Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie The first turning/breaking point

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Quickie The first turning/breaking point

Technically any point in the season can be a turning / breaking point.  Go on an 0-11 or 11-0 run and have the team you're chasing do exactly what you need and suddenly things change.  But these are very rare because you are relying on unrelated events. You win, that's one coin flip landing heads. They lose, that's another.

But when you play head to head games - that's just one coin flip going your way to make things work for you. Your win IS their loss.  The Nats have 7 H2H games this week so they can make a move. But let's be honest about what this entails. Even if the Nats go 7-0 then are not going to be the favorites again. The other series for the Phillies are the Marlins in Philly - likely 2-1. The other series for the Braves is the Mets in Atlanta - likely 2-1. So a 7-0 run leaves the standings looking like this

ATL 44-34
PHI 41-37
WSN 40-38

So even the PERFECT run likely leaves the Nats still in third, a game behind Philly and 4 games behind Atlanta. Every game worse put the Nats in a worse position. 5-2? That's probably the goal we are looking for 3-1 vs PHI and 2-1 vs ATL making up games on both.

ATL 45-33
PHI 42-36
WSN 38-40

That's 4 games behind the Phillies and 7 behind the Braves. That's still an uphill fight. 3-4? Let's say they split PHI and lose the ATL series...

ATL 46-32
PHI 43-35
WSN 36-42

Now you are 7 behind Philly and 10! behind ATL.  I'm gonna say with half a season left - ya done.

So this is pretty much what I see barring some surprising bad play by their rivals* outside of the Nats series.

0-7  DONE
1-6  DONE
2-5  DONE
7-0  IN IT

For the series, here are the match-ups.

Arrieta vs Corbin.  Arrieta, an Eatonesque pitcher living off one great season and being part of the 2016 Cubs, goes first for the Phillies and he's been struggling. He's an average pitcher. Unfortunately for the Nats Corbin has been matching him. The Phillies are a fairly patient squad and mostly right-handed so it's not the best match-up for Corbin.

Eflin vs Fedde. This might be the biggest mismatch on paper amazingly. Eflin has been great this year with only a brief blip of issues. Fedde has oppostiely been bad this year with brief showings of decency.  Fedde's last few starts have been filled with phrases like "he really escaped that jam" so I don't like the Nats chances here

Pivetta vs Scherzer. This is actually NOT as big a mistmatch as it seems to be. Pivetta, since coming back from AAA seems to have figured things out. Not that I like him that much but the overall ERAs don't properly reflect this match-up. Of course that holds for Max too who has been Max. Just because it's not as big a mismatch, doesn't mean it isn't a mismatch.

Nola vs Strasburg. If this was one start ago we'd be saying an easy win for the Nats as Nola hasn't been himself all year. But Strasburg's bombing last starts gives you pause. Still you can't lay everything on one start and have to like the Nats here.

It reads pitching wise as a split, with the Nats slightly more favored to take 3 than the Phillies. How are the lineups doing?

Phillies - Kingery is super hot. Hoskins is getting on base and Realmuto is hitting. Bryce is walking again but basically getting one hit a game. The rest of the team is doing poorly.

Nats - Adams is super hot. So is Rendon. and maybe Howie. Suzuki is hitting well. Eaton. Soto. Turner. There is a little break at the end of the line-up with Dozier/Gomes/Robles struggling but the Nats are clearly hitting better than the Phillies coming in, caveats of course noted**

Bullpens? Nats have a couple guys (Grace, Guerra) doing well and the rest is.. well it's the Nats pen./ But two guys doing well is one more than the Phillies have right now (Nicasio)

So every way you look at it - you like the Nats better. A little better pen. A little better in pitching match-ups. A lot better line-up right now. This is set up for a Nats series win 3-1.  Make it happen

*Could they lose those series to the Mets and Marlins? Sure. They could also sweep em! So surprisingly good play could kill this as well.

**Aren't playing the same teams in the same places over the past week. 


DezoPenguin said...

Worth noting: Dozier has quietly been running a 156 wRC+ in June. So while Robles has been slumping (and Taylor has been ice-cold all season), Dozier finally woke up, making the 1B-2B rotation with Adams-Dozier-Kendrick actually a net positive, at last.

Hopefully Suzuki's going to be okay; not only has he hit as advertised but his defense has actually been better than expected.

I honestly don't think the Phillies are any better than the Nats are. Injuries and other issues have weakened the lineup, the starting pitching hasn't been great, and while the bullpen hasn't been Washington-bad, underperformance and injury have taken their toll. Chasing down the Braves will be a lot tougher; that lineup is really good and if they get their rotation sorted out they'll be a serious contender to the Dodgers. But I think WC2 is still firmly within reach for the Nats.

G Cracka X said...

What if the Nats go 4-3 this week, then 8-4 vs. Marlins-Tigers-Marlins-Royals? That would put them at .500 at the ASB. With a series at Philly and Atlanta right after the break (sandwiching a 2 game Os series), they may still be lingering around if they over-perform on that post-ASB road swing (not likely, mind you, but certainly possible).

I wonder if the Nats will have a big decision at the deadline to be buyers (and go for 2nd WC) or be sellers (maybe a re-tool and jump back in for '20; maybe trade expiring contracts + Max and Doo and rebuild for '21). Or maybe they will buy relievers and simultaneously trade other players?

I think no matter what happens, it will be interesting.

billyhacker said...

I am pretty excited to be going to the Scherzer start this week - it matters. Just writing that previous sentence seems like a substantial improvement over any sentence I would have written in advance of a home game since mid-may this year.

JWLumley said...

Maybe it's just me, but I noticed that Gomes was the catcher in both the Corbin and Strasburg starts. Especially in Strasburg's start, his stuff didn't look bad. I think the ball was carrying and because of that, he should have kept the ball down more. However, I'm yet to see starters get shelled when Suzuki is catching. Just Gomes. Given the way he hits, Suzuki should be starting 2/3's of the games.

Not really enough there to say that Gomes' game-calling is an issue, but I think there's a case mounting.

Zimmerman11 said...

Any chance Davey runs Scherz out there on short rest to hit ATL? Or pitch him short rest vs PHI so he also catches ATL? Isn't that necessary here?

The rest of the 1st half is vs MIA and DET and KC... so having one less Scherzer start in there is less valuable than having him vs ATL right?

Max will take the ball... does Davey have the brains and balls to do the right thing? I guess we still have 11 vs ATL in 2nd half... but only 7 left vs PHI after the ASG.

PotomacFan said...

No way Scherzer pitches on short rest. It's way too early in the season for that. It's not necessary at all. And you still have to win those games against the lesser teams, although, of course, it's not a two-game swing for winning or losing. The Nats have a 5 man rotation. Sanchez is pitching much better. Fedde isn't good, but he's a serviceable #5.

JWLumley said...

Yeah, I wouldn't pitch Scherzer on short rest. Too much risk for injury. Also, I don't know that it's going to get decided by 1 game given where they're at. Who knows, Braves could implode or go on a run.

blovy8 said...

Getting to .500 as quickly as possible is the first goal certainly. Even if the odds are against getting immediately into the Phllies' rear view mirror by sweeping them, if they can win the next several series going into the break, they will almost certainly get themselves past the Mets and Padres and be within that group of the Cardinals, Rockies, and Diamondbacks ready to take the second spot and make things really messy.

Harper said...

GCX - i basically played this out as the most likely scenario. The problem is the back half of the schedule is much tougher. They have only one easier stretch (@SFG, @NYM, CIN, MIL, @PIT). If you say they dominate that (11-5) and are simply better than .500 against the rest (30-26) you have them going 41-31... and finishing 86-76. That's not good enough.

The thing is - this combo - is exactly what you want to do for a season. You'll end up with 95+ wins if you can keep it up for 162. But the Nats didn't do that for 50 games. They basically did the opposite. Instead of 30-20 they were 19-31. Because of that even 110 games at a division winner pace isn't good enough. So even if the above happens... they probably should sell off because they have to be SPECIAL in those last 70+ games. Not just good.

DezoPenguin said...


Another problem is, if they get back to being good, what do they sell? If the team is good again, then clearly they're not going to bail on 2020+. So that means trading Max or the like is off the table, and even guys like Suzuki or Doolittle are better kept in hand. That just leaves the one-year guys: Kendrick, Dozier (if his bounceback continues), Adams, and of course Rendon if they can't extend him.

(The Rendon situation, of course, is the defining question, because there's three scenarios and the team needs to get in the right lane:

1. The team is in contention. Retain Rendon, try to extend him, QO him if they can't.
2. The team is not in contention, but Rendon can be extended, so do that.
3. The team is not in contention, and the team and Rendon are too far apart on an extension; he must be moved so long as there's an offer more valuable than a compensatory draft pick.)

Anonymous said...

The schedule is very unbalanced. We saw Mets and Phillies early and often and almost no Atlanta. After the ASB, we still will have 14 games against Atlanta, including seven in September. Nats pitching/hitting well is the key...the games behind is terrible, but can be surmounted if we continue to beat Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

I just want something decisive. Either make it clear that you're out, or make it clear that you're back in it. Just please don't go 4-3 or 5-2 and leave us in a situation where we have to watch 3 more months of mediocre baseball because you didn't buy or sell at the deadline

ssln said...

The season ended six weeks ago. Hope springs eternal among the faithful. I told you that they are an average team which is better than where they were in April. There was no run last year so why expect one this year?
Harper just isn't being honest with you. Signing Bryce has made a tremendous difference to the Phantics this year. Clearly that sub 1 WAR means that they got a steal at 25M a year.

Harper said...

ssln - to be fair if you look at the OFs the Phils would have used that's probably like a 3 WAR improvement

blovy8 said...

You expect ssln to be fair? Baseball has 50 game seasons according him. I guess no baseball fan should be happy unless they live in Houston.

Mr. T said...

Guys, ssln TOLD US the Nats are an average team. And yet we persist in contradicting Him!


Anonymous said...

I know, right?

I mean, do you people even know about free cash flow?

ssln said...


It is clear you know nothing about FCF.

ssln said...


You can make an argument that Bryce is worth 25M/year with a 0.5 WAR as of this morning?
I would suggest that you are risking your credibility on this argument.

ssln said...


The Nats have already played 71 games, not 50 as you said. The season has already passed you by and you don't even realize it. Try and keep up.

blovy8 said...

At least you don't bother pay close attention to what you write either - your first sentence was "The season ended six weeks ago.

blovy8 said...

Such as me leaving out a "to" or a closed quote - so we're even.

Anonymous said...

SSLN is that guy we all know who, prior to 2018, would claim to be a huge Capitals fan even as he reveled in getting to be the one to say "I told you this wasn't their year" every time they were knocked out of the playoffs.

Strangling Stupid Loser Nats said...

Is that you Jonathan Paplebon? Choking the fun out of watching a team is playing far better than it was a few weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Looks like even Max is doing everything he can to distance hinself from this team.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember ssln’s monologue on how people pay a lot of money for his financial advice? On a baseball blog? An elephant never forgets...

Anonymous said...

Intellectuals like ssln and myself know that all of your problems are basic economics, but Harper is too stupid to see it and is leading you all blindly into Gehenna

W. Patterson said...

So we get two postponed games in a row and the discussion bends toward reacting to ssln? One can only hope that they get at least one game in today.

DezoPenguin said...

Like all seasonal blogs, be they about sports, TV shows, or other media, the hiatus quickly decays into rambling horrors.

Froggy said...

@ssln, I've always been curious, what does ssln stand for / mean?
Not trolling, just curious.

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