Nats Pennant Push
On The Brink

With another tough series against the Braves in the books it’s time to take stock of what we’ve learned about this team:

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s been two weeks, you moron.

Now go out there and enjoy these damn games. There’s like 22 more weeks of this.

This still on?

Just a few random thoughts while I sit in my daughter’a room waiting for her to be asleep enough for me To sneak out…

Can we draw broad conclusions about Matty after one game? Sure! Why the hell not.

The best thing about him I think is that he doesn’t owe any of the current players anything. And he has enough stature that feathers won’t be ruffled.

So you end up with a lineup where ALR hits 7th and nobody complains. And Zim is taken out on a DS. And Soriano is stapled to the bench. All good moves. And probably none of them that Davey would’ve made.

One thing I saw that I didn’t like? 1 reliever, 1 inning. I rip on Storen but for the Nats to win he has to be a + guy. Seemed like he was today. So why pull him after just 11 pitches? That’s a Davey move. First day and you want to break guys in. But I hope were not back to the three closers three innings mentality.

Other than that, there was a lot to like. Some peaks. Some valleys. And in the end, one of those games, given the matchup, you should win. One of those games a pennant winner wins. The Cardinals sure as hell wouldn’t have lost that type of game.

I honestly think the Nats will win 95+. After 2012, one of the worries I had was that that was a bit of a down year for the division. It wasn’t just that the Nats were a great team but tht their competition was stumbling. I figured (rightly as it turned out) that we’d face better teams. Well this looks more like a 2012 year. Everyone says Atlanta is close. My gut (as ample as it is) doesn’t feel it. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Marlins finish second in the 84-85 range.

This should be a cakewalk to the division, barring injury.

And we haven’t or won’t get many of those. Right?

Nuts.

What We Learned

In the coming days you’ll be reading a lot of pop psychology horseshit. In fact, in his bayside manse, Tom Boswell is already donning his overalls.

By almost any measure this team stunk. Oh, sure. There were some fun moments. And this torrid stretch that filled all us jaded old bastards with a glimmer of hope was fun — a call-back to last season where every game felt like a likely win.

But they came up short.

You’ll hear a bunch of horseshit reasons. They couldn’t manage expectations. They felt too much pressure. They needed more swagger. It was just dumb fucking luck.

I’m not going to say it wasn’t any of those things.

But it wasn’t.

Here’s what it was. Here’s what we leaned.

* Patience is a virtue, but stubbornness isn’t. Rizzo’s patience is an admirable trait. But if he had made some of those moves to shore up the pen three or four weeks earlier… Or if he had improved the bench two months earlier…

* Who’s on your depth chart matters. Players, even good ones, get injured. A championship calibre team cannot have a backup second baseman playing outfield regularly.

* Trust modern medicine. How many games did Bryce Harper fritter away on the bench afraid of cortisone for his knee? Then late in the season he rand around with a gimpy hip for weeks before getting another boost and returning to normal. He probably wasted 30 games either unavailable or hitting like a backup second baseman.

* Trust your lyin’ eyes. I can understand Danny Espinosa not wanting to cut first and ask questions later. But the way he, a player obviously degraded by injury, was jerked around and jerked himself around reflects poorly on everyone. Rizzo. Espi. The doctors. The trainers. The agents. Everyone handled that as poorly. And the Nats lost 2-4 more games than they should have because of it.

* We missed the Gorz. Who your fifth and sixth arms are matters. When you have a pretty good offense as the Nats do at times, there’s value in having a guy who can keep the door slightly ajar when your SP leaves in the 6th down 4-2. Too often someone like Mattheus or Abad or whoever turned that 4-2 game into a 7-2 game. Obviously you can’t have a lockdown reliever for every situation but the quality of those performances matters. They’re small. But in aggregate they can make a big difference.

* Championship clubs have little room for error. There’s a bigger downside to experiments. They reduce your margin for winning. See: Rodriguez, Henry. And what about Morse? Great trade on paper. But they sacrificed depth and certainty for a pretty good prospect. That’s Rizzo: 2013 is in the bag, so let’s see about 2017.

* Different managers are appropriate for different situations. We should have learned this with Manny. But Davey was the right guy for last year. He’s a good sorter, figuring out who’s useful and not and inspiring confidence. Was he the right manager this year? It didn’t feel that way. Especially with his constant retirement talk and increasingly bizarre in-game moves.

* Health matters. Aside from Bryce, look at how Zimmerman’s season turned around. He started the season fielding like Edgar Martinez. By the end he was hitting like him. Same for Werth. His power wasn’t there last year presumably from the wrist injury. That came back and bang!

________


There are others we can draw. The importance of walks in sustaining rallies and tiring pitchers, which we didn’t do the first half. How schedules can and do affect your perception of streakiness. How July taught us that even when everything is in place, nothing is guaranteed.

But that’s enough for now. The season isn’t quite over yet. Some baseball is better than no baseball. And there’s five glorious days of it left. Enjoy it.

The Path Forward

OK, so there are two things that need to happen.  Let’s start with the Reds.  Here’s their schedule.

2 more at St Louis then 3 at Colorado.  St Louis is a good team.  So let’s call that 1-4.

Then they’re home for 10.  7 of those, though, are against St Louis and LA.  3 against Chicago.  2-5 against the good teams, 2-1 against the Cubs.  4-6.

9 on the road against Milwaukee, Houston (Nuts), Pittsburgh.  Hope for a Pittsburgh sweep!  5-4

Then they close at home with 6 against NYM and Pitt, 3-3.

Add it up, and you’re at 13-17.  That gets them to 87 wins.

OK, here’s the second thing.  Take a look at the Nats’ schedule.

6 against Miami and NY.  No Harvey, no Fernandez.  5-1.

10 game road trip to Philly, Miami, NY.  Again, no Harvey, No Fernandez. 8-2.

10 game homestand, Philly, Atlanta (nuts), Miami (for 4).  7-3?

6 game roadie against St. Louis and Arizona… 3-3?

Add it up, and you’re at 88 wins.

Either scenario isn’t impossible.  Individually, both are really quite reasonable.

Them happening together though?  Gulp. 

We’ll know in a few days.  But for now… Go Cardinals!?

I feel so sick.

Just sub in the appropriate dates and names. Kthxbai

Just sub in the appropriate dates and names. Kthxbai

Espinosa also said that his left shoulder, where he has a torn rotator cuff, feels good and doesn’t believe he will need offseason surgery as long as he continues rehabbing.
Even if the Nationals went 27-6, all the Braves would have to do is play .500, and they’d still be tied with Washington with 21 games left in the season.
Looks more like bust.

A laughing Davey on his World Series or bust prediction.

If you need me, I’ll be over here laughing tears into my pillow. 

https://twitter.com/masnKolko/status/362593556986216450

He couldn’t lead an army of Orcs out of wet paper bag.
The point? I mean, there is no point. There’s never a point. Would you rather the point be “the Nats mis-treated Drew Storen wahhhhhhh wah wah wah?” No, I’ll just keep copy and pasting StubHub prices, thanks very much.