Nationals Baseball: That was fun

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

That was fun

That was fun. Crazy comebacks are always fun*. 

That should be it.The Nats, as we've discussed ad naseum, are making the playoffs and doing it by skirting the fine line between NL East contenders (they really aren't) and fighting for a WC spot (they really aren't).  With no immediate, only potential, drama on either side that should give you the opportunity to enjoy things in front of you. A lot of you noted that when I complained about the lack of excitement. Enjoy Soto being the best 20 year old**  Enjoy Rendon's push for MVP and big big money. Enjoy professional ABs at the bottom of the line-up. Enjoy great pitching when it happens. And revel in something crazy awesome like last night.

And do that all in a pure sense. Not by finding greater meaning because by now you should know there ISN'T any. The Uggla game didn't propel the Nats to greatness. Dozens of close losses didn't doom the team.  The Nats are a very good team that will make the playoffs. We don't need to dig into that further to find something "greater". Let it be. ENJOY THIS DAMMIT.

And if you do need to look at this toward the playoffs - don't take away from a short not really effective Max start and another bullpen implosion against a .500 team four good things and one bad one.

Want to make something more? Some recall of past playoff success indicators -

2014 : ZNN's no-hitter
Every team says it wants to peak at the right time. But this is preposterous. The Nats have baseball’s best record since the All-Star Game (45-24) but have gotten progressively hotter, turning the dial from sauna to inferno. Since Aug. 12, excluding three games when they rested most regulars and skipped their normal rotation because wins weren’t needed, they’ve gone 33-10. That’s the real team

If this team doesn’t do well in the postseason, it’s going to give a bad name to perfect preparation. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. But it’s a pretty good place to start looking.
“We’ve had all these pieces, but they didn’t all click at once,” Storen said. “Then they did. And it’s snowballed now for months. A good snowball."

But this game had an extra element — a sense of foreshadowing. On a splendid afternoon, a roaring house on South Capitol Street experienced a historic game with an indelible final moment; it felt like a fitting coda to the season but also a perfect prelude to the playoffs. 
2015: The Dan Uggla game

Pointing to one game in April as the turning point of a 162-game, six month baseball season — particularly a few moments after that game has finished — is a risky venture. But whatever happens the rest of the way, the comeback the Washington Nationals staged Tuesday night, capped by a three-run home run by Dan Uggla in the top of the ninth, will feature prominently in the narrative of this season.

There are many key moments in any season. Teams find their identity — yes, their “narrative,” for each season — continuously over many months. But all those potentially pivotal moment are not created equal. This one, at least for April, feels quite large.

2016: Hitting all the checklist marks
All this is nice, but the potentially important news for the remainder of the Nats’ season is just arriving now. If Stephen Strasburg (15-4) rejoins the rotation at full strength and Joe Ross regains his form enough to join the bullpen as a playoff power arm, this team finally has all the pieces in place to reach maximum potential at the perfect late-season moment. Maybe it won’t happen. But how often do so many factors come together just as every team hopes?

Sometimes, amid baseball’s daily aggravations, we forget that the Big Checklist is doing quite well.

Get an elite closer to replace bad-karma past-expiration-date Jonathan Papelbon? Mark Melancon checks that box with a 0.66 ERA in his first 15 games with the Nats. The ninth inning is now so boring.

Bolster bullpen depth with a rookie who throws 98 mph, but has three other fine pitches and a wonderful bad attitude? Hello, Koda Glover.

Who’s getting more good news at the right time than the 77-55 Nats, who have the second-best run differential in MLB behind the Cubs?
Hard to find one in 2017. Without the season long break from the playoffs the existential dread of the variability of losing in the playoffs still hung over the WaPo's sports desk. But you get the point. Everything looks good (or bad!) going into the playoffs. Then you win (or lose!) and you re-write the season to fit the ending.  So pay no attention to the people trying to draw conclusions from a mid-September game that haven't learned the lessons of past years. The Nats will make the playoffs and do whatever they do with a team that has put together a great rotation, supported a very good line-up with a bunch of professional cast-offs, and watches as their manager grinds any good bullpen arm into dust leaving them with a 6th-9th as bad as any teams.  Que sera, sera.

*unless its against you or it's a team you hate doing it, of course

**though not best in XXX ABs anymore. the comparison was fun but Past Trout is going on a crazy run that basically never stops now.


Treaples69 said...

I think this was a step in the right direction for Max. He got ambushed in one inning but had the good fastball and offspeed pitches in the other innings. He is not "Mad Max" yet, but as Harper said if we are really cheering for nothing as in all likelihood he are in solid position for wild card but not for division. Then allowing for him to take his time and build back up is fine. If he is not Max by the second Braves series and the phillies series then I worry and Strasburg is probably the Wild Card starter

coolsny said...

Watched the game yesterday on the Mets broadcast, and man, Darling and Cohen are just leagues above FP and Carp. Knew this already, but it was so nice to listen to them call the game. Darling has great insights, and Cohen doesn't get over excited and throw out corny lines.

BxJaycobb said...

@coolsny. Couldn’t agree more. Since I’m not in dc, i watch every Nats Mets game on mets feed when i can and it’s honestly just so nice. Frankly a decent percentage is I just cannot stand listening to a BS homers broadcast, and they’re honestly not homers. At least not compared to any other local crew.

@Harper. I said this to you on Twitter, but I guess—especially with how bad our pen is (why is it Davey’s fault?)—I just don’t think it’s true that the Nats have a WC spot wrapped up. Their remaining schedule is brutal enough that they really could realistically go like 9-15 to finish without something weird happening. All they need is to have a bad month and what would normally be a .500 period ends up 3 games worse than that because of the really tough competition. I know it would take Nats tanking, but I guess what I’m saying is the Nats haven’t consistently beat very good teams at any point this year, and all it takes is consistently losing to very good teams (they have 3 games against a losing team and the **majority of their games are against teams that are better than them by record.) they just lost a series to a team that’s worse than basically anybody they will face rest of the year. It’s not always simple to go .500 against good teams, especially if say Corbin slumps for first time this year and Max can’t get back to normal simulateously. It also helps to never play Howie Kendrick, who is hitting like .325 with a .580 slugging % or something. That also helps.

BxJaycobb said...

@harpergordek. Here’s a scenario where the Nats go 9-15–would qualify as Nats tanking—where no series goes super weird/out of ordinary (this obviously assumes they are playing worse in general than they have for a few months, but that happens):

7 games vs Braves: (3-4) plenty of competitive games, but pen blows multiple of the close ones and they lose 2 starts from the start due to terrible pitching from Sánchez/Ross.
3 vs Cardinals: 1-2. No explanation necessary for this. cardinals have been white hot.
3 vs twins: let’s say the Nats get swept by the twins in a 3 game set. 0-3. Twins are excellent and still playing for something at this point/have been white hot also. Or if you prefer, Nats go 1-2.
3 vs Marlins. 2-1. This seems like the expected outcome. They simply don’t get another sweep.
5 vs Phillies. 2-3. I would say expected split would be 3-2 Nats, so this is just one game flipping.
3 vs Indians. 1-2 or 0-3. Indians are good. Will be playing hard probably to try to get WC. Nats simply lose the series or let’s say in scenario where Nats don’t get swept by twins, they DO get swept by Indians.)

That’s 9-15 right there (again, in the above it assumes the Nats get swept once by either twins or Indians or cardinals and take 1 of 3 in other 2 series). Nothing above is weird, it just is a string of not winning multiple tough series in a row. (Or maybe winning one Braves/Phillies series then being “swept” in the other).

BxJaycobb said...

I guess what I’m arguing is, the Nats can “tank” without playing like somebody replaced their bodies with the marlins/Padres/giants...I don’t think any series result outlined by me above would qualify as an actually surprising outcome other than whatever time the Nats get swept by a 95+ win team.

Max David said...

So....after this lost series against the Mets in which they were incredibly fortunate to not get swept they trail the Braves (7 games) by almost as many as they lead for at least the 2nd Wildcard (6 games up on the Phillies who are the first team out). They have 7 games left and if by some miracle they somehow win all 7 they are tied. The problem is, there would still be 2 weeks left with no head to head matchups after the 2nd series in DC (the easiest way to make up ground because in essence you gain 2 games) and the Braves, even with only 6 home games remaining after the Nats leave town on Sunday have by far the easier schedule (10 games with the Phillies & Mets who they have completely dominated this year, 3 with the Giants and a 2 game set in KC [though they did lose twice to KC back in July though they weren't playing well]) and are probably the hottest team in baseball at the moment. So, even if they were to get swept in all 7 games, with the remaining schedules I think the Braves make up at least a game and win the division anyways. So, at what point do we officially waive the white flag on the division and concentrate on holding off the Central triplet and whatever the 3rd East team ends up and nab 1 of the 2 Wildcards, if the division white flag is not raised already?? The disconcerting thing is even if they win 3 of 4 which would be a good weekend they are still 5 back in the division, so that's why I'm thinking anything other than a Nats sweep and we can officially close the book on catching the Braves for the division, and even then it would still be difficult, even at 3 back, with what I posted above about remaining schedules.

BxJaycobb said...

@Max David. The division race is over. If you are a nervous fan as I am, I have switched my focus to wondering if the Nats and their brutal schedule could lose the WC spot to DBacks which have a very easy schedule and are hot. That would knock them out of playoffs. (It won’t be the Mets or Phillies—mets because too far out and Phillies because schedule is too tough to make a run. Watch the DBacks if you want to worry.)

Treaples69 said...

Its less if they are going to not make playoffs and who we play in wc game. Stop freaking out for no reason.

Sammy Kent said...

Stop fawning over the Mets broadcasters. IMHO they suck. Darling. Perfect name for someone that sounds like a girl. He sounded like a girl when he called Nationals games and he still sounds like a girl. I was happier the day he left than I was the day Matt Williams got canned. For that matter stop fawning over every other team's broadcasters. Bob and FP are great. I love them. Lots of us do. Some people just have to bitch about something...or everything.

We're going to sweep in Atlanta, BTW.