Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Quickie

This sweep is a good example of why you can't look at the micro when it comes to baseball.  Using a marathon analogy, looking at a 3 game series is like checking a half-mile split and basing your feeling on that.  The Nats are still well ensconced in first place and they are 6-3 in their AL East stretch, where prior to the start of it you would have taken 8-7 and walked away happy. Unless the Nats get swept out by both the Rays and the Orioles, this set of games can't be viewed as a disappointment.

Still no one likes to get swept, at home, when everyone was watching you.  The Yanks would do what they always do - work the starter but in all cases the Nats starter didn't collapse.They all had to leave early but made it to the 7th and kept the Nats in the game. Given the talent in the Nats bullpen things should have worked out in at least one of these games.  But strange things happened. In Game 1 Davey brought in Lidge instead of the likely candidate Stammen and while he didn't pitch poorly (you could argue he only gave up one hard hit the entire series) he didn't get any outs not handed to him. Mike Gonzalez didn't fare any better versus Tex and that ended the game.  In Game 2, the bullpen strength would be negated by the sheer length of the game. The LaRoche single in the bottom of the 8th (more on that in the notes) was the last hit either team would get until the Top of the 14th (Lidge again). In Game 3, it was the lack of lead that made the bullpen advantage moot. It's the story of the season - can the pitching be good enough to compensate for a less than potent offense? Most of the times it has been.  In this series it wasn't.

  • I don't think Lidge leaving is a huge boon for the pen. He wasn't as terrible as Nats fans have made him out to be.  Still I don't see any reason to keep him on staff.  You pick up a Lidge to at worst be a dominant member of a 7th-8th-9th group, at best a back-up closer.  Lidge wasn't going to be put in either of those situations so his spot is better taken by a younger arm that maybe becomes something special. 
  • Yes Tyler Moore was probably safe, but when you have to look at it in freeze frame and even then it's not obvious I can't blame the umpires. Especially given that in these types of plays they tend to award outs based on ball arrival as much as tag location.
  • Bryce Harper was fed a steady diet of sliders on Saturday and looked terrible. What does that mean? Well - I wouldn't like his chances against a good LOOGY but in general it's not a huge deal. Not every pitcher has a great slider. He can hit the fastball, he can hit the change, he can hit the curve. That's gonna be most of what he sees.
  • Did you feel like the pitching was terrible?  Well the 16 runs given up was the most the Nats have in a series all year (tied with a 4 game one vs the Astros where they gave up 11 in one game) Sixteen in a series isn't good but to have it be the worst showing is another indication about how good the pitching staff is. 
  • On the flipside the only time they've scored less than the 6 they did versus the Yankees was in that Dodgers series earlier in the year. 
  • Zimmerman is doing terrible. Low average (in part BABIP issues) and no power.  That injury time off has not helped him as he's hitting just as bad since then, maybe a tad worse. Still not worried overall but if you want to be it's the lack of power that's most concerning.  The average will bounce back somewhat guaranteed,


Zimmerman11 said...

Harper, Good job of pulling everyone back from the ledge. I know I was pretty inconsolable after that 14 inning loss. We shouldn't have expected to sweep the Sawx n Jays... and shouldn't have expected to be swept by the Yanks. If everyone wearing a uniform can shake it off and have a couple of solid series this week, we will be very happy with the result. This is easily the most difficult stretch of baseball we'll have this season. To come out of it above .500, much less "well above" .500 if things go well this week, will bode very, very well for our chances of seeing postseason baseball for the first time since 1981 :)

bsimon24 said...

The call the umpire missed was terrible! Don't give the umpire any credit on that play. I umpire as a side job and the fact that the umpiring was moving his position while trying to make a crucial call at home plate is RIDICULOUS. An umpires head/body should never be moving on a close call, which would deter his focus on the play at hand. That was the play that I was most upset about during the whole series.
Good riddens to Lidge. Couldn't trust that guy in any situation, let alone vs. the Yank who we know he fared poorly against in the 2009 World Series.

Jeff Hayes said...

I am with Zimmerman11 - thanks Harper for pulling me back from the ledge.

Still, I am far less worried about the 3 game sweep than I am about RZimm and Morse's poor performance at the plate. Should RZimm be moved back in the line-up? I think it is unnecessary to do anything more drastic, but something needs to happen to break him out of his funk. Would that do it? I am totally that his issues are completely mental (unless his shoulder is worse than we know).

As for Morse, he just doesn't look comfortable at the plate. I think the pressure of high expectations and the long absence are taking their toll. But I'm hopeful he'll snap out of it soon. He just needs more ABs.

Harper looked very anxious all weekend. He was far too aggressive, especially on Friday. I contribute this to the Yankee mystic, which Harper seems particularly vulnerable to.

DezoPenguin said...

My major consolation for this weekend was the simple fact that the rest of the NL East came down with the same losing bug as the Nats. Getting swept and losing two games *total* to the rest of the division takes a lot of the sting out.

Harper said...

Z11 - yep - now of course they have to do it. Tonight isn't a big deal if they lose but if it goes trhough Strasburg then the streak becomes a "thing"

bsimon - ok upon review I take back the "questionable" term but I still can't get all on him. Maybe I should do some umpiring side work.

Jeff - It's very concerning. They've survived for a long while because of LaRoche being superhot, then Bryce so 1-2 other guys doing well was enough, but those guys might be slowing down and someone needs to pick up slack. I still have faith in Zimm but Morse doesn't look the same to me. He needs to hit for power too, more than Zimm who will likely hit .280ish with patience.

Harper didn't look good but then again -19. We have to keep saying that as good as he's been.

Dezo - speaking of which - where are all the AL East jokes now? I'd argue that right now 3 of the top 4 teams in the mythical combined East would be from the AL (the Nats rounding out and maybe topping the group), and the last place team would definitely be the Phillies.

blovy8 said...

Morse started slowly last year too.

Harper said...

blovy - yep and Nats fans can look to that. Took him a whole month to get going and another half a month to start bombing balls. If that holds it'll be late July before he pulls it togethers. Just in time for a stretch run and Werth's return.

Ok I'll agree (even though he's a little worse this year with a little better BABIP) Just keep your eye out though

Unknown said...

I liked this series. We were getting a little too big for our britches. The Nats (especially the young guys) need to keep working hard. We're not there yet but we are getting closer and it is really fun to watch.

Harper said...

I think most fans would have been fine with a little bop in the nose if it wasn't the Yankees on the national stage. There would be far less angst if the Nats won 2 of 3 vs the Yanks then got pounded by the Rays.

Anonymous said...

Harper are you a Nats fan? And please just be honest.

calindc said...

The best thing the Nats can take away from their weekend was that the other NL East teams got crushed as well. Atl lost two of three against Balt and NYM lost all three to Cinncinnati. All in all, the nats only lost one game on their division lead.

Lidge needed to go, he couldnt close in Philly and wasnt even that good in Houston.

Harper said...

Anon - you inspired a post (not up yet)

calindc - yep and imagine how big the Nats lead would be if RA Dickey hadn't turned into a Cy Young candidate.