Nationals Baseball: The wheels come off

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The wheels come off

For his first 12 innings Joe Ross had held the other team scoreless.  Then Paul DeJong got a hold of one. Then Tommy Edman did.  Then Paul Goldschmidt did. Whatever it was Joe Ross had it was clear that by the 4th inning he didn't have it last night - and a HBP, walk, and single putting the team down 5-0 should have been the end of his night. It wasn't. Davey kept him in to try to soak up innings, pushing him into the 5th until a grand slam put an end to his night. It was brutal but worse, it was unnecessary.  

It wasn't the worst thing pitches wise. Ross would only reach 85 total. But one of the few bright spots for the Nats early on was the quality pitching Ross had thrown this season. Everyone has off nights, but making him wear his to the tune of 10 runs, who knows what that can do to a psyche of a pitcher with no history of success. 

It seemed emblematic of the Nats season so far; things are going poorly but they don't know how to handle it other than to try to ride it out. Doing nothing with a smile - that was the plan when the Nats won the title in 2019 so why wouldn't it work again? Despite the fact it didn't work in 2018 or 2020. Beset with real troubles and no end in sight - action is called for, but the management isn't looking to do action and the manager might be incapable of it. 

Plan to hear about "19-31" for a while - at least as long as Strasburg news doesn't come back too negative. Harrison can be Kendrick! The pitching can still bail the team out! But there's not a star player coming back from injury this year, let alone players. And....

 And there's Patrick Corbin. 

In 2019 he'd pitch like the near ace they paid him to be. In 2021 he has looked incredibly terrible.  

You can squint and turn your head and look at this team anyway you want but unless they have those three top notch pitchers they are going to struggle to be playoff relevant. Max is one. Stras is one if he's right. Is Corbin one this year? Tonight we'll be the most telling. A couple weeks from the layoff he should be pretty much in season shape. If he can't put up something remotely respectable tonight, we're going to have to start looking for other answers.


Donald said...

It always surprises me a bit when a pitcher comes in and can’t locate any of his pitches, or his velocity is off. Can’t they tell that from his warm-ups? Why can’t they evaluate Corbin in the bullpen before the game, and if he sucks just go with a stream of relievers. I mean, it’s got to suck for Corbin too, knowing he’s going to get battered and lose the game for the Nats. If it seemed like he were close, it would be different, but if he can’t throw a strike before the game, what makes them think he’ll do it during the game?

elchupinazo said...

@Donald I think warmups/bullpen are miles away from the actual game. I mean how many people are striping the ball on the driving range/sinking every put on the practice green and then go out and shoot 100? Corbin is (or was?) an elite athlete, he could throw wiffle ball sliders blindfolded in practice. The competition is what makes it hard.

With Ross last night, his pitch selection was weird. He supposedly spent all offseason working on a changeup and then only threw it like twice. Fine—if it's not there that night it's not there—but they were clearly all over his fastball and he didn't seem to have an answer ("more fastballs but at the corners" is not an answer for big leaguers who can still see it and reach it). Someone on Twitter was speculating that he almost seemed too enamored with his higher velocity to retreat to the offspeed stuff and I guess that's as good an explanation as anything.

You can't regularly ask an offense to cover for that kind of ghastly performance (and the managerial incompetence that allowed it), but for the love of all that's holy this team needs to get better with RISP. It also seems like Bell is too far up in the lineup for now—Juan's not getting anything because Bell hasn't yet shown that he'll punish pitchers for pitching around Soto. Maybe the double last night was a sign he's getting into playing shape, but for now I'd rather see Schwarber, Harrison or even Zimm hitting behind Juan.

Egonadon said...

I hope this isn't the case, but we could be talking about being sellers by Memorial Day.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

The Menhart decision is looking just as bad as the Maddux decision. It's been clear all along that Davey does not know how to manage his pitching staff. It's not a matter of making a few more mistakes than average, he consistently makes the wrong choices. Suero's injury, for instance, falls squarely on Davey's shoulders. Dude pitched in over half of the games. The only time I can think of Davey managing the bullpen properly was in the WS run when the bullpen was so atrocious he only had like 2 options to choose from: Hudson/Doo or a starting pitcher. Don't need to be a savant to make the right call there.

That's my main issue with Davey. Choosing when to pull a starter and who to replace them with is pretty much the only meaningfully difficult decision a manager must make in-game. He clearly has not learned how to do it effectively, so he needs to delegate that responsibility or be off to greener pastures

PotomacFan said...

@Blogger: wait, are you saying that 100 is a bad score in golf??

General Comment: I generally have issues with how Davey handles the pitching staff. However, he really had no choice but to leave Ross in last night. The bullpen is completely worn out. Davey needed to get as many innings as possible out of Ross, up to a reasonable pitch count. And 85 is a reasonable pitch count. The game was already lost. Better to save the top relievers for another day. I don't know what Davey can do tonight if Corbin gets battered again. Maybe Perez can go 2 - 3 innings. His 55 mph "fastball" has been more effective than anything Corbin, Stras, or Ross has thrown in the past week.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Now real doom: Soto to the IL. Here come the AAAA Gnats

Jon Quimby said...

I don't understand last night's game when compared to the Ross game. Davey let Ross stay in there when Ross clearly didn't have it because the bullpen was in shambles, but then yanked a cruising Corbin because?!

I don't think Davey is a terrible manager, but they need a better process for this decision on when to get the bullpen warming and when to bring them in. It's a consistent problem.