Nationals Baseball

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Give him time

As much as it seems like I'm concerned over the Nats lack of movement, I'm really not. Mostly because I think it's just because we haven't gotten to the end of the trade deadline yet. Most deals take place right at the deadline. The Nats still have time to do something. They haven't in the past but like I said, there were stronger arguments that they didn't need to. Now there's a stronger argument to at least make a few minor changes so I'll expect them to do it until they don't.  They earned the benefit of the doubt with the Scherzer signing - as odd as the payout may be.

So we wait.

The Mets got Clippard which is good for them. The Nats could have done that. Did the Nats want to do that? Maybe. Heyman seemed to think so. I think more likely the Nats heard the Mets were interested, poked their head in to see what the going rate was. A-ball prospect probably didn't scare them off. Take his contract probably did. With no will (and no reason) to up the prospect to an actually good one the Nats walked away. At least that's how I see it.

There are better arms available and certainly more arms available. I trust the Nats will get one.

In the meantime let's focus on watching Rendon and Werth hit and seeing what we think. 

Oh just for funsies I got a hypothetical for you :

Strasburg never gets healthy. Fister never gets good. Gio gets inconsistent again. Roark never quite gets it going. The Nats in mid September look real good for the playoffs and Scherzer, ZNN and Ross are their clear Top 3 guys. Rizzo sits Ross because he reached his pre-set innings limit. How do you react?

(There are plenty of ways this doesn't happen. Plenty. But it isn't impossible so I'm curious)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dead at the Deadline?

In July of 2012 the Nats were playing great baseball and were in a fight to keep the Atlanta Braves off their backs.
In July of 2013 the Nats were finally healthy and struggling to get back in the playoff picture
In July of 2014 the Nats were playing middling baseball and were in a fight to keep the Atlanta Braves off their backs

In 2012 - August 3rd - the Nats dealt David Freitas to Oakland for Kurt Suzuki and cash to cover remaining 2012 salary. It would be their only trade of the deadline.
In 2013 - July 8th - the Nats dealt Ivan Pineyro to the Cubs for Scott Hairston and cash to cover some of the remaining 2013 salary. It would be their only trade of the deadline*.
In 2014 - July 31 - the Nats dealt Zach Walters to the Indians for Asdrubal Cabrera and cash to cover his remaining 2014 salary. It would be their only trade of the deadline.

Notice anything similar? Only one deal made. A minor leaguer of little to no consequence dealt. Most importantly - the Nats always got cash back.  Why is that important?

Aroldis Chapman - due almost 3 million
Craig Kimbrel - due over 3 million
Jon Papelbon - due almost 5 million
Tyler Clippard - due over 3 million.

The Nationals don't seem to get a lot of deals made. You can rationalize that if you want. In 2012 the window was opening - there was no impetus to deal young players for an old player. In 2013 the Nats were rather far out of the Wild Card and would stumble going into the deadline making deals closer to the end of July look foolish. In 2014 the Nats, much like this year, seemed to have the talent to separate from their next best competitor, they just didn't yet.

However, rather than rationalizing each year with a separate reason, it makes more sense to look at the thread going through all of them. The Nationals don't add salary for the current year. Hairston was the only one who didn't cost the Nats $0 in their current year. He only cost 1.5 mill or so AND the Nats got 500K for the following season. Also - the Nats would actually end up dropping the payroll later by dealing Suzuki.

This fact alone naturally limits the type of deals they can make, explaining both the low number of deals and why these deals lack the impact you might expect from a contender over three seasons.  Teams may throw in salary for a good player but either you have to up the prospect (Zach Walters was at least on the outskirts of propsect radars) or you have to eat other money. For both Hairston and Suzuki the Nats were committed to paying them the year after the deal as well. It wasn't a lot for the following year but it was something.

If this holds up - what does this mean for the Nats at this trade deadline? Clippard isn't owed anything in 2016. To get him back and pay nothing the Nats would have to up the prospect.  Papelbon isn't technically owed money for 2016... yet. There's a vesting option that he's in line for right now, but not so obviously in line for that the Phillies couldn't weasel out of it. The Nats are helping the Phillies out if they take him in a deal, but more out of a difficult situation than eating money. So the Nats would have to up the prospect, maybe not as much as with Clippard but somewhat. Either one then would be a pretty good prospect.

Chapman will be owed money in 2016 - he makes 8 million now and is due for arbitration, making a 12 million due not unlikely. So Chapman in theory could be had with cash without causing the Nats to up the propsects needed. Problem is of course the current asking price for Chapman is very high. Not upping it doesn't mean that much. Kimbrel is owed the most. 11 million for 2016 and 13 for 2017 plus a million buyout in 2018. His current cost is high but not as high as Chapman. That makes Kimbrel the most likely target for the Nats. Of course right now they supposedly asked for Turner so the cost isn't low, it just isn't the current asking price for Chapman.

The other possibility is rather than getting cash, getting the other team to take Fister or Desmond, two guys making a lot and not likely to sign next year, back in the deal. Desmond would be pretty unlikely. Despite the fans turning on him, the management never did (and luckily never were in a position to) and he seems to be coming back into form. The Nats need pop more than any other offensive attribute and that's what he gives them. Fister though... if Strasburg is healthy you have to like Ross at least as much as Fister. So Fister could go. But it would be just like asking for cash. The effect on the prospect asked in return would be the same.

In the end I can't bet on the Nats do anything of note. They haven't in 3 other seasons. This season is different though - being at the end of a window - so maybe that spurs them on, but I have to put a lot of weight on what we've seen so far. But if they do do something, what could it be? I still think Rizzo tries to pull a deal - decent prospect for a good young relief arm (potential Storen replacement). Maurer in SD, Blazek in MIL, Smith in SEA. Something unusual this time of year, getting a young guy from a team dealing. But the Nats have some SP depth - certainly enough to toss Cole into any deal. Sure wish he didn't look like crap and have a history of teams being half-heartedly behind him.  The other option would be getting Uehara or F-Rod, both owed money, but not an onerous amount, in 2016, from their prospective clubs.   Uehara especially is interesting and the Red Sox just want live arms and the Nats have that.

So there you go - have me bet on one thing? Uehara in to fill in that 8th inning role for say Cole and some A ball guy (Pivetta)? Voth+?

*Later in August - far after what I would consider the deadline - they'd do the funky DeJesus deal where they got him just to flip him. They'd also give up and send Suzuki back to the A's. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Now what?

I said it constantly over this series of the games but this Mets team does not scare me (for an NL East title) The Nats team I expect to see over the course of the rest of the season is better than the Mets team I expect to see over the course of the rest of the season. There are 60 games left. That difference will show. That doesn't mean I like this Nats team, the one on the field for the series, better that the Mets. That's kind of a push. It means that with Strasburg, Rendon, Werth, Zimmerman all likely back soon and Span maybe back later, that team is certainly deeper and almost certainly better than the Mets. So while the comeback victory was super fun it merely confirms what I had already thought.

I'd like the Nats to pull away now so we don't have to even talk about this anymore, but with Washington playing Pittsburgh, a pull away is probably not happening. It'll have to wait until the next series versus the Mets in a little over a week. Oh well.

The question then is 'What do the Nats do now?' Yunel Escobar seems slated for a DL stint, perhaps a long one, but with Rendon back that's not so much of a problem with the line-up as with the bench. Ian might even be hitting again (maybe... maybe)! Do the Nats make a move to get better when they likely don't have to to take the division?

I say yes. 

I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating. In my opinion, the point of athletic competition, as opposed to athletic endeavor, is to win.  In professional sports the dual nature of winning, winning games versus winning championships, can be seen as leading to conflict between now and later. But most understand this is faux conflict. Everyone agrees that the winning of championships take precedence. If you are not in line for a championship, it make sense to sacrifice the winning of games now to try to set up the future. If you are in line for a championship, it make sense to sacrifice the winning of games in the future to try to set up the now. That is in large part how it worked in the past. However, in today's baseball, a third type of winning has been introduced, the winning of theoretical championships in the future, and that type has for some reason assumed the top position. Now even teams in one piece away from the playoffs or one fix away from fielding the best team possible refuse to deal prospects of value. The future must be protected. 

In reality, the future is extremely volatile. In baseball, you have 30 teams, each trying to do the same thing, where a good team wins 56% of their games and a bad team wins 44%. With that slim difference between success and failure, an injury or two can derail a season, and a break out or two can turn a maybe team into a powerhouse. Planning for future success is smart, but depending on it is a fool's decision.

Don't believe me? We can even look back in the Nats brief history to see that it is true.  In 2012, the Nats were in arguably the best position a team could be. Heading toward the high 90s in wins. A very young pitching staff (23, 26, 26, 26) with three guys pitching like aces and a 4th guy that looked almost as good. A lights out closer just as young (24) and a decent group of not old set-up men. At worse top 5-ish young position players at 2b (25), SS (26), and 3B (27), another with that potential at C (24), and the league's best offensive prospect, who was still a teenager, in the OF. The only "old" players that were important were a 30 year old OF masher, a do-it-all veteran who had been injured but came back to put up a solid half-season, and a dependable 1B bat.

The questions for 2013 were limited - could they find a LHRP? Who would be the 5th starter? And the biggest one - do you re-sign the OF masher or dependable 1B because both are up for FA and you'd rather move the teenager to a corner OF spot? That's it. That's the list. All those names I mentioned above that weren't FAs to be? Only one would be a free agent before the 2015 season was over. You could hardly find a team in recent history better set-up for a window of success.

So when time came to potentially sit one of those aces because he was returning from injury it seemed like a safe move. Strasburg sat. They sacrificed the now in some measure for a future that looked completely secure.

In 2013 - Strasburg pitched well but the Nats missed the playoffs
In 2014 - Strasburg pitched well but the Nats won the NL East by 17 games. They did finish 1st overall in the NL by 2 games. He pitched a decent Game 1 but the Nats lost the game.
In 2015 - Strasburg, arguably injured, pitched poorly, sat out, pitched well briefly, went out again. He has barely helped a team struggling to overcome injuries to take the division.

So in 2012 the Nats looked to the future and saw the potential need for a healthy Strasburg to lead them to multiple titles. In mid-2015 we can look back and say if Strasburg did pitch in those playoffs and blew his arm out, that it would have had nearly no impact on the Nats fortunes since then. It would have probably cost them the #1 seed in 2014, that's it as of today. And that was as sure a scenario as I can possibly come up with.

Let's go with a classic and timely example - Doyle Alexander for Smoltz. You certainly know Alexander didn't get the Tigers another title and Smoltz became a Hall of Famer. You probably know Alexander did basically all he could and without him the Tigers don't make the playoffs that year. What it's doubtful that you think of is what Smoltz on the Tigers would have been like. The Tigers would miss the playoffs by one game in 88 but Smoltz was seen as unlikely to be playing for the Tigers by then and in fact struggled in a brief major league outing with the Braves. The Tigers wouldn't come close to the playoffs again before Smoltz would hit FA, though I suppose with Smoltz that maybe the 91 squad would have been close enough to make a move around the trade deadline. Maybe. Getting Smoltz helped the Braves, yes. But losing Smoltz really did nothing to the Tigers.

I can pull out a deal where things worked in reverse too. Deals where a guy was dealt for nothing and helped the team win (McGriff, Schilling, Lee got the Phillies to WS). But the reality is most trades are CC Sabathia for Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson and Michael Brantley.  Did the Brewers win? Nope. Did all those players become good? Nope. Did the player that did become good help the team win any championships? Nope.  Or they are Matt Holliday for Clatyon Moretnsen, Shane Peterson, and Brett Wallace. Did that player help the Cardinals win under his current contract? Nope. Did any of those players become good? Nope. Holliday would help the Cardinals in later years but they still had to sign him to a big contract. The trade merely got them an inside track. Most trades are nothings.

With most trades being nothings you may say "why bother trading?" Ok that's fine if that's your opinion, you nihilist. But for me it comes down to the point of athletic competition again. There is no one out there that thinks that hoping these guys all hit coming back from injury and hoping the pen works itself out is the best option for the Nats winning this year. How can you look at the players and say "You give it 100% to win it all. We in the front office are going to give it 90-95%! That should be enough! Team!"

This doesn't mean trade everyone for anything that helps a little in 2015. It means that the balance needs to be set correctly. The guys that are B-Level prospects who might be ok next year or down the road should be actively shopped. The A-level prospects who are already helping or seem like good bets to be good next year shouldn't be untouchable. The Giolitos... well there's a reason why people go back to Smoltz/Bagwell for lopsided deals. The "seem like sure things" aren't traded often.

I may be a soulless automaton, but I'm a soulless automaton who was programmed to understand that winning it all is what matters. The caution that made sense in 2012 when the window was clear, does not make sense in 2015 when the window is muddy. There are big changes coming to the Nats in 2016 and beyond. They could be good. They could not. All that I am sure of is they are very likely to make the playoffs this season and based on those facts above they need to act in a more urgent fashion. Anything less is an antithesis to the reason you get into competitive sports in the first place.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hard Pard?

Come on, it was Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard. You couldn't in your right mind expect a sweep. Hope, sure. Expect? Nah.

The question of the night was why did Matt Williams pull Ross for Barrett. If you squint you can kind of see where MW was coming from. Barrett had pitched well recently. Ross had been limited (on purpose) in his minor league starts, I'm guessing so if needed he could pitch for the Nats down the stretch and not increase his innings too much. Ross had been missing fewer at bats and has getting hit harder this time through the line-up. Matt probably thought that Barrett had the better chance of getting the K and keeping the Mets from tying it. Still Ross wasn't getting crushed, they hadn't reached the top of the order again, and more importantly the Mets don't have any threatening PH to bring up there. Eric Campbell? I think the kid should have had that shot to get Campbell out.

After that MW's second mistake was conceding the game in the 9th when he shouldn't have. After a single and walk and single, most relievers would be pulled to try to keep the game within a bloop and a blast. (especially with Bryce and your second best HR threat Espinosa up the next half-inning), but Matt stuck with Roark and the Mets put the game out of reach.

It's just another indication that whatever "feel" managers have for when and where to use what bullpen guys, Matt Williams still doesn't have that. Which again makes getting another arm that's unhittable important so down the stretch and in the playoffs, MW isn't forced to make these decisions. Give him an 8th inning guy he desperately needs. Let him try everyone in the 7th until someone clicks (one person will, right?) and then if the Nats need a guy before the 7th, well, the starter failed, good luck.

Ross in general? I think a good team would have gotten to him early last night when he didn't seem to have great control. I also think that he's 22 and there's something about the way he pitches where he seems able to raise his game. It's not all there yet, but it's ZNN esque. I like more about him than I don't like, but I also feel like the fanbase likes him way, way more than I do. If he pitches for a while he'll have some interesting games - rematches vs Pittsburgh and the Mets, then the D-backs, Dodgers and Giants, all good hitting clubs - that'll give us a better indication of whether he's a stud for 2016 or a rookie with some nice games and potential.

A lot of people are again on Desmond for a couple key Ks. I don't like it either but there can be a shuffling with him and Danny (middling for a month now) when Rendon comes back. What's more worrisome to me is Michael Taylor. He had a great catch in Game 1 but he's 1 for his last 23 with 10Ks and 0BBs. Makes Desmond look like Miggy. And Denard Span is the only guy not starting his rehab which means he'll play. If he keeps playing poorly the other option is denDekker which is to say there isn't another option.  Desmond's issues stink but there are solutions for today and tomorrow. Taylor's issues don't have either.

This game tonight is important.  The game tonight is not important. To me it's important only for "what if?" scenarios. What if Bryce gets hurt? What if the Mets go out and bring in a bat or two? The Nats are better. The Nats should take the NL East. Simply losing to the Mets isn't going to throw me into a panic. What it will do though, is make me very worried about the unknown.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Easy Peasy

The Nats beat the Mets last night. The Mets beat the Mets last night. Hard to win a game 2 teams against one.

This is why I said I still would have the Nats for the NL East even if the Mets swept 'em. The Nats are just a fundamentally better team. What is most apparent is how Bryce in the line-up changes everything. Beyond that the line-ups aren't all that dissimilar (right now). A couple decent bats, a couple ok ones, lots of issues. But Bryce... you have to think about him constantly. How do I pitch to the guys in front of him? Do I intentionally walk him? Do I unintentionally walk him? Do I challenge him? If he gets on base then suddenly your options to the next batter are limited. He's a speed bump for any pitcher trying to cruise through the Nats line-up.

The Mets have nothing close to that. What they do have is pitchers, but as we well know pitchers can be a persnickety bunch. Matt Harvey is not happy because he's not on a strict 5-day rotation and he pitched poorly to start last night. If the Mets don't have the starter going well then, you might as well change the channel. They had Eric Campbell playing first for god's sake. Matt Harvey drove in the only runs last night and no one was surprised. They are 4 for their last 72 with RISP. No I didn't type that incorrectly. 4 for 72.  The defense can be iffy and it was.  It was just a team failure.

And that's the 2nd best team in the NL East.

Still here the Nats are - a mere 3 games ahead of them closing in on 100 games into the season. You can look at the Mets and be surprised they are where they are (and fairly - they actually have been on the lucky side this year). You can look at the Nats and say "Jesus, guys. You are on an 89-90 win pace. Get it together". You should probably do both.

The Nats don't need to put away the Mets here. This Mets team isn't catching the Nats barring major injury or surprise trade. But I want them to do it. I want it for the obvious reason of putting your closest competitor in the rear-view ASAP. I also want it because I want to see the Nats of 2015 that I expected to see and that Nats team wouldn't be fumbling trying to distance themselves from a team who might not make the 2nd Wild Card, injuries or not.

deGrom tonight. He's the Mets All-Star. Beat him with a minor leaguer. Crush him. End this middling start to the year and begin the 2nd half run we all want to see.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Quickie - Must win is a little strong

No matter what the outcome of this series I still like the Nats going forward. The worst case scenario, the dreaded sweep, would only put the Nats a game out. The Nats would have guys trickling in, returning from injury, playing roughly as equal schedule as the Mets from here on out. Two games better? Yeah, I think they can do that.

Of course what would be best is for the Nats to crush the Mets' dreams right here and now with a sweep of their own. If you didn't know it, the Nats are kind of in the Mets' fans heads, much like the Braves were to the Nats fans for a couple years. The Mets have not fared well against the Nats during this window, with the Nats holding an enormous 41-15 advantage over the previous three years. 2015 stands at a more even 4-3 Nats edge right now, but Mets fans are expecting the shoe to drop at any minute. I'm not sure about the Mets team, but the Mets' fans would crumple over beating Harvey then DeGrom.

Unfortunately for the Nats they are struggling right now. It's not just Kershaw and Greinke. They are averaging under 3 runs a game in July, scoring 2 runs or fewer in 8 of 13 games. Chris Tillman, Anthony Delscafini, Manny Banuelos, old Jake Peavy and Matt Wisler have all had their turns putting in good performances versus the Nats.  As a team they are hitting a woeful .207 / .272 / .329 for the month (and that's with Bryce still being All-Star good). Some current performances

Clint Robinson : .268 / .348 / .390
Danny Espinosa : .213 / .275 / .362, 14K in 13 games. 

Party might be over for these two. Those aren't unworkable lines as the 7th/8th guy in the line-up but the Nats are scarily depending on these two. Why such dependence?

Michael Taylor : .191 / 224 / .255
Wilson Ramos : .167 / .205 / .238
Ian Desmond : .075 / .116 / .125

That makes the other OF spot be it denDekker (.200 / .250 / .533) or Moore (.241 / .241 / .379) worth considering. Werth is closest to returning, but remember that when Werth was here he was hitting just like the rest of these guys (.208 / .294 / .287).  I know a lot of you think once Rendon comes back and we get rid of Desmond things will be ok, but there is more than just one hole out there right now.

The Nats are going to likely need killer starting performances and Scherzer just went. Gio is up tonight.  He's been pretty good since June started, with only one bad outing, and a couple of solid ones. He's getting a bit more wild to be effective but the Mets aren't a particularly patient team. Joe Ross will likely take the mound in game 2. He's looked good down in AAA and we all remember what he did up in the majors. One thing you should remember though is those last two games were atypical for Ross. He's not a big K guy. If minor leaguers can get bat on his pitches, so should major leaguers. That doesn't mean he can't be very good on the mound though and if there's a team you want to make contact with your pitches it's the punchless Mets. ZNN will pitch game 3 looking to rebound from a blah outing in the lights-out game.

It's a good group. The Nats' starting pitching is very good remember. But it isn't the 1-2-3 I would have liked to see. So normally I wouldn't feel great about getting shutouts but it's the Mets. It took them 18 innings to score 3 runs. They've scored 2 or fewer runs 16 times in their last 26 games. (and in 7 of the other 10 they scored 3 or 4 runs). If there's a team that can be shutdown it's these guys.

Get ready for some tight baseball games this week. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Odds and Ends

Happy Baseball! Now don't blow it Nats.

Bryce Harper has hit .350 /. 455 / .650 since May 29th. Why is that random fact of interest to me? Because May 28th marked the end of his remarkable 3 week run where Bryce hit .460 / . 570 / 1.175. So since he's "cooled off" he has a line that would put him t1st in batting average (w/ Cabrera), maybe t2nd in OBP (Cabrera, Goldschmidt), and 1st in slugging in the major leagues. Bryce is awesome.

I got in a little Twitter discussion yesterday about the state of the team in the future. I'll admit I'm a pessimist. I see the Nats offense led by Bryce, yes. But I also see the 2nd-5th most valuable bats this year being gone in 2016 (Span), connected to an unsustainable BABIP (Escobar), with a guy Nats fans were ready to run out of town a year ago he was so bad (Espinosa), and a 30 yr old career minor leaguer (Robinson). That's the thread holding this offense together. I'll give you it could continue in 2015, there's less than half a season left. But come 2016 there has to be an expectation of this motley crew not carrying the team again. So who does? Rendon, ok, I'll buy that. But who else? 37 yr old Werth? Zimmerman, 2 years removed from a full season? If they don't come through. That puts a lot of pressure on MAT and Turner to be good next year. Not to mention the Nats losing ZNN and Fister and Thornton. Anyway the Nats will have money freed so there is room to spend/trade to fix these issues. But if they don't do anything there is potential here for a crash that hasn't existed since the window opened.

Will they do it through FA (The "Greinke" scenario)? Reason to be optimistic - the Lerners have cleared, however painfully slowly, all money hurdles so far. They signed someone to a big deal (Werth). They showed they'd do it again and for homegrown talent (Zimm). They showed they'd do it for a pitcher and raise their payroll to that "below the biggest spenders" range for a year (Max). The next question is will they remain in that 170 mill range? Reason to be pessimistic - the Lerners were bitching at 130 million about being "topped out" and although they did sign Max it was a funny contract that pushed money out over the next century. It also seemed like the issues with the pen (trading Clippard, Blevins) were money related.

OK enough about next year. I talked about the potential contenders yesterday. When you get down to the last few month SoS is important to consider. How does that break down? The NL East means that the Nats and Mets should both cruise for the rest of the year (12th and 11th easiest). That's also why I give the Mets an edge over the Cubs for the 2nd WC.  Meanwhile the Pirates have a little rougher road than the Cards, the Giants a rougher road than the Dodgers which makes catching them a bit tough.  The Giants in particular must survive this stretch (@TEX, @ATL, @CHC, HOU, WAS, @STL, @PIT, CHC, STL, @LA) That's a month with no patsies. Twist my arm and I'll say Cards, Nats, Dodgers, Pirates, Mets. so Nats play Dodgers first round. That'd be my guess today, but injuries and trades can change everything.

We're on the last legs of "Wilson Ramos can be a star" aren't we?  Wilson gets to hide behind all the bigger problems and surprise solid players but it's been a disappointing year for him. Finally healthy we hoped for a decent bounce back and we haven't gotten it. His walk rate has dwindled over time to a terrible 4.3%. His K-rate is going up each year. But the Nats don't have anyone close to ready to replace Wilson (Lobaton really isn't an improvement, Keiboom is middling in High-A). So Wilson it is.

I expressed my concerns with a Yuney/Danny/Clint led offense but in all honesty, I kind of like Clint's chances to stay productive for a few years. He never failed in the majors previously, just didn't get the chance, so we can't say that what we're seeing now is odd. He doesn't have crazy K numbers in the minors that suggest he'll be overwhelmed by major league stuff (see: Moore, Tyler). There's no unsustainable numbers helping him out. He isn't death against lefties (he's hit them quite well this year actually). With regular at bats in June and July his numbers have been relatively consistent. I just don't see any warning signs. I don't know where exactly he'll fall (above average or below are both reasonable) but I don't see him being so bad he couldn't sit on a bench for another couple years and he may actaully be a good bat there.

I'm also very curious to see Felipe Rivero more. His issue in the minors, which he arguably never solved, was he was too wild. And yet he's walking no one in the majors. His zone numbers suggest more pitches thrown in the zone (not a good or bad thing pitching wise if you are wondering - there are great pitchers on either end) so I'd guess it is an improvement that can be kept up, but I want to see more.  I don't know if a trust that it just clicked when he hit the majors after not getting it in the minors since 2012 - including in Nats org.

xFIP suggests* that the Carpenter, Janssen, and Thornton all should get worse. It does however like Treinen and Barrett. So trade for someone I guess, I'm tired of these guys.

BABIP suggests Escobar will dip (Bryce is up there but he's doing something special, Taylor is up there but we don't know his level). Zimm and Werth would both be candidates for improvement if we didn't think that the BABIP issues could be injury related. So the best hope for a rebound 2nd half? Desmond. Nothing huge though - he is hitting the ball weaker.

Also read this on Desmond. It's a lot of what we were saying over time but put together nicely.

*Why do I say suggest? Relievers pitch so infrequently these things can last the 30 IP or whatever they have left. xFIP is more of a year to year thing to look at, but a glance now isn't completely without value.