Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Quickie

The Nats had a weekend to forget.
  • Strasburg pitched terribly in his last home appearance of the year and then was shut down a game early. 
  • His supposed replacements, Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson, had bad starts themselves, bringing up questions of how the supposed strength of the Nats, starting pitching, will hold up down the stretch and into the playoffs
  • Oh yeah, they lost two of three to the Marlins while the Braves swept and are now up by 5.5.  That's still too far to get concerned about (if the Nats lose 2 games in the standings to the Braves before their upcoming series AND get swept by the Braves in said series - they are STILL in first) but it returns them to the back of the mind at a time when distractions are most unwelcome. 
At least no one got injured. Tonight they get a very Cubs like pitcher tonight in the bad IRA period piece named Collin McHugh. His main problem is walks and that's not the Nats strength, but it's not like the kid is unhittable otherwise. Plus, it's Gio pitching, and he's been the Nats best pitcher of late. It should be a win. After that it's Dickey and Harvey, which should mean much closer games. ZNN pitches game 2 and he hasn't been the same pitcher in the past month as he was in the first 4. Lannan pitches in game 3. You guys know I am Lannan's #1 fan, but he'll likely give up a few runs. That's who he is.

Other SHUTDOWN thoughts

As I've said before I think the shutdown is the most logical move for a Nats franchise trying to maximize wins over the course of the Strasburg contract. However, there are good reasons to keep pitching him that go beyond macho bull.

While the national media has example after example of guys that demand Strasburg keep pitching, the local media all seems to side with the Nats.  Even the fanbase is taking it relatively well.  Dr. Gordek, Armchair Psychologist, thinks that the local populace seeing Rizzo turn this team around so quickly might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on all his moves where the national media is only popping their head in here occasionally and doesn't have the same feelings toward Mike. Also, Dr. Gordek adds, that the newness of the team may add a bit of a cushion to this blow that people who have been fans of teams for decades might find difficult to understand. There is no life-long Nationals heartbreak, only a depressing 5 years of bad play. It is extended lack of success that creates the most urgency.

The Davey/Strasburg dynamic is not working well. Strasburg seems like the type that thinks he should be perfect all the time and along with taking it out on himself, he'll go through the other reasons why he may not have been successful. Davey is a let them play manager who doesn't want to hear any of it. That's not a problem in itself, but he'll also express this to the media which has created a kind of spotlight effect on every poor start.  Is he going to say anything other than "I pitched bad"? If so there's a small but growing section of fans that will jump on it.  There's no need for it to have gotten even to this mild point.  If keep it in the clubhouse is the rule for the players (see Lannan, John) it needs to be the rule for the manager too.


Donald said...

What's interesting to me is that I assumed to start the year, Strasburg would be shut down at 160 innings. That's the magic number they used on Zimmermann last year when they seemed quite firm. Strasburg was shut down at 159+ innings. I don't think they planned on him pitching in NYC at all. I think if he had pitched well the other day, they'd have shut him down claiming they want to end on a high-note rather than facing the media circus.

I suspect that all of the hemming and hawing around the date and innings limit was all about not giving Strasburg anything definite because they figured it would screw with his mind. And maybe it would have. I'm not saying they handled this the right or wrong way, but I'm pretty sure 160 was the number they had going into the start of the year and they weren't going to budge. Would telling him that from the start been better?

Zimmerman11 said...

"There is no life-long Nationals heartbreak, only a depressing 5 years of bad play."

Harper made this point deliberately to spite me... being a lifelong Expos/Nationals fan and living through terrible ownership, strike-shortened seasons, the threat of contraction ... and relocation over the last 30 years. The worst and most bitter disappointment may have been John Wetteland winning the World Series MVP for... the hated Yankees.

In spite of that, though, his point is well taken. I'm not that down about the Strasburg shutdown. Logically it is the right thing to do.

Harper said...

Donald - I didn't think of that but I can totally buy that.


yeah, there are going to be a few people like you that were Expos fans, and more that were big O's fans (or some other non-successful team) but I don't think that accounts for most Nats fans.

Shane said...

I have lived and breathed this organization since 1992! There were never any better uniforms that those baby blue Expos unis with the red, white, and blue multicolored hats and multicolored M! Except maybe the gray unis with blue hat, but still the multicolored M!
1994 is only now being vindicated! However, I think this team will win it all regardless of whether or not Stras pitches.

Froggy said...

Harper - you know how I feel about the whole thing...even willing to put beer up against it. Which by the way, I want to settle up on soonest as I admit, he is done.

My biggest gripe was not IF he should have an innings limit, but how it should be handled. Regardless of all this talk about 'how we were doing what was best for him' crap, Rizzo didn't think it through as to how it could effect the team. It has ended up being a distraction and put too much of a spotlight (notice I didn't say pressure) on the success or failure of Det and Ejax.

One more thing, thanks for jinxing us with your "It's Over" piece!

Donald said...

Speaking of your "It's Over" piece, intellectually I believe it has been over for the Phillies for a while. But they are only 5 back in the wild card hunt. They can't make up that ground over LAD and STL can they? I really don't think they can, but they're making me nervous. Can we get an "It's Over" for them too?

Harper said...

Shane - more and more Expos fans come out of the woodwork. So many Rondell White jerseys.

Froggy - if this was their goal - how could it be handled and not have the spotlight on the team, though? People say delay his start for a month. You can do that in two ways - either time it so he pitches 160 for the season (assume no playoffs) or time it so he's under 150 at seasons end (so he can pitch well into the playoffs with certainty). Either way can create issues though. Way 1 you can have him at say 168 and the Nats where they are and possibly pitch 5-6 more times? 30 more innings? You'd be way over the limit. The other way you could have him around 140 and then done, not stretching him out at all as you would have liked.

Also - no jinx!

Donald - Pittsburgh's challenge is having to outpace the Pirates, Dodgers AND Cardinals before seasons end. Is it over? No but they've been working with no margin for error for a month now. Two months of awesome play is asking a lot.

Froggy said...

I guess putting him on the DL at some point during the season (preferably once after the AB) and keep him 'warm' in AA. Hey, it's easy for me to offer all these ideas after the fact. Moving forward, do you think he would be considered for a roster spot if they go to WS? really doesn't matter anymore. Gotta dance with those that brought ya now. A good indicator will be how Zimmermann does tonight against Dickey. I think we'll be ok.

Shane said...

So many candy bars thrown on the field . . .

Mythical Monkey said...

Moving forward, do you think he would be considered for a roster spot if they go to WS?

I can't imagine they'd give up one of 25 roster spots to a guy they've committed to shutting down, and I can't fathom why they'd shut him down if they plan to crank him up again in the postseason. Davey Johnson likes to play match-up chess against the opposing manager -- I don't think he'd be too happy about giving away a potential move just to have Strasburg keeping a spot on the bench warm.