Nationals Baseball: Almost There

Friday, June 21, 2019

Almost There

Almost There!

Actually though I love that animation this is the money song from that movie. 

This will be quick bc work is work but the Nats are almost there. After playing like one of the worst teams in baseball for 50 games, they've played like one of the best for the past 24* going 17-7.  They haven't quite made up the ground but they are just a couple weeks away from it.  What do they have to do now? Let's review. It's pretty simple actually.
  1. Don't get swept by the Braves
  2. Beat up on the bad teams before the break 
The plan would be go at least 1-2 in these 3, then go 8-4 in the following four series. Get to one over .500 at the break. Beat Miami (27-46) away. Beat Detroit (26-44) away. Beat Miami at home. Beat KC (26-49) at home. This is honestly merely meeting expectations. This doesn't mean that they are set up for a playoff spot - after the break they'll have to beat expectations to get over that final hurdle - but it puts them in a position to attempt that.

Get swept and the Nats are back to 5 out, needing a 9-3 run in those 12 to get to one-over. A more likely 8-4 keeps the Nats under and anything less... we're back to what are we doing?

The 3.5 out of the playoffs is a bit of a mirage. It is based on the idea that 85-86 wins will get a playoff spot, which it could but is unlikely, and ignores the fact that there are 4 teams to overcome to get that spot (and three teams within 2.5 behind the Nats also at least thinking about it). This isn't a catch the Mets scenario. It's a harder road to hoe. A good comparison would be the 2013 Nats who after being injured much of the year (with a laughable bench to replace the starters) found them themselves at 54-60 a week into August and then reeled off a 32-16 run (basically double what this Nats team has done so far) which got them to 86-76... and 4 games out of the second Wild Card.

So take nothing for granted here. It's still a slog. But better to be working through the slog than to be drowned in it.

One Note :

I noticed this last night so wanted to put it down.  Here are Phillies' performances the year before Kapler, with Kapler, and year after Kapler as applicable

Hernandez 110 93
Altherr 122 ~50
Herrera 103 88
Williams 111 87
Hoskins 162  127
Alfaro 127 95 99
Santana 112 105 147
Cabrera ~115  80  92
Realmuto 130 98
Segura 111 94
Bryce  134 109

Some of this is small sample size and there are a couple of counter examples. Franco has been a little less awful under Kapler. Ramos had a nice run in Philly.  This even extends to the pitching somewhat. Basically players go to the Phillies and under Kapler they get worse. There seems to be something going on here and it isn't something good (for the Phillies. Great for the Nats though!)

*The Dodgers have been the best in that time frame going 19-7. The Nats would be second followed by the Rockies at 18-8 and then, unfortunately for Nats fans, the Braves at 16-8. 


G Cracka X said...

Some other notable counter-examples would be SeanRod, Kingery, and Bruce (and certainly, small sample size applies here, too). I actually think the Phillies lineup looks pretty good against righties.

But, regardless, happy the Nats swept 'em!

coolsny said...

although the hole they have dug is not optimal, at least we have legitimately exciting games to watch in June. i get to shun all invitations and stay home tonight and scream at the tv - something i would do anyway, but i feel better about this excuse. playoff atmosphere baby!

billyhacker said...

Despite this great streak, the mountain to climb is still huge. Strasburg pitching the first game and Sanchez the second against Atlanta seems fine to me. But the TBD on the third game probably means the bullpen better be rested. Surprisingly, I agree 1-2 seems fine, but 2-1 seems both possible and huge. I don't even want to mention the other possibilities.

Harper said...

Kingery never had a before Kapler. Sean Rodriguez is like Franco - not good, not even average, just less crappy.

Treaples69 said...

Nats projected as 1st Wild Card according to Fangraphs per there playoff odds. Long way to go but this easy stretch before the All Star Break is huge

Anonymous said...

The nagging worry for me is that the team is by and large quite healthy right now. We knew the team would be good when healthy. But to expect them to stay healthy the rest of the way is a fool's errand. So what does Rizzo do between now and the deadline to reinforce the lineup, bullpen, and maybe even the rotation?

coolsny said...

need bumgarner. harper would you consider that "all-in" or foolish

Harper said...

coolsny - depends on what they give up for him and where they are. Also would depend on what's going on with Rendon If they have a shot at the NL East, have decided not to re-sign Rendon, and can avoid giving up Kieboom, Garcia, Denaburg, or Crowe? That's great. If they are just competing for a WC, have Rendon coming back next year, and give up one of them - that's too much.

Treaples69 said...

Seems like another arm in the bullpen would be a much better use of resources and would cost less prospects. Jake Diekman or ian kennedy from royals makes a lot more sense than going for a big name like Bumgarner who at this point in his career is only a bit better than league average and is a rental

coolsny said...


this team doesn't need just shoring up the bullpen to win a needs a gamechanger. trading for a top bullpen arm would be like any of the other deadline moves Rizzo has made the past 7 years

blovy8 said...

I don't think getting in as a second wildcard means much if you have enough starting pitcher depth and enough good relievers. Perhaps we should assume the Nats won't by then, but lets say they the rotation stays ok, they have to play it to the wire, and then use Scherzer in that wildcard game - they would still be able to use their three best starters in at least four games if the next series went the distance. It's not like they've won anything with the home advantage.

Treaples69 said...

The best impact relievers are probably shane greene and Will Smith (Rental)- winning a bidding war by putting kieboom up for sale seems dumb. Luis Garcia seems expendable but thats only if rendon gets expended

DezoPenguin said...

@coolsny: The problem here is, Bumgarner is not a game-changer. 4.28 ERA/4.20 FIP/1.0 fWAR this year, continuing his pattern of decline. And the Nats are on his no-trade list, meaning that he'd require an extension to come here. I don't consider trading high-value prospects for someone who would be no better than a fourth starter in our rotation to be a desirable move. If we're going to be committing resources towards long-term SP improvements, it should be someone better than a once-great in decline.

Smith, Watson, and Dyson would all be Giants I'd prefer adding to the team to Bumgarner. Especially LH relief to replace Grace and/or Sipp, but it's not like I really trust the RH set of Rainey-Guerra-Suero-Rosenthal either.

8:48 Anonymous has a good point, too, in that depth is a question. We're running without a backup SS whenever we have a 13-man pen (ugh), but Difo/Sanchez aren't long-term solutions, and an upgrade to someone on the Aledmys Diaz tier of players would be useful. Taylor is a great defensive replacement at OF4, but a shaky hitter. Parra was hugely useful in May, but he's back to being himself in roughly the same usage in June. Gomes probably can't be improved upon, though Suzuki probably ought to be used a little more often. When healthy, this lineup can stand up with nearly anyone's in the league, but as the Yankees have demonstrated, having top-flight depth for when the inevitable injuries hit is often the difference.

(In other news, check "don't get swept by the Braves" off the Mission Accomplished! list. Though Doolittle not being available has me praying that he just needed the rest day and that it isn't injury.)

Nattydread said...

That's 4 of 4, 2 to go. Three wins no losses against Atlanta so far with a lot of games to go.

Superb defense and a bend-but-don't-break bullpen step up when the line-up leaves too many on base and Strasburg is only 90%.

I'm no longer on the Fire Martinez wagon. This was a well-managed game. Though the line-up should have scored more runs, Davey stayed out of the way and let them play. His bullpen gambles with Guerra, Suero and Rosenthal paid off. He knew he had to keep Doolittle and Rainey for the next two games, put players in a position to succeed and they did.

Kudos to both Rizzo and Martinez for sticking with Rosenthal. His rehabilitation could be as good as a trade --- and most of us had written him off completely.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. Is it over the top for me to say that if the Nats want to make this a division race they need to win the Sanchez matchup? Because winning Ross vs Soroka seems...tough. And i think the Nats need to win this series in order to make the NL East a race.

G Cracka X said...

@Bx I would say yes. Per 538, Nats are only at 52% winning chance on Saturday. Its tough to say what Sunday is, because the website plugged in Corbin for that game, and we know its going to be Ross instead. But let's say that changes from 50% win percentage to 40%. 40% is not great, but certainly not beyond the realm of reasonable possibility. Its possible the Nats lose on Saturday, but still take Sunday's game. I agree its tough, but its doable. Of course, we both prefer they take that Saturday game so they don't have to rely on Sunday to win the series....

Now if they lose both Sat and Sun? It would be very hard to catch them, though not impossible. I do think they still have an outside chance at the NL East in that scenario, because there's 14 games left against the Braves; 7 in July and 7 in September. The wheels may have completely come off the wagon for the Nats by then, but maybe the Braves have dipped by that point. Fangraphs thinks the Nats play at a .550 clip from here on out, and Braves at .535 clip. I think you would have to be 9-5 or 10-4 H2H, with some help. A tall order indeed.

Froggy said...

Notice when the Nats are winning there are no @ssln noises?

@Robot...come in Robot...

JWLumley said...

This game is why dm is a terrible manager. Putting guys in bad spots. Just completely inable to manage a bullpen.

JWLumley said...

Also, DFA Rosenthal and Taylor. They are no longer big leaguers.

Anonymous said...

Another bullpen implosion. How long do the Lerner's let this go on?

Ole PBN said...

I wish that the so-called “patience” that DM has shown all season with some of these guys, didn’t have to get left by the wayside just because someone has a good couple games. Rainey became the 8th inning guy because literally everyone else sucked. Not because he was “good.” You can’t determine that over 7 innings. But he gets slotted as the next-most-dependable guy besides Doolittle because, well, no one else is. Fine. Rosenthal? Last nights sharp grounder to Rendon could have easily found a hole and Rosenthal would be back to being terrible. That had to wait until tonight. Why was he playing? Grace? Sipp? Guerra? And then putting Joe F’ing Ross in a tie game in the 8th inning. Yeah, JW is right. This is why DM is a bad manager.

Now Grace just felt like pissing all over this game as well. When is rains it pours I guess?

Robot said...

Atlanta wants to lose this one but Washington is insisting.

Robot said...

Wow, what a terrible ending to a terrible game.

PotomacFan said...

Nationals just released Trevor Rosenthal.

ssln said...

SSIN is on vacation. That is why he isn't commenting. Last nights game speaks for itself.

Froggy said... if on queue.

Froggy said...

How would you like to be Austin Voth and get recalled from FRESNO and have to fly cross-country get off the plane and start warming up to start today?

Just E'ffing brilliant management of resources Rizzo. And why the Flock of Seagulls doe DM leave Rosenthal in AFTER he walks his second batter?

PotomacFan said...

Voth was at Harrisburg. Just a 2 hour drive.

Nattydread said...

As a fan, I was rooting for Rosenthal to get better. Too bad that he wasn't able to straighten out. Very stupid of Davey to let him walk more than one. So here's my question:

Do the Nats have coaches and staff that watch guys like Rosenthal pitch, then clear them so Davey can decide to let him go out in a real game?

Does Martinez just throw him against the wall to see if he sticks?

Or is he a head case? Able to perform in the pen but unable to get it done in a real game situation.

I'm guessing its the latter, but wonder. Any thoughts on this? If its the first, then its on the coaching staff...

JWLumley said...

I think DM is a poor man's Dusty Baker. Super clubhouse guy. Always positive. Everyone loves him. When it comes to being a tactician and handling a bullpen he's incompetent, although, I'd add he doesn't have much to work with. However, this when managers make a difference, any idiot could've managed the mid 90's Reds bullpen. Anyone can manage the Yankees pen, the Nats really missed out when they didn't get bud black.

Froggy said...

You're right. I was reading the 26th man for the double header story.

Ole PBN said...

@Nattydread: Yes. Sometimes. Yes. ....”what we have here is a failure to communicate.”

This is both on Rosenthal and the coaching staff. Rosenthal clearly has some issues going on, and our coaches couldn’t cure him. Maybe another team will, maybe they won’t. But a lot of that has to do with the player pulling his weight in figuring out his own mess. Traditionally, the pitching coach has his finger on the pulse of the pitching staff (starters/bullpen); not the manager. Based on the pitching coach’s opinion, the manager will pull the lever on when to put a guy in the game. I think for his part, Menhart seems to be a little more focused on preparation and communicating with DM on who is available and who is not. Also, as some might imagine, a mound visit is 95% a stall tactic to get the next guy ready. Whatever problem the pitcher is having, it’s too late to fix it mid-inning (unless it’s a simple reminder of “hey don’t forget to pronate that changeup”). Otherwise, it’s all on the pitcher to right himself.

Rosenthal really blew this opportunity to reignite his career. The Nats blew this, in part because it was a failed experiment, part because it was a $7M failed-experiment, but mainly because they didn’t do their due-diligence in having him start the season in Harrisburg or Fresno. Instead they automatically penciled him in as our top setup man. It’s over. Later Trevor, thanks for nothing. But put the blame equally on him and the Nats FO/coaching staff.

Froggy said...

It is painfully apparent that this Nats team is literally one solid set-up man (ideally two) short of being a decent enough team to turn the corner.

Another subtle irony is that the ball club is pushing season plan holders to "lock in" for two more years but doesn't want to commit to the remainder of the season by getting the right BP pieces.

Our ticket rep said there was a substantial exodus of season ticket holders who didn't renew after last season, and the numbers are way down for this year as well.

blovy8 said...

Voth throwing 95 surprised me a lot. Too bad they did nothing against Tomlin, he also gave the offense a gift by hitting Soroka. Once it becomes a bullpen game, the Nats just don't have enough guys who can throw strikes. I saw that Rendon's leverage numbers are lousy, maybe we should be worried about that a little.

DezoPenguin said...

Saturday night was so painful. Rosenthal...well, after his success Friday, I can see trying him again with a four-run lead, though three straight walks was painful. And it didn't help that Rainey let all of his runners score plus one of his own.

But the move to put in Ross for the 8th was basically indefensible. Ross has been hot garbage in relief all season, was a good *starter* in the minors (which was presumably the original intention for bringing him up). If Rainey couldn't go another batter or two (Doo's rested; I can see the four-out or five-out save being a plan with a series win against a division rival) and Guerra wasn't available, then even Grace or Sipp would have been a better choice than Ross.

Like @Froggy said, a good set-up man is (presuming reasonable health) pretty much the difference between the Nats being a legitimate WC contender and fringe division contender (fringe because of the gap, not because of the team quality) and selling at the deadline. Two quality set-up arms would make the Nats someone no one would want to face.

PotomacFan said...

We all agree that the Nationals need one, if not two, quality set-up guys. The initial plan failed: Bear Claw for the 7th and Rosenthal for the 8th.

OK. But can anyone propose how we get those two guys? Nats have few prospects that are worth anything. They have to hold on to Kieboom. Do they give up draft picks? Is that enough? And the demand for quality relief pitchers is greater than the supply, increasing the "price".

And, even assuming the Nats have assets to trade, is the July trade deadline too late? What is the plan for now until the trade deadline?

DezoPenguin said...


First, I think waiting for the July deadline is too late. The lineup is healthy and producing. The starters are producing. A couple of the bullpen players (Rainey, Guerra, Suero) are at least guys you trust not to completely explode. If we wait around and watch the hopeless end of the pen cost more games, then by the July deadline we'll be out of the WC race and the question at the deadline will be "what can we get for Rendon, Kendrick, and Adams?" instead of what we can find on the relief market.

I would be talking to the San Fransisco Giants. They are in dead last place in their division, a team with no chance for a wild card. And the one place of strength on their roster is their bullpen. They have multiple good pitchers--no fewer than six relievers with sub-4.00 ERAs and FIPs both. Rizzo's got multiple options. He can of course consider extending Garcia towards the Giants and ask for multiple pitchers including Smith back. Or he can play around the edges. Dyson's on a one-year deal and he's not Smith-level great, but we need "adequate" rather than "awesome." Melancon is being overpaid. Watson has an option. Maybe the rebuilding Giants with their hellhole of an outfield situation would like to give Michael Taylor a shot to get full-time ABs in exchange for an expiring reliever? Maybe mid-level prospects or lottery tickets would be worth it to get the job done? Who knows? But it seems like there's a deal to be made there, because the Giants have a LOT of relievers to move and a LOT of needs everywhere else.

PotomacFan said...

@Dezo: I agree with you. However, why would the Giants make a deal before the trade deadline? They will want to compare competing offers, and some of those offers won't come until very close to the deadline.

DezoPenguin said...

@Potomac: I see three reasons why the Giants would at least listen.

On the one hand, if we're getting three and a half months of a reliever instead of two, that would increase the value going back. They can ask for more because they're giving more.

Two, baseball players get hurt, and a player who gets hurt is a player not getting traded.

Three, waiting for the deadline means a shrinking market. If the Nats crap out between now and the end of July, perhaps because their bullpen blows more games that we can't afford to blow since April-May basically ate up the margin for error, the Nats won't be trading for rental relievers at all. And the Giants have a LOT of rental relievers to move. It makes sense for them to hold on to Smith for the deadline unless they get blown away by an offer because he's likely the prize on the relief market this year and those in need will bid high. But the ability to juggle offers for the remaining group will be offset by the reduced demand.

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