Nationals Baseball: Playoff Baseball in 3, 2...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Playoff Baseball in 3, 2...

Is the tension killing you? Just wait until you get to an actual game.

So playoff previews are out until tonight's game is decided.  I'll hopefully have one tomorrow though for you to peruse.  Today will be just some odds and ends

Live Something or Other

I couldn't NOT cover game 1 live, right? So I'll be somewhere on the internets doing just that. Do you guys prefer a Cover it Live type of thing? Is twitter good enough? Are you going to be so into the game you don't care if I'm out in the yard pruning the azaleas?

Wild Card predictions

I like the Braves to beat the Cardinals. Medlen's control plays to the Cards weakness of not being patient. Lohse's been ok but recently prone to the long ball (7 in his last 8 games) and he's not a lefty which means that middle of the Braves line-up looks much better.

Freeman OPS vs LH starters : .752, vs RH starters .822
Heyward OPS vs LH starters : .721, vs RH starters .867
Jones OPS vs LH starters : .697, vs RH starters .934

Braves get to Lohse pretty early, Medlen and pen shut the Cards down.

I like the Rangers to beat the Orioles. Both teams rely heavily on the long ball to score runs, but the Rangers hit much better, meaning they score more runs while the O's are more of a 3 homer, 4 run, watch the pen hold 'em type of team. Joe Saunders' year isn't a fluke really.  He's had strikeout years this good (5.8 K/9), and walk years at least in the area of this this good (2.0 BB/9).  This year he put it together.  But still he's not a strikeout pitcher, and he's not a GB pitcher (43.1%), so expect a lot of flyballs and some to go out of the park. He's given up 4 in his last 4 games (and 2 solo, 2 1-run so it didn't inflate his ERA)  Darvish strikes out more (10.4 K/9), gets up more GBs (46.2%), and while he had had control issues this season he's only given up 10 walks in the past 7 games, compared to 59 strikeouts.  While maybe the Orioles are able to tag one, I just don't see them scoring enough to win.  I see the Rangers holding a lead and steadily building on it, until busting it open knocking Saunders out. Orioles comeback but it's not enough.

Media Playoff Predictions

I've seen a fair amount of Nats World Series predictions.  Of course Scott Boras' Lambchop, Mr. John Heyman, picks the Nats but he's not alone. The Nats are 6-1 in odds right now trailing only the Reds and the Yankees (and you have to figure the Yankees odds are inflated because of their popularity*) which would put them 3rd out of 6  out of the non WC teams.

The ESPN mutli-"expert" picks break down like this :

Lose in NLDS : 12
Lose in NLCS : 9
Lose in WS : 3
Win WS : 5

That's a little interesting. Those that like the Nats as the class of the NL think they are the class of the league as well. There are a fair amount though, that don't like the Nats at all.  Contrast that to the American League where only 4 of the 29 have the Yankees losing to the WC winner (all Texas - only 6 think BAL will win tonight)

*not that Vegas has a Yankee bias, but more people like the Yanks and will pick them to win then should based on talent and those bets would drive the odds down

Strasburg Shutdown matters

We don't know what the playoff rotations are just yet but because of the off days the Nats could see Medlen or Lohse in Game #3 on regular rest. If Strasburg was still here I would say this

Strasburg vs #2 : ++ advantage
Gio vs #3 : +++ advantage
ZNN vs #1 : - disadvantage

Gio is basically another #1, so him versus anyone's #3 is in the Nats' favor bigtime. ZNN is like a good #2, so while you'd still like the other teams #1, you wouldn't be surprised if ZNN hung right in there. Now it's more like 

Gio vs #2 : ++ advantage
ZNN vs #3 : ++ advantage
Jax/Det vs #1 : -- disadvantage

That second game is still in the Nats favor, but it's not the seeming lock it was before, at the same time what was almost a toss-up in game #3 becomes one you expect the Nats to lose.

This isn't to say that they shouldn't have shut him down, that was an injury concern, but to those that don't think it matters because Strasburg was struggling, and Detwiler and Jackson looked good, just think about Detwiler vs Medlen or Jackson vs Lohse instead of ZNN being in that game and tell me it doesn't matter.


Donald said...

Not to say it doesn't matter, but if we see Medlin in game 3, it means we're facing a lefty heavy lineup. While Znn is > Det, it might not be as big as it could be.

On a related note, Davey said none of his pitchers are going to go on short rest. That means Gio is not pitching game 4. I kind of doubt that holds. Maybe Jackson pitches game 3 as the sacrificial lamb against Medlin and we take our changes with Det in game 4 because he's a lefty. But if Det pitches and loses game 3 against Medlin, do we really start Jackson in game 4 if we're down 1-2? All too far away to decide, I guess.

For what it's worth, I think your WC predictions are right, though I have an inkling that the O's might just surprise Texas. The O's have played better in clutch situations this year, looking at their extra innings outcomes and how Texas tanked against the A's.

Anonymous said...

Detwiler is getting skipped over. Lannan will be the pick if they need a lefty.

TheManBearPig said...

Harper, I'm sure you're not alone in thinking that if he were to pitch in the playoffs, Strasburg would somehow recover his early season form. But there's a reason why his performance became more and more inconsistent as the season wore on - lack of command, which seems pretty common among pitchers in their first post-TJ year. I think we have to say that Gio and JZimnn are 1 and 2. If we assume that Stras could pitch as well as he did in the 2nd half, Det (whose ERA, WHIP, BA against and HR/9 are all better than Stras post-all star break) is still no. 3 with Stras as the Nats no. 4 in a playoff rotation. There's no way that Stras would be the Nats starting pitcher for game 1.

Shane said...

Don't prune the azaleas now, they won't bloom in the spring! ACtually I don't know. What's your twitter handle?

Harper said...

Donald - ok IF the Nats play the Braves it may not make a big difference, but the Cardinals? Or in the NLCS/WS?

I agree - I think Davey is saying what he'd like to do but what he will actually do will depend on circumstance (which is how it should be).

Anon - heard the same thing but I'll only believe it if I see it. (which may not happen if the Cards are the opponent)

TMBP - I'll agree that he didn't finish well, but did he really become more and more inconsistent as the season went on? I think we're basing a lot on that super start and those last 4 up and down games. From May to mid August there was no trend toward anything. I'd buy more he lost it at year's end than he was gradually getting more inconsistent.

We can't have any idea of what the rotation would be without knowing how Strasburg did in those games he didn't pitch. Off and on the rest of the year - then maybe he's your #4 since you want to maximize your lefties (though ZNN hasn't been lighting the world on fire), but we can't be sure he wouldn't finish with 3 straight gems either.

Shane - I'm not sure either, beyond prune after they bloom - so I'm screwed (no actually they are pruned if you are worried, which I'm sure you are)

My twitter handle is "harpergordek"

Zimmerman11 said...

I will be staring at the television in the man cave... but I suppose I would grab my phone or tablet and check out tha twitterz if you was tweetin'

Anyone else want to hear Harper give some objective analysis of his beloved Yankees heading into the postseason? I would certainly give him a pass on this being a Nats blog (especially if it were just here in the comments section).


BlueLoneWolf said...

I'd say that GoodDet/GoodJax is only maybe a - against a number 1, and that also depends on our offense against said number one. If their number one is a trashball pitcher- and I have no numbers to support this, Harper, so you'd have to correct me if I'm wrong; I'm going on what I remember and what I see- I think the Nats' bats are likely to do worse. The Nats hit fastball pitchers a lot better than they do those heavy on off-speeds. I think that the Rangers win because their offense has more pop and the Braves win, if only because no one seems to be able to hit bleeping Medlin.

If they're going with Lannan over Detwiler, they're basically going to be playing a bullpen-based game. Lannan's been going only about 5 1/3-2/3 innings even in his wins. That means seeing a lot of Burnett, Mattheus, Clippard, and Storen. At least the latter's on fire right now.

Anonymous said...

Hey Harper are you pulling for the Nationals?????

Harper said...

Z11 - maybe I'll do a whole playoff preview tomorrow. Not as detailed as the Nats one more like the WC game ones.

Quick on the Yanks - their big issues were health and starter depth. Now they are healthy though and the playoffs limit the effect of starter depth issues. They'll be a tough out for any team.

BLW - baseball refs Power/Finesse splits disagree but those are really broadly defined categories (based on walks and strikeouts) I agree with your feeling but - yeah no data right now. I'll see what I can find.

Anon - To win the NLCS? Yes. To get to the WS? Yes. In the WS? Ummm you've read these comment sections before, right?

BlueLoneWolf said...

Good news: I was right, no one hits Medlen. Bad news (for the Braves, for us I suppose it's indifferent): His defense completely fell apart and his offense couldn't knock anyone in. So it's the Cards, ladies and gents.

Mythical Monkey said...

I was sitting there watching the Braves-Cards game (now over) thinking that if the Nats had handled Strasburg the way the Braves had handled Medlin, we too could have been eliminated in a one-game Wild Card playoff thanks to the infield fly rule ...

Froggy said...

@myth - I think that was a horrible call (or was it?). Did the SS intentionally not make the catch in response to the ump's call so that Holliday could try for DP? I dunno.

Shane said...

I called Medlen loosing this game. I am proud of myself now, but it wasn't like he'd never lose . . . however, I'd of rather played the Braves than the Cards.

Harper said...

MM - better to do it the Nats way than the Braves way, but maybe better to do it a 3rd way

Froggy - there is a way to interpret the rule such that it was correct, but it means
(1) you consider it normal effort for an IF - most fans would think a ball that deep would be an unusual effort regardless of the ease of the catch

(2) you ignore the fact that the spirit of the rule is to protect the offense from the double play. there is simply no way a ball dropped in that deep could be expected to catch both runners at 3rd and 2nd.

Harper said...

MM - better to do it the Nats way than the Braves way, but maybe better to do it a 3rd way

Froggy - there is a way to interpret the rule such that it was correct, but it means
(1) you consider it normal effort for an IF - most fans would think a ball that deep would be an unusual effort regardless of the ease of the catch

(2) you ignore the fact that the spirit of the rule is to protect the offense from the double play. there is simply no way a ball dropped in that deep could be expected to catch both runners at 3rd and 2nd.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

Atlanta frittered away the game. Strange IFR call though. On to St. Louis.

Nattydread said...

Both WC games confound statistics & predictions. Wow.

Its great to see the Orioles maintain Cinderella status. Even tho I'm not a fan, that bullpen is worth watching --- and seeing a DC-Baltimore series would be interesting.

Super bowl commercials 2013 said...

Yeah man! I read your post. Its make me feel better. Thanks once again.