Nationals Baseball: Sweep Them!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Sweep Them!

Being a soulless automaton giveth, but at times it taketh away. Last night was a prime example of that. Max's performance, one night after breaking his nose, inspired many, many not even Nats fans, to wax rhapsodic. But to the cold numbers and analysis programming that two days ago said the Phillies lineup stinks right now and yesterday said a broken nose shouldn't be a big deal for a pitcher* Max's performance was merely expected. It was great and all, because Max is great, but that's it. Strip the emotion out and there's nothing special here.

And that's why you come here! Strip the emotion!

The Phillies look dead right now. They signed Bryce and Cutch so they wouldn't have to use more than one of their clearly AAAA OF and they were probably expecting that to be Herrera. But then Herrera showed himself to be a criminal, they traded for Bruce, but then Cutch got injured, and now Bruce is on and off playing. Instead of zero, they are 1-2 deep into a mess they were hoping to leave behind. But this is what happens when you "plan to" and not "plan through". To start the year they set up a situation that was favorable... as long as everything went well. But everything rarely goes well for 154+ games in baseball, especially with each additional position you look at. "We don't want to dig into terrible OF depth so we have three OF we like" is a terrible plan.  It may also look familiar to Nats fans as this team has tried its own version of this, especially in the pen, for years now.

A few days ago the Yankees traded for Edwin Encarnacion. The reaction was mostly "Why? They have almost enough good players now and two coming back soon!" THIS IS WHY. Too many good players is a feature, not a bug. And maybe one day more teams will understand that. The Rays won't win a prize for being close to the Yankees and Red Sox and spending a lot less. There's no banner for most marginal wins per dollar. Arrrgh. Oh no emotion! Buzzzzz. Zzap!

As it stands right now, the Nats are clearly better than the Phillies. Just across the board better. We said that two days ago. It was set-up for a 3-1 series, and with a game gone 2-1. They have the 2 already so that third win and a sweep would be a nice bonus. I'll also note that Kapler is showing why he is also a bad manager. The Phillies have one good arm for the year in Hector Neris and one good arm right now in Juan Nicasio. They did see Nicasio for an inning last night, but haven't seen Neris at all. Instead Kapler tried to hold onto close games with an injury returning Pat Neshek and some guy with like a 6.00 ERA I've already forgotten his name.  Look, sometimes you have to do stuff like that. Throw guys in the fire to see if they've gotten better or to find someone who can handle it. Big games against your rivals is not that time though and the Nats are better for this mismanagement.

There is a couple of interesting players currently for the Nats.

Brian Dozier is rounding himself back into a usable player. His defense isn't plus anymore but he's recovered from last year and is doing ok. He's hitting homers at a nice rate too.  Of course we have to remember context. EVERYONE is hitting homers this year. I have 6 and I don't even play. So even with 12 now and on the pace for the high 20s he's not even average on offense yet.  BUT it's not important for Dozier to be good. He just has to not be bad. As long as he (and Robles) can chip in every once in a while from the bottom of the line-up, that's all the Nats need to keep pitchers working. Right now he's doing it.

Tanner Rainey has made himself into the set-up man with several effective outings. But you can't blame a Nats fan for having less than full confidence in a bullpen pitcher not named Doolittle. Is it real? Mostly yes. He's got swing and miss stuff and when he can harness that he's effective. Although it's limited his relief work years showed a depressed BABIP which suggests he can keep that down.  Not .214 down, where it is now, but on the lower end. There is a little worry that he could be homer prone - in very short stints in AA and the majors he was bombed hard, but you'd probably look at his GB/FB history and think at least that it won't be a major issue. Rainey's issue is going to be walks - which are still up there and likely going to keep him from being a true great relief arm. But we've talked about it before Hits, Homers, Walks.  If you can control 2 of three you'll be ok. Preferably not the hits/walks controlled, homers not combo but even that guy can be used. The best combo is the hits/homers controlled, walks not. It's still only 13 IP this year - he had more innings in AAA and they weren't as good. So we'll see. ultimately it's gonna be living and dying on control

*I mean, there are ways it COULD matter - it could effect his vision or breathing, or if for some reason they didn't manage the pain of it. But none of that seemed to be the case last night. in general it shouldn't. I'd imagine a standard cold might even be harder to pitch through. Not nearly as cool looking though.


G Cracka X said...

I went to the game last night, and it was a true joy. Watching Scherzer dominate with a black eye. The bullpen did well. The offense did just enough. Cold analysis is good, but emotion can be good too! It was a privilege to see 'Shiner Scherzer' carve up the Phillies. The only guy who seemed to consistently give him a little bit of trouble was a guy named Bryce (a scorching grounder that would have been a double if fair, a couple of full count walks).

And just when you thought things would get dicey, with Hernandez leading off the 7th with a hard-hit leadoff double, and Scherzer's pitch count already high, Mad Max buckles down and strikes out the side, including a pinch-hitting Realmuto. Straight money. Not having Rainey for the 8th made things nerve-racking as the lead was only 1-0 in the top of the 8th, but Suero did fine. His issues seem to mainly surface on the 2nd day of a back-2-back.

The Nats will probably not make the playoffs this year, but it ain't over yet. They're still enjoyable to watch, and competitive. Let's go!

Unknown said...

They need a couple more relievers. And cu Ryan Zimmerman

coolsny said...

when will Ryu fall off so that Scherz can get a 4th cy young

blovy8 said...

coolsny, Ryu is a Dodger pitcher so he can't stay healthy. It's an unwritten rule that since they have so much money and generally stockpile left-handed pitching so there's a dearth in the market, there has to be a risk factor. It has something to do with Sandy Koufax, but I value my life more than divulging information like that freely.

Ole PBN said...

“If ya ain’t first, you’re last!”

blovy8 said...

Harper, it's possible the Phillies do not consider us rivals any more than they would the Mets, etc. Our team is under .500 and has been playing .500 ball the last 10 games. I don't like Kapler, but why should he blow out his bullpen on the Nats?

Ric said...

Blovy, it isn't that the Phillies consider us rivals. It is that the Braves will most likely win the NL East, so the Phillies have to stay ahead of the Nats if they want the Wild Card. So you HAVE to win those H2Hs to get to the postseason.

blovy8 said...

We were further away from the Phillies than they were from the Braves when the day started though. We aren't going to catch the Phillies today, and they're still going to need to win games going forward. Also, doesn't Kapler have the reputation of not adhering to set roles in his bullpen, or was that just last year? It's also possible there was something wrong with Neris yesterday. Edubray Ramos wasn't a bad pitcher to use in the seventh, but I can't really explain them using Irvin since he very clearly stinks. Maybe they were hoping to leverage those guys later and expect to be able to score against the Nats pen.

Harper said...

what Ric said - while the Phillies don't have to be VERY concerned about the Nats right now, they have to consider them a threat given the pre-season expectations, recent years of play, and how well they've played recently. Given that the Marlins are their next opponent too it makes too much sense to push a little harder in these games to relax next series.

Nattydread said...

That's 3 of 6. So far so good. Atlanta will be tougher than Philly, but the Nats are playing their best baseball of the season. Mets in rear view mirror now.

The Braves are running away, having a better 10 game record than everyone in the NL East. Nats need to cool them off. 2-1 in this set will be fine.

Defense. Two really good plays by Turner. One by Eaton. Excellent catches at the plate by Suzuki.

Good decision by Davey to hold Strasburg until Friday's game.

JWLumley said...

Are the Nats going to have to have a bullpen game on Sunday? Because of the doubleheader, neither Scherzer nor Corbin will have had a full 4 days rest by Sunday. They need to win 2 out of 3 from the Barves Do that, and they're almost back in this thing, they'd be 6.5 back. Not great, but not insurmountable given the number of games they have left against Atlanta. However, a bullpen game on Sunday would seriously raise the difficulty level of being able to take 2 out of 3.

von_bluff said...

There's been an attitude adjustment with this team and it's fun to watch. They're loose and confident. Hopefully they can continue to roll. Winning cures everything.

Froggy said...

I agree with @von_bluff but would add, a reliable bullpen cures everything!