Nationals Baseball: These are the games

Friday, June 22, 2018

These are the games

Max did what he needed. The Nats did what they needed. I would have liked the sweep but sweeps are hard and 5-1 against your terrible rival is good enough. But now...

Now the Nats play the Phillies who have hung around in the NL East 7 times in 9 games.  Now is when the Nats can bury the Phillies or can be buried themselves.

How have the Phillies hung around? Well after a 2-8 stretch where they fell out of direct competition with the Braves, they've gone 7-3. And they've done it against good competition, Brewers, Cardinals, Rockies. They could have been washed away.  They were not.

They've been hot offensively. Ryhs Hoskins is back and hitting well.  Odubel Herrerra continues his unlikely star story. Carlos Santana is still hitting after his terrible start. The rest of the team isn't doing much but outside of Altherr, who splits time with Nick Williams, right now they are all doing something and that's enough with three other guys hot.

The pitching hasn't been as good recently but it's been steady and keeping them in this over the course of the season. Nola's the star, Arrieta's the steady vet, and Pivetta and Eflin have matured into fine middle of the rotation arms. They's developed some star relief arms like Eudbray Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez and their trying to find dependable arms to get around them. 

There's no smoke and mirrors here. The Phillies are a good team. However they aren't great. The line-up isn't deep with good bats yet as they wait for one more guy to take that next step. The staff needs that one more starter to be dependable, especially given Pivetta's Jeckyll and Hyde tendencies. The pen needs the middle relief to solidify.

Thing is - these are all easy trade deadline fixes. Middle relief arms? 4th/5th starers. One more just above average bat at any position but 1st? They should be able to get any of these if they want it. It's kind of imperative then that the Nats make sure they DON'T want it.  Knock them down so they focus on next year, not this one.  The Phillies could go in either direction. In August could see Sixto Sanchez in the rotation, Adrian Beltre at third, and a returning Zach Britton in the pen. Or you could see none of that and Kingery back in AAA getting some reset playing time as the Phillies coast to a .500 record. The Nats can help make it the latter.

28 comments:

Scherzer's Blue Eye said...

This weekend is a "just don't get swept" weekend. The Phils have the pitching matchup edge: Roark-Eflin, Nola-Fedde, Pivetta-Rodriguez. Roark has not been good his last 3 outings: 5.06 ERA, .889 OPS against. Fedde has promise, some bad luck, but Nola is one of the best in the NL. Rodriguez struggles to throw strikes at times, as been impressive at others. Hope he's on and we get Bad-Pivetta. But since Pivetta is a former Nat, who we traded for Papelbon, expect him to shove.

JE34 said...

Bryce had four very good at-bats last night... getting it together so he can get back to hammering the Phillies? One can hope.

More bad baserunning though. Two double plays because of poor fundamental reactions. Bryce's first inning one was tougher and might not have made a difference anyway, but a runner's first step on a liner in front of him has to be back to the bag... at least freeze, don't take two big steps to 2nd. Same with Difo, who was WAY late getting back to 3rd to tag up, slipped up and cost the team a run.

Bjd1207 said...

@JE34 - Difo's was crazy. Why are you not standing on 3rd when that ball is caught? Even if it's not, there was no one behind you and it's an easy coast into home

W. Patterson said...

Looking forward to a good weekend of games. I've tix to Sunday's and when I chose I was hoping that the Phillies wouldn't be terrible and would provide a good match-up to the Nats.

Was happy with last night's results, particularly Bryce's stinger down the right field line.

Now to just hope for good weather and a drop in beer prices - - well good weather, at least. I'll skip the beer until it just gets to the "outrageous" level.

PotomacFan said...

@je34 and @Bjd1207: I was yelling at the TV when Difo didn't score on what should have been a sacrifice fly, and likely would have given the win to Max, who deserved it. Even my 12-year old recreational Little League kids would not have made that mistake.

Off-topic: can we give some more love to Juan Soto. The guy started the year at A ball, and now he is batting clean-up for the Nationals -- in a batting order with Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. Wow! Just can't say enough about this kid.

Fries said...

I'm with Scherzer's Blue Eye, I'm really nervous about the way we lined up the rotation. I'd have rather given Scherzer an extra day of rest to faceoff with a much tougher Phils lineup

@PotomacFan, as for Soto, I think we ALL love him. There's nothing much to be said about him but DAMN. He just went out and had the best first 100 PA for a teenager in major league history. He'll come back to earth eventually, I doubt we have another Trout or even another Harper, but he's going to be really really good.

BxJaycobb said...

@potomacfan. Well certainly he’s not capable of Trout’s value, since he won’t be an above average CF and amazing base runner, just doesn’t have the tools (right?). But could he be as good a hitter as Harper or Trout? I mean. It’s certainly possible I suppose given these 100 PA at 19. But look. I’ll take a Larry Walker type. High AVG/OBP and 30 homers from (hopefully eventually) a solid defensive corner OF? Yes please.

Anonymous said...

, , , and Walker could steal bases.

Positively Half St. said...

What a daydream to think that Robles is supposed to be better than Soto. Let's hope they are both similar to what Soto has produced so far. The Nats have another year in which they can't sign players for more than $300K because of the money they spent for players they signed in 2016. The Nats will have to keep on hitting on low-cost international signings.

Ole PBN said...

The league will adjust to Soto, just as they did to Trea Turner after his first go-around in the majors, just as it does with every player. But some players are able to adjust and counter attack what opposing pitchers throw at them. Trout most certainly does this. Aside from the numbers, I'm impressed with his poise, his plate discipline, his pitch recognition, his ability to barrel up a ball, and his ability to hit and hit with power to all fields. Nearly all of his hits are hard-contact: 47% hard contact, 36% medium contact. His spray chart is 36% (pull), 35% (middle), 29% (oppo). Conversely, some notable comparisons:

M. Trout: 86% hard/medium contact, 14% soft / spray: 37% pull, 36% middle, 28% oppo.
B. Harper: 85% hard/medium contact, 15% soft / spray: 39% pull, 35% middle, 26% oppo.
J. Altuve: 83% hard/medium contact, 17% soft / spray: 40% pull, 37% middle, 23% oppo.
M. Cabrera: 89% hard/medium contact, 11% soft / spray: 39% pull, 33% middle, 28% oppo.
A. Pujols: 86% hard/medium contact, 14% soft / spray: 47% pull, 33% middle, 20% oppo.
A. Rodriguez: 85% hard/medium contact, 15% soft / spray: 45% pull, 33% middle, 22% oppo.
M. Ramirez: 90% hard/medium contact, 10% soft / spray: 40% pull, 31% middle, 29% oppo.
K. Griffey: 84% hard/medium contact, 16% soft / spray: 49% pull, 29% middle, 22% oppo.
B. Bonds: 89% hard/medium contact, 11% soft / spray: 46% pull, 33% middle, 22% oppo.

Aside from this surprisingly showing how good a hitter Manny Ramirez really was, Soto has a great handling of the bat and shows serious promise as he continues to grow. The best is yet to come for this kid.


JE34 said...

PBN is right... the league will adjust to everyone's favorite teenager. That said, Soto's swing is blissfully simple. He can generate power from a wide stance and very little leg kick or forward step, similar to the Daniel Murphy of recent memory. I like to think that this simplicity will serve him very well as the league tries to figure him out.

We saw some cracks in Toronto, where a steady diet of off-speed stuff kept Soto off balance. The more he delivers like yesterday, the less he will see fastballs. Soto is killing straight heat.

Kevin Gausman mixed an upper 90s fastball with low 80s breaking stuff, and was very effective against Soto, who managed very weak contact (0-2 with a walk against him).

Mark said...

In his first 135 ML PA's, Mike Trout hit .220 with a .672 OPS and 9 walks to 30 strike outs. He turned 20 about a month after he was called up (although he was sent down and came back up so I believe he actually celebrated his 20th birthday in the minors)

Mark said...

I thought the league would adjust to Soto also, but I won't be surprised if he adjusts back quickly. He is laying off junk that falls out of the zone. There is no reason to believe with his eye and hand eye coordination that he wont be able to deal with movement in the zone, either to foul it off and wait for his pitch or even to have a decent BA against it. In spite of a couple of weak contact outs last night, he ended up 1 for 3 (2 RBI game winning double) and a walk.

Josh Higham said...

I'm a little concerned that Eaton is not in the lineup two games in a row against righties. I'd be totally willing to buy it if they said "hey we want to get MAT in the lineup and Eaton could use some rest." Soto doesn't sit until he stops hitting. You want to give Bryce ABs against righties to right the ship. MAT is a great fielder and a hot bat. Fine. But this radio silence about Eaton makes me nervous.

Kubla said...

Eaton had a vision of how the game was going to go.

"I think I'll it this one out."

BxJaycobb said...

The key is the walks IMO. Like....a teenager who walks almost as much as he strikes out is truly like unprecedented as far as I know. Somebody who walks as much as he does (and that stat stabilizes super quickly by the way...K and BB rate i mean) is rare for anybody in MLB. The reason I’m confident he’s not going to ever really crash is not just his simple and short his swing is. It’s that he has a ludicrously good idea of the zone for somebody his age. It will allow him to get on base even when he slumps which will obviously happen at some point. But I would be truly surprised if he doesn’t settle as at least a .270/.350/.500 type player. And he might be better than that.

BxJaycobb said...

It can take the week a while to adjust. They didn’t adjust to Trea until the next season and they didnt adjust to Bellinger for a year.

Froggy said...

I think the Nats should bring up Robles soonest and if he is half as good as Soon trade Bryce for Realmuto. Question is do you do it before the ASB or after.

Froggy said...

half as good as *Soto

Huzzah! said...

Froggy -

Why would the Marlins ever want Bryce for half a season? That makes no sense. They have Realmuto under team control and would have no chance not any desire to sign Bryce in his prime.

Froggy said...

Huzzah
Yeah, I should have proofed my post before sending. Should read: trade Bryce 'and trade' for Realmuto. Good catch.

Kubla said...

@ Froggy

If they're trading Bryce, they're sellers and not interested in any pieces for this season. It would be super weird to dump one "win-now" piece and trade for another. If Bryce is gone, expect them to also dump Gonzales, Doolittle plus any other viable pen arm, and maybe Rendon if they think the 2019 window is closed.

The future becomes Turner/Soto/Robles and whomever they'd get back for their trades. Once they start the fire sale, they probably should dump more people, but I doubt they would move Scherzer or Strasburg, and nobody else will get anything in return. The Marlins would want prospects in return for Realmuto because they don't care about winning now (cynically, they may never care about winning and only want to dump veteran salaries), and that's exactly whom the Nats want to keep.

There's enough hope left that there isn't an urgent need for an "ideal seller scenario" post from Harper. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop asking for one whenever appropriate.

Froggy said...

I'm just going to say what everyone is thinking: the Lerner's aren't going to make a serious effort at signing Bryce otherwise they would be in discussions right now. Bryce is already thinking about what set of pinstripes he would look best in, Cubs or Yankees. And the whole auditioning for his future team thing has distracted him from playing like the Bryce we've come accustomed to know. It's not just his hitting numbers, look at his defense hustle, and general approach to at bats. Distracted at best, lackadaisical at worst.

The only other explanation is he is hurt or something going on with his eyesight IMO.

Johnny Callison said...

I think you let Bryce walk and use that money (and the Murphy and Madson money, and with an eye to Zim coming off the books for 2020, too) for pitching. Stras is injury-prone, Gio is not really a #3, and Roark seems to be regressing. I think you keep all the real prospects you can because that's the only way to keep the window open as long as you have Max at his max.

In retrospect, trading some of our best pitchers has come back to haunt us, at least now as we struggle to find fourth and fifth starters of quality.

Johnny Callison said...

As for Murphy, it's clear that the Nats assumed they would have him close to 100 percent by now, and he's not close, obviously. I never quite got what the actual injury was and why experimental surgery was required now. Was it just something that was slowly worsening (like my own knee has)? Could he have waited and played close to full capacity with rest, rehab, exercises? Did he want to do it to get back to his full value for his next FA chance?

The Nats are soooo mysterious about injuries. The Zim thing is just weird--the non-weight bearing ST, the complete disappearance after this latest injury. If he comes back, I hope he's closer to last year than the year before. Otherwise, he's not helping at all. There is zero chance they bring him back for his option year. I bet he retires after next year. By the way he gets a 4M bump next year!

Adam VB said...

Michael Taylor whiffs on 3 straight fastballs all up in the zone with bases juiced. That's just not major league hitting.

Mark said...

MAT went 3 for 5 and is batting over .356 the last 30 games and .486 the last 15 games. why dont we give the MAT bashing a rest for while...

Ric said...

@AdamVB: Michael Taylor whiffs on 3 straight fastballs all up in the zone with bases juiced. That's just not major league hitting."

Taylor went 3-5, with two RBI and a stolen base last night. Taylor is hitting .420 for the month of June. Taylor leads the Majors in SBs.

But for goodness sake, let's not pass on an opportunity to knock the guy down.

(Those were all good pitches, 94-96 MPH. If you look at the heat chart, Taylor's weakness is pitches in the upper third of the zone. I'm happy that he swung at them, rather than taking a looking strike.)