Nationals Baseball: One small win, one big loss, and I guess another normal sized win.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

One small win, one big loss, and I guess another normal sized win.

The Nats managed to put last night in the victory column and maybe save the homestand as "not a disaster" thanks to an excruciating bottom of the 8th. The Cardinals let Giovanny Gallegos hang out to dry in the inning, because of a version of the old standard "He's the guy". The plan for this year is that Gallegos would be the Cardinals 8th inning set-up guy. It was the 8th inning therefore he pitches until he's lost the game. The "8th inning guy" idea is dumb but it's the way the game has been for the last 20 years. Pitchers seem to prefer the idea of roles and it takes the blame out of managers hands so it's not going anywhere despite likely being less effective (you don't use the best pitchers in the highest leverage spots). I guess we can just be thankful that expansion into the 7th, which was tried, hasn't really taken hold but mainly that's a product of quality. At that point you are getting into more questionable pitching. Anyway the actual use of a role isn't a problem but the idea you can't break from it or you aren't showing trust is.  Gallegos was bad - walk, HBP, single (tie game), 2-0 ground out... it's tempting to pull him after the single. But not only did they stick with him they loaded the bases intentionally. It almost worked (thanks to a Castro who didn't seem to want to work the pitcher) but again see above - he didn't have control.  Your pitcher was not pitching well and it was a tie game but rather than pull him quickly you kept him in to foster trust. Congratulations you lost the game. Hope it doesn't matter. 

Of course the Nats nearly blew it themselves - after getting a good start from Corbin - more on that later - they pulled him after only 76 pitches and put in Rainey, who promptly blew it with a walk and a triple. There was no reason for this but managers can be dumb. You want Corbin feeling good but you also want him going deep. Starting the inning on a short leash would have made more sense. I'm sure a version of "Rainey is out 7th inning guy" played in Davey's head.

So as for Corbin - he looked good! Really! Threw a lot of strikes, got a lot of ground outs and swings and misses. This is good news for a team in desperate need of it. Again as we ended yesterday saying the Nats will only go as far as their pitching takes them and if they can't imagine a Big Three being there then the season is kind of lost. Max has shown he's still got it. The jury is still out on the injured Strasburg and the faltering Corbin. However at least today you can imagine again Corbin being ok.  This will hold for another couple starts. 

But there was a big loss yesterday as Juan Soto went on the IL with shoulder strain. The Nats say it's preventative and overly cautious and I say fine if it is. Soto is your best hitter* The problem is it's hard to see the Nats win consistently long-term without him.  He's the heart of the line-up and his replacement will likely be Stevenson, at best a punchless hitter with average production. It's a big step down.  We didn't have any indication that Soto was hurt but he had an uncharacteristic 0-11 run before hitting a double at the end of Monday's game, he had also gone longer without an XBH and had only that one game with both his home runs. However nothing seemed odd about his number of hard hit ball or exit velocity and anecdotally I didn't notice anything either. Maybe you did.

The Nats sit in a holding pattern now waiting on Strasburg and Soto. Good news for both and the season is still on. Bad news for both and pack it in.

*I suppose if you want to be thorough you could say that there is a chance that (1) Soto is a 140-150 OPS+ guy - which IS great though not like first ballot Hall of Famer great and that (2) Turner has put it together and is a 150+ guy.  But I don't think this is actually what will come to pass for either guy.


elchupinazo said...

Pretty dumb of Davey to not get Zimm in this game given his numbers against Wainwright. Yes it's nice to see Bell heating up and of course it's hard to find room for both of them to start (Harrison OF? Can Bell play 2B even a little bit??) but he should've at least been the first PH to go with men on.

Nattydread said...

Let the record reflect my suggestion that maybe Corbin's career isn't over (yet). I agree with Mark Z's assessment - he is a two pitch guy and that he had lost the touch for his go-to pitch. Let's hope he has it back. I'm okay with DM pulling him early. Better than late. If Corbin returns to form, anything Ross does well is gravy.

Soto out, not good. On the positive side, this gives Stevenson a chance to establish that last September's run wasn't a fluke.

Things could be worse. The Yankees aren't doing well, either. And Atlanta is in our sights!

Now Max has to pitch.

billyhacker said...

Being able to argue about whether Turner or Soto is the team's best hitter is a great place to be.

I'm also relieved that Soto is injured because it might explain why he wasn't quite at his normal level against average and below pitching. He did have a low babip there for a bit, so that was reassuring too.

Corbin always makes me anxious and this basically extends that instead of just giving up on him. My sense is that his pitches look really different than Stras and Max, so he's important to them too, in a way.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Davey pulling Corbin when he did nearly lost the Nats that game. Sure we can't say he wouldn't have imploded in the same way Rainey did, but dude was at 76 pitches with a whopping 52 for strikes. He was about as close to dealing as you can be. You want to get Rainey warm just in case? Sure go for it. But Corbin could've gone 1 more inning easily.

As for Soto, I agree that I'm both relieved and terrified about the injury. Relieved that his lack of eye-popping numbers has an explanation, but terrified about what this injury could be given the Nats training staff's record...

Anonymous said...

Adding my voice to the chorus of frustration about pulling Corbin in that spot. In the interest of transparency, I shouted at the television as soon as I saw Rainey on the mound that this was a stupid idea. It would have been stupid even if Rainey shut the Cards down because why burn him for no reason? And confidence runs both ways with Corbin - what does it say that you pull him in the middle of that kind of performance?

I think the horrid RISP performance might be what takes us down if it doesn't reverse. Especially with a man on third with less than two outs. I'm sorry but there is absolutely no excuse for a major leaguer not to at least put a bat on the ball.

Rant over.

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