Nationals Baseball: Trying not to be negative

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trying not to be negative

Seeing the Nats offense curl up and die after the first didn't leave me with a good feeling about the team, even though the outcome was in their favor and in the long run I'm still putting money on "playoff team".  But let's hold off on the negativity and see what happens tonight.  Maybe the offense busts out (ha!) or maybe Gio shuts them down and once again shows the pitching is too good for the offense to drag down. (possible - but watch it.  Gio has been good in the past month, but just good, not great)  Either way a win will basically wipe away the bad taste of the sweep and the Nats will head into the O's series heading in the right direction and assured of a winning stretch vs AL East.

If I'm going to be positive there is one way to go : Strasburg.  He had a little rough patch at the end of May, with uninspiring outings versus the Braves and the Padres of all teams, but June has been very good to Strasburg.

A 2.08 ERA.

40 Ks (and only 5 walks) in 26 innings.

A WHIP under 1.00.  


That is all.


Mike said...

Is now the time to start being more conservative with Stras (e.g. skipping a start or two, moving him back in the rotation)? The pace of his current season (which looks to be 180+ IP) matches up pretty nicely with Justin Verlander's rookie season; JV was dominant during the reg season but gave up 17 runs in 21 innings in the postseason, clearly gassed.

Jeff Hayes said...

What do you think the problem is with the offense? Is it that we simply don't have enough offensive talent, is the talent under performing (and if so, why), or is it a mixed bag?

I'll take a shot at answering my own question first. Throughout all of MLB, for OPS, Larcoche is ranked 6th among 1st Basesmen, Espinosa and Zimmerman are ranked 15th at their respective positions, Desmond is 7th. Among all outfielders with at least 150 PA, Lombardozzi is 70th and Harper is 14th. Flores is 6th among catchers with at least 125 PA. Except for Harper, no one is Top 5 at their position.

I feel strongly that over the past 2 weeks, Zimmerman and Morse aren't reaching their full potential and over the last week, you can add several other starters to that list. As a result, I'm confident that we'll do better in the coming days, but we'll still be far from achieving our full potential.

That said, and I hate to say it, I don't think with our current line-up, our full potential is a Top 5 (and maybe not even a Top 10) offense.

So the offensive struggles, in my view, are a mixed bag.

Rizzo will have to handle the full potential question, so I'm more interested in why we aren't even reaching our current potential? Is it Rick Eckstein? I don't know enough to comment, but when I see a guy like Zimmerman struggling at the plate, looking uncomfortable (and standing way to far from the plate), I've got to think he isn't getting feedback from someone he trusts. Could Eckstein's lack of major league expeirence be a factor? Since he took over, the Nats have been decidely middle of the pack in offense, despite what I would consider a least a marginal improvement in talent.

What do you think?

Andrew of All Trades said...

@ Jeff, I definitely don't think the Nats current starters can play together at a Top 10 level. period. Every team suffers through injuries and nearly all of them hit better than the Nats. That said, obviously the focus of the Nats was pitching this offseason and you don't need a Top 10 offense when you're pitching is Top 1.

Rumor has it the reason Zimmerman can't hit for power right now is the lingering shoulder injury. He still looks great in the field though so I'm not sure if you take him out or what...

Nattydread said...

The fan boy word on the street is that this line-up can, ideally, produce. Boswell says "When it gets going --- Watch OUT!"

Right. (fizzle, fizzle, sputter...)

And we wait. And wait.

Harper said...

Mike - no I don't think you want to stetch out his starts because you don't know exactly how that will effect him either. Maybe you start with Gio again (instead of I think Jackson would be up) post AS Game but other than that I say let him go and deal with September when it comes. And who knows - could be the innings, could just be the length of the season that gets to a guy that doesn't have a lot of major league experience.

Jeff Hayes - You pretty much nailed it - the Nats have an average offense when everyone is in and performing as they should (with a couple people hot, a couple people cold) Right now though they have Werth still out and two key players (Zimm and Morse) seemingly not themselves, so they are really struggling.

Is there an easy fixt to reach their "full potential" (Re: average offense) I don't know. How much of Morse/Zimm is injury? How much is approach? How much is possibly outsized expectations?

czar - with only 16 teams in a league, you kind of DO need a Top 10 offense. You can get by with one slightly below average, but worst in the league won't get it done.

Natty Dread - Rizzo said the same thing. The problem is they are all imagining a time when all players are in and healthy and not slumping. You get a couple weeks, maaaaybe a month of that, if you are lucky. The other time is dealing with injury, mysterious slumps, and typical hot/cold streaks not lining up right for you.

It's the Fan's Fallacy. Everything that is going wrong can be corrected, while maintaining everything that is going right. New wrongs pop up. Some of those things going right were impossible to be maintained.

Kenny B. said...

I agree with focusing on the positives.

Starting pitching: still lights out (except for 5th starter)

Relievers: Still mostly lights out. (This may be an under-reported story in the MLB.)

Offense: someone has to get hot at some point, and the O doesn't have to be very good to win 4 out of 5 games. So one or two hot players could be enough most of the time.

DezoPenguin said...

Looking at Jeff Hayes's post...if Zimmerman is 15th in MLB for third basemen in OPS, then I weep for the state of the position. 15th in the NL I could buy. I've read the stuff about his shoulder still not being right and I can believe it; he just isn't the guy he was before last season's injury. If something isn't right there, it might be better to shut him down--right now, he's worse than Lombo across the board. Maybe wait on that for when Werth comes back, since playing Lombo at 3rd right now means more OF time for Moore (who's been hot, but who knows). The Nats have way too much invested in Zim for the future to take chances, and he needs to be healthy. Say what you want about Strasburg and Bryce, Zim is the face of the franchise.

Morse has only been back for 15 games; he needs more time to shake the rust off before we let panic set in.

But ultimately, yeah. This offense, if everybody produces at once, could flirt with good, but it'll never be a world-beater. It doesn't have to be, thankfully, but it does need to be adequate.

But on the other hand, hey, that's our 7th win on the AL East Tour, with four more games to go...Toss in the fact that Atlanta and Miami pretty much cratered during the same period, and I'm pretty happy about where we are right now.

Just looking at the standings shows some pretty amazing things. The Nats have scored the fourth-lowest number of runs in all of baseball, better only that Miami, San Diego, and Pittsburgh, but our run differential is +32, good for third-best in the NL and seventh overall. That really sums up the whole point--the pitching has been godlike all season, and it's been possible to skate by with an offense that in terms of actual performance has been somewhere between "bad" and "awful." But we need the bats to wake up if a playoff run is in store, particularly if Rizzo and Davey shut Strasburg down as planned.

michael k said...

Oh my God did you see tonight's game? The Nats scored FIVE runs!!! FIVE! Obviously you're freaking out over nothing.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

Back in the darks days, Rizzo and fans said pitching, pitching, pitching and more pitching. Now that we are seeing the results of this philosopy, fans who blog and post are ignoring the results! Desmond is playing himself into All Star sub contention and Desi won the game last night. The offense will come around or has already done do to keep NATS in contention until the end of the sason. They will win 90 games. Will that be enough. Who knows. Come to the park and find out.