Nationals Baseball: Good team plays well, News at 11

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good team plays well, News at 11

Can we stop with the Leskanic Panic now?  We are 130 games into the season.  We know who these teams are. The Nats, when everyone is healthy, have a good offense. They have a very good starting pitching staff in which the top three are able to pitch gems without it being surprising. They have a bullpen full of talented arms. They have a great infield defense, a pretty good right fielder, and a center fielder with a fantastic arm.  They have a manager, who has won before and who most people trust.

They are a team that is 5 games better than the Braves. They have (so far) no game-changing injury loss.  The Braves have no game-changing acquistion.  The smart money is on the Nats extending their lead a game or two before the end of the season.

So last night's game wasn't about a team meeting, or about a resiliant Nats team holding on, or about Bryce Harper breaking out of a slump (we already ran through this after a couple good games in the Mets series - let the kid hit in 4 or 5 games before you declare him "back").  It was about a good team playing like it can and getting the results that it should.

Other notes

Last night is why you start Bryce over Roger. When Bryce is feeling it he can dominate a game. Now right now, it's true that he's rarely doing this and mostly against bad pitchers, but the hope is he can get back to doing it against all pitchers, and make that good offense very good. Plus he's got that arm.  (Not that that what kept the Marlins from scoring in the 7th that was a bullet to the OF caught at mid-distance.  With Stanton on deck I probably hold the runner against any decent arm)

Strasburg shutdown opponents might have taken a blow with Strasburg's terrible last start, but they should get in one of their own after last nights game. In 3 of the last 4 starts, against middling competition, Ross has seemed like a 4 inning pitcher. While pitchers tend to get hit harder as the game goes along, Detwiler sees a bigger jump the 2nd time around compared to all the other starters on the Nats staff.

OPS per time around
ZNN: .591 -> .659 -> .766
Gio: .508 -> .571 -> .786
Stras: .593 -> .629 -> .748
Detwiler :  .563 -> .695 -> .739

(I left Jackson out because he's an exception.  Getting killed early this year.  .812 OPS first time around, then settles down for time #2 and 3)

Strasburg to Detwiler isn't a HUGE jump down, but in the playoffs, against the highest competition, huge jumps down aren't necessary to lose games.


Anonymous said...

Great piece Harper.

Donald said...

It was nice to bounce back last night with a win. I'd have hated to go into the 4 game series with St. Louis, riding a 6 game losing streak.

Between now and the final series with Atlanta, we play 14 games (4 with St. Louis, 4 with Chicago, 3 with Miami and 3 at the Mets). Over that span, the Braves play 13 games (3 with Phillies, 4 with Colorado, 3 at the Mets and 3 at Milwaukee). I think that's pretty comparable in terms of degree of difficulty. I'd rather play the Cubs than the Rockies and Miami over Milwaukee, but I might take the Phillies over the Cardinals.

If we can get off to a good start against St. Louis I'm hoping we fly into Atlanta with a 5 1/2 or 6 1/2 lead.

WiredHK said...

@Donald - Good news is the Braves get Lee and Halladay in that 3-game set with Philly. If we split with StL and Philly manages to take 2 of 3 from Atlanta (not impossible), it'll be a 5 1/2 game lead with a very friendly remainder on our home stand. I'd definitely take that....

Anonymous said...

Nats have 33 games left, 21 games at home and 13 on the road.

Braves have 31 games left, 16 at home and 15 on the road.

If Nats play just over 500 ball from here on out -- win 17, lose 16 -- they'll finish with a 95-67 record.

Just to tie the Nats with 95 wins, the Braves would have to win 21 of their reamining 31 games. That's a .677 clip, over 100 pts better than their current .565 and 70 points better than the best two teams in baseball (Nats and Reds).

So while it's certainly possible to be caught, it'll take combination of some really lousy play by the Nats and some other-worldly play by the Braves.

Shane said...

I'm looking at Cincy. Do we want to be the number one seed in the NL? What match up is more favorable? IDK. You know this team can play when they play and can stink when they stink. Lately, it's hard to tell what team is going to go out on the field.

Froggy said...

Good piece Harper. I actually feel better now that we got that 5 game losing streak out of the way. Beats having to sacrifice a chicken in the clubhouse. And it doesn't hurt to have the whole line-up healthy.

I wonder IF Strasburg is shut down soon, will Rizzo go after another FA SP? Or is there a roll-the-dice secret weapon down on the farms?

Donald said...

@Froggy -- I think the secret weapon down on the farm is sporting Groucho Marx eyebrows and his name rhymes with Ron Jannan.

Anonymous said...

Nats fans...

September is almost here. We get to watch meaningful baseball the rest of the way. Enjoy the rest of the season. Stop worrying about who is going to do what to who between now and Oct 3.

Relax, have a cold one, or several, and watch a very good team contend for the NL East title!

Froggy said...


(Mr Bill voice:)

Oh nooooo, not Ron Jannon!

blovy8 said...

His name is close enough to John Lennon to make me like him.

Kenny B. said...

Oh Harper. You really don't understand the psychology of DC sports. I suppose that's why I come here.

Anyway, these flashes of Bryce's power are really something to behold. If he can get a solid, consistent approach, in a few years they're going to have to put canopies over the parking lots at MLB stadiums when the Nats come to town.

Nattydread said...


Both you AND Boswell said not to worry about this slump. You were both right. Boswell probably got paid more to say the same thing.

Us Nats fans are so used to failure that we're gonna need to keep re-checking the odds, standings and tea leaves on a daily basis because... well .. because.

I'm thinking Jackson is a better pitcher than Strasburg from here on out.

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