Nationals Baseball: Could the Nats catch the Dodgers? Do they want to?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Could the Nats catch the Dodgers? Do they want to?

The Nats won last night but that isn't special. They are going to win more than they lose especially against below .500 teams.  The Dodgers lost last night and that is special. Or more correctly it's more special that they are losing so much recently. 1-11 including two sweeps to the Diamonbacks and a 1-3 set with the lowly Padres.

The end result is that the NL West and #1 seed races have gotten a lot closer. However is it close enough? The NL West is probably a no. It was an 21 game lead so even after a terrible fall and the Dbacks being hot the lead is still 10.5 games. That's a lot. The #1 seed is at least thinkable. The Dodgers were "only" nursing a 14.5 game lead there so it's now down to 7. 

What is possible? With 23 games left probably the worst/best stretch that wouldn't be historic would be something like 5-18 / 18-5 or making up a 13 game difference. With each game going the other way you lose 2 games you can make up  6-17 / 17-6  makes up 11 games. 8-15 / 15-8 will make up 7.

So for Arizona to pass the Dodgers they'd likely have to go 17-6* or better and the Dodgers 6-17 or worse. Or in other words the Diamondbacks would have to be the best team from here on out and the Dodgers the worst. For the Nats to pass the Dodgers they'd have to play really well and the Dodgers really poorly but not to the "worst/best" levels. What do the schedules say

ARI : v SDP, v COL (4), @ SFG, @ SDP, v MIA, v SFG, @ KCR
LAD : v COL (4), @ SFG, @ WSN, @ PHI (4), v SFG, v SDP, @ COL
WSN :  v PHI (4), v ATL, v LAD, @ ATL, @ NYM, @ PHI, v PIT(4)

The Dodgers do have the toughest schedule with the Nats and 7 games versus the Rockies left (though they aren't playing so hot themselves). Plus 4 series on the road, rather than three. But it's not overwhelming. The Diamondbacks have to end the season with the always game Royals who might be playing for life and death. The Nats end the year with a Pirates team that's .500 quality. It's tough to see the Diamondbacks making up 10.5 games here.  The Nats however - there is that H2H set in DC.  Keep the distance between you and the Dodgers to 7 games or less and come out of that series 4 games or closer? It's not likely but it's interesting.

Of course then the Nats would set up not for the middling NL Central winner (probably the Cubs) and instead face potentially the 3rd best NL team - the Diamondbacks - assuming they get out of the WC game. You could roll the dice hoping to face a tiring Milwaukee or Colorado (though I never like the idea of playing playoffs in Colorado - the travel, the park...) but you could also end up with forever nemesis St Louis.  It's a tough call.

Of course the correct answer is you play hard and get who you get. Some sports lend themselves more to worrying about match-ups. That's not really baseball unless you a team with huge batting splits is involved. The D-Backs had the biggest split issue and it was a small issue against LHP. Then they got JD Martinez. So maybe the Rockies? Eh. It's not like the Dodger thing last year.

Is it really something to think about before you get to the Nats/Dodgers series and see where they are? Probably not. But what else are you doing baseball wise?

*Yeah I know they have one fewer game left - this is all back of the envelope stuff


Nattydread said...

That is a question. What are you doing baseball wise?
* Checking out Bryce's new hair style.
* Enjoying the Dodger's losing streak.
* Wondering whether Cleveland or Arizona has a longer winning streak.
* Following the Boston iPhone sign stealing scandal.
* Watching Bryce play catch
* Wondering who the next Nats called up starter will be
* Enjoying another Dodger loss
* Waiting to hear the next explanation for delaying a Scherzer start
* Reading explanations about why the Nats righthand side of the infield is the worst in baseball
* Trying to guess the actual number of games the Nats have to play to clinch the division
* Listening to Baker's latest comments on when Harper is expected to be ready
* Enjoying another Dodger loss
* Etc etc etc

Robot said...

Eh, i hear some other professional sports season is starting soon, but not anything that matters.

I just want to see Bryce and Max get healthy in time.

sirc said...

I think that the Nats match up most favorably against the Cubs, Rockies and Cardinals, and unfavorably against the Brewers and Diamondbacks. I am not sure about the Dodgers.

Favorable match ups only really apply to a 7 game series though. First round series are a crap shoot. I'd almost rather play the Dodgers in the first round I think.

Anonymous said...

Sirc raises an interesting issue. If you have to play the Dodgers, you'd probably rather face them in a 5-game series than a 7-game series because the shorter series mitigates the Dodgers' advantage of having a better team, at least in part. On the other hand, not facing the Dodgers in the first round allows for the possibility that you don't have to face them at all, i.e., because someone else beats them in a 5-game series. I'm not going to do the math, but I have to believe the latter effect - the possibility of facing a worse team in the LCS - is more important than the former effect - the better chance of beating the Dodgers in a shorter series compared to a longer series.

Having said all this, I doubt any playoff team is more than a 55-45 favorite over another playoff team in a short series or 60-40 in a long series. So this issue, though interesting, probably doesn't matter all that much.

Chinatown Express said...

Robles is up! Robles is up! omfg Robles is up!

Jay said...

I have to agree with Chinatown Express. I loved Keith Law's tweet. "Some GM's worry about service time. Rizzo says F service time. Give me Robles."

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