Nationals Baseball: See I did it

Thursday, September 21, 2023

See I did it

All I had to do was doubt the Nats and they'd run off a couple of wins.  Why if I just said they stunk every day they'd be 162-0.  Barring a complete 0-9 meltdown to end the season I'd have to say it was mildly successful in terms of what happened on the field. There are some sneaky bad things about this team that should give pause to what we expect in 2024, but again this isn't about 2024 it's about 2025. Eyes on the prize. 

 What should we focus on team wise in the last 9 games? 

Can Garcia show a spark of life? He had a .259 / .293 / .362 line when he was sent down for spite and he's hit .237 / .293 / .447 since being called up because the alternatives might have been worse. The mild spike in power is nice, but we'd like to see even more because he's going to be pencilled in as the starter to start 2024 but guys like House and Lipscomb might need a home. 

Can Abrams get to 20 homers? We like round numbers like that. 

Any last minute pushes by a call-up or wannabe 2024 player?  Alex Call has spent 3/4 a season proving he can't hit. Jake Alu only 1/4. Remember the brief "Ooooh Carter Kieboom" era? Yeah he stinks again. Can Blake Rutherford get some major league hits to make other teams interested in him because he's probably going to get passed like a Accord on the Autobahn at the only position in the Nats org where there appears to be a surplus of talent.

Can Gray keep pitching well? A couple of good outings against trash teams has got his ERA down to 4.00. He'll have two more starts and the competition is tougher. How much can he build on 2023 other than to say he can pitch a whole season?

Can Irvin hold the 5th starter role to start next year? Depends on the Nats really. Corbin is STILL here, Williams is also under contract, and they want to start Gore and Gray. That leaves one spot. Irvin has done enough that you'd stick him in there but if you want to try ANYONE else he's the guy kicked to the curb. A couple really good starts to finish the season and maybe you see if you can move Williams for trash.

Not that intersting but it's a team with it's eyes locked two years into the future. If we just let the Nats play out the strings before talking about them, what should we focus on instead in these last three series if not the team's performance? 

The NL divisions are all but over. The East (Braves) and West (Dodgers) are done and the Brewers have opened up an almost insurmountable lead on Chicago. Basically either they have to completely crash or the Cubs have to completely dominate. The Braves are in the HFA driver's seat so it comes down to the WC.  Right now the Phillies look in good position, but the last two spots are up for grabs. The Dbacks slightly ahead of the Cubs, Marlins, and Reds with outside chances for SF and SD if they do something special.  With the true balanced schedule though none of those teams play eachother this weekend and only one series is set up between any two - SD @ SF at the beginning of next week. 

In the AL there's a lot more to play for. The AL East is still up for grabs with Baltimore holding off Tampa Bay, and the AL West is even more contentious, the Astors only a half game up over the Mariner and Texas.  Of course the flip side of that is the Wild Card is much less interesting. The Orioles/Rays loser will have a spot and will be joined by two of the Blue Jays, and the losers in the AL West. One team out. Everyone else in. All the head to head excitement is limited to the Mariners who play the Rangers this weekend and then follow up with the Astros then the Rangers again. So those would be the games to watch. 

The postseason awards are lining up to be pretty low invitation affairs. Ohtani should get the AL MVP putting together 3/4 of a season of MVP hitting with 3/4 of a season of good pitching. There really isn't anyone close*. It's only a question of if enough voters choose to take "valuable" in the "get my team to the playoffs" sense.  The NL MVP is either Acuna or Betts. It'll probably be Acuna though because it's the fielding difference that makes it a toss-up and it's not like Betts is amazing or Acuna is a slug. Betts is just very good and Acuna below average so there isn't anything compelling "move the needle" there. 

Cy Youngs are in theory more open in these days of no one throwing innings or getting wins. Though Cole probably gets it in the AL - most IP, best ERA in league. Sonny Gray might have pitched just as well but at 8-7 there isn't a reason to fight for him. Luis Castillo of the Mariners and Zach Eflin of the Rays are probably 2/3 in some order. In the NL there's Snell with the ERA, Strider with the wins and the "in a vacuum" best stats, and Zac Gallen and Justin Steele who are in the mix. I think this is still up for grabs if someone wants to finish very strong, but Strider probably has the best path.

*Even full season Judge, who did deserve it last year - he didn't just hit homers -  wouldn't have been that much of a challenger this year, though he would have easily slotted in 2nd


John C. said...

FWIW (not much) I think that Trevor Williams will be "competing" for a rotation slot and not a default option. I think that the Nationals go for a mid-rotation free agent (Jordan Montgomery type) to join a Corbin/Gray/Gore/Irvin group (Irvin, Williams, Rutledge, and Adon competing for the #5 slot with Irvin having the tiebreaker). If all goes well the Nationals would be able to move Williams into a long relief/spot starter role, a role that he was successful in after being traded to the Mets in 2021.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Unfortunately, with the current FA market for pitching, even a Jordan Montgomery type is going to command a MUCH higher salary than deserved. There just aren't a lot of great names out there that aren't also very old, so he'll likely command a 5/100 type contract at minimum. Not sure the Nats are ready to go there

Harper - on the Judge asterisk...are you saying he's played well enough this season to be in consideration had he played the whole year...? Or are you saying last year he would've finished 2nd to this year's Ohtani...? Because honestly I disagree on both. Dude put up over 11fWAR last year, easily enough to beat out Ohtani's 9fWAR this year while also smashing 62 homers. Maybe Ohtani puts up another 1-2 wins without injury, but I don't know. While this year Judge wasn't nearly on pace to beat out Ohtani without injury

The Ghost of Ole Cole Henry (JDBrew) said...

Are we all just assuming that Cavalli isn’t gonna pitch next year? He should be back at spring training.

G Cracka X said...

Cavalli will be back next year, but I think it will be more like mid-season

Harper said...

CP - I meant what you said. Last year Judge was legitimately great and deserved the MVP. This year he was still great, but even if you play that out without missed time he doesn't come close to Ohtani.

Ghost / GCX - Cavalli "return" date was thrown out as June 2024. Not sure if that means back in the minors or in the majors but he's not starting the year in the rotation unless something unexpected happens.

DezoPenguin said...

I have to agree with John C.'s take on Williams. The guy's been straight-up bad, as in -0.2 fWAR bad. As in, a win and a half less valuable than Patrick Corbin (who's honestly managed to be a vaguely functional innings-eater for us this year). At this point, I'd put him in the pen (we gave him his chance to start all year and he stank; he has nobody to blame but himself at this point) and let Adon (who's also been better than Williams) or Rutledge (who hasn't, but is young) or somebody keep Cavalli's seat warm if they don't sign a legit starter.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing, it appears that the Strasburg contract isn’t a knock on Rizzo. It was all Ted apparently:

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