Nationals Baseball: Don't screw it up - Part 2

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Don't screw it up - Part 2

The next 16 days feature 16 games, the last 14 against two of the best teams in baseball and another that is decent. The only break the Nats catch is that most of this stretch will be at home.  Still it's a brutal stretch and while it likely won't decide the Nats playoff fate entirely it could decide their NL East fate.

The Nats just opened up the 2nd half by beating the Phillies on the road. They also fell 1.5 further out of first place because the Braves have won 4 in a row. Now they stand at 7.5 back of the Braves and a bad run will leave them well behind going into August.  Impossibly behind? No. Historic comeback behind? Possibly. Go 2-5 or 1-6 and they'll likely be over 10 games out at the start of August. I don't think it's too much to say you can start gearing up for All Wild Card Race All the time. (In fact even 6+ out is probably enough but we'll deal with that at the appropriate time)

Around that these games will help set up the circumstances of the big Braves series and first off is two against the Orioles that they frankly can't lose. Not because they can't afford it schedule wise but because the Orioles are a garbage team and the Nats should beat them.

The Nats offense is still stumbling a bit. Rendon and Soto had a good series, so did Robles. I've been trying to say this for a while but the Nats offense is just not quite clicking and I think it's carrying over. Not that it's bad - it's been good enough in fact. But good enough won't cut it... eventually. The staff has been fine so far, with the bullpen doing it's job for all but one inning against the Phillies.

The Orioles are a bad hitting team with terrible pitching.  They are actually decent against LHP but may not face one. Voth tonight. Maybe Fedde tomorrow? Strasburg? Either way not a lefty. So they should be contained. Contain the offense and you win because the pitching is terrible. The bullpen is top to bottom bad with one guy Paul Fry reaching "ok I can see him on a major league staff as bullpen filler" level. And he's not good, he's just got a skill (inducing GBs) and does it so well you can work with it. They have some live arms like Givens, the assumed closer, and Armstrong but no one you can rely on regularly.

Which brings us to tonight! Because the other starter is Wojciechowski, who fits the "live arm you can't rely on" bill to a T AND they have to rely on him to try to get 5 innings. At his best "Woj" can strike you out and not walk too many but he can't overcome the fact that he also gives up way too many homeruns. At 30, he's generously org filler who for the Orioles means like 4th starter. If the Nats can hit their 2-3 homers with someone on base (which is quite possible because he isn't great with control and can be hit) it should be an easy win even if Voth gives up a little.  The next day the Nats get Aaron Brooks who has decent control... and that's it. He doesn't strike anyone out, gives up way too many hits and homers. He's also 29.  Ugh. This is terrible.  I guess occasionally things work out and they don't hit a homer and keep hitting it where they is and he gets a win but most likely he'll get knocked out in the 3rd or so, with the Orioles only hoping he can go 4.

The Nats should win and no excuses for the offense. They should beat up on this team scoring 6+ each game.

Kick this stretch off right.


DezoPenguin said...

No argument from me. The Nats need to win both of these games, especially with the brutal stretch upcoming. Our offense is substantially better than theirs, even with it not at peak efficiency (...please play Kendrick more, Davey), and these are pitchers who are at the butt end of a already-bad rotation, no better even than the guys we're likely to throw against them.

Anonymous said...

I expect the Nats to lose both games 1-0, just because that would be oh so very Nats like

Anonymous said...

It’s pretty incredible to realize that as great as the Nationals have played for almost eight weeks now, they’ve gained almost no ground at all on the Braves. They have probably been the two best teams in baseball over that stretch.

Anonymous said...

Is what it is other Anon. We can make up ground when we play them.

In the meantime, would love to see our bats heat back up this series. Would certainly help have a few hot hands going into the series this weekend.

I'm just happy to have a team to root for right now rather parsing through trade value potentials for Doolittle.

Anonymous said...

Fried going to the IL also helps us for the weekend, fwiw

TobiasCatsup said...

2-0 against the O's, split the Barves in ATL, 3-1 against the Rox, and then some combination of 3-3 against Dodgers and Barves?

I'll take 10-6, but this may be asking too much. I think 9-7 is more realistic given the possibility of no Scherzer this weekend.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. I would enjoy a post explaining why it is defensible to keep Kendrick as a bench player when the team is struggling against everybody but the Orioles on offense and Ryan Zimmerman/Matt Adams are objectively not as good. At least play the guy twice a series for God’s sake. (Ditto Suzuki over Gomes which is just as obvious).

BxJaycobb said...

Gomes has to be the worst offensive catcher who has gotten this much playing time of anybody this year in MLB. .591 OPS. That’s hard to do. Meanwhile Zim and Adams are sub-.800 OPS below average hitters and Kendrick meanwhile is hitting like .340 with a .930 or something OPS. How this continues to be a debate is extraordinary to me.

Nattydread said...

Interesting to see continual second guessing of managerial decisions and line-ups. Nobody likes Gomes, Zimmerman and (6 weeks ago) Dozier in the lineup. Seeing Grace inserted into a tied bottom of the 9th made me cringe.

But give the guy credit. Martinez has led the team on one of its best 7 week runs ever. He tries to use and get the best out of everybody. Given a bad bullpen, he worked with what he had. Not sure another manager could get what he got our the cobbled group of Grace, Guerra, Rainey, Rodney and Suero. He mixes up the position players, gives everyone a chance to perform. He coaches with the expectation that players will succeed or get out of slumps. That type of leadership gets team buy-in.

Zimmerman is difficult. He won't be released. He's the best bad defensive first baseman of the options and he needs to play to get hot (maybe he's done --- I understand...). But he's pretty useless off the bench (except against lefties).

Martinez manages to keep a hot bench players available for every game (Suzuki, Kendrick, Adams, Parra) and they seem to come through.

Lets see how he does for the next 15 games, sure. But he's led the team back to wildcard contention one game at a time. Give him credit.

Anonymous said...

I've read lot of down things on here the past month or so about Robles "not being great", but I just saw on Twitter that he leads the NL in outfield assists and leads MLB OF's in Outs Above Average...I'm not sure why it seems the gang here is disappointed in Robles somehow?

DezoPenguin said...

@ 4:18 Anon:

Probably because Robles was hyped up as a top-5, can't-miss prospect, and the Nats fan's frame of reference for those guys is Bryce Harper and Juan Soto coming up at age 19 and being legitimate star players immediately. And in his post-injury cup of coffee last year Robles put up a 131 wRC+, which is only a hair worse than Soto. What we're getting instead this year is a good baseball player, but one with definite flaws and room to grow in all three areas of the game, hitting, defense, and baserunning. We expected "star" or even "superstar," and what we're getting instead is "average Major League player," and it takes some time to adjust to that reality.

In other news, yay, we took care of business in Game 1. Voth settled down and pitched well (though I can't help but breathe a sigh of relief that it was against the Orioles, because a better team would have brutalized that first-inning wildness) and the offense was savage. (I find it vaguely entertaining that in a game where four guys get plunked including several of both teams' best players, nobody thinks any of it was at all intentional because of who the pitchers were...), and we managed to get through a win without using Doolittle. Let's hope today's game follows suit.

Anonymous said...

@DezoPenguin @4:18 Anon I definitely think sky high expectations are part of it, but Robles also made a lot of rookie mistakes the first couple months of the year (and honestly he still makes some).

The most glaring have been on the base paths but he had some Not Top 10 misplays in the field at the beginning of the year. The physical skills were always there, but people started to worry if he was less than the sum of his parts. Fortunately it looks like it's just rookie nerves. He's calmed down some and is playing like one of the best defensive OF in the game - his almost bored expression throwing out Nunez at second last night was really impressive.