Nationals Baseball: Weekend placeholder - Am I negative? no, it is the children who are wrong.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Weekend placeholder - Am I negative? no, it is the children who are wrong.

Just giving a  fresh place to comment on this weekends games really.

From the comments - On Hellickson and Strasburg -

What do I THINK will happen? I think Hellickson will be out for a week or two. That's it. I'm very leery about Strasburg pitching much more this year because I'm very leery about shoulder stuff.

Of course it's been pointed out that I am a negative Nelly when it comes to pitcher injuries and even I know what I say above is a pessimistic take. As a soulless automaton, I'm generally fair. Sometimes I think good things, sometimes bad things, usually they are right, sometimes they are wrong. I talk about bad things more but that's just because they are more interesting to talk about, because there's not only the issue to talk about but what to do about it. Anyone here want to be on a third blog piece about "Tanner Roark has pitched well this year as expected. Fin."? Yawn.

But nope I'm not being fair to Strasburg. I DO think he'll be out until after the All-Star Break but that's more about timing than anything. Let's say they are cautious, which seems reasonable, and rest him for say three more starts. That puts him starting again around the 4th or so, about 2 1/2 weeks off. That could mean three starts before the break or it could be two (starting on the 5th is the cut-off). Let's say he starts on the 7th so a full 3 weeks off. He'd pitch the 7th, pitch the 12th and then... maybe the 20th?  You are getting him back only to force him into another awkward rest period very soon after. It just makes sense to keep him on the shelf until after*

But that's not about being hurt, like I said, that's timing. So after that he could pitch the whole rest of the year fine and there's no reason right now to not think that would happen. The fairest take is - he;ll probably be back right after the ASB and if he's pitching, he's probably ok. We'll have to keep a close eye on those first couple starts but you'd assume he's ready to go the rest of the season.

On the overall negativity - well look at Ross, look at Glover. Pitchers reguarly get hurt and stay hurt for a long time. It's not THAT crazy to believe that may happen to a Nats starter we care about. I WAS worried about Max a couple years ago with his bad start but looking back (the good thing about blogs is I can actually check what I said) my main thrust was "Max is probably going to only be real good, potentially win a Cy Young good, but not overly dominant #1 pitcher in NL great" I was wrong but given that we'd only seen dominance for one year I think that was a fair take at the time. And it's kind of similar with Strasburg. When he went out I said first "I told you so" because I harped on the fact he hadn't pitched to end 2016 so it was fair to expect some injury from the guy that always gets hurt.  Then I said he'd be back in a month if it was like 2016, but worst case would be another TJ. Instead Nats got a best case - he was back in 2 1/2 weeks or so. Then I said "Ok. Gotta trust he'll finish up year. Cross your fingers"  That's not exactly THAT negative. So I'm holding my ground here. I'm not overly negative in my expectations.

I will say that while I give a fair shake, I usually then present the worst case but not the best case. So I guess I'll try to do that as well. 

So Strasburg's best case, which I still didn't mention, is that he's back sometime in the first five games of the next homestand and he keeps pitching as he has this year - which is very good.

*unless he can come back pretty much as soon as they are back from the road trip, but I don't see the cautious Nats doing that. Nor does anything we hear suggest that he's going to jump back in the rotation soon.


Jimmy said...

Your moms the children.

JE34 said...

Harper is always good for a quality Simpsons reference. It warms me heart.

SM said...

Nervous Nellie. Negative . . . Norman? Nan? Natalie? Norbert? Nero?

Jimmy said...

@JE34 I don't know how that went right over my head. Either way my comment stands in it's own ignorant glory.

Alan Wiecking said...

Harper, if you can search your blog, I'd be curious where/when/who started the "soulless automaton" moniker.

On topic, I worry a little less about a shoulder for Strasburg then I would with an unnamed elbow/forearm injury. "Forearm tightness" seems to have become the new code for something's really wrong here and we're not talking about it with ML med staffs. Of course, this IS the Nat's MRI machine and who knows what's really up in the shoulder. All Star break unless the Nats find themselves 5 games back before then.

On Hellickson, I just hope when he comes back he remembers how he was pitching. Given the career, his starts have had a lot of "is this the start he begins to revert" type mojo. I'd go along with the two more weeks.

I don't think anybody would have projected that Max would actually get better year over year. He has got to be one of the most fun pitchers to watch all-time.

Can Carter Kieboom play 3rd?

G Cracka X said...

Excellent Juan Solo (much better and less pretentious nickname than 'Childish Bambino') article at Fangraphs:

Two things stand out to me:

1) Juan Soto is projected to be the 15th best hitter in the majors for the rest of the season! Wow! Its one thing to have 'beginners luck' or a nice hot streak, but its completely something else to say that at 19, you're projected to have a better rest-of-the-year wOBA than Ramirez, Correa, and Machado!

(By the way, Harper is projected to be 4th, so looks like he's due for a bounce back)

2) Speaking of Harper, I didn't realize that his 2012 season was the best teenage season ever in the majors since 1905. I wonder if Harper has been simultaneously over-hyped and under-hyped

cass said...

I cannot understand how Soto's nickname would be something other than Soto-mayor (Soto-minor?) or the like. We could talk about his "Supreme" performance or how he hits the ball out with his gavel. SCOTUS isn't very far from Nats Park, really.

Do other people not instantly think Sonia Sotomayor when they hear Soto? This is DC.

Anonymous said...

I want to caution people on searching the low-level minor leagues for MLB-level talent. Soto is anomaly. Bryce was an anomaly. Griffey was an anomaly. Now I say this in the same breath as I throw out updates on possible minor league in-house bullpen options. We're all guilty of this including myself. As Harper says, fans tend to over-hype their own prospects. Juan Soto was absolutely TEARING UP high-A and AA pitching. Like posting a 1.256 OPS in 39 games. That's absurd, and as skeptical as I was, I was in favor of them bringing him up. We had a glaring need. I'm not feeling the same way about Carter Kieboom. Do I think he's good? Sure. I'd hate to part ways with him as I think he's got a future with us. But look at his numbers and look at Soto's. Kieboom is rated the #80 prospect in baseball for a reason. Soto is #13 for a reason. Hitting .300 in high-A is great, and at this stage, I'd say it warrants a promotion to Harrisburg. But already analyzing if he can play 3rd or 2nd as if he's helping us this year? Pump the breaks.

Harper said...

Jimmy - I suppose at some point all our moms was the children

JE34 - It was a perfectly cromulent reference

SM - Negative Nyjer.

Alan - I'm pretty sure I started calling myself that. I assume I heard that or something similar elsewhere.

About the shoulder - You're right that it's not as automatically serious as a "can't say elbow" injury but when shoulder do go wrong guys rarely recover. There's no TJ equivalent that usually works. There's just prayer. Look at Glover.

GCX - No Soto talk yet! I refuse! Yeah I think people miss that about Bryce

2012 - Historic for age
2013 - Historic for age
2014 - injury riddled
2015 - Just Historic
2016 - Now we're told Shoulder injury?
2017 - Actually pretty damn good

They like to say "Oh he hasn't been that good really - a lot of not great years. But what he did at 19 and 20 WAS great. Really it's two bad years (one definitely injury one maybe), three great ones, and one merely really good.

cass - too political. The clubhouse has spoken I'm sure - it's "Soaty" or "Soats"

Anon @ 11:41 - yes. Love Soto, but understand that if he keeps this up it is a complete lucky break. Even your usual great players don't do this and most minor league players struggle to make any impact even when they are pretty good.

Anonymous said...

In general, shoulder is worse than elbow. But we literally have no idea about the severity of the injury other than that it's not structural (no tears or anything). Busted shoulders ruin great careers (e.g., Johan Santana). But we are FAR away from Strasburg's shoulder being busted. I think it's fine to articulate the downside, but it's not fine to resolve all uncertainty downward. Today's post is an improvement on yesterday's commentary in that regard.

Tanner Roark turning in to what he is counts as a "complete lucky break." Justin Miller being a devastating relief pitching machine counts as a "complete lucky break." I want to put the Dodgers' ability to reform nothing players like Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, and now Max Muncy into fearsome hitters a series of "complete lucky breaks" but I think there's some secret sauce they've got over there that helps them identify/develop hitters that can improve dramatically. Juan Soto being a badass is no more of a complete lucky break than Aaron Judge - good but not great - prospect being one of the best hitters in baseball. They gave Soto a big bonus. He's not found gold like Roark. This sort of performance is well within his reasonable probability distribution (just like Judge's), although it's happening sooner than expected (and you can make a case that, for Judge, it happened later than expected).

Also, there's no way Soto can keep hitting at this level, is there? A close look at the stats reveals nothing out of line with his performance in the minors. His BABIP is high, but not unusually so. (I know, I know, Harper won't even look until we've got a larger sample, but nothing jumps out as unsustainable other than that 19 year olds just don't hit like this in the majors).

Matt said...

I guess this has sort of been picked up already, but to defend Harper's pessimism on Stras, even though there's a good probability that this is no big deal, there's also a decent probability that he's not playing another game this season. I guess the "no structural damage" thing makes this less likely, although diagnoses have been wrong before. I'm wildly and irresponsibly guessing a 15% chance that we don't see Stras again for the season.

Alan Wiecking said...

Def not for calling up Kieboom for at least a year, just wondering if Rizzo thinks it's an option if they decide not to re-up Rendon (or he doesn't get a FA offer and signs a 1 year next year). Kid is 20 and not exactly lighting it up, but has a good upside. If all he can play is SS, he's a trade chip this year.

As for Bryce, he is well on the way to being a generational talent....he's just compared to a guy who is well on his way to being the best ever.

Anonymous said...

@ Alan Wiecking

Actually, Carter Kieboom is lighting it up.

BxJaycobb said...

Definitely. Kieboom will almost certainly come up and end up playing 3B or 2B (I think 2B more likely if he comes up next year and Murphy is gone)....why are you asking about third? Unless you mean if we don’t extend Rendon and post 2019.

BxJaycobb said...

People don’t sufficiently appreciate how insanely good Harper has been at young ages. If he didn’t come up at the same time as Trout, there would be much less negativity and folks would be in general agreement that, unless he regresses crazy fast and has injuries, he’s had the age 19-25 numbers of a Hall of Fame player (very inconsistent, but with highs that almost nobody has reached, see age 19 and 22 seasons).

BxJaycobb said...

Ps Childish Bambino is a VERY clever name, but more clever and less GOOD because too complex too stick I think. SotoMayor I like more than Juan Solo. And “La Verdad” is also great. BTW I also think it’s a huge shame that “Bam-Bam” never caught on for Bryce.

BxJaycobb said...

SotoMayor is good. But Childish Bambino Juan Solo and La Verdad are too good. We just need to choose one and have it stick.

BxJaycobb said...

I agree with you overall no doubt. I would just add that Kieboom is the Number 35 prospect by Fangraphs list (right next to Casey Mize, who was just the number 1 pick). I don’t think anybody thinks Kieboom is some generational talent and I don’t think he is helping this year either. But I would say:
1. Every day MLB is more of a young man’s game and less of an old man’s game.
2. I think that what is realistic to HOPE for is that maybe Kieboom is the 2B heir to Murphy once he leaves next year....not to start the year but something to talk about if he handles AA well as a possibility mid season. The amazing thing about the Nats is that for all the “window closing” talk, they have a LOT of young impact offensive talent to fill in for the losses/aging of Bryce, Murphy, and Zim...IF Robles, Soto, Kieboom all can stick as average of above average starters. And then max and Stras we control for a while (root for no serious injury to Stras of course).

BxJaycobb said...

Yeah I mean. We’re looking at the greatest teenager year ever even if he performs going forward as Fangraphs projects him to. And know what? I think he might. The patience and BB/K and vs Lefties is what has me a believer, not his slash line. Lefties who aren’t bothered by facing lefties? That’s like a meteor streaking across the sky at almost any age, let alone 19.

BxJaycobb said...

@Alan W: there’s never been a SS on earth who couldn’t also handle 3B and 2B. Literally (unless somebody can think of one...and I’m not including fake nonsense “shortstops” like Michael Morse.
Also. Rendon will not be available for a 1 yr/short deal unless he gets horrible injured. He’s probably top 25-30 position player in MLB and not that old with 2 top 10 MVP finishes who has led his league in WAR and does everything well. If we want him it will cost us...lets see...5/125 at absolute minimum. But yes. If we don’t keep Rendon, Kieboom is the 3B of the future probably. If he continues to rake, i bet he is up next year playing 2B. Even if we set aside Turner occupying SS....scouts like Keith Law have said they aren’t sure Kieboom has the defensive chops to stick at SS. So context aside, folks think his natural position at MLB level is 3B.

G Cracka X said...

@Bx Your bring up a good topic: how is everyone feeling about Nats '19? Can the window stay open?

The glass half full approach says: Yes! There is a solid core of Turner, Soto, and Robles to build around, plus a likely future HOF pitcher in Max, and useful vets like Stras, Eaton, Roark, and Doo. Sign a FA pitcher and catcher, extend Rendon, hope Kieboom or Kendrick becomes a contributor in the 2nd half, and Zimm bounces back or we get a good LHB 1B, and voila! You've got a playoff-caliber team.

The glass half empty approach says: Uh, not so fast. The entire outfield + Stras is an injury risk. Core? What core? Only Turner is proven. Soto will probably be good, but its too early to tell. Robles barely had a cup of coffee and gets hit by pitches a lot. No guarantee he'll stick in the majors (due to injury or performance). The Braves and the Phillies will both probably be more talented in 2019, so its time to close the window, build the farm system up by systematically trading valuable vets, and plan for 2021.

Ollie said...

I think Zimm's usefulness may be done, unfortunately (though I also thought this before last year). I wonder if he makes it through the end of his contract (2021, which seems like forever from now).

G Cracka X said...

Hi @Ollie! Zim's contract has a club option in 2020 with a $2M buyout, so if he isn't producing in 2019, the team can let him go after that season. Hopefully he bounces back and plays well enough to justify the club option!

BxJaycobb said...

Rendon is clearly part of the core, as is Max, Roark, Joe Ross will be back, Turner is part of the core, the bullpen back end is set, Eaton....I would say that yes, we know Soto will be good. There is no record of teenagers who come up and play well let alone really well and don’t become good. The question is will he be good or will he be a perennial all star/superstar. I don’t think any evaluator thinks that there is a real chance Robles won’t be at least a decent starter. Again, we don’t know HOW good he will be. But when players are this close to the majors, non injury flops of top prospects are VERY rare. (This is why for example the idea that Ronald Acuña would not be at least decent as a major leaguer just wasn’t a possibility really.) Even the players you think of who are disappointments (Byron Buxton) are good major leaguers (no really, buxton is so talented on defense and bases that his hitting barely matters.....he’s like Taylor but with even crazier defensive dominance...the best CF in baseball). Robles is similar that. If he hits a BIT he is a decent starter. If he is a league average hitter he’s a super solid regular. If he is an above average MLB hitter he’s a star due to his speed and D. So to answer your question: for sure. There is uncertainty, but I mean, look at Bryce this year—sometimes established players surprise you too. This is increasingly a young players league, and my main point is that the common refrain that when Bryce and Murphy leave the Nats window will be closed may very well be wrong. I do think that the Nats run of EASY division wins is over. But I also think they will remain competitive next few years. They’ve been very impressive at developing high end prospects while also having low draft picks and trading away people to win now. It would be an odd time in my view to rebuild when you have two aces (one the best pitcher in baseball) signed long term and you have two possible star or superstar outfielders on the brink of majors and an excellent young shortstop and borderline MVP level third baseman. Just my opinion. If Robles and Soto and Kieboom didn’t exist, or if we only had like a year or two of Max and Stras, then maybe it makes more sense. The situation is different though. The Nats can compete next few years I think.

BxJaycobb said...

No chance. He is such a huge liability on defense and such an injury risk that literally he would need to produce like he did last year for the Nats to consider it. Even then I wouldn’t to be honest.

Ole PBN said...

Oh my GOD. Bryce has now officially a lower batting average than... (wait for it)... MAT. I don’t know what world this even is anymore.

Anonymous said...

Offense is offensive. Is that more on Martinez or on Long?

Chas R said...

Nats shut out again- 3rd time in 5 games and 2.5 games back of the Braves. Now looking at getting swept by the lowly Blue Jays.

Ugh... the Baseball Gods are not kind

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