Nationals Baseball: Tuesday Quickie

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Quickie

Almost a perfect weekend for the Nats and already a winning road trip.  It still could end with a bad taste if the Nats happen to get swept by the Marlins, but you gotta believe they'll take at least one game (though they don't have a definitive advantage in either of the last two games - not a disadvantage either though Edwin Jackson has pitched solidly all year, and in game 2 Josh Johnson hasn't come back fully from injury). 6-3 or 7-2? That'd be crazy good.

The Braves were dinged up, sure, but their offense performed competently in the face of adversity.  It was the pitching that failed them.  So the weekend story is either the Nats offense or Braves pitching, depending on how you look at it. Right now you'd say the Braves pitching since they gave up eight to the Cardinals, while the Marlins held the Nats to 3, but let's give it a few more games to see if the Nats offense has turned a corner. And hell - maybe even into next series, since the Marlins park can depress run scoring.

Some quick notes

Perfect example of why the closer role is idiotic. In an important series the Braves best reliever, Craig Kimbrel, pitched one garbage inning at the end of an 8-4 loss. He's pitched one whole inning since the 20th of May. The Braves are not using their best arm in important situations because they might need him later. Except 'later' hasn't come for 2 weeks. It is a maddening waste of resources, akin to the Rangers keeping Josh Hamilton on the bench for 9th inning pinch-hit home run opportunities.

Wang takes over for Detwiler in the rotation. Anyone surprised?  Anyone?

Bryce Harper is easily the hottest Nat over the past week. .389 / .500 / .722.  On May 18th he was hitting .230 / .318 / .419 and it was perfectly reasonable to think if he slumped into June that he might be flipped for Morse.  Now that's crazy talk.  He won't keep that up that line obviously, but it's next to impossible to see a scenario where Bryce doesn't spend the whole year here.  You just can't see him go into the kind of slump necessary to force that move.

Outside of Bryce and Jesus Flores, no one is hitting exceptionally well but they are all hitting with power. Ankiel, LaRoche, Zimm, and Espinosa all have 3 XBH in this past week. Even "Singly Steve" Lombardozzi has a couple doubles and ZNN has a homerun.

Just when you thought he was breaking out Desmond goes ice cold .100 / .143 / .150 over the past week.  He is what he is. Also shows you that if a team is hitting well, they can carry a bad bat.

The starting pitching has been fallible but the relief pitching has been close to perfect. Gorzo, Perry, Burnett, Clippard, Stammen no runs allowed. If only H-Rod wasn't still terrible (told ya it wasn't closing)

 Don't be worried about Strasburg.  He's getting unlucky with BABIP over the past month (.360+) and is still pitching good enough.  He'll be dominant again as soon as the luck turns.


Anonymous said...

WHAT!?!?! this an all around positive post…….I’ll be honest I am not even sure what to do with myself right now. I am an avid reader of your blog and a huge Nationals fan. I come here to get my weekly reality check so my expectations don’t get ridiculous. With this kind of post you will have me planning my trip for the playoffs by the end of the week. Get it together Gordek……I need at least one reason why we cannot make the playoffs or so help me God I will start boasting even more than I already am. And trust me I can be even more obnoxious than a Philly fan if it’s for my Nats. Great….now I’m gonna be suffering from an overdose of Natitude….
Sincerely, John “Let Teddy Win” Marshall

Donald said...

It's been an odd year so far. Who's the biggest surprise in the NL east? Mets? Phillies? The current standings aren't anywhere close to what I would have predicted.

Bryan said...

A nice post on how bad we would have to play (winning % wise) from here on out to finish .500 would be nice, or to finish with say 90 wins or whatever. I know the math isn't hard, but I don't want to have to do it, that is why I come here.

The playoffs look more and more realistic. The Phils are done. They are .500 clingers, is my wager, unless Utley and Howard can make it back and save them. Braves don't seem ready, I'm not sold on the Mets. That leaves the Marlins. Heh.

By the way, forget Stras troubles but not for the reasons you say: He's a power hitter now, or haven't you heard?

Kenny B. said...

Personally, I'm beginning to think we should play Strasburg in LF on days when he's not pitching.

Seriously though, it's impressive the way the Nats have dominated the division so far this year. It's not an easy division to dominate. If they want to go to the playoffs, they've figured out the correct way to do it if they can just keep it up.

Hoo said...

Biggest surprise is the Mets. The Marlins early season struggles were more surprising than the Phils.

When everyone is healthy, the Phils were in spring training better than the Nats on paper. but the Nats were a deeper, younger team with a lot more upside. And Ankiel vs. Pierre seems a pretty reasonable size holes in lineups. It's a lot more reasonable to think that the Nats would be a healthier team than the

The Mets are pretty shocking to the extent that maybe David Wright will stay in NY and not traded for a blockbuster rebuilding haul.

K.C. said...

Update: 6-4 so far...

You predicted 19-21 through July 1, I predicted at least 22-18, if not better.

Do you want to re-evaluate your pick?

Anonymous said...

Harper I have a question for you, are you a Nats fan?

Anonymous said...

he's a Yankees fan.

Harper said...

A reason they can't make the playoffs? There's always injury. Something to Stras/ZNN/Gio would be pretty impactful. Or if Morse can't play the field at all and Werth is slower returning than expected. Really the most likely way they don't make the playoffs is that they finish with about 86 wins but that's just not enough to get in. It would be surprising to me if they weren't in the hunt into September.

Donald / Hoo - definitely the Mets. Even though it was unlikely you could have pictured an NL East with the order and records for DC/Mia/ATL/PHI but you'd expect with those 4 over .500 the Mets would be one of the worst teams in the league. A lot of it is just dumb luck but it's surprising how every 2-star young player they've been forced to bring up on offense has come through.

Kenny B - beat up on terrible teams, have a winning record versus inter division foes jockeying for playoff spots, go .500 against everyone else. sort of check, check, check.

Kyle - not yet. I had them at 6-6 through 12 and they could still hit that (though I'd bet on 7-5 right now if you made me), then I had them going 4-2 at home, so I had them at 10-8 in a little over a week. We'll see where they stand then, with Morse coming back. If they are 12-6 or better (or somehow 8-10 or worse) then I think I'd look again. We'll see. In my mind I got to end up at least 3 or 4 games off at the end to think I missed something. 1 or 2 certainly won't do it.

Anons - Yep Yankee fan. Born and Raised in NY State (born in NYC but moved upstate before I was cognizant of my surroundings) I'm a Nats wellwisher - which amounts to liking it when they win, but not getting upset when they lose (unless something stupid caused it)

Donald said...

Harper -- At some point, you'll find yourself watching the Yankees and Nats playing each other, and something good will happen for the Nats and you'll cheer before even realizing what's happened.

Froggy said...

So, Harper, if you are a Yanqeez fan then are you going to be walking around your living room with the little baseball bat rooting for them when we play in June?

Harper said...

Donald - I wouldn't hold your breath over that. 20+ years of following the Yanks, plus I don't live in DC so I'm not inundated with Nats love. I think there are two stages you can switch fandoms, first when you are very young, 10 and under, and a move or a influential team can make you switch, next when you get out of college and find yourself someplace new. You spent the last 4 years with a lot less of the world filtering down to you and now you're in a different place where someone else is the talk of the town. I'm past both those stages.

Froggy - No little bat - that's for playoff and late season Red Sox games only. But yeah I'll be pulling for the Yanks - and hey they need the wins more.

On a side note it wouldn't kill me if the Nats beat the Yanks. Winning a lot lessens all that neediness. Right now though the Yanks do need to at least reach a WS. They've done that the last 9 decades. Need to keep the streak alive (stupid 80's Yankees losing in the WS kept them from winning one in the last 9 decades)

Yes, this is what you think about when you win a bunch of WS - hopefully Nats fans are thinking this way come 2022.