Nationals Baseball: Not good enough

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Not good enough

After the rain washed out the Yankees two-gamer, the Nats had the Dodgers and the Padres at home for six.  They should win 4 of those games regardless of what you think of the Dodgers. 5-1 is probably more reasonable that 3-3. But the Nats can't do any of these and end up going 2-4. That's unacceptable.

And I mean it in the frame of the season. You have to beat the bad teams in order to get enough wins. Every win you don't get against a San Diego is a win you have to get against a Milwaukee. Even if you say LA is good - let's ignore them. The Padres are BAD - 4-2 is just enough against them. Who are the middling teams in the NL? The Giants? 1-2. The Mets (probably)? 2-4.  The Nats have weathered this by beating teams a step better 5-2 vs Arizona, 4-0 vs Pittsburgh, but that's not a workable long term strategy.  Hell it doesn't even work in the short term as the Nats are 3 games out of first and on an 88 win pace.

Yes, it's because of injuries. I know that. But the reality is the season doesn't stop until you can get healthy. We want the Nats to win the East. We'll grudgingly accept a Wild Card if necessary. That means they have to win the games they should win now, regardless of health. The next 6 games are away but are against two of the worst teams in baseball, the worse than their record 19-30 Marlins and the deserved 15-34 Orioles. 5-1 is the goal. 4-2 is the floor. It's not getting easier than this stretch and so far they are 2-4. They need to turn it around now.

Other Notes

Juan Soto - I love the patience. I also understand the NL is going through their paces right now. Can I get him out with normal fastballs? Can I get him to chase anything? Can I get him out with in zone junk? Do I have to really pitch to him?  As they do this some crazy stats might pop up for a while. Give it time. We are just now talking about how we can look at the stats for the guys who started the season with the team. Kid needs a good 150+ more PAs before we can start making judgments (unless he hits like 1000 homers)

Mark Reynolds + Matt Adams = something like .310 / .400 / .718 which would be challenging for the league lead in OPS. Yes this is fluke-y (Matt Adams has dropped as he's gotten more ABs. Mark Reynolds is still at 25 PA) but is anyone here rooting for Zimm to come back ASAP? To be fair to Zimm in his 5 games in May he did have 7 hits, 2 walks and a homer, which is actually really good.

On the flip side in May MAT, Stevenson, and Sierra would combine to hit something like .140 / .175 / .150.   Four XBH between them in 122 PAs! THIS is why Soto is up. Good, ok, fair, poor, even flat out bad is better than this.

Bryce is not walking as much any more (5 in May) but still hitting for power. But don't let your "this guy should be carrying us!" take blind you to Rendon hitting .208 / .323 / .434 in May. Things aren't dropping for him either. Rendon's BABIP is low (.264) but Bryce's is unsustainably so (.198) even if he's just smashing it into shifts. We should see some turn around (which should mitigate the eventual Reynolds/Adams slow down)


W. Patterson said...

So you're saying, Harper, that luck, or waiting for the other teams to bomb, isn't a viable strategy?

Speaking of luck, some players kinda make their own. And by that I mean Difo. The guy's fun to watch and looks like he really enjoys being out there.

Harper said...

W. Patterson - worked pretty well 2013-2017 but not for in 2018!

I like Difo too. But as a 5th IF.

Fries said...

The astonishing thing to me is that the Nats are sub-.500 AT HOME. How do you fail to perform in the friendly confines of your own stadium??

Luckily it's road trip time, against horrendous teams at that, so I have to agree with you Harper, losing more than 1 of the next 6 is not good enough

blovy8 said...

Why should we expect better than an 88-win pace with the current active roster, Harper? A few games here and there can still really sway what you think that pace is though. If they had split those two games from the Yankees, what would that tell you? Human things still happen, such as a guy like Tyson Ross throwing a pretty good game. I suppose you can still expect everyone but Turner and the 1B platoon to be hitting better, but you could also expect to get a few bum starts from guys not named Scherzer. Unless Eaton can come back and play center, and they get some middle relief, I'm not seeing a juggernaut here without spending a few prospects and $$$$. Who's going to bet on that until July?

BxJaycobb said...

I have to agree with Blovy. The roster as presently constructed is not better than a 88-90 win team. And it’s simply not comparable on the position player side to say the Braves. Let’s take a trip around the field. I think our players currently playing are as good or better at 3B and RF, maybe SS—but note that Markakis has currently outplayed (!!) Bryce in RF. That’s it. Everywhere else they are superior. Some spots laughably so...we can’t keep up with what has turned out to be two teams that are at least good (the Braves might actually be better than good if their pitching keeps this up....I do believe they are a better than good offense) while playing AAA/sub type players are 4 positions. Ain’t gonna happen. Best we can hope for is to play .500-ish baseball (or just above) until we’re healthy, hope it’s within like 4 games at that point, then make our run. I’m not expecting this team to catch the Braves with the 4-9 hitters of Adams/Reynolds, Difo, Taylor, Severino, P every day. It just can’t. That 13-2 run was a combo of luck and ludicrous pitching. It won’t happen again with this group in my opinion. To me, you gotta hang in there and play tough. I agree getting swept by Dodgers is not playing tough—those were some tough close losses. But I happen to think the dodgers will win the West. So.

BxJaycobb said...

By the way, I’m barely counting rendon as “healthy/back.” It’s gonna take him a second to get it going. But you need at least 1 of Murphy and Eaton back before you get hungry about catching the Braves/Phillies. Those teams are both good.

BxJaycobb said...

I just don’t think anybody with a straight face would answer the Q before the season “How many games do you think the Nats would win with no games from Murphy or Eaton, and prolonged absences from Rendon, Zim, Goodwin, no robles call up, and prolonged Weiters absence too?” by saying “over 90 wins!” I would project that team to be on track to be very lucky to win a wild card. Which is where we are, due to the (remaining) offense underperforming a bit, the starting pitching over performing a bit, and the bullpen performing as advertised basically (I.e. mediocre). I actually think the Nats have performed admirably to be at 26-22.

Josh Higham said...

@Bx and blovy, I guess the question to answer is whether we should be satisfied with the team performing basically how we would expect with half a dozen important players hurt in the big picture (that is, not a division winner, but admirably close), or if we should look at a 2-4 stretch against bad teams and be upset with poor performance? Really, both are fair, but I don't want to fall into the old "players coming off the DL are like new acquisitions" trap and assume all will be well when we start pushing known quantities out of the lineup, (both better than replacement level) are pushed out of the order?

And the Dodgers are a fine pick to win the west, but they are not a team that should sweep a road series against a team that hopes to win a division.

Ole PBN said...

If they play at an 88-win pace until everyone is back and healthy (I think the AS break was a reference point thrown around here), then I’d call that more than weathering the storm. With this roster? That’s unreal. They honestly should be hoping for .500 but their playing above that. If we play at 88-pace and then 95 when we’re healthy how does that not even out? 3 games out is a piece of cake to come back from, lose, and come back from again with still over 4 MONTHS to go! The only way I see the Padres series as “unacceptable” is if we’re trying to gauge how good we are. We don’t need to gauge how good the Syracuse Nats are. We’ll be fine. If we never get healthy and have 13 guys on the DL for the rest of the season, then no we are not fine and we should be worrying about the offseason.

Harper said...

Here's the thing - is this better than an 88 win team as currently constructed? No, probably not. Can they play like an 88 win team for another month and then expect to win the NL East? No, probably not.

So I'm not going to lay (much) blame on the team for not performing well enough to win the NL East but I'm trying to get across the reality. If you want to see the Nats in the playoffs they need to play better. It's not fair to the team but they set the high jump as "NLCS OR BUST" - they gotta jump over it.

Josh Higham said...

It turns out I edited my above comment to make it incomprehensible. Harper did a much better job expressing my thought, so just pretend I didn't say anything.