Nationals Baseball: Update : Other teams lose too

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Update : Other teams lose too

It seems like one of the things that drives the Nats fans pessimism is the idea that the Nats are losers who will always lose and the other teams are winners who can't stop winning. Not true! The Nats sometimes win (I promise) and other teams do in fact lose. The Cubs and the Brewers both lost yesterday keeping them 1.5 games behind the Nats and setting up the following reality.

If the Nats go 5-3 in the next 8, like they should, the Cubs and Brewers have to go 6-1 in the next 7 to catch them. Six and one! Very hard to do!

Again - if the Nats just do what they are supposed to do, it's very likely they will get in to the playoffs. It doesn't protect you from wildly successful 14-2 finishes to seasons, sorry. But it does protect you from the normal range of wins and losses.

While Nats fans are worried about the Cubs and Brewers, the Cubs and Brewers are very worried about eachother (the loser is out) and the Phillies and Mets who are now within a series of catching them.

FWIW if the Nats can win 2 of 3 and the Phillies go 0-4 or 1-3 in the next 4 then their games will be completely uninteresting as even a 5 game sweep can't catch the Nats (and I don't really care about - well what if they sweep and THEN win... situations).  Personally I hope that doesn't happen and at least that first game matters. But again, my team is just playing out the rest of the season to see what level of HFA they have and hoping only to lose 4 more players to injury.

Yesterday Rule Check
1. Did Kendrick start? YES. And he went 2-4. Nats need more Howies.  By the way - does Howie need a rest. Don't know. Don't really care to be honest. If he begs out - ok sit him. But otherwise wait until goals reached and then give him a day off.  That means winning first two in Miami with him starting at least.

2. Did they reasonably pull the starter? ehhhhhhhh. Well the answer is clearly no but we can argue about where it went wrong.  I'm of the opinion they should have pinch hit for him in the 6th, with a man on second and one out. I think Max's effectiveness was pretty questionable before that (double in 4th, two singles in 5th) that you weren't pulling him too early. Plus the injury.  I'm also of the opinion keeping Max in was at least defensible... but then after the "double" and single I think you have to pull him. If he can't put away Edman, he's over 100, and he's returning from injury what's he doing here? Do you really think he's still the best option? Bring in Doo to get Weiters. Go to Hudson next and hope to pull out the game. 

3. Did they reasonably use the relievers? Well by the time the relievers came in it was B-Team time and Rainey is as good as any of those guys.  Using him for all the 9th, sticking with him when it looked like he was going to be in big trouble was the right move because a comeback was almost assuredly not going to happen. Now everyone but Rainey has 2+ days rest and will be available as needed for MIA.

OK take a breath and watch to see how everyone else does today.


DezoPenguin said...

The one thing that sticks out about this game is that Max really doesn't look to be back up to speed. By no means is he bad--a hook after the sixth would have preserved a solid performance (6 innings, 2 runs) against a playoff team. But unless he really turns it on over the next two starts, I'm sliding into the "Strasburg or Corbin starts the WC game" category. At least this isn't like 2016 when Stras was injured and the playoff rotation was Max, Tanner, and the power of prayer; it's nice when your #3 is legitimately a #1 (by fWAR, Corbin is twelfth in all of baseball, and of the guys ahead of him three are Astros and two are Nationals, so he'd be the ace of the staff on 22 out of 30 MLB teams).

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I imagined this, but I'm pretty sure on the "double" to right Eaton just totally misplayed the ball and started running in before realizing the ball would carry. It should have been a fly ball easy out if he just stays put and then trots back. As for all the other hits - sometimes texas leaguers are going to texas leaguer.

Treaples69 said...

I disagree he got the swings and misses and was beating people with the fastball. Edman hit a good pitch and he got blooped and blasted a little bit plus the misplay. Max is back and fully expect him to pitch well against phillies and then throw game 162 or wc game

Mr. T said...

Thanks as always for the dose of reality, Harper. It's hard to be optimistic when your team always seems to fail in crucial moments. But there's always a chance it doesn't happen this time, I suppose!

Natitude said...

That was an awful game yesterday. Getting beat by Edman and Welters? Man that chaps my hide no end.

Ole PBN said...

No to get ahead of ourselves, but my optimistic side is wondering what lineup DM will put out there in the WC. If we're facing CHC, it will most likely be Lester, so I would assume its Cabrera at 2b and Howie at 1b? That is my hope at least.

Reality: Zimm will play 1b and Howie will come in for a "crucial" pinch hit situation in the 8th inning. :(

Ole PBN said...

Dezo, I agree on Corbin, 22 other teams would vault him straight to #1. But he's not the ace on his own team. He's #3. If we lose that game with Scherzer on the bench, I don't know how I can justify that decision. If we lose with Max and Stras sits... I can live with that... I think... lol. Oh boy :/

Mr. T said...

Zim is definitely starting the WC game (if we get there), regardless of the pitcher, no ifs ands or butts.

Harper said...

harper - the way I see it is you have three aces. Mas was the clear ace of aces but with Max not yet MAX, you pitch either the one pitching the best leading in or Corbin if the team specifically has issues with lefties. Don't think about deserve.

Harper said...

not sure why I directed that at myself

Just talking to myself said...

It's ok. We all talk to ourselves.

Another thing to consider regarding the starter for the WC is the natural place in the rotation. Depending on how things shape up to end the season, who knows who will pitch in Game 162, but right now it looks to be Scherzer.

If the Nats take this thing down to the wire needing a win in that game for HFA or for just another game (tie-break or WC, whatever). Scherzer probably pitches and that would negate his pitching next. If it is a meaningless game, he sits and then the Nats have ultimate flexibility since Stras will have pitched 3 games prior.

FWIW, I'm on team Stras in the WC right now. But either way, whoever pitches the WC will likely only start once in the NLDS.

coolsny said...

I would be fine with Corbin starting the WC...why is nobody mentioning him? I think I would like Strasburg LEAST in the WC.

Treaples69 said...

Corbin is pitching saturday of last weekend of series. I guess they could lock everything up before then and not have to start any of the big three

Sammy Kent said...

The trouble with the question "Did they reasonably use the relievers" is that it is almost always IMHO a results-based evaluation. Any bullpen move with these pitchers, including-regrettably-Doo, is an out-and-out crap shoot. If it works out, then it was a reasonable use. If it doesn't, well, you can't always say it was the wrong move because who knows what another guy might have done? Might have been better....might have been even worse. And the standard rules of use don't work with them either. Any one of those fellows could work four straight days and still look like Cy Young. They could also come in fresh off two days rest and look like Cy Clops. I used to wail and moan and gnash teeth whenever Grace started warming up, but none of Rainey, Guerra, Suero, Strickland, Rodney give me the remotest feeling of confidence either.

I've been very thankful lately for Ken Burns' "Country Music" documentary for giving me a genuine quality viewing alternative.

BxJaycobb said...

@coolsny. Out of curiosity, why would you want Stras least? He’s been the best postseason pitcher of any of them. Corbin barely has any playoff experience at all. I’d rather not have a guy out there who is either (1) not pitching well at the time or (2) having a fairly new experience. Either way though, I am in favor of using TWO of the three in the game. The Nats basically cannot win games where the starter goes less than 6 innings. Now if you can limit the bullpen to throwing 1-2 innings, you’re in great shape. Unless max is absolutely dealing, I would have one of the other 2 be warmed up and ready to come in starting in inning 6.

@Harper. I don’t think we fans are saying “the Nats will always lose and the other teams always win.” I think it’s more that it’s hard to get excited for the mere possibility of a wild card team when the Nats are playing so poorly. The fact is, if they get in, they will have the single worst bullpen ERA for a playoff team in MLB history. That combined with a lineup that, when you come down to it, is 2 studs, a couple meh hitters, and a collection of probable outs. Obviously anything can happen in the playoffs, that’s true....but at no point this season, including their hot streak, did they seem like a team that could beat 3-4 excellent teams in a row. They never had to, sure, but all year their play against good teams has been fairly anemic.

Jay said...

They did sweep the Cubs in Chicago. The Cubs have been streaky, but that isn't bad. I don't disagree that at times I have wondered if the Nats deserve to make the playoffs with the way they have been playing. However, with everyone's remaining schedules the Nats are still predicted to end up with the 1st wild card spot according to most websites. We need to beat the Marlins and beat the Phillies. Ideally, they sweep the Marlins and beat the Phillies or win 4/5 from the Phillies. Who starts depends in part on who they play and how Max is doing down the stretch. It doesn't really matter that much who starts anyway. Unless the Nats are running away with it, I would guess 2/3 if not all 3 pitch in that game anyway. Think Clayton Kershaw closing game 5 after winning game 4.

No one wants to play the Nats in the post season. It cuts both ways. I agree the offense has been anemic, but you can't tell me that people look at Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin and think - I hope we play them. The Nats just need to suck it up and beat the crap out of the Marlins and the Phillies and they are right back where they wanted to be at the beginning of the month. They have been resilient all year. I think they will do it. Believe it or not, I think they miss Martinez' unstoppable optimism. Hopefully, he's back tomorrow night.

coolsny said...

Strasburg has been so up and down this season - if he gets into one of his "oh I'll throw 50 pitches in the first two innings today" then we are screwed. I mean obviously the same could potentially happen with Corbin but I'd rather start Corbin and have Max in the pen for a potential 3rd inning entrance if things go off the rails early.

I guess I would prefer either Corbin or Strasburg starting in this scenario with Max waiting in the wings at the first sign of trouble.


Someone who has never managed a baseball game in his life.

Max said...

@BX I agree with a lot of your comments, but have to disagree with you on the lineup here. I think you are being too pessimistic. We have 3 studs (including Kendrick here), two solid hitters at the top of the lineup, and then 2-3 guys who can definitely be meh, but also at times have been really solid (Cabrera, Robles, Suzuki/Gomes). I dont see the automatic outs like MAT use to be. They are def inconsistent, but they have more than 2 hitters who are better than "meh".

SM said...


Almost as much hurtin' in "Country Music" as rooting for the Nats.

W. Patterson said...

@coolsny - Didn't the Nats bring Max in in a relief role in a playoff game a couple of years ago? Several earned runs later, he left - and the game was out of reach.

I think starters are starters because they need three days to get ready to pitch. Asking them to do it on short notice is asking for disaster.

Sammy Kent said...

If starting Strasburg in the WC game will encourage him to stay, or if not starting him will cause him to consider more seriously opting out, then start him. IMHO he deserves it anyway, and I'm sure in HIS mind he deserves it. But for some reason he's always been passed over for Max in these elimination games, and the results are, frankly, not good. Give Stras the ball.

Anonymous said...

Strasburg is passed over for Max in these types of situations because Max is, quite simply, a better pitcher. Strasburg is an excellent MLB starter. He has an ironclad case to be considered one of the ten best starters in MLB over the last five years. He has a decent - but not ironclad - case to be considered one of the best five starters over that same period. Max is simply in a different category. He has a decent case to be considered the single best pitcher in MLB over that time period, and no reasonably person could rank him any worse than third. If this - performance over the last five years aggregated - was all the information you had, choosing Stras over Max to start any do-or-die game would be the height of idiocy.

But that's not all the information we have. Performance from several seasons ago probably shouldn't inform a decision about who to start in a game occurring this year (however, performance from several years ago surely IS informative about how to *interpret* performance this year - this is how we knew that Ryu's early-season performance this year was unlikely to continue). The thing is, Max has been a lot better than Stras *this year.* He's outperformed Stras in 2019 by every conceivable metric except for innings pitched. If Max is healthy, he starts the first available win-or-go-home game full-stop. Any other choice is indefensible. So the only relevant question is whether he's healthy, which should not be a results-driven exercise. Max's 11 Ks the other day are more relevant to me than the fact that he gave up a BABIP special and a homer to the corpse of Matt Wieters during his last inning. If he looks like the same guy during his next start, then the choice is obvious.

Sammy Kent said...

Max has outperformed Stras by every conceivable metric?

This is the only metric that matters:

Strasburg 17-6
Scherzer 10-7

You can take every other metric and stick them somewhere. Fact is when all the marbles are on the table I'd rather see 2019 Strasburg on the mound than 2019 Scherzer all day long. Max has given up WTF dingers to the most unlikely hitters all season long. I don't care if he strikes out 27. If you would make all your managerial decisions solely by sabermetric statistics you're no better than PBN Matt Williams or Davey Martinez.

Anonymous said...

It's 2019 and you're defending W-L record for pitchers, Sammy. The only people who think W-L record matters for pitchers are know-nothings, dinosaurs, and people trying to generate clicks.

Scherzer has given up some dingers to unlikely batters, sure. But 10.7% of flyballs hit off him leave the yard, compared to 16.1% for Strasburg. If you (appallingly) prefer totals instead of rates, Scherzer has given up 16 and Strasburg has given up 23.

Scherzer is better, period.

P.S. If you think Matt Williams made all his managerial decisions solely by sabermetric statistics, you don't really know what sabermetric statistics are.

Anonymous said...

P.P.S. Matt Williams and Davey Martinez are both better than me at managing a baseball team, even though they make mistakes. I'm also going to go out on a massive limb and say they are better at it than you too.

Sammy Kent said...

@ Anonymous:

Your statement about only dinosaurs and know-nothings caring about W-L is so ridiculous on its face that it hardly merits a reaction except for rolling eyes. If that is really true, then that alone proves how dumb sabermetricians are. My point about Matt is not that he used sabermetrics, but that he had a rigid system and stuck with it no matter what (hence his PBN moniker), which is exactly what it seems to me that virtually all the sabermetricians do. And it's stupid. You cannot reduce a game of human endeavor to an abstract statistical common denominator and allow that to govern its management to the exclusion of everything else. Human beings do not behave, act, or react in perfectly quantifiable manners.

During the Civil War all the military geniuses and strategists tried vainly to get President Lincoln to relieve General Grant of his command. They had all the arguments in their favor. He was a poor tactician. He was a poor disciplinarian. He drank too much. He graduated lower than almost everyone at West Point. He was a business failure. He didn't understand anything about logistics or modern warfare. They were 100 percent correct. For gosh sakes, IT WAS THE 1860s. Wake up, Lincoln. It's a new day in military science. But Lincoln said simply, "He fights."

You can call me whatever you wish, and you may quote every metric in the book and it won't change my mind about starting Strasburg when the stakes are the highest. He wins.

Anon said...

A pitcher's W-L record is an exceptionally poor metric to use to identify whether one pitcher is better than another. The reason is because it measures a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with how good a pitcher is, such as how many runs the pitcher's own team scores. It was never defensible to evaluate pitchers based on W-L record, but it was at least understandable in an era when we didn't have many other measures to use. Now we have dozens, literally dozens, of ways to measure pitcher performance that (1) explain what happened better than W-L record and (2) predict what a pitcher is going to do in the future better than W-L record. And it's not just sabermetricians that ignore a pitcher's W-L record, it's every human being that populates general managers' offices for all the teams in major league baseball. So, far from being "the only metric that matters," it matters not at all.

And I'll tackle only one of the many strawmen in your post, which is that using data to analyze players requires following the data to the exclusion of everything else. That is absurd. Surely things like health matter, as does a pitcher's performance against same- or reverse-handed pitchers. If the WC opponent featured a bunch of lefties, and Strasburg was better than Max against lefties, then maybe it would be the smart play to start Strasburg instead of Max notwithstanding that Max is the better pitcher.

Strasburg wins, eh? I must have missed it when he won against the Cardinals his last start or the Braves three starts ago. But I guess those starts don't count because the stakes were just "incredibly high" in those two games rather than "highest," which would have meant a Strasburg gem (Stephen, if you're reading this, I love you, you're great, you're my favorite all time Nat, you're just not as good as Max).

Also, I didn't read your paragraph about the Civil War.