Nationals Baseball: August 2021

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Crazy goal

I set a crazy goal for fun before the Strasburg injury - Orioles sweep - trade-off effectively ended the season. It was "don't lose another series". If they did that at that point, only split or won, they'd end up with 87 wins and 87 wins is a pretty good bet to win the East.* BUT if they lost a series they'd have to make up that win elsewhere - for example moving from the 2-1 hopeful win to a 3-0 sweep in a normal 3 game set. I was curious how is that going?

Ok, I KNOW it's going bad but how bad? Turns out the Nats have won only two series. One was one with the Cubs at end of July. They also swept a two game set against Toronto.  So that was actually outperforming hopes (I only said "don't lose" - so a split was the goal). But everything else? Well take a look :

Swept 0-3 by BAL : Need to Make-Up 2 games since 2-1 was the goal

Tied PHI : On Target

Beat CHC : On Target

Swept 0-4 by PHI : Make-Up 2 more.. so Make-Up 4

Lost ATL : Make-Up 5

Swept 0-3 by NYM : Make-Up 7

Swept 0-3 by ATL : Make-Up 9

Swept Tor 2-0 : Make-Up 8 (gaining back ground!!!)

Lost MIL : Make-Up 9 (lost it)

Lost MIA : Make-Up 10

Lose NYM : Make-Up 11

Now since they already lost the first PHI game they can't make anything up this series. They can only win both to match hope.  After that there are 9 series left. 7 are normal three game sets. Let's say they sweep them all that'll "make-up" 7 of the needed games. But we still need four wins. Ok there's a 5 game set with the Mets. Hope was 3-2. Instead they go 5-0. That's 2 more wins made-up. Two to go.  Cincy 4 gamer. 2-2 split hoped for. Go 4-0. DONE! 

The Nats can still hit their hoped for goal of 87 wins. All they have to do is win every game going forward. 

 Go 1-0 today, everyday.  

 *Even now with ATL playing excellent and PHI ok, 87 still might not be reached. ATL has to go 17-15 to do that. PHI even with a weak schedule probably tops out MAX expectation at 88. Playing decently 84 is more likely.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Monday Quickie - Kiebert it is

 Looks like I was wrong.  Looks like Keibert Ruiz is going to be here NOW (like tonight) and Tres Barrera is down to AAA and I guess that's ok.  Personally I would have stuck to what I thought they were going to do. I think for sure the Nats are going to have Keibert as there starting C next year so why not use another 2 weeks to see more of Adams and Barrera at the major league level? I guess though they thought they had seen enough of Barrera. 


Carter Kieboom .095 / .240 / .143  (.226 / .333 / .368)   2 hits in a week will do that to you.  We can probably officially put the "just needed some uninterrupted low-pressure playing time" theory to bed and go back to "needs fixing"

Luis Garcia .217 / .250 / .304 (.208 / .258 / .350)  Not a good week for Garcia as well.  The trends are down. You know what that means? Buy low! Get your "I still like Garcia" merch here! Move up to a better seat on the bandwagon!

Tres Barrera .333 / .500 / .667 (.264 / .374 / .385)  - got his half time games in and hit a bunch and got sent down so... I don't know.  If I wanted to overthink it I'd say they sent him down so he didn't KEEP hitting and thus make some people question using Ruiz at all if Ruiz didn't hit this year and in Spring.  But for that to actually be correct Adams would also still have to be super hot...

Riley Adams .400 / .538 / .500 (.254 / .346 / .423) - He is! The week's SLG isn't that good - it's only high because they average was. So more homers please!

Lane Thomas .130 / .167 / .217  (.198 / .324 / .279) -Huh.  You see what happened was Lane Thomas started super hot (see last week's update) then he had a nice game against the Mets on Saturday and you though "Oh they are mentioning him again. I bet he's kept doing real well" Except no. In all the other games last week he had 1 single in 19 ABs. Also 7 Ks and 1 walks. So a bad week. One more of these and his Nats stats will reflect that and you might not hear about him again the rest of the season. 

Josiah Gray - 1 start 3.00 ERA 1.33 WHIP 10.5 K/9 (3.75, 1.194 WHIP, 10.5 K/9)  A good start from a decent Miami team. He'll pitch twice this week starting tonight in an interesting game. The Phillies offense is ok.  Losing Hoskins hurts but they can hit a homer and have a real strong top part of the line-up. More importantly the Phillies have seen Gray now once. Let's see if twice makes a difference. The Braves in their second time did more damage.

Mason Thompson - 3.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 4.6 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 (13.2IP, 3.290ERA, 1.8 WHIP, 7.2 K/9)  I like to think of this as the best Mason can do.  When he's in control (no walks this week) then it doesn't matter that he's hittable and can't strike people out. He's useful.

Gabe Klobosits - AAA

Friday, August 27, 2021

Patrick Corbin so bad - not so bad - bad again

Corbin's season was defined by his first two games. In those outings he gave up 15 earned runs and 6 XBH (4 homers) in 6 and a third. He walked 7 and struck out 6 and looked every bit those stats while doing it. After that he had a 21.32 ERA and spent the rest of the season playing catch-up. 

But for half the season he was... fair.  His next 15 starts were thrown to a 4.24 ERA. In 87 innings he walked only 24 and struck out 67, gave up some homers (14) but didn't seem lucky or unlucky by BABIP. This wasn't the pitcher the Nats wanted and not the pitcher the Nats needed, but it was a pitcher the Nats could accept. If Corbin was this for the next three seasons, some sort of version of Gio Gonzalez, that'd be ok. Eat up 6+ innings, punch the clock, go again in 5 days. That has real value especially for a rebuilding team who are going to throw some kids who either can't or you don't want to go deep. 

It's also important to realize THIS might the Corbin to expect. This is the Corbin of 2016, 2017 and 2020. The 2018/9 Corbin might just be a peak/fluke combination. 

Since the ASB though Corbin has regressed. Still not very lucky or unlucky by BABIP, but 13 homers in about half the innings. Is that it? Just bad luck with the homers? We'd like to believe so but the data shows someone who all year has continued a 2020 trend of giving up more flyballs and line drives.  A guy who, while never a soft contact savant, has had the trouble this year keeping that number up too, cratering to under 10% the 3rd time around an order. In other words lots of FBs and LDs hit pretty hard especially in his later innings. There are going to be runs of lots of homers. You an say this run is unlucky sure, but the season? That's most likely evened out and that means a guy who is definitely homer prone. 

This is made worse by the fact his Ks are down. If he strikes out guys - those are definite outs, game moves quicker and he's not seeing the third time around until the late 5th or 6th innings. But more bats on balls, more hits, all of a sudden it's the third time around in the 4th and you gotta keep him and boom. 

But Corbin can't be an opener, not for this team as constructed going forward. He's gotta learn to do something different later, even if it's 9 batters of junk. Get them to put it in play and hope for outs. Because what's going on now - trying to get through the third time around with stuff that barely played the first two, is ending up in disaster.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Tired: Kieboom Wired : Keibert

That's KAY-ber(t).  Sorry if the title mislead you.  Here's him saying it.

Well right after saying all his PCL (yes, yes I know AAA-West or whatever) homers were ending up as EL doubles Ruiz goes out and hits four homers in two days. K-bert and Gray are really they keys to the trade deadline being success or failure because of the talent given up for them. To see both do well (Gray had another fine outing - sure it was the Marlins and he gave up another homer but all I care about right now is him coming out giving the Nats a chance to win, which he did) is the best reasonable expectation for the Nats to have. 

Ruiz is now hitting .318 / .384 / .636 in AAA and the question is how long he'll be down there. Rizzo is not much of a service time manipulator which is good because most of the time the far end doesn't matter as much as the near. But Ruiz is in AAA to play everyday. Would he play everyday in the majors? Not "is he good enough to get that time" but "are the Nats ready to do that"

Tres Barrera is nearly 27 (Sept 15th) which puts him bottom on the totem pole and up until a week ago his hitting was basically average. Add that to a generally unimpressive minor league career at the plate (.704 OPS in AA in 2019, .668 in AAA before call-up) and you'd think you'd have no problem sitting him or sending him down. But he has been tearing it up lately .421 with a homer in his last 6 games.

Riley Adams just turned 25 (June 26th).  He struggled even more than Barrera initially and has shown some power and patience in the minors but isn't really seen as a long term answer given his generally high swing and miss numbers. Maybe sit or send down Riley? But he's even HOTTER in HIS last 6 games;.476 with a homer and 3 doubles

Too many good players is a great problem to have but it's still a problem. The solution is probably very simple. Ruiz will come up but most likely it'll be when the minor league season ends. There's no real reason to throw all these guys around before that. The Nats aren't playing for anything. Neither is Rochester, if that matters. My guess is Riley remains the back-up, spot starter, Tres hangs on as emergency catcher. However there are scenarios where either guy just sees his season end or sent down to FL for some end of season work. 

Expect to see Ruiz soon but not TOO soon. A little more than 2 weeks or so.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Nats around the world

A month ago the Nats were in the middle of the series that probably killed the season (for good or for bad). After disappointing against the tough NL West the Nats righted the ship with a series win over Miami and then went up against the terrible Orioles. They really needed a sweep to get back close to .500 and instead they got swept. 

The end result was a trade off and the beginning of a rebuild that may take years. In the meantime the NL East leader Mets faltered leaving an opening... but the Braves ran through it with a 9 game winning streak, so the Nats couldn't have exactly stumbled into first place by luck alone. 

Anyway figured I'd look around - see how all those traded guys are doing with their new teams... well I'M interested and it's MY blog!

MAX - 3-0 2.11 ERA 0.984 WHIP  1.7 BB/9  13.1 K/9  - He's Max doing Max things. He's pitched a little better for LA than he was doing in DC.

Trea -  .328 / . 365 / .483 - probably a homer short of what he was doing in DC but certainly everything the Dodgers could have hoped for

(Side note : If this makes you feel bad I don't talk about the minors guys but Keibert Ruiz is hitting well for the Nats - PCL homers becoming EL doubles but he just turned 23. Donovan Casey has been on fire and is hitting homers - though he's 25 in AA. Gerardo Carillo... Look, they can't all be winners, nearly a 5.00 ERA in AA and deserved - but also only 22. Adding in Gray early indications are the rare win-win trade)

Harrison - .255 / .333 / .373  not great but his job is to fill in all over the place and not be bad and he's doing just that. Has already playing 2B, 3B, LF and even 10 innings at SS which he hadn't done at all since 2013. (stats say - there's a reason why he hasn't) 

Gomes  - .250 / .250 / .479 - some homers. Splitting time with their other catcher, Sean Murphy, who seemed to be wearing down. He's hit better with the extra rest so overall it helps even if Gomes could hit a bit better.

Schwarber - .368 / .538 / .526 - gamble and are gonna play him until breaks. Not his fault the Red Sox are scuffling unless you blame him for his no homers. 

Lester - 7.08 ERA 1.820 WHIP 4.0 BB/9 3.5 K/9 - Does familiarity with the NL Central help if you stink? Nope. He's not a 7.00 ERA guy, but he is a 5.00 ERA guy.  I wonder if he can do something if he accepts this is his last hurrah and save nothing for a 2022 that looks like it obviously won't come bc right now those K values (down from 6.1 K/9 with Nats and 6.2 last year) look like a guy who's trying to nibble his way to success

Brad Hand - 6.43 ERA 1.429 WHIP 2.6 BB/9  6.4 K/9 - not as bad as the numbers make it out to be. He's mostly been fine. It's more that when he's been bad he's been awful. It's a gamble every time he comes out there 

Daniel Hudson - 6.23 ERA  1.846 WHIP  4.2 BB/9  12.5 K/9 - now he's been bad, giving up a run every other appearance so far and a runner on in all but one, but we don't hear about it because giving up 1 run three times in six games is somehow better than 3 runs twice over seven games. I don't know. Also Riley Adams? Good.  Mason Thompson? Not so much. A lose-lose deal?

Monday, August 23, 2021

Monday Quickie - Adams and Thomas start hot - you need to be cool

Not much more to talk about for the moment. If you care about draft picks this is a pretty big series against the Marlins, who the Nats briefly fell under a few days ago. But otherwise even their potential for spoiler is limited with the Braves surging, the Mets falling, and the Phillies being their .500 self. San Diego may be hurting but it's Cincy and St. Louis taking advantage of it. As it probably should be, we've all seen the NL East this year.

Kid Watch - Now with season stats!  Look don't get too caught up with what these guys do. A lot of time other teams are feeling these guys out and that can mean a different set of pitches than they'll see 100 games from now, or 200. Remember Tyler Moore? 10 homers in his first 170 PAs.  Then 20 HR in the remaining 681 in his career. Victor Robles, who a lot of people are ready to write off who is still younger than three of these guys (and just a few months older than Kieboom), hit .288 / .348 / .525 in his second cup of coffee. What they do now means something but it doesn't mean everything.

Carter Kieboom .250 / .409 / .625  (.259 / .356 / .424)   Nice week for OK Boomer as Carter hit a couple homers and walked 4 times. 

Luis Garcia .167 / .211 / .222 (.206 / .261 / .361)  Rough week as he still looks to get the power going. (He was the Nats leading power bat in the minors. Though you'd probably put Ruiz there now)

Tres Barrera .500 / .600 / .500 (.256 / .358 / .354)  - barely playing bc Adams is so hot at the plate.

Riley Adams .500 / .563 / .929 (.230 / .309 / .410) - so hot at the plate.  .600 BABIP tells you it's a hot streak but you should have figured that out from the .500 batting average.

Lane Thomas .636 / 733 / 1.000 (.222 / .372 / .302) - see above. More interested in the 1 K, Strikeouts and the potential for a bunch in the majors has been an issue for Thomas.  

People have asked about Thomas more given his start and the truth is he's not a bad player. Cardinals are just stacked at OF.  Their starting group is 22, 26, 27 and all hitting above average. The injury fill in is also 27 and above average. They have a 25 yo in the majors they like, they just moved up a 22 yo to AAA they like, they have a 24 yo in AA that's been a pleasant surprise. There are a handful of teenage ROK guys with real potential. They didn't see Thomas as more than a 3/4 guy, and with this glut of talent he was the odd man out.  They probably aren't wrong but still for Lester - who is a guy who can eat innings against dregs and not much else - it's a coup even if all he ends up as is a slightly better Andrew Stevenson.

Josiah Gray - 1 start 3.00 ERA 1.00 WHIP 6 K/9 (3.90, 1.167 WHIP, 10.5 K/9)  Middling results.  Gray has now given up an incredible 11 homers in 30 IP and it's a race to see if he gets better or the league starts killing him, because these homers can't keep being solo. 

Mason Thompson - 1.1 IP, 13.50 ERA, 3 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 (10IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.8 WHIP, 7.2 K/9)  Wildness finally caught up with Mason this week, but really it's that lack of Ks that bother me. For a live arm, he doesn't seem very live. 

Gabe Klobosits - 2.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 3.4K/9 (11.1 IP, 5.56 ERA, 1.588 WHIP, 4.0 K/9)  another bad week, another week of proof he's not a major league pitcher  

Some promising hittng results, some not promising pitching results. I'll take a mixed bag right now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The rest of the majors

 Hope you enjoyed that YouTube victory over the Blue Jays. I did because it means the Yankees put another game between them and Toronto.  Yep the Yankees are surging - let's see what else is going on in the majors in the month since the All-Star break because god knows the Nats aren't that interesting. 

AL East

The big story is in the middle of the division where the red-hot Yankees (22-8 in last 30) have passed the fumbling Red Sox (7-14 in last 21). But the biggest story might lie elsewhere. No certainly not with the Blue Jays who haven't been able to keep pace with New York and have fallen further out of the playoffs. And not even with the Rays who have continued to roll and have a solid lead and the best non NL-West record in the majors. No the biggest story might be the Orioles who not only are 0-13 in their last 13 games but are being crushed daily, being outscored 36-123 over this stretch.  

You read that right. 

AL Central

Nothing? I mean the White Sox have basically played .500 ball since the ASB but Cleveland hasn't managed that and Chicago has all but taken the division. Detroit has played some good ball and has some interesting pitchers and will probably find themselves #2 at some point. 

AL West 

The third best division in baseball? Probably so. Both Oakland and Seattle keep winning and have made up some ground on Houston, but the Astros had a big lead and haven't played all that bad themselves. The Mariners are a surprise but a 25-14 in one run game surprise not a team is actually good one. The Angels tread water as usual and the Rangers started 0-10 out the blocks and have been 7-22 in the second half. Tough division to suck in. See the Orioles. 

NL East 

You know this! The Nats traded off and collapsed. The Mets didn't trade off and also collapsed! The Phillies passed them first but have had a rough week and so the Braves who did a long W-L pattern for 16 games broke out of that by finally winning and they sit with a nice little lead. The Marlins who right before the break did some weird thing trading huge wins with lots of close losses and made themsevles look good run differential wise aren't that good and are back to showing that in a conventional way. 

NL Central 

The Cubs collapse has overshadowed the Brewers surge 20-8 since the break. After a brief stumble the Reds have played well 14-7 and are challenging for a Wild Card. The Cards are trying as well and are back in the WC race though with work to do. The Pirates? You know. 

NL West

The Giants continue their magical season that will almost certainly be reversed next year. The Dodgers lost some ground but since the trades are 12-3 and are trying to chip away. The Padres? They have been under .500 since the break and 9-13 in the last 22 letting other teams crawl back into the WC2 hunt. Cincy is only 1.5 games out, Philly and St. Louis 4. The Rockies are bad and the D-backs are terrible though not as amazingly so anymore.


What to watch? 

After the last Sox/Yanks game tonight, Oakland / White Sox is the best match-up on paper though Chicago doesn't have much to play for. Mets / Giants is interesting to see if the Mets can keep losing, Giants winning. This weekend brings the Mets to LA to continue that. In good team match-ups San Fran takes on Oakland, while the White Sox play the Rays.  In a match-up that will probably decide if anything is actually there the Mariners face the Astros. And the one head to head over the same spot one the Padres and Phillies play.  

Enjoy some good baseball this weekend! Just not the Nats who will likely be steamrolled in Milwuakee

Monday, August 16, 2021

Monday Quickie - Wrapping up

If you want to take the whole "why do the Nats have to rebuild" posts and create a narrative it would probably go something like this : 

As the Nats got better they were placed in a harder draft position (reader mw points out that this included $$$ changes too - something I didn't mention) and they didn't respond well to that. They failed to get both the impact player and depth for several seasons. However, trade wise the Nats were a very young and, in spots, deep team. They didn't need to trade out a lot of players for ready talent, and in fact could occasionally use what excesses they did have to get some new young players. They also did fairly well in the international market during this time. The minors held together.

At this point the Nats were at the end of the first window (2012-2015/6) and reacted with a greater sense of urgency going forward. Now contender-type trades really were made and a lot of talent went out. In choosing who to deal and who to keep the Nats made some wrong choices that left them with probably less young talent then they could have had. Both the international free agent pool and the draft got better but didn't produce any exciting super young All-star talent that would rise to the top quickly. The Nats success for the time frame became more and more dependent on what happened in the majors with free agency. 

The Nats had always had pretty good luck and skill picking out free agents, and the team stayed in contention for several more years but finally that well also dried up, with recent long term signees getting hurt or bad.  The reality was if the Nats pushed forward they might sneak by in 2021 but it looked like a .500ish team for the next couple years with big questions on how money could be spent to make it better because the talent coming up for FA would be expensive and hard to replace. They had some things brewing in the minors but not enough to feel like they'd have the core for something greater unless everything worked out and it wasn't looking like that'd be the case. 

The other option to holding on would be to sell now and try to help create that core with the returns. It probably would take a couple seasons but if the Nats aimed for older prospects it's possible these guys and the current talent on hand (assuming the more recent drafts and int'l signings were done well) could all come together by 2023? 2024? Whatever it was would be soon enough to sell Soto on staying with the team. With less security they'd be an attractive stop for FAs for the next couple years the Nats chose to sell

Could the Nats have competedin 2021? In the NL East possibly. The fact the Nats are now last in the division isn't a fluke. Their wasn't a ton of talent here behind what was traded. Overall they still were probably the least talented team. They were behind already as well. Most likely they'd fight, get close, but fall short. If they did manage to pull it out - they'd almost certainly be run out of the playoffs unless they traded for a Berrios and he had a magical run. But almost certainly isn't certainly. Crazy things happen. 

The Nats are in free fall now. The fans don't like it but also are accepting of it.  I'm a little less ok with it.  This isn't a historically bad roster, but it's playing like one. To me that's a bad sign, but it hasn't been long enough to really judge.  OH the kids! 

Weekly Kid Update

Some decent hitting this week - if you like singles. There's a distinct lack of power here. Some guys, like Luis Garcia might develop it. That's less likely with a guy like Stevenson. The Nats organizationl is pretty lacking in power, especially in the upper levels. Here's hoping Keibert Ruiz 2021 power surge is real. Next week I guess Thomas will be in here

Past 7 days 

  • Kieboom : .273 / .304 / .318
  • Luis Garcia : .263 / .333 /.316
  • Riley Adams : .273 / .385/ .273


  • Andrew Stevenson : .250 / .250 / .250
  • Tres Barrera : .250 / .400 / .250

Gray looked like we expect - good control, either FB outs or HRs. You take this type of outing but you can feel as the league gets a read on the guy that maybe they work out a couple more walks/hits, those HRs aren't solo shots anymore and he's struggling.  He'll have to improve but the #3 type is there.  Mason Thompson looked ok again - fewer Ks though.  Klobosits is just too hittable. I don't see him in the future.

  • Gray : 6 IP, 5H, 0BB, 6K, 4.50 ERA
  • Thompson : 3.0 IP, 3H, 1BB, 1K, 3.00 ERA
  • Klobosits : 3IP, 4H, 1BB, 2K, 6.00 ERA

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Nats aren't internationally known

We often use the term "lottery ticket" to refer to different things - later round draft picks, trade pieces that are low minor guys with lots of talents and lots of problems - but really international signings are the true baseball lottery tickets. If you look over the years of signings maybe one of the top two guys becomes a star and after that... hoo boy it's a mess. You pay a lot - as much as some first round draft picks* - but because you are looking at much younger players the variability of what you get is all over the place. 

Take 2015.  People loved Vladdy Jr. He ended up getting the 4th most money.  The guys who got more money Yadier Alvarez, Lucious Fox, and Jhailyn Ortiz.  Names sound familiar? They shouldn't. They aren't big time prospects anymore. Hell, Alvarez is out of baseball entirely. You know who signed that year as well? Juan Soto.  He was a highly touted prospect but I can name a handful that signed for more and went nowhere. Anyway the point is - these are true lottery tickets. You put in a lot of money and the likelihood is you will get nothing but you gotta go in because when you do hit... well Vlad Jr and Juan Soto!

Early on the Nats were hesitant to sign internationally, with good reason though. Their first major signing you might remember was Smiley Gonzalez, the super young hot prospect SS, who was actually a guy years older named Carlos Lugo. Around the same time Bowden, and especially Jose Rijo got caught doing some shady stuff in the Dominican Republic. The minor league system had to be completely remade and it's hard to spend money when you can't trust what's in place yet.

For a few years the organization did little then it started to follow an interesting pattern. It would spend some money going after a going they really liked, then back off for a few years. This had some to do with the way MLB balanced signings - you got less $ if you did well, if you signed a lot of guys you had some tax and big signing restrictions penalties - but it was also the sign of a hesitant team wading back into international waters so to speak. Also, it kind of makes sense, in my opinion. The guys that hit are usually the best prospects so you gotta get one of them but you can't get them every year. Baseball makes sure of it.

In 2010 they team tried to go all in on Yuneksy Maya (major league deal 4yrs/6mill) and threw tiny money at a ton of players. In 2013 they went after and got Robles and Anderson Franco, though neither cost that much. In 2015 they went and got Juan Soto, who was a well regarded prospect, and in 2016 they spend a ton to get Yasel Antuna, Luis Garcia and Yadiel Hernandez. These were not the dollars that other teams spent on the top prospects - which got fairly ridiculous and basically the teams forced baseball to stop themselves with a new hard cap rule - but it was significant especially considering how tiny the spending was in previous years.

In 2010 the quantity approach got them Difo and Rafeal Martin. 2011 got then Pedro Severino, Rafeal Bautista and Raudy Read and in 2012 they found Reynaldo Lopez. 

All in all the early years 2010-2012 didn't quite work out, but they did manage to get some organizational depths and some fringy prospects to deal and provide minimal production down the road. 2013 and 2015 were obviously better years, they nearly hit a jackpot in Robles and did with Soto. These guys are all the pieces that helped make the Nats what they were. As for who they are now, well guys signed in 2014-2016 should be coming up and helping now and guys signed in 2017 and 2018 should be some of the Nats big time prospects. But we don't have that.

It started in 2014. That year was a complete wash and while they got Soto the next year and you don't turn that down, they got nothing else. To counter this drop going in on 2016 wasn't a bad idea, especially if you consider how the draft hadn't been very kind to them recently and with good records expected at least for a few more years they weren't likely to have any obvious great players fall into their laps.  Plus they could see spending changes on the horizon. It's hard to go all-in with a cap. So this idea was good but the execution failed. They didn't produce any guys who could help the team quick enough to halt the slide, nor any slow building big time prospects.  Luis Garcia is probably the best one and might end up being pretty good but he's a fringy Top 100 type. Worse by going all in on 2016 they kept themselves out of 2017 and 2018 best targets due to the singing rules.

I have the hardest time seeing anything wrong though with what they've done here. This was more bad timing than anything. Like I said, these are lottery tickets, the Nats hit a string of bad luck getting depth then went all in at their last opportunity, knowing they needed to to help fix a problem, and crapped out. Sure scouting matters and they could have done better, but any look at the international signees in any year makes it clear that this outcome is easily possible. 2016 itself seemed to be a little off year in terms of talent making it even harder. 

It was the final pieces of the puzzle though. The draft misses and the trades out emptied the Nats out. The international draft couldn't fix that. They'd have to sign FAs and they finally missed on some. The outcome of all that is going from a consistent division winner to an under .500 team. If they had held on any a fire sale might not have happened, but it didn't happen. So here we are. New team, young players, and a future that is at least a year away.

*more for a few years but the people in charge "fixed" that

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Draft

As we noted before the draft is one of those places baseball works against you.  You do well you draft lower and if you draft lower you get worse players.  It's obviously very specific to player but in general your first pick is likely a good useful player for several years, the next few picks likely long term usable players, the next few (say we're at like 5-15) at least role players. Then we're already into guys most likely to barely make an impact. And we're not even in the second round yet.  

Take the very first Nationals draft - the Zimmerman one - which was a LOADED draft that is one of the best drafts in the past 40 years. What do we see in picks 15-30? Ellsbury is the best guys there. Coly Rasmus. Matt Garza and Cliff Pennington. But then... Joey Devine. Chris Volstad. John Mayberry.  That's not even halfway through. Three guys didn't make the majors. (which in itself is pretty good actually) 4 more had negative WARs in their career.  So as many had any sort of MLB career that you might remember them as had no or a terrible and short career.  And this is the back end of the FIRST round. 

Anyway the point is the when the Nats started drafting they had it a lot easier. 4th in a loaded 2005 got them Zimm. A surprise 81-81 record got them a middling pick and Chris Marrero. Then they'd pull Detwiler in the first next - disappointing - and would waste a pick on Aaron Crow in 2008 who they wouldn't sign. But both those picks were 5-10 (6 and 9 actually) and again - the expectation is "useful role player" there. So not great work but not missing out on too much.  

And by then they'd be bad enough to get back to back #1 picks right when supposed generational talent showed up. Strasburg and Bryce. The number 2 picks each year? Dustin Ackley and Jameson Taillon. It matters getting that first pick. The higher the better. And Rizzo, now in complete control of the draft, knew that so he adopted a strategy. Pick guys that drop. Maybe because of injury, maybe because of something else but draft guys who talent wise would be higher. Why? Because every pick is a gamble and you might as well bet on the best talent. In 2011 with pick 6 that gamble paid off with Anthony Rendon.  In 2012 as well with Lucas Giolito with 16. Both guys were seen as #1 type talent who were injury risks. Tough to take at #1 but a steal at anything past 3 imo.  That's an impressive run of first round picks.

In 2013 they lost their pick to sign Rafeal Soriano. But in 2014 did the same thing and pulled in Erick Fedde. Not at the same level but when you are picking 18 what they got isn't bad.  2015 was lost again - but for Max. 2016 they drafted Kieboom - a kid they had their eyes on for years, enough so they drafted his brother and Dane Dunning. So things were going pretty well but signing FAs cost them draft picks and meant that when they did pick they had to count. These guys were pretty good but they weren't getting the same quality as before.

Then the strategy backfired. Seth Romero - dropped because of some, let's say, attitude issues -was picked up by the Nats in 2017. He hasn't gotten his head on straight and his pitching has followed. Mason Denaburg, dealing with a bicep injury, was drafted in 2018 when he dropped to the Nats. He hasn't been able to stay healthy. In 2019 they chose Jackson Rutledge who was fantastic as a sophomore at a JC but was only at the junior college because of a hip injury as a freshman at Arkansas. He got injured this season. 

To recap 2009-2012 - no misses. Two number ones help of course, but Rendon and Giolito both developed. Even if only used for trade bait that's something and you can trade a Giolito when you are working off a winning streak like this. 

2013-2019 - two years without picks, a couple decent picks when you had a chance but you probably traded away the best one, then what looks like it might be three straight misses. Admittedly we're still early on picks as far back as 2017 (really right now is when we should see 16/17 start to break in) but the early returns aren't great. 

And while the strategy was falling apart with the first round picks, something worse was going on in the deeper rounds.  In the early year the Nats were able to pull a couple major league players out of these rounds every year. Maybe not something great but something useful. From 2007 on they drafted in the later rounds :

  • 2007 - ZNN, Souza, Norris
  • 2008 - Espinosa, Milone
  • 2009 - Storen, MAT, Karns
  • 2010 - Solis, Cole, Grace, Barrett, Ray 
  • 2011 - Meyer, Goodwin

Not all great but you need players to fill a roster. You need prospects like Meyer and Norris and Karns to develop and deal.  

After 2011 though the well goes dry fast, Pivetta being the best pick over the course of several seasons

  • 2012 - no one.
  • 2013 - Pivetta, Voth
  • 2014 - no one 
  • 2015 - Schrock, Taylor Hearn, Glover

The Nats weren't messing up the first round picks yet but underneath they had nothing. These are the guys that would be early career players on the Nats in 2020, 2021 and there is no one there. Even if they weren't dealt... maybe Pivetta is with Ross and Fedde fighting for a spot?

2016 would be better, Kieboom, Dunning, Neuse, Luzardo, Dan Johnson, Barrera, would all be interesting enough to be dealt and/or good enough to make the majors. But since then nothing new.  Again its early but you like at least one surprise early showing ever few years or so. Glover was drafted in 15 and pitched in 16. ZNN drafted in 2007 and pitching in 2009. 


To wrap this all up the Nats were one of the best drafting team in baseball from 2007-2012. Yes part of that was having Stras and Bryce fall into their laps, but they also took gambles that worked out and pulled in about 3 major leaguers a year from the later rounds. It takes about 4-5 years for players to rise up out of the minors so you can imagine if you do that for 5 seasons how you'd end up with a top system even before you consider trade returns and international prospects. 

But they couldn't keep the first round strategy working for more than a couple picks and from 2012 to 2015 they had a drought of finding guys in the rest of the draft.  It happens but when you couple it with the fact you were now trading out instead of in, the minors deplete fairly rapidly. The one time the Nats did have a decent draft, in 2016, it had to nearly be turned around immediately for trades because there was nothing else in the system.

The Nats drafting acumen failed them at an inopportune time (right at the end of the window when they'd want to trade for players) and it failed them repeatedly.  1-2 years happen, 3-4 and you messed up. The Nats messed up. And with the few trades the did make for young talent being misses as well the Nats minor leagues were behind the 8 ball. Only international signings could save them but as you'll see that's a bad gamble and even coming up with a Soto couldn't do it.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Monday quickie - not the draft

 Hey it's a Monday quickie. I gots stuff to do.

Nats got swept by Philly and lost to Atlanta meaning they now need to over perform in 5 series to hit the magical 87 wins and  we're rapidly running out of series left.  There are only 16. Pretty soon we'll hit a point of no return if they keep not winning. Actually could happen before Labor Day! Not as if anyone really harbors any real thoughts about winning now. At 12 under, the Nats are at their lowest point since... well since last year, but if you disregard that like most of us do - at their lowest point since 2010. 

Fun times happen though this week at the Mets, a team who is straight up dying - having being swept by Philly losing first place and losing second place, and the Nats can drive a stake through their heart. They should do that if they can. That'd be something for the fans.

Weekly Kid Update

Riley Adams debuted and hit a big time homer. Josiah Gray was good again. But let's see some NUMBERS

Past 7 days 

  • Kieboom : .308 / .379 / .577 
  • Luis Garcia : .222 / .250 /.519 
  • Riley Adams : .125 / .222 / .500 


  • Andrew Stevenson : .182 / .182 / .455
  • Tres Barrera : .063 / .211 / .063

Sorry Yadi - you are like 39 years old. You don't get on this list.  Also if you didn't know Adrian Sanchez is also old. Looks like everyone is swinging for the fences. Kieboom is hitting well. There's some evidence that the bad hitters aren't doing that poorly actually and it's bad luck but a week's info is pretty spotty with stuff like that. Basically means they aren't striking out too much. Like Parra.  Oof that guy is toast. And pitching

  • Gray : 10 IP, 8H, 4BB, 12K, 1.80 ERA
  • Thompson : 2.2 IP, 4H, 1BB, 4K, 0.00 ERA
  • Klobosits : 4IP, 4H, 1BB, 2K, 4.50 ERA

Everyone else is like over 28.  Gray has pitched very well so far. Thompson might be getting lucky, Klobosits unlucky.  We'll check in each Monday

Friday, August 06, 2021

This is not my beautiful house - trades


Trades are the bane of the continued success of any team more than anything. They directly move out good young players in favor of other things. Trades deplete your youth trading wins now for wins later in a gamble to reach loftier heights. These gambles often don't pay off but eventually it's hard to avoid making them. That's because the goal is not to win a bunch of games. It's to win all the games, or at least all the ones you need to finish the season as champion. 

The Nats' early trades (pre-2009) were unimpressive mostly* because they didn't have much to deal. Both the minor leagues and the majors had limited talent. A lot of the deals were challenge trades to try to see if the major league talent they had could be turned into slightly better talent.  Langerhans for Morse? Milledge and Hanrahan for Burnett and Morgan? Sure, why not?

The Nats started making refresh deals really in 2009. Unless you are sending out high quality players (note : The Nats didn't have many high quality players) these type of deals are really about quantity. You are going to get back various levels of lottery tickets so you try to make as many as you can expecting a couple useful players while hoping to luck into something special. Joe Beimel, Nick Johnson, Ronnie Belliard were all sent out the door in 2009, but the limited returns they could fetch didn't turn into much. 2010 was a different story as Matt Capps brought back a stunningly high level prospect in Wilson Ramos and Cristian Guzman brought back Tanner Roark who'd later surprise. More trades mostly dealing nothing and getting nothing happened after that but then we got a surprise. 

The Nats made a deal to send out a bunch of talent from a system just getting together. In return they'd get a talented major league player. Gio Gonzalez was brought in for Derek Norris, Tommy Milone, AJ Cole, and Brad Peacock. Norris and Cole were among the Nats best prospects, and Milone and Peacock were Top 20 prospects in a deep system full of major league talent if not major league stars. All would end up doing something in the majors. But the trade was appropriate. The Nats could let Cole go if they got back a multi-year starter like Gio. Norris wasn't needed anymore after that trade brought in Ramos. It was a well thought out trade by both sides.

At this point the Nats started to win and the question was whether they would make those deals we talked about to start. They did, but not just those deals and not in a panic. High level guys like Alex Meyer and Robbie Ray went out to fulfill needs but also the Nats used off years like 2013 and talent gluts to deal out guys to refresh the system. An example that worked out as well as any such deal could was be the deal that brought in Trea Turner and Joe Ross for Steven Souza. 

2014 and 2015 passed with the Nats in contention and being very very minor deadline buyers. Things had gone as well as one could expect for over 5+ years. Some good guys went out, some good guys came in. It wasn't much coming in, the Nats first had little talent, then were mostly buyers, but it was enough to supplement the draft choices and international signings. 

In 2015 though we did get a warning sign that the organization wasn't perfect. Jerry Blevins was sent out for Matt den Dekker. The trade itself wasn't terribly impactful, but it was a bad deal with the general consensus being the Nats giving more than they got. Worse was seemingly the reason behind it, that Blevins would be traded for going to arbitration and making Rizzo mad. Staying ahead on trades is hard enough when you are being objective. That the Nats org could make a bad deal based on emotion was a troubling sign.

Heading toward what looked like the closing of the window, in 2016 they pushed a little harder and sent out four guys at the deadline, nothing too impactful, but it was their biggest trading of prospects yet. Then in the offseason came the deal that would start the fall of the system. Out went Dunning, Giolito, and Lopez for Eaton. It was an understandable deal on paper but the Nats vastly missed on the scouting of their own players. Dunning and Giolito have both become mid rotation starters with at least flashes of something more. Lopez has been a usable arm. That's way too much to give up for Eaton. The Nats bet that Cole and Fedde and Ross and maybe Voth would be as good or better but they were ultimately not. Eaton would of course help win a series but ultimately fail to live up to the Nats hopes for him in part thanks to dreaded injuries.

The system wasn't done but you'd now sent out a sizable chunk of talent. A desperate run in 2017 would send out more. Neuse, Luzardo, Treinen, and a couple other guys would go out as the Nats rebuilt their pen. The system kept dropping. 

The kicker ended up being the fire sale in 2018. Possibly fueled by Rizzo's annoyance at certain players, the Nats traded a couple of their major league caliber relievers. They got back one middling prospect and cash. As the team faltered they eventually also sent out key players like Daniel Murphy and Gio and others. The return? Next to nothing. In the end a half dozen major league players would go out and half a dozen minor leaguers would come in but it made hardly a dent in even the Nats modest Top 20 prospects. 

Trading is hard but for 6 years the Nats did a very good job of it. That's not to say the didn't lose some good players. They did. And it's not to say they got in all winners. They didn't. But at the end of the day, looking at any long stretch of time, the Nats always seemed to come out a little ahead. That's all you could ask for.  As the Nats reached the end of their window though they got more concerned with winning now and that spurred on more and bigger deals. Here it is imperative you know what you are dealing and the Nats targetted the wrong starting pitchers to deal and keep with precision. It was a big failure of self-scouting.  When a chance came to correct it, with a potential sell-off in 2018, the Nats didn't go all in, made a couple deals for possibly the wrong reasons, and came away with little. There was an attempt at a correction later but with less time left in the season the returns were smaller and again the Nats scouting couldn't bring back anything. A lot of players went out, a lot of the wrong players went out, and little came back. It was a pretty terrible 20 month run of organizational destruction.

But trades for a good team don't usually build you up and while they can account for a lot of the taking of talent away, you can't blame them too much for the lack of talent in. They are only supplemental in that regard. So when in 2021 you are looking at a barren system and it's been several years since you were big time buyers the fault lies somewhere else. Monday we'll look at that - draft and int'l signing failures.

*Alfonso Soriano deal excluded

Thursday, August 05, 2021

This is not my beautiful wife - How did the Nats get here

One could say being a playoff competitive baseball team for a long time is simple.You can break it down to four steps

  1. Sign free agents who are good
  2. Trade for players who are good
  3. Draft and develop good young players 
  4. Sign and develop good young international players

But simple doesn't mean easy. Doing all these things right for an extended period of time is hard and only gets harder the longer you try to keep it going. 

These things aren't easy for the usual reasons. Projection of player performance in the future is an inexact science. Everyone is going after the same pool of players. Player performance is variable by season. And of course injuries can dramatically change performance. 

There are other reasons as well. The game works against you. The salary cap puts extra penalties on teams trying to sign free agents past a certain point. Assuming you do well and win, you are assigned a worse draft position, and history shows that expected return drops remarkably fast in the first round. You also have cross-purposes that cause you to work against yourself. If you want to win it all you may trade some long-term potential for short-term gain. 

Some teams have found ways around these issues to maintain long term success. The Yankees have simply spent money* caring less about the salary cap than other teams. The Rays have dismissed the cross-purpose of trying to win it all and never trade for now hoping simply getting in will eventually lead to a title. The Dodgers have seemingly managed, at least in recent years, to do all four. But all teams are trying and few teams can make it happen. It's very hard to maintain.

Even so simply drafting lower, trading away some young players, and having less money to spend shouldn't damn a good team to become bad. Often, just as success is a mix of good decisions, good luck, and good timing, having it fall apart is the opposite. We're going to take a look at how that happened for the Nats, just like we looked out how it came together in the first place (way back pre-2015) That initial combo of good things led to an amazingly successful and YOUNG team which helped set up not only the first 2012-2015/6 window but the subsequent 2015/6-2019 one as well.  Hopefully this combo of bad things won't necessarily lead to another stretch of failure after this initial run. 

So to be good you need to sign the right FAs. The Nats managed to do that before 2019 with success.  I think I got all the 3+ year contracts here and they are a bunch of winners. (I looked at 3 year deals bc 2 years deals are an annoyance but they shouldn't really derail any plans for your team in terms of payroll. You might have to eat it for a year but that's it. Any team should be able to do that for a greater good)

Nats FA signings -

  • Werth 2011 (7/126)
  • Gio 2014 (3/? too lazy to tease it out extension with options  but it was at least 3 extra years)
  • Zimmerman 2014 (6/100)
  • Scherzer 2015 (7/210)
  • Kelley 2015 (3/15)
  • Murphy 2016 (3/37.5) 
  • Strasburg 2016 (7/175)

More worked than didn't. Max is in the top FA signings of all time. Werth went back and forth but in the end amazingly was worth it. Gio and Murphy were worth more and lots more than paid. 

Even the ones that didn't work weren't too bad. Unless 2022 goes in a different way than I think Strasburg won't be worth it over the course of this deal (and would opt out setting up a new deal) but he was worth almost 2/3rd of it in the first 3 years alone. Zimmerman wouldn't be worth it because of injuries but outside of 2016 he gave the Nats something every year. Kelley was good in 2016 and usable in 2018 before the trade. There was no complete losses here.

Just as important were the contracts offered that the players didn't take. Here's where you see the luck factor in.

  • Prince Fielder 2012 (6/???) - ending up signing for 9 years, one great year 2012, one full season after 2013, career ending injury
  • Desmond 2015 (5/89.5) - would be bad the next season, played decently on a modest 1yr deal with the Rangers, got a ton of money from the Rockies and was bad.
  • Zimmermann 2015 (5/105) - immediately hurt, never was good again.
  • Zobrist 2015 (4/60) - two good years sandwiching a bad one, hurt and barely played in the 4th
  • Ramos 2017 (3/30) - two average seasons, one good one

So maybe Ramos would have been worth it over the time but no one else comes close. That's four big time deals that the Nats offered, the players rejected, and the Nats were clearly better off for it.

Now let's look at the more recent deals. Again - this isn't about winning a title here. We are trying to find out why the Nats are bad now. So some of these decisions you might make knowing what you know even if they don't help in the long term

The Nats have pretty much struck out in their last 3 long term signed deals.
  • Corbin 2019 (6/140)
  • Harris 2020 (3/24)
  • Strasburg 2020 (7/245)

Injuries have laid Strasburg and Harris low and it's difficult to imagine either of them pulling anything close to what their contracts were worth out of the hat now.  It's hard to see them giving the Nats much of anything at all in fact. After a promising start for Corbin in 2019 - he looks to have potential to disappoint over every other year of the contract. We can reserve judgment of course but his 2020 #4 and 2021 #5 isn't helping much at all. Part-time good (like Zimm) is better than full-time blah.**

And the contracts they offered but the players didn't sign?

  • Bryce 2019 (10/300)
  • Rendon 2020 (7/210) 
  • Turner 2020 (6/100)

Whatever you think of Bryce he's been worth it over 3 years so far and he's barely older than Ross, Fedde and Turner. He's likely to be worth it for most of the contract. He certainly would have helped them be better the last couple of years. Rendon the jury is out but early indications are the injury bug is back for him and the Nats will have dodged a bullet. Turner of course is WAY too early to judge but him refusing the contract did put him in line to be traded, so while he was helping the Nats he was also setting up the sell as much as poor play by his teammates were.

The Nats couldn't miss with FAs until they couldn't hit. And rolling snake eyes with FAs is a good way to get bad fast. It's hard to develop players and on some level you have to see what you get from the youth and then target and fix the holes with FAs.  If you sign bad FAs not only are you not fixing the holes you set out to fix, you don't have the money to try to fix anything else.

Tomorrow we'll go through another aspect of where the Nats have put themselves in this position, this one by choice. Trades!

*A fortuitously timed missed playoff and reliever sell-off helped out as well. 

** Although full-time average is underrated. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

What will the downtime look like

The Nats blew it last night. Because they are bad.  Look we aren't kidding ourselves here. We don't think they can win. We're filling time in the dog days of a long season and looking at the kids only goes so far. How'd they do last night?  Gray pitched well. He gets a lot of FBs which you know a couple years ago probably would have relegated him to AAAA status but now he can get away with that again.  He didn't K anyone but threw a lot of strikes and only one of those balls made it over the fence so it worked out. I'd expect for now this is about the best outcome you'll see out of Gray. He won't dominate most lineups. Mason Thompson was next and he didn't look so good. Two hits, 11 strikes vs 10 balls. But he was able to dial it up when need be.  A live arm and it felt like the Nats didn't have many.  I don't expect success but it's a more fun lottery ticket. 

The non-new guys kept being junk. That's why they needed new guys! Suero was disappointing as he's essentially solid but overworked now to the point of can't use. Offensively it was almost less interesting until Kieboom put one in the seats.  You are going to play every day.  Do that more. We'll update these guys every so often, maybe weekly.  

So the Nats will now be bad. How bad and for how long are good questions that we don't really have a good idea about. I can say that their trades being for mostly older players suggest a quick recovery is what is being aimed at but the depth of the minor leagues doesn't quite support that. They have to hit on a lot of these to make it work out. 

A quick recovery would make sense, if you don't know if you can sign Soto (not that you don't want to, but if he's going to go to FA and everyone is going to throw money at him and you don't know if you are going to be the one throwing the most) The division has not gotten away from you. The Mets are star-crossed and have a bunch of FA decisions to make (Stroman, Conforto, Baez, Syndergaard). The Braves deep pile of young guns has only created confusion as they can't get 2-3 to perform and stay healthy. The Phillies never seem to know what they are doing  You have to try to get good ASAP.  You have an All-Star/HoF type entering his prime for relative peanuts for three more years. Use that to your advantage. In 2022 you play the best kids all year long; Kieboom, Keibert, Garcia, Gray, Ross, Fedde. You give the questions a bunch of time; Casey, Canning, any number of relievers.  You bring up Cavalli at some point. You identify the holes and address them and try to compete as soon as 2023. 

But the Nats weren't that way. Prior to the 2012 and beyond window opening up they were cheap. They took the team down to the studs, got terrible play, got great draft picks and rebuilt on the backs of those. You can argue this looks different but if they were looking to contend in 2023 why not eat more salary in the trades to get back slightly better prospects?  There seems to be a cross-purpose here which is get better soon and save money while you are at it. This could all be proven wrong with a big off-season signing this year, but that would be a pretty big ask for a team whose 1-2 is injured and mediocre. 

Next year should be bad. If it's 73 win bad with some promise than the bad times could be brief, at least for now. Eventually it all hinges on Soto. If it's 63 win bad with little promise than it could roll right on past a deal for Soto too and the dry spell would be at least half a decade. But this is sports. Nothing lasts forever unless you want to keep throwing money at it. The Nats got almost a decade of relevance by a combination of chance and skill. You aren't going to do much better.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Monday Quickie - Gauntlet continues!

Choose the Valkyrie.  

July is over.  The Nats went a disgusting 8-18 during that month pretty much sealing their fate. I say "pretty much" because the Mets only went 14-13 (and are only 29-28 since the end of May), and the Phillies only went 14-12 (and haven't been more than 2 games over .500 since May 7th), and the Braves only went 14-12 (and haven't been over .500 this year*)

With no one having a good month, and really there being only two good months in the NL East in total (The Mets' May and the Nats' June) the Nats theoretically still have a shot. Yes, we have 100 games saying "no, they don't have a shot in reality" but we don't play games in reality... or something like that. The team is also much worse, and the other squads slightly better, and at some point we are almost certain to see a 2-10 stretch ending this charade, but who doesn't love charades! We have reached the gauntlet part 1 with a chance so why not have some fun while watching some young guys play? 

What I said earlier holds though. The Nats can't lose any more series. The sweep by the Os means they need to overperform twice going forward. The hold vs the Phillies and win vs the Cubs get them nothing. That's what they need to do.  Another 4 at home vs Philly, 3 at Atlanta, 3 at the Mets, and 3 home vs Atlanta. 2-2, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1 = 8-5 at a minimum. If they don't hit that they screwed up somewhere. Too hard? That's exactly the record the Pirates have in their last 13 games against the NL East.  If they can do it so can these Nats! 


Ranger Suarez vs Josiah Gray 

Hey! Something interesting! Gray starts for the third time this year. In his first game he gave up three bombs - but all solo. Second time only 1 homer, but 4 walks. Expect him to go no more than 5 but maybe he could be good. Anyway you should watch because this is a guy they want as the 3-5 for the next 5 years. Suarez was a workman like starter in the minors (kept guys off the base and didn't give up homers, but didn't K anyone) but that doesn't usually play in the majors so they made him a reliever and he's done pretty well not looking to last 6+ anymore. He should be pretty good but only be in for 3-4 as they stretch him out as much as possible for the stretch run.

we'll say Wheeler vs Corbin

Corbin pitched like crap all July. Maybe June will be better.  When he manages not to give up homers, he walks too many and gives up too many hits.  The Phillies rotation is not set but it will almost certainly be Anderson, Nola, and Wheeler in some combination. I slotted Wheeler and Nola in their normal spots. Wheeler bounces between ace and old Wheeler. You have to hit him to beat him as he has pretty good control and keeps the ball in the park. If he's on - he'll strike guys out and is an ace. If he's not - he won't but he can still do fine.

and stick Anderson here vs Espino  

I can only say it so many times, Espino does what you need him to. As long as you are happy being in a game after 4-5 then you can't complain. Against a better line-up like the Phillies it's probably more like 3 runs in 4 innings but there are a lot worse things that can happen. Anderson is just a guy. He's not the worst and at his peak he could luck into entire good seasons but he just kind of puts it out there. He'll walk a couple, give up a homer, give up some hits. Still I'd rather have him as filler than Moore or Velasquez

probably Nola vs Ross

In his last 7 games Ross has given up zero runs three times.  He's thrown to over a 5.50 ERA in the other 4 games. He's a GB guy with OK stuff who messes up a fair amount of times and if the other team doesn't miss it or get unlucky he gets hit. That's who he is. Phillies need Nola to be that "near Cy Young" ace he has been in the past - great control, with swing and miss stuff who is homer control from being unbeatable.  He's been looking more like that recently after a late June, early July stumble 

You'd probably give the Phillies the edge in G2 & G4 so a win today would go a long way.  Let's keep going as we have all off-season to talk about not winning 

* The Braves have been 4-4, 12-12, 17-17, 24-24, 29-29, and 44-44. They are 0-6 in the following games.