terrible or can hurt you depending upon how they're going. One member of the hodgepodge who is going great at the moment is AssCab. So in the 8th inning last night, you're guaranteed to face Conforto, Cespedes, and AssCab. Why not use Doolittle right there? He's been worked hard, but he threw many fewer pitches on Tuesday than Madson did, and those are the three toughest outs you're likely to have to get in the 8-9th. If Davey were truly progressive in bullpen management, that's what he would have done

Sammy Kent said...

Ryan Madsen and A.J. Cole are now battling for the job of being the new Tyler Clippard. I thought Madsen had it dead to rights, but dang if A.J. didn't make ol' Goggles proud as a new daddy last night. I'm sure Shawn Kelley is disappointed he didn't get in on the action, but he filled the job pretty well last season himself, and hasn't thus far done a whole lot to suggest he wouldn't be just as hittable in 2018.

Ole PBN said...

Cole features a serious lack of deception in his delivery. He resembles a pie-thrower the way he shows the ball straight out of his glove and all the way through until the point of release. His fastball has more lateral movement than sink, and he can't locate his off-when behind in the count. Very easy to make things go from bad-to-worse against him.

There's your scouting report on the guy. I think he totally "earned" that 5th spot, don't you all?

Ole PBN said...

^^*can't locate off-speed when behind in the count*

Stephen said...

At least we can say that you have not swept us this year so far. See you in July, boys. LGM

G Cracka X said...

I choose to view this game as a wash. The Nats stole the first game, and the Mets stole the third. As Harper said, in the end the Nats took 2 out of 3, and if you told me that on Monday morning, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.

On to the West Coast.

Vdub said...

In defense of Cole, that go-far ball was actually a good pitch. Cespedes is a low ball hitter and that fastball was above the letters (3-4 balls above the upper edge of the pitch track box). All the credit goes to Cespedes there.

But, I do have to agree with the majority, Cole has shown me nothing to convince me he is more than a replacement level pitcher that will probably need to be DFA'd soon so we can add Gott or another bullpen arm to the 25 man roster. Davey needs more options in the pen, Solis and the law firm have been seriously over-used to start the season.

Josh Higham said...

Sammy, prior to last night, you thought Madson, of the 1.86 ERA, 10 Ks, 0 HR allowed, was your new "gives up a homer every inning" whipping boy? I'm not sure what games you've been watching.

JE34 said...

Hey Sammy Kent! It's been a while.

Clippard drove me batty sometimes, with the way he seemed to create trouble for himself. That said, I would take a repeat of his time with the Nats 100 times out of 100.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/clippty01.shtml#2008-2014-sum:pitching_standard

Clip gave the Nats three full seasons of <1 WHIP. Sign me up for that.

Ditto Madson. Comfortably <1 WHIP last year. Giving up more hits this year, but only twice in 11 appearances this season has he surrendered any runs. Can't call him unreliable yet.

OlePBN made me laugh out loud with the pie thrower line - and it's funny because it's true. Poor AJ Cole. Does him being "out of options" means his next step is to be DFAd?

Ole PBN said...

Glad to see Zimm have a great game. Just relived some glory days of his by watching all of 10 walk-off homers (link below, fun to watch and reminds us all where we were over a decade ago). Really do like the guy, just wish he could string those games together more often.

But praise doesn't go without criticism. Who else cringes when he rears back to throw the ball? Zimm has thrown only 3 times this season: Hit Homer Baily in the back, airmailed the catcher, and pulled Trea off the bag at 2nd last night, squandering a DP opportunity and keeping a Mets rally alive. Let's also not forget him throwing it over Ramos' head in late-2016, causing one of our best hitters to be out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL - and probably ensuring that we still have a catcher problem on our hands. Talk about a liability in the field...

New Rule: Ryan, just hold the ball. Let the run score, lets the runner be safe. You trying to perform a fundamental baseball skill causes more harm than good.

Ole PBN said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSPTIeSIeIg

SM said...

@JE34

I second Ole PBN's wonderful pie-thrower description. Immediately reminded me of the Three Stooges demolishing one of those irritatingly pompous dinner party/opera recitals.

And by the way . . . Clip sure looks weird throwing in a Jays' uniform up here.

Josh Higham said...

Just watched that walkoff video, and I noticed something. Prior to 2011, Zim had a very normal leg kick. I have been guilty of treating that high leg kick and bat brandishing routine like they're intractable parts of who Zim the player is, but he had a much simpler swing during his very best years.

wyd, Ryan? Why did you develop a more complicated, worse swing as you entered what should have been your prime as a hitter?

JE34 said...

Love that link, PBN. It also reminded me of how bad Rob Dibble was in the booth.

Harper said...

Anon @ 6:34 - ok so your choice would be 2 on, Solis vs Flores, or bases loaded Madson vs Flores. It worked out (for that batter) but given the way Madson was pitching I'd take the former

Anon @ 6:45 - Doolittle would have been a smart move. But the expectation then would have been two inning save (which might be ok depending on pitch count) and Martinez didn't want to go there. It was a mistake but we're still under 20 games in. Let's see what he's choosing to do in July.

JE34/Sammy - I've found that the people who hate Clippard HATE Clippard and can't be talked out of it. He did find his way into trouble occasionally and pitched slow though and the stress combination can leave an impression on people that's hard to shake apparently

JH - Just guessing - a series of injuries (abs then shoulder) could have effected his timing or power and the leg kick was compensating for that.

Anonymous said...

"Anon @ 6:45 - Doolittle would have been a smart move. But the expectation then would have been two inning save (which might be ok depending on pitch count) and Martinez didn't want to go there. It was a mistake but we're still under 20 games in. Let's see what he's choosing to do in July."

Harper, he didn't necessarily need to rely on Doolittle for 6 outs. Assuming Doolittle got through the 8th, he could have decided whether to stick with him or use Madson/Solis to get whatever outs he needed in the 9th against the lesser hitters in the Mets' lineup. In this sense, it would have been similar to flipping Madson/Kintzler on Tuesday (use the better late-inning reliever for the tougher outs and use the worse reliever for the easier outs). On Tuesday, Martinez showed he is capable of this kind of thinking (I do not think Matt Williams was even capable of thinking like this; he was too overwhelmed; Dusty was capable of this sort of thinking, but chose always to go with "defined roles" because, IMO, he believed players perform better when roles are defined), but on Wednesday he showed there are limits to how far he's willing to apply these principles. You're right, however, that it's April and that his approach may evolve over time.

Ric said...

"Let's also not forget him throwing it over Ramos' head in late-2016, causing one of our best hitters to be out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL - and probably ensuring that we still have a catcher problem on our hands."

Can we put this silly hot-take to bed. Zimmerman was not the cause of putting one of our best hitters out for the year.

First, it was weather and an awkward landing that hurt Ramos. If Harper had thrown the ball would be be whining about him for the last 18 months? It was a fluke play. Period. To lay blame with any other player, including Zimmerman or Drury (the baserunner), is silly and misguided.

Second, Ramos was no longer "one of our best hitters." He had career months in April, May and June. But he had reverted back to "Buffalo-norm" in the summer. In August and September he was back to his career-average of .267. (Literally, he hit .267 in August/September, and his career average is currently .267.) So, we lost an average hitter, not one of our best hitters.

Here's another fun fact: Matt Wieters is currently having a better season that Ramos.

[Note: I'm a huge Ramos fan (although I agree he should have been let go), and also think Zimmerman has deep flaws and should not be batting clean-up. So I don't consider myself biased in this matter.]

Chris said...

@Ric

I get what you're saying about Ramos. He definitely wasn't the greatest, but .267 w/power sure would be nice right about now and woulda been back in '16 for the playoffs.

Robot said...

So we're unanimous that Cole should go, then? I'll let Rizzo and Davey know.

Ole PBN said...

@Ric - "If Harper had thrown the ball would be be whining about him for the last 18 months? It was a fluke play."

This is my point. We would certainly not be whining about it if Harper threw it because Harper doesn't make an errant throw 9/10 like Zimmerman does. Was anyone surprised the throw was way off the mark when we look at who threw it in the first place? Zimmerman was moved to 1B because he could no longer make the throws from 3B. Now it appears he can't make the throws anywhere other than lobs to the general area of 2B after an out. The only fluke part of that play was that it resulted in a torn ACL for Ramos. But that was a routine throw for every other pro except for Zimmerman, which is why I wasn't surprised. Drury didn't touch him on the slide.

And despite reverting to his career .267 average in Aug-Sept, Ramos was hitting better than 2/3 of the rest of the lineup (only behind Turner, Murphy, and Rendon). Yes, even better than Bryce. He was better than Wieters was last year, despite playing half as many games (0.1 WAR, compared to -0.6 for Wieters). And this year, 18-19 games in, Wieters has an edge after 19 AB's (hilarious sample size btw). Regardless of how "unbiased" your opinion is, Ramos had a career year in 2016 and was one of our better players. The injury play was a fluke, but becomes less-fluky when you look at who made the throw.

In the end, your argument is against a guy who had a career year and defending a guy who hasn't been able to make routine throws since 2014. Kinda weak.

Anonymous said...

Baseball players need to make leaping catches and quick reactions all the time. It's a part of the game, including for catchers. Most of them don't tear their ACL. Ramos is a fragile guy, and its silly to blame Zim for that

JE34 said...

@Robot - before you make that call, maybe you could try one of your patented rants with the !!!11!!!1!! at the end to snap AJ out of it. Failing that, proceed.

Hey maybe the platoon-Wieters-more-to-keep-him-fresh strategy from the Spring Training spin cycle is working! Really, really fresh and rested.

Count me among the ranks of Nats fans who can only watch Zim's throws through the cracks between my fingers as I hide my face. Perhaps I'm overstating slightly, but he doesn't make many throws to 2nd or home, and when he does, it sure seems to be a friggin adventure every time.

Ric said...

OlePBN said: "In the end, your argument is against a guy who had a career year and defending a guy who hasn't been able to make routine throws since 2014. Kinda weak."

My argument is not against Ramos, a guy who had a career year. Nor am I defending Zimmerman at all. Sorry you read it that way. Kinda weak.

Ric said...

OlePBN said: "And despite reverting to his career .267 average in Aug-Sept, Ramos was hitting better than 2/3 of the rest of the lineup (only behind Turner, Murphy, and Rendon)."

Math is off. Eight position players. Three player better BA, four players worse BA. Ramos was hitting better than 1/2 the rest of the lineup. Unless you are bragging that Ramos was hitting better than the pitchers.

But again, I'm a big Ramos fan. Seriously. But I liked the signing of Wieters at the time. I also liked naming Trienen our closer. I have as many whiffs as my favorite Nat, MAT.

PotomacFan said...

Here's how bad Zim was season-to-date, before last night:

First 18 games: 2 runs, 7 hits, 12 total bases
Last night: 3 runs, 3 hits, 11 total bases

Let's hope he stays hot.

Ric said...

Bench coach Jim Riggleman was named Cincinnati's interim manager.

Robot said...

Hey, I've heard of that guy from somewhere...

Anonymous said...

"Bench coach Jim Riggleman was named Cincinnati's interim manager"

Haaaaa!

When will he walk out on the Red's job because of the uncertainty of being an interim manager?

Ole PBN said...

@Ric - Sorry I read it that way too. I hate our current catcher situation as much as the next guy (though I'm little optimistic about Severino). Ramos was not a world-beater, but better than what we have, and after his 2016 season, potentially offered a solution to a position we complain about often on this blog. Sorry it came off aggressive.

But I think the healthiest opinion is: Zimm has an incredibly accurate arm and to suggest otherwise is plain silly. My bad. I just wish he was the relay man on every throw. He's the best chance we have. He's so accurate, I'd participate in a knife throwing contest with him where I'm the target. He'd be my partner for darts every day of the week. I think giving him a blindfold when making throws across the diamond is only fair to level the playing field. I'd go into Chuck Norris lines, but it would be unfair... to Chuck Norris.

Mark said...

@Ric

I get what you're saying about Ramos. He definitely wasn't the greatest, but .267 w/power sure would be nice right about now and woulda been back in '16 for the playoffs.

Don't forget that in 16 playoffs, Lobaton won game 2 with a 3 run homer...