Nationals Baseball: Wednesday BLAST

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Wednesday BLAST

So work emergency hit on Monday so that never got done and now we're even further out so I'm just going to blast through everything so far and we'll talk about it more later

Game 7

I talked about before that usually to win in the playoffs you have to be lucky and good.  In game 7 the Nats were as lucky as they ever were and as good too.

The Nats MO in the WC, NLDS, and WS had been fairly simple. Have the starter go as long as possible so you only have to use Doolitte, Hudson, and the starter on off-day to close it out.  On the other side, wait until the other guys make a mistake and CRUSH them for it. Hader early after Pomeranz was cruising? CRUSH. Urias faces Rendon with a open base then sticks around after Soto to face Kendrick? CRUSH. Kershaw faces Rendon, nobody goes out to settle him? CRUSH. Pull crusing Maeda use Joe Kelly... didn't crush! Use Joe Kelly for second inning DESTROY.  Let Cole face Soto after a walk and two single in the inning? SOTO CRUSH. Try to get Verlander his win, then replace him with Pressly - like their 4th best reliever, don't pull Pressly after giving up lead? CRUSH. Try again to get a gassed Verlander with WS win CRUSH. *  That's like seriously almost all their playoff wins in these series.**

Game 7 was different. First off the pitching performance wasn't good. There had been wobbles in the past in the wins. Early inning tests that were either passed or lucked out of before the starter settled down and carried the team as long as they needed. Max didn't wobble. Max was kind of bad. We talk about Max having a gutty performance but it wasn't as gutty as we normally describe it. Usually when we say "gutty" we mean a guy not having it but still pitching in a way that gets the other team to do what he wants. But Max didn't do that. Max threw a whole lot of batting practice fastballs and got very very lucky. Just the two out hits : Second inning - line drive... right at Soto.  Third inning - 400 ft fly ball... to the deepest part of the park.   Fourth inning - line drive... right at Robles. Any one of those could have broken the game open.  Hell he almost got it again in the 5th where Correa smashed it but a full extension Rendon came inches from snagging it.  He did get a couple outs here and there that were big on his own but just a couple. Most were smashes that went to the right spots.

But the Nats weren't catching a huge mistake either. Grienke was doing great keeping the Nats off balance and was making things easy for Hinch. So the Nats needed to win against good performances. And they did. Rendon hit a pitch out, but it was the pitch, pretty much, that Greinke wanted to throw. Look at the replay and it might have been a couple inches more in the middle but he wanted an in the strike zone changeup and he threw it and Rendon didn't get crossed up. He hit it out. Then Soto after catching a break on what should have been trike one, and swinging at a curve out of the strike zone to even the count watched four almost identical pitches to the second one go by. He wasn't going to bite.  Hinch probably made the wrong move here. Whether you believe it as pulling Greinke, with his low count and effectiveness, or you believe it wasn't going to Smith/Osuna/Cole instead of Harris he did something wrong. BUT Harris didn't. He made the pitch he wanted. It was a pitch that you normally pull over for a DP if you don't guess, and you line into RF if you do. But hit a homer? No. You don't do that unless you do everything right. Kendrick did. 

After this the game reset to the normal MO. Harris pitched Cabrera into the shift (mistake) and Cabrera took what he gave him. Hinch panicked and pulled him for Osuna and who threw 12 pitches and forced Hinch to make a bigger mistake - keeping Osuna in the game. He almost got out of it but then came the middle of the line-up again. Soto got a hit. Game over. All while Corbin and Hudson hut the Astros down.

The Nats had to get as lucky as they ever had been to survive what should have been a brief and brutal Max start. They had to be as good as they could be to work a Greinke on his game and get him out and then take the best the Astros could give them (at least on that pitch) and win the game. They did both and now they are Champions

Oh wow - spent a lot more time on that than I thought.  SPEED RUSH

Was Stras' posteseason best ever? - No!

Was the Nats post-season the most unbelievable ever?  - Maybe! It's harder than you think to make that judgement! But I'd guess it's in the Top 5 of the multi-round playoff time frame (50 years) for sure. 

What about postseason stats in general? - Way too influenced by appearances to be anything but trivia.

Strasburg opting out - He should. He can get more. (I think he stays)

Rendon to FA - He's looking for Arenando + and he might get it (I think he leaves)

Celebration - Honest take - feels like a Caps imitation. But a completely deserved one. Every team should do this. 

White House stuff - Hoo boy. Just get in and get out. Don't do that.

I think that's all the big stuff. I can expound on anything but I think the Rendon/Stras stuff is of the most immediate interest. 

*Looking back it's amazing how many of these suboptimal choices came against the middle of the Nats lineup. Rather than treat Rendon/Soto as the two MVP type of terrible problem to get past, teams treated them as something they could get by. They could not.

**The one win - yes ONE WIN that didn't follow this for the vast chunk of the game was the G1 win over the Dodgers. The Nats just scored on Kershaw and won the game early.  The G2 blowout against the Astros was going to follow this but after exploding it - it didn't need to and the other arms got a chance to get in. Yes, I know Rainey was used for like an inning here in these games.


GoNatsGo said...

Kurt Suzuki is now my favorite Nationals player!!

Anonymous said...

@Harper - What's the guess on where Rendon ends up? Rangers? Braves won't pay for him, Phillies could but I assume they'll chase pitching. Fingers crossed not in division

Positively Half St. said...

I'm trying to set the WH visit aside, although it will be impossible to totally get it out of my head.

W. Patterson said...

I'm thinking that the Nats will work out a deal with Strasburg, and will do the same for Rendon.

Strasburg's contract will be for more money and years, and Rendon's will have some other elements not directly tied to money and years - and that we, the great unwashed, will probably never know about. (Yeah, that's hard to prove so we'll just have to guess when we see him at spring training next March.)

That's my WAG and I'm sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm just not sure what the market will be for Rendon. He's going to want to go to a contender (or contender adjacent). Rangers could happen I guess with the whole Texas connection (Astros are pretty set). Brewers will be looking to re-sign Moose. Rays don't have the money. Mariners have Seager, though I guess they could look to trade him and his salary. Dodgers are set, Phillies are pretty set, Padres are set. I guess maybe the Braves could make a run at him with Donaldson gone?

Basically, in my mind, wherever Rendon ends up will be semi-surprising, largely because I think it'll be a situation where you'll sign and then trade your current 3B.

G Cracka X said...

Fangraphs did a great article on Harris' pitch to Kendrick. Definitely worth a read:

"Was the Nats post-season the most unbelievable ever? - Maybe!" Just the fact that this COULD be the most unbelievable post-season ever is super cool!! I think it likes becomes #1 when you expand the scope to consider both regular season and postseason, with the whole 19-31, "no team since the 1914 Boston Braves has won the World Series after being 12+ under .500 at any point of the season" fact.

Anonymous said...

Harper I think you underestimate the power of Kendrick lurking in that 5th spot. The Astros didn't have the luxury of pitching around Rendon and Soto. Especially with Eaton being so effective in the series, they had to wade through and pick their poison. The Nats hit home runs on really good pitches, pitches that were where they were meant to be. Additionally, the Astros weren't the only ones hitting bolts right at people. Baseball at its unforgiving best. Zimmerman hit a couple right on the screws and gets nada, then hits a oops 70 footer to third base. The Nats outplayed the Astros, that's why they won. Pure and simple.

Mr. T said...

Ok, so unbelievable post-seasons of the post '69 era...

-'69 Mets, I guess? The O's were all-time great, and they crushed them in 5 games.
-77 Yanks? Reggie?
-85 Royals? I mean, the Denkinger call wasn't really their doing.
-86 Mets? Game 6 at the Astrodome has to be one of the most insane games ever played. But, they were also heavily favored.
-88 Dodgers? They were big underdogs. Gibson, Hershiser. Maybe this one is up there?
-91 Twins? Amazing Series, but what about the ALCS? Don't remember.
-95 Mariners? Just for the one series, but that was pretty incredible.
-96 Yanks? The Jeff Maier game, the Todd Zeile brain fart in the ALCS. Not sure it's top 5 though.
-01 Dbacks?
-04 Red Sox. Ok, this has to be #1. And I hate the Red Sox.
-11 Cards. Just the fact that they were down to their last strike in Game 6. That gets you on the list for sure.
-14 Giants?
-14 Royals?
-15 Royals?
-16 Cubs? That game 7 was something, but I can't really remember how they got there.
-19 Nats. Absolutely.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. Good piece. But I don’t think he wanted the rendon change up in the strike zone. Consider that of the change ups he threw previously in the entire game, none ended in the zone. They all started in the zone and dropped beneath it. Hinch mentioned this to Verducci in SI piece as the first sign he felt Greinke was losing it. Maybe Hinch is lying after the fact to rationalize his dumb decision making. Dunno.

BxJaycobb said...


*The only reason Rendon would get less than Stras in years or AAV is because Rendon wants to retire at 35 to a ranch and cash-in as much as possible before then (which is the rumor in the industry...which means he’s less likely to tolerate Nats type offers.) If Rendon leaves Nats, the baseball community commentariat (Buster Olney, Verducci, etc) think the Dodgers are a threat for a shorter high AAV deal like the one they offered Bryce (so like 4/175), then will move Turner to 1B for last year or two of his deal etc. But if Rendon wants as much as possible, he will get more than Stras, who is 2 years older and a pitcher with tons of injury history.

*If Stras leaves Nats (I don’t think he will) it will be for Padres. I don’t think there’s any chance of anybody else. Small chance of Angels if they strike out on Cole (I doubt they will....I suspect Cole goes there). But yeah. My first guess would be Stras to Nats and Rendon to LAD. second guess is they bring back both. Nats actually have a lot of financial flexibility if they’re willing to use it.

*@Harper. I don’t think anybody is saying Strasburg has the greatest postseason ever. But he’s putting together a resume as one of the greatest modern postseason pitchers. PS I don’t think the Astros underestimated Soto and Rendon. Hinch and Astros never walked anybody intentionally entire year then walked Soto. They were totally deluded about their ability to pitch high fastballs to Soto though, and kept doing it to Soto (who hit three of them out).

Anyway, I recommend all of the SI Verducci articles on ws which are amazing and no pay wall!!!

BxJaycobb said...

The 04 Red Sox could be number 1. It was one series though. An INSANE series. And an unprecedented achievement. And breaking the curse. That’s a lot already. That said. The Nats just did more insane things more consistently through the whole run.
—from 19-31 start. Unprecedented for a WS winner through 50 games. Second best in terms of games below .500.
—5 elimination game comebacks. Nobody had ever done 4 before. Including 3 in 7th inning or later in winner take all games. Also unprecedented.
—won 4 road games in WS. Never been done.
—they beat 2 of the 15 best regular season teams of all time (combo of run differential and record, see fangraphs piece on Astros)
—only team to beat two teams with 105 wins. And they had 106 and 107 wins.
—They won the WS by beating arguably the greatest team to lose in the WS.
—one of 3 biggest WS underdogs by Vegas ever.
—97 years since last WS win in DC.
—and there’s a bunch of other stuff less numeric like Max being like half dead two days before and Davey having heart attack end of season and having worst bullpen ERA for any PLAYOFF team ever and somehow overcoming it by using 6 pitchers for 85% of their innings.

BxJaycobb said...

To be clear, I have no doubt the 04 Red Sox will be more remembered. But in terms of the odds of doing what they did—perhaps not the historical context, although the Nats playoff futility and the time since DC title isn’t nothing—easy to argue Nats are superior.

Harper said...

Bx - Someone did say that about Stras, the day after, I made a comment back and got run of of Twitter. (well more like genially rudely told don't make these comments today) which is what I said I was going to do anyway but didn't because I can't help myself.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. Oh well. Don’t hold us accountable for the crazies. Bumgarner is the greatest modern playoff pitching performance. If somebody wants to argue Randy Johnson or Josh Beckett or Stras meh. But I think what is special about Strasburg is his full playoff numbers. Basically unmatched for a 50+ IP sample size for starters. (Rivera tops if you include relievers.)

BxJaycobb said...

Re the White House stuff.....just incredibly dumb to say anything—ANYTHING—let alone what Kurt Suzuki did. I’m not exaggerating when I say Kurt Suzuki might get booed and jeered by fans at Nats games and basically everywhere he goes now by at least some fans here and there. It’s that radioactive. Just insanely** dumb on his part, whatever his political views.

Nattydread said...

Rendon is an interesting case. Now that he's got the ring, he can focus on other career goals besides just getting another one. Can't pretend that I know anything about him or his family, but the way he behaves makes him an interesting outlier. Unlike Bryce, he doesn't seem to be motivated to get the all-time record payout. His comment about not expecting to be in baseball forever tells me that he has more sanguine objectives.

So, first, with the push by Boras, he wants a contract that pays him what he's worth. Maybe a bit shorter higher value contract.

Second, of course he wants to play for a winner.

Third --- and this is based on no inside knowledge whatsoever --- he probably wants to be in a place where he and his family are happy. Where he can start planning his post baseball life.

Nats can cover the first two. The third one is where Rendon is likely to have his antennae out. Home is Texas; his family is probably looking to move there or somewhere nearer, not east coast.

I'm guessing here, but DC is probably not so bad for him. Its a good team. Clubhouse is fun, lots of positive relationships, they want him back. Its a southern town, kind of. No need to uproot the family if you stay, no need to develop a whole new set of routines.

Wouldn't it be great to be in Rendon's shoes? My expectation is that Nate are top three for him and it will come down to money. No home town discount, but what's a couple of million dollars?

Fingers crossed.

Jay said...

I'm really curious to see how this offseason shakes out. Rendon said several times last offseason that Boras works for him. Strasburg is the same way. He asked Boras to work out the previous extension with the Nats. The Nats could end up bringing both back. Of course the Lerner family could decide they won their championship and they aren't going to spend big money for a while (a la Leonsis not bringing back Trotz). The Nats are at about $100 million in salary right now with the luxury tax limit at like $205, so they have room to bring back Strasburg and Rendon and then some other help as well.

GoNatsGo said...

@Bx - not to get political here, but THAT is precisely what is going wrong with this country now. By simply supporting OUR president, Suzuki will get booed. I can't imagine anyone getting booed for supporting BO when he was president. If you want to boo the president fine, but why boo somebody who supports him. We ALL need to grow up!!

Rendonitis said...

Should Kurt have worn the hat? Probably not. But it doesn't really matter. If there is any time it's appropriate for sports stars to make a statement it's on their decision to go or turn down the Whitehouse visit. All Kurt and Doo showed us from what they did is that there are way too many people who care what athletes political stances are. They didn't do it before or after a game so who really cares.

And if you support Kurt but thinks Doo should have shown up you're a hypocrite and Vice Versa.

G Cracka X said...

@Bx Agree with your take about Red Sox v. Nats. Red Sox is more memorable, but Nats was more improbable.

Something to consider that bolsters your point: A 'reverse sweep' (down 3-0, then win the last 4) is extremely rare, but it has happened before. Looks like 4 times in the history of NHL playoffs. But in 1,420 Best-of-7 NHL, NBA, or MLB playoff series, any team winning on the road 4 times had never ever happened before. You have to go to minor league hockey to find this actually happening (in fact, just the road team winning the first 6 times never happened before in NHL/MLB/NBA!). Here's the relevant Ringer article:

Sammy Kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sammy Kent said...

Best pitching post-season in my lifetime: Mickey Lolich 1968. Three complete game victories against the mighty St. Louis Cardinals (Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon), including TWO elimination games-- the final one beating Gibson in game 7 in St. Louis on two days' rest, surrendering only one run, a two-out solo dinger to Shannon in the bottom of the 9th.

Hasn't been matched since.

Mr. T said...

@G Cracka, winning 4 on the road is less impressive to me because the Nats had to lose 3 in a row at home first in order to do it. The most amazing stat to me is: 5-0 in elimination games, and they were trailing in every single one. I can't imagine that will happen again for a long time.

Also, not to get political here but we should all support Alien Overlord Kang, because like it or not he is OUR president. I can't imagine anyone booing George Washington when he was president, so why is it okay to boo Alien Overlord Kang? Grow up, people!

G Cracka X said...

@Mr T Fair enough on the 'impressive' part. I agree that the 5-0 in elimination games that the Nats were losing is more impressive, but 4 road wins is still super impressive when the team you beat is a top-10 all-time MLB team with a 60-21 home record.

Ole PBN said...

@GCX - thanks for sharing that article. Truly remarkable... Kendrick basically hit a home run on a pitch that had a 0.06% chance of going out. In game 7, no less. Wow.

I think Bx is right on about Rendon. Seeing the flexibility the Lerner's should have financially, I don't rule out both coming back. I just think Strasburg's interest in doing so is higher. Rendon is peculiar to me.

Posing a question for the group: Fans booed Bryce for turning down $300M from the Nats to sign with the Phillies. If Rendon signs with ATL, does he get booed as well? Or does his postseason performance/WS victory make it less painful?

Froggy said...

The only morons who will boo Suzuki are the leaf eating, part-time knucklehead fans who live in DC and delusionally think they are the 51st state. And only a childish imbecile would not have class enough to accept the invitation to the White House (regardless who the President is at the time) and be gracious about it.

As for your comments about the parade and celebration Harper, clearly you weren't there. I was. In fact I walked in it holding the PNC Bank banner in front of the Parra / Eaton bus and it was simply incredible.

Suck it Yankee fans!

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