Nationals Baseball: 0:03

Friday, September 25, 2015


Another day, another uninspired loss. The Nats did in fact take the lead in the 7th, rather than blow it, only to blow it in the 8th. Mixing things up I guess.

Matt Williams keeps on picking exactly the wrong guy at the wrong time. This time it was Blake Treinen. Overall his numbers are, well they are ok, 3.86 ERA/ 1.365 WHIP  It's not good but as the 4th or 5th arm in the pen you could do worse. But he is special. In June I looked at Treinen pitching in tight games and found him... lacking.  Let's see if those numbers improved.

Entered 3 game when Nats were down 2 : Made it worse 1 time
Entered 11 games when Nats were down 1 : Made it worse 7 times
Entered 9 games when Nats were tied : Made it worse 3 times
Entered 6 games when Nats were up 1 : Made it worse 1 time
Entered 4 games when Nats were up 2 : Made it worse 2 times

Combined close game appearances : 33.
Made it worse : 14 times
42% soul crushing average
Technically better (was at 50%)! He went from crushing your soul every other time out there to crushing your soul every third time out there. Progress? 

This highlighted the big issue with the pen. It looks passable, but close and late things blew up. 

Grace : .414 / .528 / .517
Roark : .333 / .349 / .548
Treinen : .330 / .433 / 432
Janssen : .293 / .341 / .480
Storen (7th / 8th inning)  : 9.15 ERA
(Cedeno and Martin also were terrible here in very limited outings) 

or you can look at "high leverage" 
Grace : .478 / .538 / .609
Janssen : .348 / .392 / .500
Treinen : .317 / ..391 / .450 
Barrett : .319 / .333 / .404
Rivero : .259 / .286 / .444
(Cedeno, Solis and Cole also were terrible...)  

Small sample sizes understood but the point is you usually want a couple of complete shutdown guys, who almost always get the job done, some middling guys who screw up every once in a while but are effective far more often than not, and some guys who pitch like the above, screwing up every 2,  3,  4 outings who you hopefully work out of the pen in favor of others.

Storen as a closer was a shutdown guy. Thronton was pretty close to that, too*. In the middling area you had Rivero, Roark when settled, Barrett during his second go around before getting hurt. (It's true!).  The rest, Storen as a set-up guy, Roark when transitioning, Janssen, Treinen, Grace, most of the one-offs brought up, were garbage.

That may seem almost like a fair split but when you work out the timing, in reality that meant that the Nats had a working pen** for about a month. Rivero came up in early June but at that time Roark was starting and Barrett was out, meaning that you went from 3 pen arms (Storen, Thornton, Roark) to 3 pen arms (Storen, Thornton, Rivero).  This group would expand to 4 when an effective Barrett returned on July 10th and would expand to 5 (look Ma! He's working like a real grown up bullpen!) when Roark finally got settled after transitioning back to a relief role in late July.

This doesn't mean that the Nats could capitalize on this theoretically good bullpen. There was no way to know Barrett would be ok until he threw a handful of times, and no way to know when Roark would get settled (he'd blow one game and put another out of reach before he did) If Williams was given this pen : Storen, Thornton, Rivero, Roark and let's call him Better Barrett;  for a while, maybe by the middle of August he would have found a rhythm. But by August 5th Barrett would go down and Papelbon would come in effectively weakening a strength and creating a new weakness elsewhere. Williams' chance at a pen that he could manage was gone.

Eh this depresses me.

Tonight is ZNN's last home game. Not being in DC I don't really have anything to say about that and will hold off my appreciation for his last start. But you guys, who've spent years watching him on that mound, this is the last time in a Nats uniform that he'll do it (likely) so feel free to share some ZNN memories below.

* One of the bigger questions is how an effective former closer like Thornton never got a real chance to be the set-up guy.  He would do the job nearly every time tasked with it but never came together into him handling the 8th. The season definitely started with Treinen and Barrett as the favorites for 8th inning guy. But as both of them failed Thornton came in and was fine... but then the Nats didn't settle on him. Instead Solis, Grace, Roark, Barrett a little got chances. Then Barrett again and Janssen, then Carpenter, then Thornton (finally). But he blew one game and then it was Janssen again. At this point we get to Papelbon.

Why was the effective Thornton not used at the very end of close games? You could argue it was because they were trying to use that role to find the future closer. That's any youngster that showed a hint of promise was used there, Treinen, Barrett, Grace, Solis, not to mention cheap old guys (Carpenter) or guys that perhaps could excel there for relative peanuts (Janssen). But if that's the case why didn't Rivero every get a shot? Do they not see him as a future closer? 

(Some people noted that Thornton's age/recovery might have played into this - makes sense, at least for the first couple months) 

**as defined as a couple shutdown type guys, with 2-3 other reliable arms.


Max David said...

Harper, I have a couple questions, and would like to get your thoughts (and any other posters on here thoughts as well.)

1) What are the odds that ZNN re ups with the Nats?
2) Do the Nats give ZNN a QO?
3) If he does get that qualifying offer, what are the odds that you think he accepts it for 1 last go with this current roster?

notBobby said...


My two cents:
1) 8% chance, only chance is that some very good pitchers get traded (Gray, Strasburg?, Harvey, etc.) to supplement the great arms on the free agent market which squeezes ZNN's market a bit and he ends up being more valued in DC than elsewhere. He might stay for same money as another team, but certainly wont for less
2) absolutely
3) absolutely no way

Chinatown Express said...


I'm not Harper, but I'll wildly speculate about those questions:

1. No better than any other 2016 playoff contenders, and probably lower. Despite ZNN's and Fister's departure and the issues shown by other starters, I think the Nats still have a five man rotation set for 2016 (Max / Stras / Gio / Ross / Roark or Cole) and 2017 (Max / Gio on his option / Ross / Roark or Cole / Giolito). If they're going to spend, a starting pitcher probably isn't the place to do it. But hey, I didn't see the Scherzer signing coming either.
2. Yes.
3. 0% chance he "accepts it for 1 last go with this current roster." Slightly more than 0% chance he accepts because he doesn't get the FA contract he wants and thinks he can do better after this season.

Bilbo said...

Thornton and Rivero never got chances for a set up role bc they are obviously LOOGY's. I mean look. They pitch left handed. MW always says that if you have a left handed relief pitcher that must mean he is a LOOGY. Also remember that closers close games. Otherwise you would have to forfeit the game bc you don't have anyone to close the game. Ahh. Good old PBL. At least the team has gotten fed up with him and quit on him. They look like a team that thinks they are going to find a way to lose everyday. Oh well. Disappointed we lost the season. There's more seasons to go. We got another one in April.

Max David - no way ZNN stays IMO. I think he has always felt under appreciated by management here. No, I don't think Nats give a QO, but I'm not sure on that. Seems like Rizzo doesn't like to use QO too much to me. That is not base on any real facts though. I think if they do give a QO that ZNN rejects it. I don't think anyone has taken a QO offer yet.

My question for Harper and others - is there any way MW is back next year? I mean the last two months have been atrocious. The team has effectively quit at this point. If they had swept the O's (I know big if, but a team fighting for a postseason spot wins those games IMO) they would be 4 back with 7 to go and 3 H2H. They'd still be in the thick of it despite everything that has happened this year. The fact that they have pretty much phoned it in the last 3 games are the most damaging of all for the "bring MW back with no injuries next year" camp. I still say that if MW goes this offseason that it is worth all of the pain of this year. There is no way he was ever going to manage a team to the world series and the last 2 months made that blatantly obvious - last postseason only hinted at it.

One last question/comment. Anybody ready to let Davey Johnson off the hook for the Stl series. People have tried to blame Davey for Storen's melt down in game 5, but a legitimate closer closes that game and the Nats move on.

Rob said...

ZNN ain't staying. He just wants to chase the money. I getting the feeling that winning is a distant second in his mind to getting paid. Not necessarily a bad thing. It just is what it is.

Froggy said...

There IS still the ZNN commemorative no-hitter bobblehead left in the season and, ironically, Zimmermann is pitching. Probably the very last time in a Nationals uni.

Poignant or ironic?

Carl said...

@Bilbo - but you have to make a QO to get a compensatory draft pick, right? I think they absolutely make the offer. You are right that those offers are rarely if ever accepted, but if your worst-case scenario is that he takes it for 1 year, $14M, go for it with ZNN. It's for somebody like Desmond who just might take it, ruining your other plans, where it's a tough decision. (I'm not sure how they decide the classes of free agents that determine if you get a draft pick when a guy walks--for all I know, Desmond's down year will mean he wouldn't merit a compensatory pick at all.)

@chinatown express - I think as a player, if you get a QO, you either take it OR go to free agency. You can't look at the market and then decide the QO is a better deal.

Chinatown Express said...

@Carl- You're right. See But I think the calculus is probably the same. ie, does his expected FA contract in 2016 outweigh his expected contract in 2015 enough to justify taking the QO and playing a show-me year in DC? I'd be shocked if the answer is yes.

Anonymous said...

Best ZNN memory was 8-and-2/3-inning shutout against SF in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS.

...The subsequent 9 and 1/3 inning debacle, however, is one of my three worst Nats memories.

vjwhitmore said...

Papelbum gets a 3 game suspension (pending an appeal).

vjwhitmore said...

"Major League Baseball has suspended Jonathan Papelbon three games for hitting Manny Machado intentionally with a pitch."

Harper said...

1) notBobby nails it. It's not impossible but it will depends on the market playing out in a certain way. 5%? Personally I think he might be first to sign - someone needing a front end starter and thinking "if Greinke will re-sign Price will break the bank" might bite on ZNN early, looking to get out of a bidding war.

2) probably. It depends on budget because if Lerners have a very strict ceiling, Rizzo might not be allowed to chance ZNN taking it.

3) 0%

Bilbo - eh Thornton and Rivero have pitched plenty of full innings.

Could MW be back? Sure. Management doesn't seem to blame him, he's getting paid too. And I put up the "if they give up on 2016 scenario". In fact I'd put his firing chances at only like 70%

On Davey - oh no that was totally his fault. He used him 3 times in 3 days against the same batters. You could hardly create a better chance for Storen to blow it.

Rob - next contract will be for 6 years or so. Winning in that time frame is pretty fluid.

Froggy - not ironic, now if it rains on his bobblehead day, I've been told that's ironic

ProphetNAT said...

My favorite memory of ZNN is the .5 seconds after Souza makes the diving catch to save his no-hitter, where you can barely see the formation of the slightest smile on Jordan's face. I swear I've never seen him smile - the dude seems like the most blah personality off the field of any of these Nats. Great pitcher though!

Max David said...

@ Carl, I believe all QO whether you are a position player or a pitcher have the same QO salary, but I'm not entirely sure, so don't quote me on that.

Also, the base salary for the QO is based on the top 100 or 130 salaries from the previous season. Last year was around $15 million, I think this year will probably be in the high $15 million's to low $16 million's. Of all the QO offers extended the last 3 season's I don't think 1 player has accepted the offer yet. This year there could be a couple that accept, especially if the base salary gets into the $16 million's.

Since someone asked about Desmond: I don't think offering him the QO is the worst thing possible. Sure he'll be making about $16 million to strike out 175 times and make 20 errors (with another 20 or so plays that probably should be scored errors) which seems like a lot to pay someone, but at least he still supplies power when he puts the ball in play. Worst case scenario: Turner needs to start the year at Syracuse, we extend the QO to Desmond, he accepts it, puts up a decent April to July, and then we trade him in July when Turner is ready to play every day. Wouldn't be the worst case scenario.

Rob said...

"Rob - next contract will be for 6 years or so. Winning in that time frame is pretty fluid"

I hear ya Harp, but there are teams out there that even in the next 6 yrs probably aren't gonna compete. If he signs there for top dollar (i.e. Cano with Seattle) then it's all about the money. Again, I don't really blame him for that as I'd probably do the same thing, but as a fan, it's off putting.

W. Patterson said...

Damn, it's depressing when the season is coming to a close. Especially depressing when your doesn't make it to post season.

On a positive note, I may be back in town early enough on Monday for my wife to kick me out of the house. Perfect for a quick jaunt down to the stadium to get a cheap ticket.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone is giving up. We still have the 3 h2h!

vjwhitmore said...

Since they win 3, or they win 2 and Nats lose 1,... the 3 H2H really won't matter.
Especially the way they are playing.
I wouldn't be shocked if the Phils come in and sweep them right now.

Sammy Kent said...

I live in Woodbridge, so for years I had to go watch the Cannons if I wanted to see baseball at all. I kept that habit after the Nats came to town, and consequently I watched JZimm pitch and Desi play short for the PoNats in their baseball infancy. I have enjoyed following their careers, and feel extremely nostalgic about an era about to pass. Life and baseball go on.

Zimm wants three things, and who can blame him for any of them: Money, to go back to the midwest where his home and family are, and to play for an organization that will appreciate him appropriately and give him a chance for a ring. Zimm should have been the opening day starter in both 2014 and 2015, but wasn't because Rizzo/Williams had other more favorite toys (Stras and Max.) He's a good team player and supports everyone in the rotation, but you know those slights did not go down easy. I wish him well. Mostly, I wish he would stay with the Nats, but that ship will soon sail.

My favorite memory is a no-brainer: I was there in the stands when JZimm pitched his no-hitter. What a thrill! Some folks go to games for years and even all their lives and never get to witness a no-no. Thank you Jordan for one of the two best in-person baseball memories of my lifetime (Werth's walk-off against the Cards in Game 4, 2012 the other.) I'm going back tonight to get my bobblehead and see him one final time.

Anonymous said...


ZNN will most likely sign with the Cubs as they are on the upswing and could use another really good arm. It won't be for "Top Dollar" but it will be very close, and probably more than Rizzo is permitted to offer him. If not the Cubs, it will be the Brewers for near top dollar. This scenario plays out only if the Cubs show little to no interest. If both of those teams show no interest in paying recently established market value for a pitcher like ZNN... Then he will take top dollar from the highest bidder and I have zero problem with that. The Lerner's have the finances to offer equal or more than every other team. So if ZNN "Goes Home" you can't compete with that, and I will cheer him when he comes back as a Cubbie. If he ends up a Dodger or Yankee, it is all the Lerner's fault for not being competitive buyers and I will still Cheer ZNN when he comes back in another uniform.

JE34 said...

@Anon-1026am: I had blocked that memory out... now I'm even more depressed. I can still remember yelling NOOOOOOO when ZNN got that hook. Dogs howled in the distance. They're always the first to know.

Anonymous said...

PS. I was also at the No Hitter. Sitting behind the bullpen in right field I had no idea Zim had been subbed out prior to the inning. When Yelich hit that ball I had the same reaction ZNN did, that oh god it's ruined look you see in the replays... but then wait, Zim can't run that fast... who is that masked man? AMAZING!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone is giving up. We still have the 3 h2h!"

maybe because by the time Nats play the Mets the last 3 games of the season, the mets will have already clinch the division, just a hunch.

blovy8 said...

Lucky for JZ, he found the one loophole to stay in a game with MW. Too bad that's the only expception unless you holler at him on the mound while sporting different colored irises. Or is it irisi?

I'm gonna miss how fast and aggressively Zimmermann works when he's got his stuff and how much he's able to do with just a fastball and the threat of something else. After you watch a couple of years of Gio and Strasburg habitually taking 10 pitches to get someone out plus the additional five trips to the rosin bag for Strasburg, and the brain farts about fielding from Gio - you really appreciate someone who's about his business.

It's like listening to DC Washington do the National Anthem. He's not the best, but he gets on with it quickly and doesn't put in a lot more notes than the song has.

Anonymous said...

@anon 12:12 That's not for sure! all the Nats have to do is go 7-0 and hope the Mets go 2-4 the we can play for a tie in h2h! BELIEVE!

Max David said...

If the Anon's gonna go that far, why not just hope the Mets go 1-6 that way we can win the division with the 3 h2h :)

Max David said...

That top of the 3rd inning sums up the season PERFECTLY:

Yesterday (or was it Wednesday??) runner on 2nd 0 outs, down 1 run, almost a sure run if you put the ball in play, Desmond lays down a bunt, Orioles pitcher throws to third, gets the force on Difo. Rally over, game for all intents and purposes over.
Fast forward a little more than 24 hours later. Phillies with runners on 1st & 2nd 0 outs, Phillies pitcher up, lays a bunt. Try to get the force out a 3rd we fail, everyone safe, 2 batters later Taylor misplays the ball for the little league grand slam. When it rains it pours, huh??

Max David said...

And also, sorry for all the posts but for the life of me I can't figure this out:

So, in a must win game, September 7 against the Mets, when we were 4 back in the first game of a 3 game series against the Mets, the big idiot sends Scherzer up to bat with 2nd & 3rd up 1 when Scherzer had been getting shelled the entire game. But on September 25 when we are 7.5 back and have an elimination number of 3 he pinch hits for Zimmermann and robs him of the ovation he deserved?? Absolutely indefensible move!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@anon 12:12 That's not for sure! all the Nats have to do is go 7-0 and hope the Mets go 2-4 the we can play for a tie in h2h! BELIEVE!

LOL!!!! nats go 7-0, funny guy.

Unknown said...

We boys now you have to go 9 and 0. And we have to go 0 and 8. Good luck. Harper MVP, luckily for him you don't need class to win. No hard feelings. Next year maybe a little humility, class, a new manager, and hopefully a shower, and shave for Werth, and you'll be slightly more competitive. Enjoy your long winter of discontent.

vjwhitmore said...

To add another indignity to this:
"Last night, veteran lefty Rich Hill struck out ten batters in a complete-game shutout against the Orioles. In doing so, he became the first AL pitcher in the last century to whiff at least ten in each of his first three starts with a new team. The Nationals released Hill in June, and the Sox signed him to a minor league deal after he struck out 21 batters in two starts with the Long Island Ducks. Since the Sox promoted him to the big leagues earlier this month, Hill has allowed just three runs in 23 innings, striking out 30 and walking two."

Nats get swept by the Orioles, yet Rich Hill shuts them out...

vjwhitmore said...

to Anonymous

Nats have the Mets right where they want them so they can pummel them in the 3 H2H...
Oh wait those game will be meaningless if the Nats lose 1 more or the Mets win 1 more.

Anonymous said...

As long time Mets fans me and a fellow huge Mets fan just want to say this could not have happened to a nicer bunch of the beginning of the season, 88 baseball "pundits" gathered by ESPN voted on the NL East and 85 picked the Nats...OK fine...but then certain Nats start in with the "where's my ring?" stuff and hey, that's a clown comment bro. They put the target on their own backs and when you can talk the talk but not walk the walk you open yourselves to exactly the type of gloating we're doing this very moment. We had to hold our tongues and take it but no more eh? or is that a "clown question bro"? Humble works. Next time try something more along the lines of, "Baeball's a long season; we think we have a very good team but this is why you play 'em" See, now that works. even if it's just for public consumption. People like humble not arrogant overconfidence. Confidence is the food of the wise man but the liquor of the fool. Looks like Nats are the latter. Anyway, enjoy watching the Mets in the playoffs and Go 'skins...oops. lolololololol

Anonymous said...

btw...these kinds of crushing seasons take a toll on a team's character and have staying power...could take many years to wash the stink of this season off your arrogant backsides

Robot said...

Oh, fuck off.

Bryceroni said...

Don't feed the trolls. We know more are coming.

Anonymous said...

I'm not worried. 6 h2h. We got this.

Anonymous said...

Have to say it was heartwarming watching the Nats celebrate so wildly and spontaneously following their gut check extra inning win over the Phils. Nice to see Bryce get such a clutch hit..did they give him the chocolate syrup? Even after they just found out they had been eliminated they still played hard...too bad they didn't play like that before they had been eliminated and maybe they would not have been.

Anonymous said...

My fellow Mets fans are picking on the wrong Nat. I like Harper. He's good for baseball. Jayson Werth is the asshole who learned his ways with the Phillies.

With Harper, Scherzer, and Strasburg as foundation pieces, the Nats should be fine. You'll be back.

Anonymous said...

Champagne tastes a hell of alot better than chocolate syrup.

Anonymous said...

Really, fistfights in the dugout? Nice team you got there.

Max David said...

So anyone still advocating the Papelbum trade now??

What an absolute disgrace! He could have a 0.00 ERA, and a 0.00 WHIP, and you can't do that to Harper. The fact that this guy has been total $#!t since he's arrived (seems like he's given up a run in every games he's pitched), and since his arrival the team has sunk faster then the Titanic. Don't wait for the offseason, release this asshole NOW!

Anonymous said...

The D.C. circus has officially become a national joke. Could have at least finished the season with some dignity intact but that was asking too much.

JE34 said...

Mr Papelbon has officially worn out his welcome, on and off the field.

Froggy said...


Fire Rizzo for hiring Papelbon

Fire Williams for letting Papelbon pitch after the fight

Fire Papelbon for being a cancerous tumor

Max David said...

LOL did Williams really say, "He's our closer" as the answer to the question "why did you send him back out there for the 9th?"

What an absolute idiot! I know firing him now won't do anything, but really after that I don't think you have any other choice.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's one way to keep your team in the national spotlight after blowing the division.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that there wasn't a bench clearing where the Phillies AND the nationals all went after Papelbon.

Anonymous said...

Nats fans and players got what they deserved. From the cocky comments, the LOLmets, the talking about collapses while you're team couldn't even hold a 6 run lead with 7 outs to get. Maybe this will humble you all and you can think long and hard all off-season about this year.

BornInDC said...

So let's see, Williams takes Harper out of the game but leaves Papelbon in the game, because "He's our closer"?

That takes "play-by-the-numbers" to a whole new level.

In honor of ole PBN being fired sometime in the next two weeks, let me be the first to say, in advance of the inevitable:

"That's baseball"

Max David said...


Maybe Harper said "***k this, I don't want to be on the same field as the guy that tried to choke me." In that case I wouldn't blame him in that situation, and I don't think anyone else would as either.

Anonymous said...

well, looks like Papelbon is an even bigger choker that we thought,,,as for Bryce...the choke's on him...and, if the Nats had showed as much fight on the field as they showed in the dugout they'd be sipping champagne now...oh well, that's baseball

also, props to the guy who wrote he was surprised it didn't spark a brawl where both teams went after Papelbon...was cracking up at that...hilarious...good one

Froggy said...

Post game idiocy from Matt Williams on

Harper entered Sunday leading the league in batting average (.339), homers (41), slugging percentage (.663) and on-base percentage (.470).

Papelbon (4-3), who entered in the eighth, went back to the mound for the ninth in what was a 4-all game. He allowed five runs, including Andres Blanco's go-ahead, two-run homer.

Why did Williams keep Papelbon in the game after the scrap?

"He's our closer," Williams said. "That's all I'm going to say on the matter. He's our closer. In a tie game, he's in the ballgame in the ninth inning."

After Blanco's homer, Papelbon loaded the bases, hitting Odubel Herrera with his final pitch before being removed by Williams -- and leaving the mound to a chorus of boos from the Nationals Park crowd of 28,661.

BornInDC said...

This whole fiasco is all on Papelbon, Williams and Rizzo, not Harper.

Should Papelbon have been upset because Harper criticized him after he beaned Machado? No, Papelbon had no right to be upset. Papelbon makes a lot more money than Harper, Papelbon has been in the league longer than Harper. it is Papelbon not Harper who has been underperforming and if there was going to be a target for retaliation it was going to be Harper not Papelbon.

When Papelbon intentionally hit Machado, Williams should have suspended him. Given that Harper already has a target on his back and he is the main reason that the Nats were even a competitive team this year for any extended length of time, Williams should have let all of the pitchers know that intentionally beaning another player would result in a suspension. Williams didn't need to say why. Every player would have understood why. One player that frequently pope up on the lists of what Harper has accomplished at such a young age is Tony Conigliaro. Conigliaro's story is a reminder of what is potentially at risk when a batter gets hit by a pitch, even when the beaning is unintentional.

And Rizzo may have made a mistake of historic proportions by trading for Papelbon. This trade has been a disaster in almost every conceivable way, except Harper actually getting beaned and injured.

Anonymous said...


Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Nats just announced (1:35 ET) Papelbon suspended for four games, team suspension to follow his three-day MLB suspension, so he's done for '15.

Good first move. Credit where it's due.

Now let's see how things play out from here.

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