Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - the worst of the worst

Monday, April 26, 2021

Monday Quickie - the worst of the worst

 What does it mean to lose this series to the Mets? 

If you want to take a positive view you can say something like "Well without Soto and facing a good 1-2-3 against a division rival in their house, the Nats were able to sneak a win away from them". If you want to take a negative view you can say something like "Against a reeling division opponent, the type you need to beat to make the playoffs, the Nats were shutout twice and lost a game in the standings" Both are valid. 

Me I'm a "you lose, you don't win" type of guy and so I favor the latter. The Nats have been gifted with an opportunity and they haven't taken advantage of it. They've been hurt (Stras/Soto) and COVID'd so there are excuses but also there is a real a chance here. Things not breaking your way happens. Having the second worst offense in the majors (thanks Detroit!) is not just a bad break. 

Juan Soto is out but Trea Turner isn't hitting (.190 / .227 / .190 in the past week). Neither is the formerly hot Josh Harrison (.182 / .280 / .227) or the looked decent Yan Gomes (.077 / .200 / .154). As many have noted Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber have been particularly bad and they are essentially the two players the Nats put their season on offensively. We assume Soto will hit and Turner will be good and Zimm will be ok when he can play. We thought Gomes and Castro would hold their ground. The keys were how good Bell, Schwaber and Robles would be. The answer across the board is not good at all. 

Arguably Corbin's performance was the biggest issue. 10 men on, 2 homers, in 4 IP is a recipe for a loss every time. He was lucky to get out of it with just 4 runs. If he's not good it's gonna be real tough for the Nats. Not impossible, but REAL tough. 

The Nats can still win assuming Soto comes back soon. He's that good that he could carry an offense to mediocre all by himself. But he'll need great pitching. He'll need Strasburg back as an ace. Keep your eyes on Strasburg.


Nattydread said...

All of your points, Harper, are valid. So can't argue with the pessimism, especially when de Grom sliced through the line-up like they were little leaguers.

However, your worst case scenario was to get out with a win --- which they did --- and the glass-half-full side of the discussion is also worth appreciating, so let's assess.

1. Bullpen (esp. Voth, 4K's) held out after Corbin left.
2. Hernandez is getting a chance. Looks solid; not Soto good, but an interesting outfield/1st base option. Worth continuing to watch.
3. Excellent fielding by Turner, good plays by a few others (Schwarber..).
4. The rest of the National League East is playing as badly as the Nats. Braves lose two, Phillies lose big (nice HR's Bryce!), so its not like the Nats are falling back. None has done better than 5-5 over the last 10 games.
5. When Soto, Lester and Strass come back, this team is significantly better, as good as much of the limp competition.

Sad truth is that Kieboom and Robles are who they are. I like that DM is shaking up the line-up -- and the seemingly empty farm --- to see what we have.

Anonymous said...

My kingdom for Zimm. Let Bell work out whatever it is that he needs to work out when Soto is back. And if Hernandez can hit then let's sit Schwarber too. We can't win if we only have a chance to score in half the innings we play.

Anonymous said...

I know the offense has been disappointing, but the Nats were hitting Walker really hard early yesterday. Feels like there have been a bunch of tough luck outs lately (and some bad baserunning mistakes which can't happen when your best hitter is out). That being said, you can't get shut out in over 25% of your games and expect to be a playoff team. Margin for error is far too thin and we need to start scoring runs more consistently/

Matt said...

I come down on the side of pessimism. The competition has been badly underperforming expectations, which is great as far as it goes. But I don't see a reason that should continue.

In contrast, I think the Nats' performance is less unexpected. Things could definitely turn around, but the hope was that Robles would bounce back (nope), Corbin would bounce back (nope), Stras would be healthy (not yet), Kieboom would step up (no, probably there should be some capital letters and exclamation points in here), Schwarber and Bell would be their 2019 selves (no with emphasis).

Some stuff has gone right and I don't expect the team to play this badly going forward, but I think the Nats have a bit of a case of they are who 2020 said they were. Which is not shocking and if so once the other teams in the division recover they are going to get left in the dust.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

5 hits and 3 walks yesterday and they still managed to put up a goose egg. This offense is rough. Schwarber K's in like 50% of his ABs, Bell's uppercut swing looks atrocious (where are all the Kevin Long apologists now?), Turner is swinging for the fences every time, this team just doesn't look good.

The Nats NEED Soto back and they need things to start clicking for the rest of the lineup. I don't like Bell at all right now and I think he should be relegated to the bench, Schwarber's not much better. Turner needs Soto back so that he doesn't try to play hero-ball, and Robles's approach looks fine, he just needs to start getting lucky. I think the Nats truly can be a slightly better than average offense, but right now they look BAD

Harper said...

Natty Dread - being positive is fine. As long as they are close and have guys to come back and make the team better, why not be positive (if you are a fan of the team). I'm not as sold on Yadiel. Like at all. He's pretty good average/patience at AA/AAA but you saw those Ks jump moving up to that. I'm betting majors is a step too far at his age.

Anon @ 7:30 AM - it's early but the question on when they'd bench Schwarber or Bell has got to asked pretty soon. Both weren't good last year so it's a continuation not a few week fluke.

Matt - more has gone right than wrong so yes expect improvement but also I agree. I'm not seeing a big reason to see these guys as a real playoff contender. But as long as no one in the division does anything they don't have to be a real one, just an NL East one.

CP - if Soto does come back soon - why are you pitching to him? I'd walk him all the time.

PotomacFan said...

I'd like to see Ryan Zimmerman in the line-up, even against right-handers. He may not be great against righties, but he is MUCH better than Bell. And Zimm is better defensively (again, not great, but good at digging out low throws), and Zimm is a better baserunner. Bell is barely faster than Matt Wieters.

Agree with Harper that Soto is going to get walked A LOT. There is no reason to pitch to him. The Nats have 2 major league hitters -- Soto and Turner -- and they can't both bat after each other.

blovy8 said...

They need a third reliable everyday hitter, and Zim is not going to play enough to be that - one of Harrison or Castro is going to need to match a past career year for there to be enough offense.

Anderiffick said...

Question-- What is the League Average @ now for OUTS ON BASES?
Caught Stealing, Picked-off, Running Doubles into OUTS, etc.
I don't have the time to look it up.
Just asking...

Egonadon said...

This lineup isn't going to get it done, even when Soto comes back. Too many holes. If we were sellers at the deadline, who would we even move to get anything of value?

PotomacFan said...

@Egonadon: good point. Scherzer clearly has value. Brad Hand has some value. Bell, Schwarber, and Corbin have zero value. Pretty slim pickings.

Egonadon said...

I'm still irate that we didn't go out and get a legit cleanup hitter to protect Soto.

JW said...

When the Bell trade was made I was skeptical but at the same time, the Nats gave up a lottery ticket and AAAA pitcher. So it's not like it wasn't a gamble worth taking. If it works, Rizzo looks like a genius, if it doesn't you aren't screwed. To me the Schwarber signing was the one that was a real problem -- that was the bat you needed to get right and they didn't. The contract length is the only saving grace there as I believe they can basically bail after this season. And there should be some decent options for the Nats.

Oh Victor Robles. How did you not end up better than MAT? Or only marginally better? Turner-Robles-Soto was supposed to the core!

I hope that the Nats don't get sentimental like they did with Bryce. If you aren't in a good position to win, trade Max. Someone like the Rays might be willing to give up a pretty decent prospect for Max given that they have 500 of them. Like one of Vidal Brujan/Xavier Edwards. Or maybe a couple of decent pieces a tier below that. You have to at least try to start rebuilding if this team isn't going to do it, because most of them are on short-term contracts anyways.

Egonadon said...

Instead of trading away Max, maybe the Lerners should be bold and say screw the luxury tax threshold, let's go out and get a few bats?

PotomacFan said...

That might make sense if Strasburg and Corbin (or Lester) are healthy and pitching well.

But ... exactly how do the Nats get those bats? The Nats have a depleted farm system, and I doubt they will trade their top prospects for a long-shot World Series bid. Because even if the Nats get into the playoffs, they will likely have to face the Dodgers.

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