Nationals Baseball: Monday Monday... Monday

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Monday... Monday

What a difference order makes. If the Nats had won the first two games then lost the last two we'd be bemoaning the fact that the Nats missed a chance to put away the Braves. The Negative Nellie Olesons would be forcasting gloom and doom with the back of the rotation spotty (What will happen when Strasburg is shut down!) and with Ian now out for an extended period of time.

Of course that didn't happen.  Instead the Nats lost the first two and won the next two. That's why most Nats fans are pretty jazzed. They stared down a team hungry to take the Nats out and suffered a brutal loss but bounced back to take the last two games behind a call-up and the 5th starter! Best team ever!  Such heart!

What do I think?  A little disappointing not to take 3 games in a series at home versus a team that's no better than you, but 2-2 is fine. What you didn't want to see is a Braves team that looked better than the Nats. You didn't want to see a team that could make a legit run at the NL East and you know what? You didn't see that team. Sheets pitching well only holds ground for the Braves.  Hanson has been floundering. Jurrjens looked HIDEOUS and should be shut down for the year. Honestly, the worst thing about the weekend is that it could force the Braves to realize they need to make a move for a Greinke.

Notes -
  • Jamie Mottram at Mr Irrelevant  had a great take on Lannan coming in for Strasburg later in the year.  You should read it if you haven't already. Which you probably have.
  • How funny is it now to go back and read those apocalyptic tweets following the game 2 loss.  "last night = turning point of season", "last nite works like that. We r human we feed off emotion. Season ended last nite. Mark my words."  Ha! 
  • Desmond loss is big... depending on a couple things.  Can Morse find his power stroke? Can Bryce go on another dominant stretch? Can Werth hit like he did before going out?  There's a lot of places the Nats could make up for Ian's loss.
  • I told myself not to worry about Zimm or Danny and they have come through to not make me look like a fool.  Danny has had an excellent July (.354 / .394 / .569), Zimm's is other worldly (.414 / .481 / .886).
Also, I've always found the "In his first X games Bryce is doing this comapred to Mike Trout" silly (mainly because I think it favors Trout) so to stop anyone from using that I'll note that Trout has passed Bryce using that metric too.

Trout (First 74) : .281 / .338 / .479  10HR, 38RBI, 44R, 13SB
Bryce (First 74) :  .269 / .339 / .438  8HR, 26RBI, 48R, 12SB

(In the next 6 games  Mike Trout will hit .440 and steal 6 bases. Then will have a 6 game mini slump then will be hot until... well until whenever he isn't hot again - he's hit .412 with 9 homers in the past month).  Mike Trout is the better player right now.  Doesn't mean you'd rather have him on your team, or that he'll have a better career, (Bryce is 14 months younger at an age when that really matters) but this shouldn't be an argument now.



Jeff Hayes said...

Good post. I agree fully. I was pretty devastated after Friday's lost but, in retrospect, I don't see it as a sign of anything signifcant, even if it was an historical collapse. If anything, the game was a positive sign because it further demonstrated our resurgent offensive capability. Yes, our pitchers generated some major concerns, but we have far less reason to be worried about them than we do our hitters.

Harper said...

Either the Nats resurgance or the Braves awfulness - either way it's good news for the Nats. We're getting close to twiddling thumbs mode as followers of the team. There's not much needed to do in the pen or rotation, not much that can be done in the line-up. We're waiting out the strings of 6 wins, 5 losses, until the Nats make the playoffs or something unexpected happens. It's kind of the Bizarro universe version of the last few years of "just get the season over with".

Josh said...

How do the Braves make these crazy, perfect, trades every season and seemingly give up no one of importance?
As far as the Nats go, this season we have a surplus of talent at every position. How convenient that Espinosa is a more than capable SS, and able to seamlessly move to that position when Desmond has gone down. Likewise, how convenient that Lombardozzi is a true 2B and can seamlessly move back into that position as a result of Espinosa moving to SS.
My question about the outfield regards the plans to integrate Werth back into the lineup a redhot Bernadina, a Morse who's heating up, and a slumping Harper. Hopefully, Davey will continue to platoon the outfield and give everyone ample rest. I feel like Harper especially could use a few days of rest, and it doesn't appear as though Bernadina is ready to stop swinging a hot bat.
Since the return of Leon, I feel much more confident about our catching situation. Hopefully Flores isnt out for long with his back, because it's always good to have more than 1 decent catcher. Hopefully injuries can stay at bay and we can manage at this current set until Desmond comes back.

DezoPenguin said...

Yeah, I myself was very down on Zim earlier this season. (On the other hand, it looks like his struggles were genuinely a medical problem since his cortisone regimen seems to have been the necessary fix, so I don't feel too bad about that--and it's one reason why I'm glad that Desmond is going to get the time to heal and hopefully come back at full strength.) Thankfully, Lombo is an adequate utility guy (though I wish he'd hit like he was earlier, since his offensive value is purely determined by how many of the balls he puts in play fall for singles, since virtually every time he bats the ball gets put in play) and Werth coming back will free the need for the Moore/Lombo LF platoon.

Leon's return was timely (remember, he was the first option to come up as backup, not Maldonado and Solano), and finding out how he'll perform could also shore up the one genuine weak spot in the lineup.

And's nice to note that over twenty-seven innings pitched by Nationals starters in this series, exactly *one* of those innings was a bad one (Strasburg's 6th, obviously). One. As always for this team this year, it's the starting pitching that drives everything else.

Anonymous said...

Dont talk about HIDEOUS game, when the Nationals lost a game 9-0. Bullpen starting to blow up in their faces? Of all things, any logical baseball fan knows that a bullpen this good can't hold on for a full season, and since the Nationals cannot score runs (still have not reached 400 mark), watch the implosion begin!

WiredHK said...

Agree, I was another very down on Zimm (recommending he learn how to bunt during the height of my frustration). Great to see him looking healthy and just destroying the ball. NL player of the month in July? And Espinoza raising his BA 20 points in the last few weeks is equally huge. We will need both of those trends to continue to absorb the Ian loss. Feels like this team is just destined to not have all its pieces together all year. Thank goodness for depth....

Now, let's get Gio and Stras headed back in the right direction this week. If that happens, nothing else is too big a deal.

Anonymous said...

DezoPenguin... Gio gave up 2, 1, 2, 1 in consecutive innings. What exactly is considered 'GOOD' about those first 4 innings to the game?

Anonymous said...

Harper went 2-12 in the series... another stellar outing(s) to add to the resume. Or how about just a .254 July to increase his ROTY candidacy

hoo said...

The Detwiler bandwagon will not be denied.

160 IP since last year with a 3.00 ERA. Part of this is fluky giving up a lot of runs but not earned runs.

If he's a number 5, he's one of the best 5s in the league. I'll be thrilled if he ends the year with an ERA under 4. That would be solid for a #5 who's learning his way.

Anonymous said...

^^^^Turd (Anonymous), meet punch bowl (this comment thread).

Donald said...

The most troubling aspect of the past week to me was Clippard's string of 3 games in a row with runs given up. Everyone has an off day so any one of those games I'd easily write off, but 3 in a row looks like trouble. I'm not sure if he's righted that ship yet and it could be a big problem if he hasn't. We could easily have lost those two games against the Mets which would have made Friday's loss even worse. Storen may return to form, but until that happens, we're pretty reliant on him.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Donald, Clippard's last few outings have been troubling, but honestly he has been way overdue for a let down. He should be given a few extra days rest and be back to normal in no time.

One last note about the Friday Debacle: as fans we must not discount the rain as a major contributing factor in that loss. Some guys do not do well with poor weather and obviously our relievers may fall into that category. The wet weather affects everything from the grip on the ball to how loose or tight the uni gets around the shoulder. Not excuses, just facts, the guys looked uncomfortable and it showed in their pitching. They are going to be just fine down the stretch. The Braves were lucky. --Vdub

Kenny B. said...

I count myself as among those who probably overreacted to the Friday/early Saturday losses. I'm still a little concerned about Stras and Gio lately, but I suspect they'll get it going again. I was glad to see Lannan's return go well.

So basically, like DezoPenguin said, the starters in this series were outstanding with the exception of one bad inning. Given the incontrovertible correlation between the starting pitching and the team's success, that's a pretty huge positive to take out of what in retrospect feels like a really weird series.

blovy8 said...

Your fear is spot on regarding the Braves adding a guy in their offers for an ace starting pitcher now.

I'm guessing the way they've abused Lannan this year, there's still a good chance the Nats will get another starter despite this past excellent gutcheck outing.

But first, they need to get a solid defensive shortstop off the garbage pile and stick him in AAA. I'm coming around on the idea of one of those meh catchers like Solo or Hernandez after all. It's only money, and it's not mine. Well, not directly, anyway.

DeRosa is the backup MI. Well, I guess I should have expected at least one more injury.

Zimmerman11 said...

Great comeback after two crushing losses. The 2005 team does NOT come back to split that series :)

Also concerned about bullpen... but we are adding a 40+ saves guy in Storen... and Davey admits that after all but ignoring Burnett early on, he's ridden him hard and put him away wet lately.

Who do we have in AAA who can help out in the late innings??? Anyone?

DezoPenguin said...

@ Anonymous:

Gio didn't pitch in the Braves series. The starters were Strasburg, Jackson, Lannan, and Detwiler.

Zimmerman11 said...

And in other news, MLBTR is reporting Atlanta has traded for Ryan Dempster. Bummer!

Jeff Hayes said...

8:09 Anon - Despite my better judgement, I'll take you seriously for a second.

You're obviously not accounting for the fact that our offense was slow to get started. But now that it has warmed up, its hard to see where this "implosion" is going to come from. In the last 30 days, we've scored more runs (140) than any team in MLB other than Pittsburgh (147).

Donald said...

For what it's worth, this is Boswell's take on Dempster from today's Q&A and it isn't flattering. He thinks Dempster is going to revert to his mean any "split-second now"...

"The last four years, Dempster's ERA has been 3.65, 3.85 and 4.80 last year. His current 2.11 ERA is the dfinition of a fluke; it's a great half-year by a 35-year-old pitcher with a career 4.31 ERA!"

blovy8 said...

Dempster will probably regress some yes, because he's getting lucky in homers, babip, and stranding runners somewhat, and nothing stands out except a few more first strikes, but the guy has had a 1.52 ERA on the road for a crappy team. Regressed numbers from that are still gonna be pretty good.

bigyim said...

"Dempster...has had a 1.52 ERA on the road for a crappy team. Regressed numbers from that are still gonna be pretty good."

Yes, but as Boz points out, those regressed number will in all probability be equal to/less than Detwiler's ERA. Which is why we didn't trade for Dempster (despite fan reaction to the contrary).

Harper said...

Josh - A surplus of talent? Ehhhh. I wouldn't say that. A bench of capable fill-in talent that's flexible? Ok.

Dezo - SP and Bryce Harper if the national media is to believed. Ryan who?

Anon - pen won't be as good as it has been but their are talented arms there. Gio may have had a bad game recently but his two starts before that were fine. He's a good pticher. Bryce may not be carrying the team but he's still an above average hitter (at 19) All this is enough with the starters the Nats have.

Wired - I do think the Nats are due for a bump in the road when everything is going wrong. Like a 5 game losing streak. But personally I don't think that'll be enough to make any difference. They've built up too much of a lead on a mediocre NL East. (remember when people were saying it was the best division in baseball?)

hoo - he is one of the best #5s in the league. the 3.00 ERA is a little deceptive. He has a small chunk of innings as a reliever where he's excelled both years. but 3.30/3.20 is still really good. I am a bit hestitant to say he's still learning. For most players 26 is peak time, not learning time. But that's looking at the down side.

Donald - I don't worry about the pen now. In the playoffs... it's should encounter and extended rough stretch. Let's hope it's only now.

VDub - meh - I will discount rain. These are all major leaguers. They should be able to pitch in the rain.

Kenny B - Yep starters still awesome. Until that becomes "Oh no, Starters all injured!" the Nats are gonna be fine. And I mean that in the years long sense.

blovy - given how good the Nats are playing right now, and how weak the depth is in the minors I don't think Rizzo does anything.

Z11 - the 2005 team doesn't split this series because they were not very good. As for arm help, no one worth sitting one of these guys down for, unless you want to give up on H-Rod.

All - the whole Dempster thing boils down to this : He's not going to be this good, but he'll be better than what the Braves would be putting out. Therefore it helps them. It's either a little help, or if they get lucky, and Dempster doesn't slow down this year, a big push. We'll just have to see (if he even comes)