Nationals Baseball: Salvaging a series and a possibly good weekend

Friday, May 11, 2012

Salvaging a series and a possibly good weekend

The story hasn't changed much.  Nats pitching does well giving up 11 runs (9 earned) in 3 games.  The offense stinks scoring 10 runs (9 earned) in 3 games. This will be the song and dance at least until Morse comes back (probably as a DH in early June interleague games) to see if that makes a difference. In the meantime they try to hold onto first from the Braves and the ... Mets? First place is still secure.

But it almost wasn't.The Nats weren't too far from being swept by a Pirates team that would have trouble scoring in some sort of situation where scoring is very easy. However, they managed to hit 3 bombs for the second time in a couple weeks (last time before that was Sept 11th of last year) and came away with the 4-2 win.  Now they head over to Cincinnati and a pretty decent Reds team.

The first game will be Gio vs Mike Leake.  Leake hasn't pitched well this year and is susceptible to the long ball. Could we finally see Bryce's first Major League homer tonight? I'll go ahead and call it, what the hell.  On the other hand, I said earlier in the season that the Reds like to hit lefties and while it hasn't shown up much so far, given the bandbox they play in and Gio's luck having to change at some point, I think this is the game he gives up a couple of bombs. Still think the Nats pull it out - maybe in a barnburner. Then we got Zimmermann vs Latos. Latos has been pitching much better recently, though facing the Pirates should help anyone. ZNN was shaky in his last outing but still pretty decent. Given the team's hatred of scoring runs for ZNN - I see this as a 2-1, 3-2 loss. The last game is Jackson vs Arroyo. Arroyo also has been good recently and Jackson was a bit shaky last two games, getting hit a bunch vs the D-backs and giving up the long ball vs the Pirates. I'd go with the Reds in this one too. The Nats need 2 wins to match expectations heading into the road trip.  I'm not sure they'll get it.  I'd put money on 1-2 over 2-1.  A 2-4 road trip? Disappointing, but they'll happen even to the best teams. 

Luckily for the Nats the guys on their heels don't have an easy weekend either. The Braves are playing the Cardinals, while the Mets take on the turning-it-around Marlins. It's quite likely that even with a 1-2 weekend the Nats will head home to take on the lowly Padres still in first. Which means they should get to Thursday of next week in first as well. 

Some other notes : 

The last couple of weeks have featured some shaky appearances from H-Rod and a bad innings eating try by Ryan Perry, but the rest of the bullpen has been as good as it's been all year. In their last 21 IP, Burnett, Clippard, Stammen, Gorzelanny and Mattheus have given up 2 ER.

Let's hope Bryce does get that homer tonight. Since that 3-4 night, the kid is hitting .200 and while he's shown the ability to hit laser beams, he still hasn't crushed one deep. A bad weekend and he might be fitting into the Nats lineup in the wrong way.  I don't doubt he can keep that average in the .280-.290 range, but I'm curious to see if his power will come around this year or will Nats fans have to wait until 2013. No one can deny that he can get on base, though, so he'll have all the time he needs one way or another.

LaRoche hasn't cooled down yet; 4-8 with 4 walks and 2 homers since coming back.  Given Bryce's way working himself on base maybe we should see Bryce-LaRoche-Zimm 2-3-4? Eh, probably not. Managers hate moving what's working and LaRoche in clean-up is working.

Blog Notes : 

Marc Gunther hit me up on Twitter to ask for a way to subscribe to the blog by email. So I went ahead and took the 2 minutes to figure out how to do that and it's now on the bottom of the column on the right.

Commenter Barney asked for good baseball team blogs the other day. I admit I don't read many other blogs, even about the Nats so I didn't have much to say.  If there are any you like in particular feel free to share in the comments.


Carl said...

A good Phillies blog (i.e. has reasonable commentary, not run by jerks and assholes) is The Good Phight at

Donald said...

Before Lidge got hurt, he and HRod were platooning as closer. I know Davey doesn't like to mess with people's confidence, but I'd like to see Burnett get some closing opportunities when a leftie makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Federal Baseball is a good one I also go to, new content every few hours and a lively reader base

Donald said...

Out of curiosity, what's your take on Peter Bourjos? I think you've said in the past that you'd like to see the Nats get him, but he isn't doing so well this year. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

No, Donald, no. ONLY H-Rod should close until Storen returns. Nobody else is close to qualified. Closers need to be strikeout pitchers, and the only people in the Nats pen that fit that are Clippard and Rodriguez.

Clip is locked in as the set-up man, so H-Rod should be the closer every game until Storen returns.

Ben said...

Closers hardly NEED to be strikeout guys (see Todd Jones and his 87 MPH fastball circa 2006). That being said, I don't mind seeing H-Rod continue to close as long as Davey knows to pull him when the first 3 fastballs hit the backstop.

That does pose an interesting question though: if Henry threw a few more stinkers who would close? Personally, and amazing even to myself, I think I'd have to go with ... Stammen? He has really located better than anyone else and his stuff is just good enough

DezoPenguin said...

Yeah, the 9th-inning guy who comes in with a lead and nobody on base doesn't really need to be a big K guy, it's just that the strikeout pitchers usually tend to be more effective at preventing runs from scoring generally. But it's the set-up man who comes into the game with runners on base in a desperate situation that needs to be able to retire hitters without giving up sac flies, RBI groundouts, and other irritants--one reason why Davey left Clippard as the set-up man; Clip is (or at least was going in) the best of the bunch in the 'pen and therefore the guy who should be pitching in the high-leverage situations.

That said, Rodriguez hasn't been a spectacular failure as closer; a couple of blown saves do not a disaster make. And among the other guys having better seasons that HRod, I don't know that I trust Stammen or Mattheus any more, and Burnett's ideally used as a situational lefty (we've seen him as a closer before, and it wasn't pretty...).

That said, is it true that blown saves and 9th-inning comebacks are up across baseball this year, or does it only seem that way?

Froggy said...

I love Henry, particularly at Nats Park where he just seems to own the place. Who doesn't like to see a 100mph fastball. On the road, he makes me nervous with his wild pitches. Is there a stat to track how many balls he throws in the dirt? I mean it seems as though hitters know if there are runners on base one of two things are gonna happen...he will bounce a pitch or three in the dirt or the high heat is coming and all you need to do is wait on either to improve your chances.

Nattydread said...

One win out of 2 and its a 3 - 3 road trip.

Espinosa --- out of tailspin?

Now, about Zimmerman...

DezoPenguin said...

Hmm, the Nats give Znn 2 runs tonight, which for him is a major outburst of support, and they notch the W to make three wins so far, with HRod looking mildly awesome. Here's praying that whatever happened to Ramon's leg isn't serious, though; this offense simply cannot afford to lose any more people who are actually contributing.

Marc Gunther said...

Thanks for figuring out how to let people subscribe by email. I really like your blog and now I won't miss any entries.

Very tough luck last night with Ramos. Not to mention Harper. I see June and July as tough months for the Nats as the offense continues to struggle and pitching comes back to earth. My hope is that Morse, Storen and maybe Werth come back midsummer to give the club a lift.

Anonymous said...

The injuries coupled with a much tougher schedule the next month could make for some tough times in Nats Town

Froggy said...

So Votto waits on the high heat and makes Henry pay. Just as predicted. (see post above)

Of course if Desmond doesn't muff the routine grounder and Bryce doesn't lose the routine long fly ball to end the 8th we are out of the inning and don't face Votto in the bottom of the ninth.

Blown save by Henry, but blown loss by the team.

Harper said...

Donald - I'd love to see a lot of guys pitch that 9th depending on wh o was needed earlier and who's free.

Anon - Fed baseball (and any of the SB Nation blogs) are good places to find active game threads.

Donald - I checked and I'm not sure I said I'd like to see the Nats get him - but I'll say it now. He's isn't a difference maker, think Bernadina at the plate, but he's a great fielder which can help the Nats as Werth ages and Bryce does his sporadically bad thing. They'd still need a bat at another position though, unless everything goes right moving forward.

Anon - Closers don't need to be strikeout guys. They need to be guys that get outs. You only need strikeout guys when you can't afford a hit. Bases empty going to face 6-7-8, which the closer easily could face and H-Rod did in the ZNN game, is not that time.

Ben - yeah probably Stammen, since Davey has Clippard stuck in his set-up role. (luckily in ZNN's game it worked out that Clip got 2-5)

dezo - No one is the perfect closer because the closers role changes. The same guy you'd have pitch up 3 against the bottom of a lineup isn't the guy you'd pitch up one vs the heart. It's silly that we treat it otherwise.

NattyD - give Zimm a little time. He's putting the ball in play.

Marc - no problem. Yes, survive until the All-Star break. That's the goal for this team. Be in striking distance come the trade deadline.

Anon - yes it will. But the pitching is real and they've gotten the breaks so far. Maybe they'll keep getting a little lucky. They dion't have to keep dominating, just need to stay in it.

Froggy - exactly. H-Rod blew it but a lot went into this loss