Nationals Baseball: Three to get to fourteen with a two opener

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Three to get to fourteen with a two opener

The Nats schedule before the break presents them with great opportunity but it is not kind.  They will open at PHI for 3, then get a day off, then play 16 games in a row with no break. It's not a terribly taxing trip travel wise - BAL to ATL to DC, but anytime you play that many games in a row you open up the possibility of things getting out of whack.

We've talked about "an average team" recently and you figure this stretch an average team would love to go 10-9. The Nats are now aiming higher than that but 12-7 is a lofty goal. 11-8 is where I sit. You win both at BAL, either win the PHI series in PHI or split the ATL in ATL, take 6 of 10 at home with some combo of outcomes. 11-8 against this run would be a decent run indeed.  Where would 11-8 put the Nats?

58-50. Which is ok. Let's assume the beat Philly in Philly and beat ATL at home but split with ATL in ATL.  ATL... back of the envelope 9-9 so 63-46.  Philly...  9-8? 56-51   Cubs 10-7, 57-50. Brewers 10-8. 57-52...

This combination would have the Nats 4.5 games out of first, but with a 1.5 game lead on the WC over PHI and MIL. Let me check ARI... oooh looks a little easy... not easy enough though to definitely propel them past anyone.

OK that's a good estimate of where they Nats should be. You can see though a lot of variation. If the Nats go 9-10 and let's say that happens specifically because they lose the PHI series at PHI and ATL series the Nats would be 56-52. That's not terrible. But the Braves would be 64-45. 7.5 games up and close to effectively safe. The Phillies would be 57-50 and the ones with a 1.5 game lead on the Nats.

I'm getting lost in the weeds here a little but the general sense is that the
  1. The Nats will still be in it, by the trade deadline, especially so in the next week assuming they don't get swept by Philly and then they catch those 2 Orioles games they should win. So they should be active.
  2. The most likely scenario is the Nats continue to make modest gains. 11-8 would be great. 10-9 is also very much in play.
  3. Big gains (12+ wins) are unlikely, big losses (12+ losses) even more so, but even small losses (going 9-10 or 8-11) could have big effects. 
  4. Since there are a lot of H2H division games it does matter who beats who
It's a fascinating set of games really because right off the bat the Nationals, if they were to sweep Philly in Philly, would put the Phillies in a hard position. Nearly .500, probably trailing 2-3 teams for a WC spot... it's hard to see them leaning into a big trade deadline move. Then with 2 games against Baltimore the Nats should be close enough to catch the Braves in the next series. Granted that would require a 4 game sweep in ATL and this would be rolling off 9 wins in a row and no one expects it - but it COULD happen.  Flip it though and have the Phillies sweep the Nats and the Nats stumble and lose one to the Os and now the Nats are just over .500 trailing 2-3 teams in the WC and getting ready to head to ATL where they will likely lose 3 and fall under .500 and probably clam up at the deadline.

SO MUCH CAN HAPPEN. It usually doesn't BUT IT COULD!

I'm very excited here.


TobiasCatsup said...

This made my head spin but I'm not complaining! Give me baseball!

G Cracka X said...

Thanks Harper. Now, if you're Rizzo for a day at the Trade Deadline, and let's assume the average scenario here (say 10-9, give or take), what would you do? Buy, sell, or hold? And if you bought, throw out some reasonably sounding trades you would pursue

JWLumley said...

All the more reason that if they're going to deal for bullpen help, they should do it as soon as possible. See what San Francisco wants for Dyson.

coolsny said...

echoing GCX -

i still haven't heard of any reasonable trade scenarios for rizzo if the nats are in this situation still at the deadline (possession of WC, healthy). everything is going to be an overpay, and what we have seen over the past 7 years is these overpays come back to bite.

if they do make a move, i would rather they take on a bloated salary and go over the luxury tax than trade away more top prospects. maybe i'm the soulless one here, but this year I want them to HOLD. do we really think adding a couple good relievers means we would beat the dodgers or yankees/astros in 7 game series' this year?

i'm enjoying watching this team as is - if the right move is available to help the bullpen i'd take it but please no more melancon or papelbon-esque deadline trades

Anonymous said...

Excited for the trade target post :D

Treaples69 said...

Don't want to be a party pooper but we should wait a few weeks to determine what the actual market is? both for nats record and corresponding strategy and whether the bubble teams (Reds, Pirates, Padres) become sellers because they have some nice bullpen pieces

Anonymous said...

If the Nats were operating in a void, agree Trea, and that's how Rizzo seems to operate. But there's the risk that by waiting you lose the piece you want (available now but not then) so evaluation should really be rolling and conditional.

Anonymous said...

I'm with coolsny, you gotta hold. The farm is depleted, so who are you willing to give up in a trade?

I've seen Howie thrown out there, but he's one of the team's best hitters right now, no way.

Nobody's going to want Zimm, and if they do take him there will be no value coming back.

Maybe you throw Dozier out there and hope to bring back a halfway decent relief arm and call up Kieboom?

I personally just don't see any value to be given up by the Nats. There's no surplus talent at any of the positions. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, MAT gets some value with a small market team but then you have to find a pitcher on the market for that team

Anonymous said...

@Anon - you're throwing out garbage, you're going to get garbage back. Dozier has no value (too big of contract, not good). MAT I could see getting another filler guy - I'd be interested if someone would bite with one arb year left.

Howie at this point is more valuable in the AL as to keep him fresh he needs to stay off the field frequently (1.8 owAr , -0.6dwar). I could see a contender swap or a three way trade (Howie going to the AL, something in that team's farm going to SF, we're getting one of SF's BP guys). Eaton or one of our catchers is the only other piece that likely have value and are expendable. There are definitely a few farm pieces to shop as well (Romero, Gage, Antuna could all be sent out, admittedly I haven't followed very closely).

I get loving the hot hand, and Howie has been fantastic when he's been able to get in the lineup (or as a bench bat), so I have as much love for him as the next person. But I don't think staying put is an option, and we don't need another 5 ERA guy.

Harper said...

GCX - Buy. I'd go Stroman for Luis Garcia ++? Boyd for Denaburg, Romero & Raudy Read? Dyson for Wil Crowe?

The Nats depth past Kieboom is pretty lacking. Garcia is intriguing and very young but not having a great year. Denaburg is a 1st rounder with very SSS. Crowe might develop into a 4th or 5th in a couple years. Tim Cate is a question pitcher every team has in the minors. Antuna had TJ. Romero and Read are collapsing prospects. The lack of depth isn't knew but the feeling of having no next big thing in the minors is. Someone will develop into something decent but there's no real telling where that will come from for the first time in a while. Kieboom followed Robles, who followed Giolito, who followed Rendon, who followed Bryce, who followed Stras. It was supposed to be Garcia but he's not there.

Given the above, Tigers and Jays will both probably ask for Robles first, then Kieboom. I wouldn't do that move for either.

BxJaycobb said...

You don’t need to be trading top prospects to get expiring contract relievers. You can deal a package of a couple B and C prospects. The Nats farm is depleted but you don’t need blue chip guys to get rental relief pitchers. It may mean you’re not going to get, like, Colome for multiple years without giving up Kieboom for example. But you don’t need Colome or Trevor Bauer. You need a few better than average guys, or rentals who are competent. We had to deal Luzardo because we were getting multiple years of multiple high end relievers. We had to deal Vazquez because we were getting an elite closer. It’s not true that if you don’t have multiple top 100 prospects you have nothing to trade with. It just means you probably can’t get the absolute best pieces on the market.

BxJaycobb said...

The Nats aren’t getting Bumgarner or Bauer or Stroman with farm pieces. That’s probably right. But we don’t need those guys. We need a Kirby Yates or Will Smith. We probably have the resources for a play for those types of guys. Think about Craig Stammen for example. Of course we could get him. But Will Smith and Kirby Yates might require Kieboom. I guess I understand not wanting to do that. But the cupboard isn’t empty for the type of pieces the Nats want, which is competent relief pitchers.

Harper said...

BX - I think this is right. In a sense you get back what you are willing to deal. Most teams are willing to deal from their farm around 3 or 4th best prospect down (unless they were getting back something special) if the Nats do that that dictates that the best they can get is a middle reliever having a good year with MAYBE another year on the contract if they give up something closer to 3-4, and not if they give up something down around 10 or beyond. I guess it's possible to package for more but given the Nats talent without Kieboom or Robles you are looking at multi-piece packages from a system that's in rough shape with Robles "graduating" out and Garcia dropping a bit. At that point that trade HAS to work out because you start to get to the point where there's no help coming from either young players or old players you can trade the young guys for.

Treaples69 said...

The nats need to look at competent middle relief guys that are not going to take kieboom, denaburg- Garcia is probably expendable but you are selling low on the youngest guy in double aa. David Hernandez, jared hughes from reds would be perfect. Evan Marshall from white sox. Diekman from royals that is the type of arm the nats will get and that is honestly perfectly fine. Sam Dyson from giants is another example. You can fix the 7th and 8th without giving up the farm

coolsny said...

yeah ^^^ i suppose the upside this year is that we are not looking for that elite closer like in 2015/2016/2017.

still don't want to give up on poor Luis Garcia jUsT bEcAuSe HaRpEr DoEsNt LiKe HiM

ssln said...

You learn something new every day. I wan't aware that you were even capable of having emotion like excitement.

ssln said...

A win in the Wild Card gets you a trip to Dodger Land with Max not starting again until the third or fourth game. There is no reliever on the market that is going to change the odds of us winning that series.
You simply stand pat at the deadline and roll the dice. If Rizzo makes a trade and we loss the series, all the GMs on this board will complain that Rizzo was dumb depleting the farm trying to win a series that we had little chance of winning.
You guys wanted to trade Max, Stras, Rendon, Howie back in May. Good call guys!

Anonymous said...

No need to be so negative ssln. I'll admit I was thinking about how we could get a jump on the market back in May and see how we could reload for next season. I'm still not against it if the next few weeks don't go our way.

But if we are going to compete, we need BP help. 6.08 ERA still. I'd guess that a solid pen the first half of the season probably has us within a series of the Braves right now and cut above the pack in the NL. I can't imagine we get to the WC unless the BP arms magically improve or we add talent.

I'll take my chances in LA with Stras and Corbin being the first two up. A long way to go before that's even a concern.

ssln said...


My comments are neither positive or negative. They are simply facts and facts are neither positive or negative. People on this board cast my comments with their own preconceived notions.
The WC game is a crap shoot. Max could pitch a one hitter and we could lose 1-0 on an infield error. My opinion, and that is all it is, is that you can trade for two relievers and give up some more of the farm but the two relievers may never appear in the post season.
You see not only does Max pitch a one hitter but he goes all nine innings and we still lose 1-0. Anyway, you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine and we should both recognize that neither one is more correct than the other.

ssln said...

So generally I have the opinion that everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, when G Cracka X tells me that Bryce is having a year that is worth 36M with some laughable theory that he made up on the spot, I am willing to make an exception an say that he isn't entitled to any opinion at all.
At least that is my opinion.

Huzzah! said...

i get it now. ssln is ben shapiro

Josh said...

@ssln "Anyway, you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine and we should both recognize that neither one is more correct than the other."

Except that in October, if your version turns out to be correct, you'll be back on here insisting that the folks who were advocating to trade for a bullpen arm stand up and be counted so that all the world can know that they were wrong and ssln was right.

And I think that's why people say you are negative. Negative isn't the right word. It's that you seem to take pleasure in showing how you were right and everyone else was wrong, insisting that they repent and publicly say how they were wrong and ssln was right. I don't know if that's how you mean it but it's how it comes across.

BxJaycobb said...

1. No playoff series is anything more than a 60-40 probability. It’s that much of a crap shoot. Maybe a team superior in every facet makes it 65-35....but saying oh you’d get the Dodgers and it would be an almost certain good night is not what history tells us.
2. Nobody was saying trade those guys in May. They were saying if this team performs like this and we arrive at deadline with a Mets-like record, blow it up. That was rational.

BxJaycobb said...

Exactly. As FiveThirtyEight discussed recently (and I mentioned above), no MLB playoff series is more lopsided than like 60-40 max. Usually it’s closer to 50-50. It’s not the NBA playing the (old) warriors. If the Nats make it to NLDS after taking out the Brewers (or whomever), they have a very solid shot of beating the Dodgers. That’s just how baseball works.

BxJaycobb said...

@ssln. I guess here’s what I don’t understand. The Nats rebuild, or continued future competitiveness is not going to hinge on the players we give up to improve our middle relief. Because those players are going to be at best mediocre major leaguers, and many won’t make MLB. That’s the point, and why we aren’t necessarily advocating going ALL IN and dealing Denaburg, Kieboom, and Garcia for Stroman and, say, Will Smith and Kirby Yates. (By the way, sorry, why are we discussing trading somebody like Howie Kendrick who is not only critical to our 19 team but also of no use to a rebuilding club?). On the flip side, we improve our chances a very fair amount to make a charge in the playoffs, which (I’m sorry, it’s baseball, anybody can win). This whole “The Dodgers will beat us no matter what” theory is just not sound. Of the 23 100-win teams since WC was introduced, 3 have won the WS. Just as many 91 win or less teams have won during that span. Because the playoffs are a crap shoot.

I would like to introduce one other option. I don’t necessarily agree with it. But consider this possibility: what if Rizzo, and the Nats think
1. they’re not going to extend Rendon and will lose him.
2. There’s going to be a tough 3-4 year period coming up as more and more Braves (and Dodgers) prospects arrive in majors and the Nats don’t have a real shot at titles.
3. So why not take ONE MORE big swing in 2019, and empty the cupboard to get Stroman and 2 elite relievers and try to catch the Braves or win the WC and go deep into postseason? Sort of as a “our window didn’t go the way the we wanted and we owe it to ourselves to really truly go for it one last time.
4. And if that fails, then you start the rebuild next offseason. Trade everybody but Soto, Robles, and maybe Turner. Be bad for a few years, draft high, etc. basically do what the Braves did in 2014.
Now...I don’t think I would choose this route, but it’s not an irrational one.

BxJaycobb said...

I believe that if the Nats had Stroman and a solid 7-9 inning pen, they could catch the Braves. Without a big series of moves like that (which would require trading denaburg, Garcia, Kieboom, Romero, maybe even others) and leaving us with the worst farm in MLB)....I don’t think it’s likely catch the Braves.

BUT I think the intermediate route makes sense. Trade some 3-6 prospects to get the relief help they need and maybe try to luck into somebody to hold down the 5 starter spot, and get to the WC game and rely on Max (note that the other possible WC teams don’t have scary aces, except for arguably Nola).

****But I do think some of these choices are related to the Rendon negotiations. Signing him keeps them competitive next couple seasons....lose him and they’re unlikely to be in contention for a few years.

BxJaycobb said...


Anonymous said...

@ssln, I feel like I'm piling on here, sorry about that, but I wanted to respond. Yes I read your comment about facing the Dodgers and BP having no help there from the lens of "we might as well throw our hands up", which I'm guessing wasn't your intent based on the follow up. I do however want to note that no reliever could improve our odds isn't fact, it's an opinion, and one that's entirely based on context and who we add. A rockstar relief core would of course improve series odds, though that's not realistic. Reality is likely somewhere in the middle for an addition, which would almost certainly improve our odds of getting to the post season and give us a small nudge in playoff odds, though I agree a single game is a crapshoot.

No desire to get in the middle of other debates. I wish Bryce the best in his career except when it effects the Nats,

coolsny said...

harper what is the number on how many more wins/less losses we would have this season if rosenthal and barraclough were replaced with average arms over the first half?

gotta think it's at least 3. would be interested to know

Natter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.