Nationals Baseball: You can't get that from here

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You can't get that from here


Last night, primarily, was an emotional win for the Nats. Almost since the Nats arrived DC, the Phillies have been the bully on the block. Not only did this have to do with winning 90+ games and the division year after year, but they would literally come down to the Nationals home and embarrass them. Droves of fans coming into DC, sometimes invited by the Nationals franchise, to watch the Phillies beat up the Nats. From 2007-2010, when the Nats were at their worst, no team beat them like the Phillies.  A 21-51 record for a .292 winning percentage only surpassed by a couple stray interleague opponents.

The Nats got a measure of revenge yesterday when former Phillie Jayson Werth, who chose to take the Nationals' big pay day and came over to the Nationals rather than sign for less and stay with the Phillies*, delivered the big hit to help win a game that fans felt they had to have. A win that punctuated the truth that in two short years, the former perennial basement dwelling Nats were in the playoffs and the former perennial penthouse dwelling Phillies, were not. 

*PLEASE don't kid yourself.  The #1 Reason Werth came here was the money.  The #2 reason was money. The #3 reason was money.  Did he think this team could be good during his contract? I bet so. But $ $ $. Also the Phillies fans were stupid because no one signs for less to stick around. 

I get all this. I understand that this is the case. Yet what I thought when Werth hit that single was this  :
Nice to get a couple of insurance runs to help the Nats in their quest for HFA throughout the National league playoffs.
Not exactly "WOO HOO! Jayson Werth says SUCK IT PHILLY!" The Nats weren't likely to lose the game. They had a 1-run lead and had Drew Storen coming in. Storen has a 0.79 ERA in September. He's struck out 13 in 11 innings and walked none. He was going to face three hitters who were at best average in Nix, Rollins, and Mayberry. Even if they somehow end up losing the game, a 3 game division lead with 7 left is still rather unlikely to be lost. If the Nats were to go 3-4 in their last 7 the Braves would have to go 6-1.

I just want to have this out there because as the playoffs go on you won't be getting the shared highs and lows from me you probably will from every other Nats blogger. I know that's part of the reason you guys come here but there's a good chance some new eyes will be on these pages come playoffs and I wanted to have something out there that at least says "I warned you"

Upcoming games

So how likely are the Nats to go 3-4?  Here are the upcoming games and the probable pitchers (listed already for the Cards series, guessed for the Phillies one) and what I think about them.

Cloyd @ Gio
This should be an easy Nats win. The Phillies hate lefties. Gio is one of the best in the game. Cloyd is one of those meh major league pitchers that the Nats have been beating up lately

E Jax @ Wainwright
ZNN @ Lohse
Det @ Lynn

This is admittedly a tough stretch for the Nats. Wainwright is a good pitcher. Lohse has been great this year. Lynn has been fantastic recently after hitting a rough patch mid-season. In the Nats favor is that E Jax is also good and ZNN can be great, too. Plus the Cards prefer to face lefties. I don't like the Nats to win the series but they shouldn't be swept.

Kendrick @ Lannan
Cloyd @ Gio
Lee @ E Jax

Lee hasn't been that pitcher this year, so don't make that game a slam dunk for the Phils. No, the slam dunk is again, Cloyd v Gio.  I also like Lannan to win his game.

Overall I see a 4-3 finish to the Nats season. What about the Braves?

Turner @ Hanson
Hanson hasn't been good and Turner has been but there more talent in Hanson that Turner, and with the Braves being a better hitting team I'd go with a Braves win here.

Niese @ Hudson
Young @ Minor
Mejia @ Medlin

You have to like Medlin to win, but Hudson vs Niese is another one like Hanson v Turner that the pitching could go either way. I like Young more than Minor but it's not like either of these guys are good**.  I like the Mets to take 1. Or more accurately I like the Braves to be 3-1 in this first four.

Maholm @ Locke
Hanson @ Correia?
Hudson @ Burnett?

** my Braves friend says Minor is good.  Looking at his stats...ok maybe. But I don't like him anymore than Young

Locke isn't good so you like the Braves to take that one. The Pirates have shown interest in wanting to get some young arms out on the mound but I would hope that if the Braves and Nats are still fighting for a pennant they would put out their good arms. I like the teams to split those last two in that instance.

So a 5-2 finish for the Braves.  They gain 1 more game and finish 3 games out. Nat clinch on that first game of the last Phillies series. That would be my guess. If I'm off by a game for both (Nats go 3-4, Braves 6-1) the Nats still take the division probably clinching in the 2nd Phillies game (then losing a meaningless game in the standings on that last day).

Hmm I admit this is a lot closer than I thought, but I can't see the Braves sweeping the rest of the season because that is just too much and I can't see the Nats winning less than 2 games since those Gio games are so heavily in favor for the Nats. So I can't see that Nats falling into anything worse than a tie and that's worst case scenario here.  Really we are assuming ALOT of the Braves. One errant loss in a game they should win, which happens all the time in baseball, and this is all pretty much over for everyone, not just me. 


Froggy said...

So funny you said 'suck it Philly' in your comment, because I jumped up when he made the hit and said: "suck my philly cheese steak Phillies fans...suck it, suck it, suck it!"

The best was the ball fake to the little kid though. 'Here you go little fat philly kid...oh wait...weren't you just booing me all ball for you.'

Donald said...

As I mentioned in a previous comment, it isn't likely that Gio makes that start on Tuesday 10/2, is it? Assuming the Nats have clinched the division by then, their first playoff game will either be Friday or Saturday. Even if they've clinched the #1 seed by that day so they know it'll be Saturday, I don't think you want to open the series on short rest.

It will be interesting to see what they do, though. If they haven't clinched the division by then, do they use Gio in what could be a critical game and start the playoffs with Zimm? Probably. If they've clinched the division but not the #1 seed, would they blow Gio just to try to nail that down? I don't think so, particularly since the #1 doesn't get to know who they are facing until a day or so before.

Harper said...

Froggy - personally I think it was a jerk move but the kind you love if it's your guy. To paraphrase - something Jeremy Shockey would do.

Donald - I replied to that comment. the 5th (FRI) is just for WC games. so the Nats would play the 6th (if the #2 or #3) or the 7th (if #1).

If they've clinched - YES he pitches, sets him up for game #1

If they're close to clinching - YES you want it and it would set him up for game 1 if you do get it

If they aren't close to clinching but the Braves are within a game or two - YES you need to win the division

If they aren't close to clinching and the Braves are 3 games out - ok now maybe you don't.

Anonymous said...

The Phillies are so boring to watch, not to mention old. I feel lucky that I get to watch Harper, Strasburg, Ramos, Espinosa, Desmond, Storen, Zimmermann, and I could go on and on with the players but you get my drift. Go Nats!!!!

Harper said...

Anon - Even if you like some of the older guys on the Phils (I do) no one under the age of 30 is intersting on that team (Sorry Hamels you do nothing for me)

Froggy said...

Harper - personally I thought it was funny but you are right especially because it was a 'Jimmy is dying of obesity but gets to sit in the $300 seats and even though I scream you are Worthless Jason, give me the foul ball' way it was a jerk move.

But I did jump up and yell at my TV anyway.

Section 222 said...

Harper, didn't Davey say he was going to, or at least might, start the rightie Wang against the Cards? I think I've seen somewhere that he would pitch on Saturday, moving JZnn back to Sunday.

Also, if Gio pitches Oct. 2, that sets him up to start Game 1 on Sunday 10/7, but not Saturday 10/6. Unless we've clinched or are in the position to clinch the No. 1 seed by then, I don't see Gio pitching on Oct. 2, unless Davey's going to send him out there for 3 or 4 innings and then pull him just in case our NLDS starts on 10/6. It's possible, though, that tonight is Gio's last start before the playoffs.

How would you handle that if you want Gio ready for Game 1 no matter when it is?

Anonymous said...

Bryce is starting to look like it's just extended BP with those first inning swings. Wow.


Harper said...

Sec222- that's what I thought but Zuckerman said differently yesterday and if I'm going to rate my confidence in Zuckerman, what I recall, and probables page, I'll go with Zuckerman every time.

"How would you handle that if you want Gio ready for Game 1 no matter when it is?"

I GUESS you pitch him early. On the 1st, but I don't think that's the best way to go about things. Let's go by scenario. I'd rank scenarios from most likely to least :

(1) HFA not decided, Nats close to cliching/ have clinched pennant.

I think you still pitch Gio on the 2nd because you want to win HFA and if you do - everything works out for you. I could see Gio being on a short leash though, pulled early if the Nats take a big lead or he gives up a bunch of runs.

(2) HFA won, Nats close to cliching/ have clinched pennant.

Obviously you pitch Gio on the 2nd

(3) HFA not decided, Nats / Braves separated by <=2 games.

I think you have to pitch Gio on the 2nd here. You need the win for 2 reasons now and you don't want to fool around with short rest

(4) HFA lost, Nats / Braves separated by <=2 games.

Still again - have to pitch Gio on normal rest, right? Don't want to try an short rest game - lose it and find yourself in an even closer situation to the Braves.

(5) HFA lost, Nats close to cliching/ have clinched pennant.

I would go with a short rest start for Gio on the 1st.

Donald said...

For HFA to be decided by Sunday, the Nats would need to sweep St.Louis and the Reds get swept by Pittsburgh. Other than that, HFA is still up in the air. I don't think we can lose HFA over the weekend under any circumstances.

I'm not sure I agree with your analysis, though. Here's another way of looking at it...

Scenario 1) Nats win 3 in St. Louis. If that happens, we've clinched and are at least 1 game up on HFA with the tie-breaker going to us. I start Gio on the 2nd.

Scenario 2) Nats win 2 in St. Louis. If that happens, we've either clinched or are up 3 with 3 to play -- close to a lock. If the Reds swept the Bucs then we're tied for HFA and I don't think I want to risk using Gio on the 2nd and having to go again on Saturday. So I start him on the 1st. If the Reds went 2-1 or worse, we're still up on HFA and in control of our fate so I start Gio on the 2nd.

Scenario 3) Nats win 1 in St. Louis. If the Braves didn't sweep the Mets, we're still up 3 with 3 left but more likely behind in HFA, so a Saturday game is more likely. I start Gio on the 1st. If the Braves did sweep the Mets, then I'm getting nervous being up 2 with 3 to go. I start Gio on the 2nd and let him pitch on short rest on Saturday if it comes down to that.

Scenario 4) The Nats get swept in St. Louis. If that happens, we're probably behind in HFA and at risk of getting passed by the Braves. This is the tricky one and is probably your 4th scenario. I don't agree that you start Gio on normal rest on the 2nd knowing he'll most likely pitch on short rest on Saturday. If we've just gotten swept and are only up 1 or 2 games, I think I pitch Gio on short rest on Monday in hopes of righting the ship. Plus that would allow him to pitch again on short rest on Friday in the worst case scenario.

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