Nationals Baseball: .500!

Friday, June 28, 2019


Ok let's be honest. If you were told that the Nats would be .500 half way through the season your reaction would have been. "Ugh. That sucks" and it does! But we can't dwell on it now.  We instead move to what would have been your follow up questions*. "How's the division going?" to which the answer is "Not great" and "Are the Nats still in the playoff hunt?", to which the answer is "Yes"! 

They are still 2.5 games out of the WC (this will happen as we talked about when there are a half-dozen teams ahead of you - not ALL can lose at the same time) You can't make it up all at one time. But we have learned if you hand Davey a healthy team (only Hellickson and Zimm out) and an easy schedule (this 30 game run featured 7 games vs MIA, 4 vs the White Sox, and 3 vs Cincy along with 8 against San Diego and Arizona, though you know I like Arizona) he can win! Kind of the 2014 Matt Williams Rule. What we still need to see is how Davey and this bunch can play against good teams - and they'll get that chance after the ASB

@PHI (@BAL for 2) @ATL vCOL vLAD vATL @ARI

tha's a stretch of 22 games with 2 easy games in it. There's a run in there from the BAL games through the ATL games with 16 games and no days off either. That will probably define the season.**

But first you got to get there and up now is Detroit. Detroit is bad (26-50) and not unlucky about it (pythag 23-53). It's almost a little shame that the Nats are catching these teams NOW - where they may be showcasing the best players for trades, as opposed to a month from now when they should be depleted and possibly worse. Oh well. 

You know how the Marlins were by far the worst offense in the NL? Well the Tigers are even more by far the worst offense in the AL.  They score fewer runs than the Marlins. And they have a DH! The next best team (the Orioles) score more than a half-run more per game! They literally have two decent hitters in JaCoby Jones and probably pretty good Nick Castellanos but what's he going to do here. Miggy is on his last legs still making contact but sadly generating no power (.290 average, .380 SLG). They have a handful of below average guys you never heard of and them some worse than that.  They currently have four starters just doing terribly.

The pitching, while bad, is not the worst. The pen is ok-ish. Mainly they are propped up by a couple of starters doing well. Do the Nats catch either? Nope. Tonight they get Daniel Norris - one time big time prospect who hasn't lived up to that. He hasn't had a great game all year and mostly throws up oo short games where he only gives up 2-3 runs but can't get out of the 6th, mixed in with a clunker every few games. The Tigers are currently without a starter for Saturday, recent days off let them go with a 4 man rotation for a bit.  They have tried both Ryan Carpenter and Gregory Soto and they have been bad and really bad respectively. Tim Adleman, will probably fill the 5th starter roll for the Tigers eventually (he's old, not good, but not the worst, and can fill innings - perfect 5th guy for a bad team) but he pitched Tuesday.  Sunday is likely Zimmermann who has yet to manage a full season for the Tigers since signing that deal. He's hurt his neck (gets injections for it I think still), his groin, got hit in the face with a line drive, and this year finally it took a toll on the arm. Injuries kids, they build up. He's just an innings eater now who occasionally has runs when his body is feeling ok.

It's not as quite set-up for the sweep as the three best starters against a bad Miami team in a place they play horribly. But the Tigers are worse hitters, the Nats face worse starters, and they also do poorly at home.  It's only JUST slightly worse jsut because we still can't trust Sanchez or Voth not to get rocked.

*after "What happened?" of course

**If the Nats are in it down the the wire Sept is pretty brutal as they catch CLE and MIN then. They also end the year with 10 games in 9 days thanks to the Philly rainouts. But we're just starting to look two weeks ahead, let's not worry about over two months right now. 


Treaples69 said...

I think there is a decent chance Indians sell at least one starting pitcher (Bauer) and possibly hand and hopefully the Twins will have division well in hand at that point and will be resting dudes

Jeff Hayes said...

I'm really interested in how they do against the better teams. Right now they are 3-2 against the Braves, 7-4 against the Phillies, 0-3 against the Brewers, 1-2 against the Rockies, 1-3 against the Cards, 3-4 against the Padres, and 2-2 against the Diamondbacks. Those are the teams between them and a possible playoff berth. They will clearly have to do better in any head-to-head games against those teams. Besides their division opponents, they have three games against the Rockies at home, three against the D-backs in Arizona, three against the Brewers at home, and three against the Cards in STL.

They are 2-2 against the Dodgers and 1-2 against the Cubs. So against all the division leaders, they are 6-6. Of course, some of those games came before they turned their season around. They still have three against the Cubs in Chicago and three against the Dodgers at home.

Altogether, not counting the Braves and Phillies, that means they have 18 games against NL opponents ahead of them in the WC or division leaders. Against the Braves they have 14 games remaining and 8 games against the Phillies. So 40 games against teams currently ahead of them in the standings.

They are 2-1 against AL teams so far. They still have 10 games against teams with a losing record in the AL and 6 games against teams with a winning record.

That leaves 24 games against NL teams with a losing record.

Altogether, 46 games against teams with a winning record and 34 games against teams with a losing record. If they go 23-23 against teams with a winning record and 23-11 against teams with a losing record, they'll finish 86-74.

If they can do well against those better opponents, maybe make up a couple of games and a little better against the bad teams, they could finish with 89 or 90 wins. That would give me more confidence that if they can get into the post-season, they might be able to make it deeper than we have in previous years.

Hopefully my math lines up. I'm a mathphobe.

Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

"But we have learned if you hand Davey a healthy team (only Hellickson and Zimm out) and an easy schedule (this 30 game run featured 7 games vs MIA, 4 vs the White Sox, and 3 vs Cincy along with 8 against San Diego and Arizona, though you know I like Arizona) he can win!"

That "healthy" part of the equation is what scares me. Strength of schedule, when healthy, doesn't worry me because I honestly believe this is a world series caliber team when healthy. But this team has ZERO depth. What happens if Rendon goes down? Or Turner? Or god forbid one of the big 3 starters?

Depending on how the next couple of weeks go, Rizzo needs to make a hard decision about whether it's time to go all in for one last hurrah, or reload. I'm of the opinion that the team should reload, I don't want to see the Nats turn into the Giants. But if the team streaks and we're looking only a few games up at the Braves, I can't fault an all-in type move for another starter and bullpen help.

Robot said...

Or what if Zim comes off the IL? ::shudders::

W. Patterson said...

@Harper, you paint the Tigers as pure crap, incapable of scoring or pitching. Ripe for a poor college team to take to town.

Why do I have a bad feeling about the Nats? Hope I'm wrong, but I'll try to keep the beagle out of the room (she's bad mojo) and let the cat in (he's a Nats fan and good mojo).

DezoPenguin said...

Meanwhile, Zim is up and Taylor down.

I like the choice of Taylor being the one to remove. Parra can play CF in a pinch, so we're not in a "what if Turner gets hurt/ejected?" situation there. And Taylor's bat this year has sunk so low that he was only useful as a defensive replacement anyway.

The problem is that Zim can now be put into games. And Davey has shown a penchant for keeping on doing that, and batting him in meaty spots in the lineup.

If he's willing to go with a strict 1B platoon of Zim and Adams, then I can deal with that, albeit reluctantly as it steals playing time from Kendrick, since Zim has shown that even when it's not 2017 he still can be an effective hitter against LHP. But I have no faith that he's actually going to do that. And it worries me, what with Adams, Kendrick, and Dozier all healthy and performing well...

G Cracka X said...

I'd like to hear more about Davey. He now has a winning record (barely) in his 1.5 years as a manager (as of Friday morning). Is he a better manager in Year 2? Was he a bad manager when the team went 19-31, and then a good manager when the team went 21-9? Has he basically been the same manager all along and gets scapegoated when the team underperforms? Do you think he is the equivalent of Matt Williams?

Genuinely curious on these questions. I don't have the answers myself.

Anonymous said...

I would argue he's bad but getting better purely because of the clear lack of preparation and fundamentals on display earlier this season and last season. Since the team has gotten hot, there's been a clear change in approach for many players. Most obviously in my book is Soto and attacking earlier in counts even if it's a breaking ball. At the end of the day, I can gripe all I want about bullpen management, but I have to admit that, from the outside looking in, Davey has gotten improved discipline out of the players.

BxJaycobb said...

@anon, G Cracka. I personally think davey gets too much of the blame and the front office not enough of the blame for the Nats last two years. The reality is Rizzo has two Achilles heels in his team construction: he doesn’t appreciate roster depth enough, which leads to top heavy “stars and scrubs” teams that are incredibly susceptible the injury and or inflexible if one player is performing worse than expected etc. And second, he just doesn’t seem to think bullpen quality is an important thing to have before the trade deadline. That said, Davey is not a good manager. More than anything, the bullpen usage is wanting. An example. In the second to last game vs the Braves—a game you’re leading 8-4 in the 8th I believe...a game you really need to win if you are going to preserve a realistic shot in the division race—Davey does literally the ONE thing that is most likely to get the Braves back in the game. He brings in the guy who has been the most flammable relief pitcher in baseball in 2019....and allows him to start a tire fire that the rest of the Nats pen is not skillful enough to put out, and they lose. Bringing in Rosenthal in that situation showed such an extraordinary lack of judgment that I almost cannot wrap my head around it. And that was like a week ago. So no, Davey is not a good manager, because the most important task a manager has is bullpen management, and he is bad at it. Does this mean Rizzo is blameless? No. But two things can be true at once.

BxJaycobb said...

I also think that at this point smart front offices/teams know that the best way to deploy bullpen weapons is in high leverage situations, which sometimes come in the 7th and 8th innings, not the 9th. And they don’t care about inning assignments. And they also don’t care about getting a starter “the win” and thus managing for stats not team victory......Davey/Rizzo obviously do not subscribe to these strategies, which makes them not uncommon, but nevertheless behind the curve in MLB. AJ Hinch, Counsel on the Brewers, Cora, these guys have moved on from worrying about players getting “saves” and “wins.” If they need to bring in their relief ace in 7th they do it. If they need to remove a starting pitcher with a lead and 2 outs in the 5th, they do it. They have one concern. The move that has the analytically highest % chance of winning the game. That’s it. I would like the Nats to finally adopt that view.

Nattydread said...

Martinez deserves much of the credit for the amazing tear the team is on. Whatever his weaknesses (and he has many) he is a players coach. The Rosenthal situation is a great example of this. Davey wanted to weaponize Rosenthal, and in order to do that Rosenthal had to overcome his mental issues. He made one out in a close game. Davey brought him back to own an inning against the Braves. It turned into what my distinguished colleague called a "tire fire".

Watching the game, it was obvious that all of the players wanted Rosenthal to succeed as much as the fans did. Imagine IF Martinez had helped him overcome his demons. True, Davey left him in too late, and we got an unnecessary loss against the team we really need to beat to stay in the division pennant. But perhaps more importantly, the Rosenthal experiment was ended. I imagine Rizzo, the pitching coach and Martinez had a meeting after the game and decided the guy's problems ran too deep. DFA him.

Rizzo has no choice, and neither does Martinez. Because they lay out such huge contracts on a few, they have to gamble on others with ceilings. Martinez plays his part by putting the guys out there. Luck has changed. We've stumbled upon Parra. Kendrick and Adams are high ceiling performers. The bullpen is a revolving door, but some of the pieces seem to be holding. Rainey. Guerra? Who is this guy Rodney?

Starting pitching is the core. Leadership and inspiration? Could you ask for any more of it than Scherzer provides with each start?

One game at a time. That is all.

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DezoPenguin said...

As I noted after the tire fire in question, I didn't actually think trying Rosenthal in the 7th was that indefensible. And although he and Rainey lost the lead, the offense immediately grabbed it back. The truly indefensible decision was to put Ross out there for the 8th. At least with Rosenthal you could say "if he got his command straightened out, he'd be okay." Ross has been nothing but hot garbage all year out of the pen. It's like Davey saw the fan reaction after the 7th and said, "what, you thought last inning had a bad bullpen decision? Hold my beer."

That said, the team being over .500 feels really good. Hopefully we can keep it up with more wins in these next 8 games against lousy teams and go at least .500 through July's tough stretch. Admittedly it was against Detroit's truly horrid offense, but it was nice to see both Sanchez and the Doolittle-less pen pitch well.

JE34 said...

It's safe to say that Martinez is finding his footing as a manager, but I would look like a genius against the Marlins and Tigers too. A test is coming for him: will Zim get lots of starts at 1B against righty starters? Will Zim get ONE start at 1B against a righty starter? The correct answer is: HE BETTER NOT.

Anonymous said...

kind of a glass is half empty article

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