Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - weekend saved

Monday, June 25, 2018

Monday Quickie - weekend saved

The Nats nearly got swept out of their own building by the Phillies, down 6-2 half-way through in part thanks to Martinez trying again to squeeze one more inning out of an arm that should have been sat down. But last night Bryce finally hit and Murphy hit and the Nats feasted on both the soft underbelly and hard candy coated outer shell of the Phillies bullpen. The Nats won, avoiding disaster and keeping them in the hunt.

But make no mistake that is what the Nats did - stay in the hunt. They don't "remain in control". They are in third place now. Luckily the Braves choked a little against the Orioles and lost that series keeping the Nats only 3 games out, but you can't rely on other teams playing bad baseball.

This week the Braves play the Reds, who are actually hot. The Phillies play the Yankees, who are actually not. The Nats have two versus Tampa and then a precious rest day.  How are they doing on the macro scale? Well I expected them to go 8-7 from the Yankee set to this break.  They've gone 5-8 instead meaning it will take a sweep of Tampa just to be a mild disappointment. Over that time they've lost three games to both the Braves (early) and the Phillies (late) who have played good but not great baseball.

From where the Nats were - basically in first - you can suffer through a 10-15 game stretch of poor play as long as it's not terrible and no one important plays great. You lose ground but not hope.  The Nats have done that. Now they need to turn it around, because while you can do that from around first, you can't do that from a few games out and in third. Another 10-15 game stretch like that into the All-Star Break and they'll be real trouble, while a good one will likely put them close to where they started. We'll talk about those expectations on the off day.

The Tampa Series

Tonight is Gio vs Blake Snell. A real starter starting for Tampa! Wild! Snell is actually really good. One of those guys that the Rays will likely trade in two years for prospects for their continual rebuild. He strikes out a lot and is hard to hit but he can give up the occasional homer and when he's off he can be very wild (Seven walks last game) The bad news for the Nats though is he's a lefty. Gio had a couple of bad games against San Fran and Toronto before pitching ok against the terrible Orioles in a rain-abbreviated start. He's not missing many bats - so expect hits and maybe a homer, but if he can not walk anyone (he had 0 walks through 4 against Baltimore) he should keep the Nats in it. It feels like a tough one for the Nats.

If they can win this one though - next is Max vs Nate Eovaldi. These two matched up in early June but Nate was just off of injury then and couldn't go deep into the game. Now he can... but that's in a philosophical sense. He's a righty who should be in regular season form by now and he doesn't strike people out and he gives up homers like Shawn Kelley. Max on the other hand handled the Rays around the same time as he does every one. 8 innings, 13 Ks, no walks, two runs.  If there is a worry about Max it's that he's given up 4 long balls in his last three starts. But since Max doesn't give up hits or walk anyone he still didn't give up more than 2 runs in any of those games. So he probably won't shut out the Rays but still the Nats have to be heavy favorites.

Feels like a split but the Nats have a much better chance to sweep than be swept.

31 comments:

Mainelaker said...

If the Nats had lost I was worried they might become sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline. That prospect is deferred for now, and would become much more improbable if Murphy and Harper actually keep hitting. I'm guessing Weiters will be the only catching addition, but another starter looks necessary if they do stay buyers.

Chas R said...

Snell is wild but good. He walked those 7 against the Astros but still got the win as he 3 hit them and didn't give up any bombs. I don't feel good about Nats lineup against him in Tampa. After that are 7 games against the Phillies and Red Sox, which will be tough again, but the last 11 games going into the ASB should be easy.

Mark said...

Your saying if they lost that one game on June 25 sitting 4 out they were gonna become sellers? LOL... The Cubs were under 500 and 5 back at the all start break last year. Get a grip.

Ole PBN said...

Though the importance of Bryce being BRYCE shouldn't be ignored in order for this lineup to be successful, don't forget that Murphy has arguably been the team's best overall hitter since he got here in 2016. Bryce's best season was in 2015 and we didn't even make the playoffs. With Soto going the way he's going and Rendon heating up as well, Murphy can certainly pick up the slack that Bryce isn't. Don't get me wrong, everyone is invited to the hitting party and all are encouraged to attend, but Murphy being Murph again is going to help this lineup exponentially. Good to see a glimpse of that last night.

Anonymous said...

I'm worried about Murphy. He had 3 hits last night, but all of them were singles. We're used to seeing Murphy drive balls into the gaps, but it seems like he has no power. Bryce, on the other hand, looks like a completely different guy the last few games. Let's hope that continues.

Jay said...

I don't disagree with the last comment. Murphy uses his lower half a great deal. If he lacks strength in his base, he might not have as much power. Hopefully, it will come with time.

Johnny Callison said...

Good point about Murphy--he may be coming around, but legs are part of his power, and the power's not back yet. Meanwhile, if Rendon keeps hitting and Harper emerges from his funk, and Soto/Eaton/Taylor are hitting (I am leaning toward Taylor right now over Eaton), the lineup is okay. Severino just can't hit and Difo is just passable offensively. If Murphy rediscovers some power AND Harper is okay, then I think you've got something. I have no idea what to do about Severino. Maybe if Wieters comes back and is okay, you have a slight upgrade.

I really hope they sweep Tampa.

Bjd1207 said...

Murphy hit a couple HR's/XBH's during his rehab stint. So the power is there I think, but he was just working on getting his timing back up to MLB levels. Seems like in the last few games he's there timing-wise (I mean his rbi single last night was off a guy that throws gas) so I'm hoping we see the power make it's way back over the next week or two.

Rendon...man Rendon is just the best. Whenever it seems like this team is about to dip below the water, he gives us just enough of a kick to keep breathing. If Bryce and Murph are both righting the ship, then adding that to what Rendon, Turner, and Soto have settled into....we got a little stew goin'

JE34 said...

Lousy rotation luck: The Phils play the Nats 7 times in a 9 game span, and will miss Max Scherzer entirely.

It is very nice to see the Nats outslug the opponent when the starting pitching isn't getting the job done.

And finally... I know I've brought this up before, but I can't help myself: is there a human walking the planet who thinks Alex Rodriguez is remotely interesting to listen to, during a baseball broadcast or otherwise? How do such hiring decisions get made? I'm guessing that A-Rod has compromising photos of highly placed network executives. And the split-screen broadcast of the chowderheads in the booth *during game action* just underscores how irritating they are. I would rather watch Jefry Rodriguez strike out on the entire screen, thank you.

Jay said...

Scherzer could start Sunday on regular rest. Just push the 5th starter back 1 day.

Huzzah! said...

I like A Rod in the booth...he gives us something to seethe about during rain delays that isn't Nationals-woes related.

Chris said...

@Jay

I really hope Martinez considers doing that. It's an important series.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Scherzer should start the last game of the phillies series next weekend. It would be a mistake not to start him.

Andrew said...

Martinez pretty much has to, right? Just skip Rodriguez for a turn? I mean, if you have a choice between giving the Phillies a second look at Rodriguez in a week or a start against Max, you just have to go to Max.

Incidentally, Hellickson is on his rehab assignment so maybe you can just go ahead and send Rodriguez down and bolster the bullpen and then bring Hellickson up when you need that fifth starter again next week.

blovy8 said...

ARod may be an irritating cheater, but he knows an awful lot about how to play baseball. He was making a lot of reasonably good points last night, the anti-stats stuff notwithstanding.

G Cracka X said...

Yeah, I thought A-Rod's commentary was mostly interesting. I appreciated his perspective on playing baseball in a big contract year.

G Cracka X said...

Also, didn't realize that Kiebooom's now at AA:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/nationals-journal/wp/2018/06/25/hes-not-on-juan-sotos-pace-but-carter-kieboom-is-well-ahead-of-schedule/?utm_term=.d525161b5729

Ole PBN said...

Wieters should be a an improvement at catcher. Can't get much worse that what we've had since he's been out (I can't believe I just said that). Also, Zimmerman is to healing as Rip Van Winkle is to naps. How many of you have had a "sore back"? He's coming up on missing 2 months of baseball, because of a sore back. Maybe a revisited diagnosis would be helpful: "full spine replacement, should be back in August."

G Cracka X said...

Nats chances of winning (per 538) are 46% for today, and 58% for tomorrow, so probably a split. Hopefully they overperform!

W. Patterson said...

Regarding A-Rod in particular, and just about every color analyst in general, I appreciate what they bring to the booth. Regardless of being Hall of Fame or a one-and-done, they've played more professional baseball than I and have an outlook that I'll never have.

I was at the game last night - until the rain delay - so didn't hear what they had to say. From other ESPN broadcasts, though, I like what they have to say.

And as for last night being on ESPN, I got tickets to a 4:00 game. Having it start at 8:00 on a phreakin' school night sucks!

Jay said...

One strange thing about the Zim injury. He told Chelsea Janes that it was hardest when he was running. I thought strained lats were worse with twisting movements, not running??

Huzzah! said...

He also made a nice little comment about breathing through the swing being very important for a hitter, and how Bryce looked like he was holding his breath and how that alters his swing at the point of contact. It was very interesting.

JE34 said...

Well allrighty then. I'll chew silently on my A-Rod hate henceforth. I'll grant that his suggestion to hit Murphy 2nd, behind Trea, was a worthy one... but I found his commentary mostly empty and irritating.

Wait, just a little more! A-Rod understands contract year pressure, sure. But he responded by injecting himself with special sauce. OK I'm done.



Y'all are right about Max... Rodriguez got sent down today for Kintzler's recall, so Max figures to get the last game in Philly.

@PBN: indeed. Zim's whole year, from spring training onward, has been bizarre. The hue and cry have been muted because production from those occupying first base has been pretty good overall, or at least better than we'd have expected from Zim himself. If Strasburg had skipped all his spring starts, then gone out for 2 months with a sore back, one can only imagine the angst.

Robot said...

Ugh, this isn't pretty...

Ole PBN said...

So, I didn't need to see Ramos have a mulit-HR game against us to know that we should have brought him back in 2017. For 2yrs/$12.5M? But I guess we liked the sound of Wieters for 2yrs/$21M... Fellas, they are so few catchers in this league that can hit: Posey, Realmuto, Yadi and Wilson Ramos. That's it. Rumors about maybe getting Trevor Barnhardt? Our solutions consist of Welington Castillo, Miguel Montero, Cervelli? Settling for .220-.240 hitter, my god. I'm just glad Snell didn't throw a no-hitter tonight to further my point: making Ramos join Varitek and Ruiz as the only catchers to have caught 4 no-no's. That will have to wait (thanks Anthony) - I think his season speaks for itself. All aboard the Buffalo train!

Kubla said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CDOMV7Sv8k

Huzzah! said...

I wish I could say that the Buffalo would have helped on a night like tonight...but I can’t. I don’t think any one player can be the cure for this team when they have a tendency to just collectively disappear sometimes.

BxJaycobb said...

There are way more catchers who can hit than that. Wilson Contreras. Yankees have two in romaine and Sanchez. Braves have two in flowers and suzuki. Cervelli, there are more. But in our case only one thing matters. Who is available? Ramos is available. So go get him. It won’t take much.

JE34 said...

Being shut out 6 times in a month seems like a lot.

Anonymous said...

Starting Pitching is no longer a strength of this team...

Ole PBN said...

I was referring to catchers who consistently hit, not "were good hitters that one month in 2012." I disagree with Flowers and Cervelli (who has only caught close to one full season in 11 years), though I would bend to give you Suzuki and Contreras. Sanchez maybe, but only because of his power, otherwise haven't seen enough. Point aside, I agree that Ramos should be available and I'd send Fedde and change (before Fedde's 5+ ERA pops up on other GM's radars as legit).