Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2018 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview



Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2018:

Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were #1 Florida from the top and #3 Oregon State from the bottom, but noting that Arkansas and Mississippi State in particular were going to be tough outs.

In the Top Bracket (#1 Florida, #9 Texas Tech, #5 Arkansas, #13 Texas)

  • In the opening games Arkansas put up 8 in the 6th to easily down Texas 11-5.  Madison HS’ Andy McGuire was called upon for mop-up duty by Texas.  In the nightcap, Texas Tech got to Florida ace Brady Singer and downed the #1 seed 6-3.
  • In the first elimination game, #1 Florida whacked Texas 6-1 behind 1st round pick Jackson Kowar to eliminate Texas.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, #5 Arkansas scored early and often and was in control throughout over Texas Tech.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Florida got some revenge and eliminated Texas Tech to force their way into the group final.
  • In the group final, Arkansas got a dominant start from #3 starter Isaiah Campbell, who shut down Florida and got Arkansas to their first CWS final since 1979.

Final Group standings: Arkansas, Florida, Texas Tech, Texas

In the Bottom Bracket (#3 Oregon State, #6 UNC, Mississippi State, Washington)

  • In the opening games, UNC got to OSU’s stud Luke Heimlich for 6 runs early, then the game turned into a slow slog eventually won by UNC.  In the night cap, Mississippi State got a walk-off RBI single to squeak by Washington 1-0.
  • In the first elimination game, Oregon State blasted Pac-12 rival Washington 14-5 to make them the first team eliminated.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Mississippi State destroyed UNC 12-2 to continue its amazing late-season run and put themselves in the driver’s seat of this bracket.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Oregon State scored 8 runs in the last two innings to get revenge and eliminate UNC 11-6.
  • In the group final, Oregon State destroyed Mississippi State 12-2 to force the decider.  There, Oregon State took advantage of some iffy coaching to score 5 two-out runs early and made it stick to advance.

Final Group standings: Oregon State, Mississippi State, UNC, Washington

CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for June 25th-27th.

Pitching Match-ups:

  • Game 1: Monday 6/25/18: Arkansas’s #1 Blaine Knight on 8 days rest vs Oregon State’s #1 Luke Heimlich on 4 days rest
  • Game 2: Tuesday 6/26/18: Arkansas #2 Kacey Murphy on 5 days rest vs Oregon State’s #2 Bryce Fehmel on 4 days rest
  • Game 3: Wednesday 6/27/18: Arkansas #3 Isaiah Campbell on 4 days rest vs Oregon State’s #3 freshman Kevin Abel on 3 days rest (if necessary)

Advantage Arkansas here; their rotation is rested and has been successful in the CWS.  Oregon State cannot say the same:  Heimlich has gotten knocked out early in both his CWS starts and Fehmel didn’t get out of the 4th in his most recent start.  Abel was fantastic against Mississippi State in the decider …. but even if they get to him he’ll be on just 3 days rest and may not even be available.

Prediction: Arkansas in 3.

College CWS tournament references

Written by Todd Boss

June 24th, 2018 at 6:57 pm

52 Responses to '2018 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview'

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  1. Oregon State now looks like the dominant program on the West Coast despite the very out-of-the-way location of Corvallis. It will be interesting to see whether the Beavs can continue their run next year without Madrigal and Heimlich.

    Of course Fayetteville isn’t exactly on the regularly beaten path, either. Three of the final four teams left standing were from the SEC. The Gators lost both of Singer’s starts, while Kowar was dominant in his.

    Speaking of guys in the draft, as far as I’ve heard, the Nats still haven’t signed three of their top four. I assume they’re trying to squeeze some slot money out of picks 3 and 4 to pay the overslot ransom for drafting a high schooler #1.


    25 Jun 18 at 8:08 am

  2. Back with the big club, Sunday night’s win felt important. The Nats kept from falling four back, sorta stole a win behind their makeshift starter, and the big bats showed some life. Let’s hope there’s a little momentum generated here.


    25 Jun 18 at 8:11 am

  3. Bunch of tweets over the weekend that the Nats signed Schaller (3), Irvin (4) and Day (7). I haven’t seen it officially confirmed nor the $, but I think it’s just down to Denaburg.

    I don’t know, this year’s team still doesn’t feel right. Hard to think a come from behind victory to avoid a sweep at home against a mediocre team and inferior pitcher could be that significant. All facets of their game still feel shaky to me. We’ll see. I’m just hoping they hold on until the ASG and then get healthy and regroup afterwards.

    With the benefit of watching the first half of the season, I’d say the loss of 2016/2017 Murphy is the single biggest setback. It seems obv7to me how important he was. I don’t know if that player ever comes back, though.


    25 Jun 18 at 9:23 am

  4. I totally agree that “this year’s team still doesn’t feel right.” There have been the injuries, but also Bryce’s struggles, Roark’s struggles, the early middle relief struggles, Gio Yo-Yo, the complete meltdown at catcher.

    On the positive side, the Nats are only three games out. They’ve got a star+ level player who has arrived more than a year earlier than expected. They’ve traded for the best reliever on the market. Max is on his way to his third straight CYA. Rendon looks back to being one of the best under-the-radar players in baseball (sure hope they’re trying to get an extension). Eaton looks close to getting back to the level we thought he was when we made the gigantic trade. Adams likely will continue to mash whenever he gets back.

    To me, the biggest concern/unknown is Stras, although he was long-tossing over the weekend, which seems like a good sign. It’s really hard to say how far Murph can make it back, but at least he can go back to DH for a couple of days. (Difo is at wRC+ of 77 after one of 76 last season. That’s who he is. And with Kendrick out, the only real other 2B option would be to rush up Carter Kieboom.)

    This is an imperfect team, but not a bad one, and one that should have enough pitching and enough depth to outlast the Braves and the Phils. But there are no guarantees, and there are certainly scenarios of doom, like if Stras is out for a long stretch, Hellickson is as bad as he was at Potomac, and Roark and Gio struggle.


    25 Jun 18 at 11:49 am

  5. I think we are saying the same thing. its a good,not great, team. But others are better than they were.

    For me to feel good about them, they probably need to win the way they are expected to. With Harp, Rendon, Turner, Eaton and now Soto playing well. And Max, Stras, Gio, Roark, Madson, Herrera, Doolittle pitching well. If anything else is primarily the reason that they are winning, its flukey to me. I’m happy for the win, but don’t feel good that it is sustainable.

    So rendon and Turner picking up their game is very positive. Eaton needs to play more often before I can really count on him, although he certainly is productive when he is out there. But the pitching looks overused and tired. Really only Max and Doo have consistently been good.

    They still have time. And given how they have struggled in the postseason, a long season of neck and neck battles could actually be beneficial, assuming they win out in the end.


    25 Jun 18 at 12:12 pm

  6. I think part of the frustration is that this had been built up to be the last great opportunity with the current group, the last ride with Bryce, Murph, and Gio. But no one knew how badly injured Murph was, and that Eaton wasn’t anywhere close to being ready for opening day. Then the injuries started mounting.

    The Caps just won the Cup with an imperfect team. I’m not saying that the Nats will, but they’ve got enough pieces if everything falls into place. Right now, this team looks like it could struggle even to make the playoffs.

    What’s different between the Caps and the Nats? The Caps had a veteran coach who held steady on the rudder. They had a superstar who bought into being a true leader and the emotional leader of the team. They also had some veteran leaders like Orpik behind the scenes.

    No one seems to know who the leaders are with the Nats right now. Certainly Max is one of the them. But who among the position players? Bryce has evolved from his early years, but he’s still got a long way to go to get to where Ovi got to. Zim and Rendon are in-the-background type guys. Soto certainly brings a lot of enthusiasm, but he’s too young to be the true leader. Murph and Eaton have been so inwardly focused trying to get their own games back in order but seem to have more outgoing personalities.

    We’ll see. The Nats just don’t seem like a team that has jelled. We hope it does, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. (See 2015.)


    25 Jun 18 at 1:06 pm

  7. I saw a completely different Bryce starting on Thursday night. The most concerning part of his slump to me was the inexplicable loss of patience. Even in 2016 when he wasn’t hitting for power, he was still drawing walks. He hadn’t been doing that over the last six weeks or so until just recently. And in addition to showing better patience, he squared up several balls. I have no idea whether it will happen, but the building blocks of a Harper hot streak are there.

    I’m very worried about Murphy. His bat-to-ball skills look just fine to me now after he struggled initially upon his return (evidenced by more ugly Ks than we’re used to seeing from him). But he has no power. We’re used to seeing him drive balls into the gaps. I don’t think I’ve seen him hit anything – fair or foul – that looks like the Murphy we’ve seen over the last two years. It could be timing or it could be that the knee injury has zapped his power. Still, Difo is a singles hitter and a limited Murphy is a better singles hitter than Difo. If he could play defense, Murphy would be a better 2B option, but I’m worried he can’t. A no-power Murphy at 1B is less than ideal.

    I don’t have much to say about whether “this team doesn’t feel right.” They’ve had a lot of injuries. Hellickson and Soto have been pleasant surprises (with Soto being especially pleasant). Harper has been an unpleasant surprise, but most of the other players are who we thought they were, good or bad. This is who Max, Gio, Roark, MAT, Difo, Severino, etc. are. We can expect a bit more out of Rendon than he’s shown, but he’s heating up. At the beginning of the season, I would have said the Nats had a ~95% chance of winning the division. Now it’s probably down to about ~60%, but that’s mostly because the Braves are a lot better than we thought they were. The Braves performance so far has been real – it’s not like they have a crazy good record in 1 run games or a bunch of good sequencing luck. But, I think a lot of it has been built on the back of unsustainable performance. Nick Markakis is not going to be a 140 WRC+ hitter going forward. If you gave me league average for him as the over-under for the rest of the season, I’d take the under. But still, the Braves are more of a force to be reckoned with than I would have thought in April.


    25 Jun 18 at 2:36 pm

  8. Derek got me thinking, so I did a quick down and dirty review of how the bigger guys are doing. For hitters, its the movement of current wRC+ against their career average, and for pitchers its the same thing, but for FIP. Parentheses means a negative movement from career averages.

    Turner (10)
    Rendon +9
    MAT +7 (boy, has he really raised himself up lately)
    Harp (20)
    Murph (96) – wow
    Zim (33)
    Kendrick +7
    Eaton +17
    Difo 0 (Derek’s ‘this is what he is’)

    They are really missing Harp and Murph. Zim’s year felt flukey last year but boy could they use it (although Adams has filled in very nicely. Until, you know, he got hurt). turner’s WAR is great but he is being propped up by very high DWAR, he is actually down about 10% based purely on hitting. And they miss the depth provided by Kendrick and Adams, and Reynolds has turned back in to a guy who couldn’t get a big league offer. But honestly, you can put almost all of the offensive difference on Murph and Harp


    25 Jun 18 at 3:14 pm

  9. The offense is the big issue. The Nats are on pace to score 689 runs in 2018, which would be an astounding 139 less than they scored in 2017. Thus far the pitching has been better, on a 610-run pace vs. 672 allowed in ’17 and right on track with the 612 allowed in ’16.

    I’m not fully convinced that the Braves or the Phils have completely “arrived,” but it’s reached the point that both have to be taken seriously. The Braves have better hitting of the two; the Phils probably have better pitching. Both teams have a lot of guys playing over their heads, and neither has had much in the way of significant injuries.


    25 Jun 18 at 3:18 pm

  10. For pitchers, it is a little different story.
    Max +1.06 wow! so far, it is his best year ever.
    Doo +.34
    Madson +.35 (this surprised me, must be recency bias)
    Kintzler +.02

    Stras (.66)
    Roark (.59)
    Gio (.07)

    So Max is even more awesome, main bullpen guys pretty good, but 30% of the rotation is down and if we look more recently, trending down even more significantly. Can’t help but put some of this on Davey, which I think KW was implying with his Caps analogy, but also they’ve had some poor luck with weather.

    What’s the answer? Maybe Bryce is happy again. If he hit enough to bring his season in line with career averages, that would cure a lot of problems. But I don’t think we see the wonderful Murphy again – I wonder if he could have a do over, he wouldn’t have the surgery and just play with the pain. I think he did for parts of last year and maybe that would be better than what he is now. Who knows, maybe by next year he is back to something like his old self. makes me sad for him, though.

    They can certainly get hot and make up ground quickly. It can happen and I’m hopeful. But not confident.


    25 Jun 18 at 3:23 pm

  11. FYI, based on his twitter account 4th rounder Jake Irvin has signed:

    and I just checked here: … he was over slot! Like a lot. his signing basically ate up all of one of their senior signs.

    By my calcs: they still have 185k of saving before the Shaddy signing, which means they could get Denaburg to a little more than $3M w/o busting their bonus amounts (assuming Shaddy signs for $10K).

    Todd Boss

    25 Jun 18 at 4:39 pm

  12. Some had a 2d round grade on Irvin before he struggled in the regionals, so apparently he held out to be paid that way. There’s a lot to like with him, though. He’s 6-6, 225, 1.08 WHIP, 10.89 K/9. He’s got a chance to move up quickly.

    Schaller also signed, at slightly below slot. He throws ~5 mph harder than Irvin but is a lot less developed as a pitcher at this stage because he lost two years to injury.

    Shaddy has had an impressive postseason. There should more to him than the overdrafted Cole Freeman, who had/has almost no pop.


    25 Jun 18 at 6:50 pm

  13. It’s going to be an interesting/tough decision for Martinez when Adams comes back. He’s got to play at 1B ahead of Murphy, right? Does Murph need to go back on the DL? It’s all sad, yes, but at some point the good of the team has to come ahead of the desires of an individual player.

    It is interesting, though, that while everyone is concerned about Murph, there’s hardly any concern being expressed about Zim.


    25 Jun 18 at 6:59 pm

  14. Also, if Murph doesn’t start looking any better in the field, don’t sleep on the possibility of a rush of Carter Kieboom to the majors. He’s moved up to AA at about the same stage Robles was last year. Kieboom hasn’t spent any time at 2B, though, so until that starts to happen, don’t get too excited. I don’t think they’re going to move Trea off of SS.

    Trea, by the way, is still the Nat leader in fWAR (besides Max). I do wonder how much impact Martinez’s constant tinkering with Trea’s place in the lineup is having on his performance at the plate. My guess is that Turner feels most comfortable leading off.


    25 Jun 18 at 7:09 pm

  15. KW, agree on the tough decisions coming. Beyond Adams/Murphy, I’ve been thinking that Davey needs to choose the best outfield and stick with it for a while. Yes MAT has been hot, but I think Eaton needs the regular PT. The constant lineup flux isn’t helping with offensive consistency.


    25 Jun 18 at 7:37 pm

  16. And then there was Monday night, one of the most embarrassing games of the season. So much for getting any momentum out of Sunday. Gio is now officially a mess, after looking really good early in the season.


    26 Jun 18 at 12:54 pm

  17. Double embarrassment. Struck out 12 times. Five hits across two games. Totally wasted a Scherzer start, a gutty performance when he didn’t have his best stuff.

    OK rookie manager, what you got in your bag of tricks?


    26 Jun 18 at 3:18 pm

  18. What they need is a two week off reset to the season. Maybe they can petition Manfred.


    26 Jun 18 at 3:34 pm

  19. Ugly. And criminal that Max has taken 3 Ls in his last 4 starts, all shutouts of the Nats offense. I’m too annoyed to look up the stats, but it’s probably something like 5 ER over 20+ innings = sub 2.50 ERA. This team can’t afford to waste those performances.

    Gio’s meltdown last night was final nail in the coffin that he shouldn’t be on any playofff roster if the season is salvaged. Seriously, how can you trust him? And Roark was trusted last year, and hasn’t given any reason to do so this season, so we are left hoping for a healthy Max and Stras, that Hellickson doesn’t turn in to a pumpkin, the bullpen is up to par and that they acquire a better #4.


    26 Jun 18 at 4:53 pm

  20. Correction: Roark WASN’T trusted last year


    26 Jun 18 at 4:54 pm

  21. Larry: Mason Denaburg have any shot at making it to UF?

    Kiley McDaniel: Another rumored one. There’s some shot but I’d guess he signs.


    26 Jun 18 at 8:41 pm

  22. Someone should be fired if the Nats don’t sign Denaburg. You just don’t go out on a limb for a HS kid like that and not sign him. The rumor was out there for weeks before the draft that the Nats were on Denaburg, so there was/is no excuse not to have the preliminary outlines of a deal in place. Otherwise, they had a much safer and less expensive pick available in Kowar.

    As for the big club, I’m more pissed than panicked right now. I’m just really tired of the bad baseball. And yes MG, Max should be lighting up the whole team. He’s given up no worse than two runs in his last four starts, yet he’s been saddled with three losses and a no-decision. He should be 14-1. The Nats got shut out in all three of those losses.

    Stop with the injury excuses. Stop with the travel excuses. Stop with the base-running mistakes every flippin’ game. Stop throwing to the wrong bases. Stop double-digit strikeouts. Stop with all the silly lineup experiments. Stop with Gio and Tanner abusing the bullpen every start–Max didn’t have anywhere close to his best stuff yesterday but gutted through seven and only gave up one run. No excuses. If you think you’re better than the Phillies–which you should–go in there and take care of business.


    27 Jun 18 at 8:32 am

  23. There’s no way Denaburg isn’t signing. In fact, it’d be a massive shock if anyone drafted in the top TEN rounds doesn’t sign. Last year I believe there were just 2-3 guys in the entire first 10 rounds that didn’t sign.

    What’s the holdup? well, they can’t give Denabure the $3M until they put pen to paper for the other guy in the top 10 who (as of right now) havn’t signed. Shaddy can’t sign until at least hte weekend thanks to him playing in the CWS, and it likely goes into next week. Assuming Shaddy signs for $10k (the same amount as the sr signs in round 8 and 9 signed for), then the nats can (by my cals) gives Denaburg exactly 3,065,490 without getting a penalty. My calculations might be slightly wrong of course, but the kid really shouldn’t pass up $3M.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jun 18 at 1:13 pm

  24. Shaddy is going to want more than $10K. If I’m remembering correctly, they gave Cole Bleepin’ Freeman full 4th-round slot as a senior who wasn’t as good as Shaddy. That wasn’t smart, but they did it. (Freeman slashing .220/.315/.307 at low A and turning 24 in Sept.)


    27 Jun 18 at 2:22 pm

  25. I assume Denaburg signs, and that the link to the shaddy is exactly the reason he hasn’t so far. I was really just passing on the chat question and answer as an FYI.

    As for the team, who knows? It is getting to the point were injuries really can’t tell the whole story. they’re just not playing good baseball, and sometimes that happens to good teams and good players. There are probably a bunch of reasons why, which I outlined above, but I would boil it down to Harper’s having an off year, Murphy is not the same player and all of the pitching other than Max and Doo have not been at the top of their game. When you add that to improvement by ATL and PHI, this is what you get.

    There is still time, but not as much as there was. If I was ATL, though, i’d Be making some trades and going for it. The opening is there.


    27 Jun 18 at 4:55 pm

  26. Finally a Robles update, from WaPo. Anyone hear any news on Ross? Wondering if he started throwing yet.

    Also untouchable is Robles, who would probably have started games in the big leagues this season if an elbow injury hadn’t knocked him out just as injuries struck a handful of Nationals outfielders. Robles suffered a hyperextended left elbow, a diagnosis that qualified as a relief, but still counts as severe. One conservative estimate suggested Robles would be ready to be a September call-up at the earliest. He seems to be progressing more quickly than that.

    Robles posted videos of himself on his private Instagram account, videos in which he is hitting in the cages in West Palm Beach, apparently uninhibited by that left elbow. What exactly that means for his timetable remains to be seen, and the 20-year-old probably maintains a little less caution than those banking the future of their outfield on him. But that he is hitting marks progress, as Robles was in a full arm brace for much of the first month or so after the injury.


    27 Jun 18 at 6:27 pm

  27. Shaddy is still playing that’s why he hasn’t signed. I’m sure he wants more than $10k; maybe they offered him $50k but its dollar for dollar off of that $3M and change I mentioned before to whatever they promised him.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jun 18 at 6:47 pm

  28. Our boy Shaddy had two more hits last night but overran a foul ball that would have won his team the CWS.

    As for the Nats, I saw suggestions by commenters on multiple sites yesterday that the Nats would be sellers at the trade deadline. That’s the totally irrational level of insanity/panic we’re seeing here. Look folks, the Nats are only 3.5 games out and are in competition with two teams that have several guys playing over their heads right now. As I noted above, the proper emotion is pissed, not panicked. If they make a complete hash of the series in Philly and leave at 7.5 back, we’ll be inching more toward panic, but still not there yet.

    I’ve also seen the argument that even if the Nats make they playoffs, they won’t be able to win it all and therefore should chuck it and start a rebuild. Umm, please take a look at the ’14 SF and ’15 KC teams. Those were pretty mediocre squads, but they got into the postseason, got a few breaks, and got hot . . . not unlike a certain local hockey team just did.


    28 Jun 18 at 5:25 am

  29. +1 to KW. Any comment that says “it doesn’t even matter if they make the postseason – they don’t have a world-series-winning team” is nonsense, malarkey, or whatever other derisive word you want to use. In baseball, each team in the postseason has a roughly equal chance of winning the world series by the numbers (with the exception of those who make the play-in game, of course). Unlike in basketball, a worse team can beat a better team in a 7-game series with some regularity.

    And 3.5 games out in late June is a tiny deficit. The bigger problem, in my view, is that the Nats are chasing two teams instead of just one. That makes the task much more difficult (because if, for example, the phillies play poorly, that will benefit both the Nats and the Braves, not just the Nats).

    Offense has been the problem all season and hopefully we just experienced the nadir. The offense was bad even when we had the good winning stretch earlier, which was propped up mainly by excellent starting pitching. Bryce’s slump coincided with Murphy and Eaton returning but not producing very much, which coincided with Adams getting injured and Mark Reynolds turning back into Mark Reynolds (note: Mark Reynolds becoming Mark Reynolds should provide some insight into what Nick Markakis is going to become in time). The recent offense has been propped up by Rendon and Juan Soto (can you imagine how bad the offense would be without Soto??). I see Bryce turning a corner. But for the team really to start scoring (and winning), Murphy and Eaton need to turn back into themselves. I’m more confident that will happen for Eaton than for Murphy, but we’ll see. Wilmer Difo is *barely* a major league caliber player because he has great defense, good speed, and he hits *just* enough. Severino will enjoy a long fruitful career as a backup catcher in MLB, but he’s never going to hit. Those two are black holes. We either need Murphy and Eaton to start hitting like 100% versions of themselves, or we need a new C who can hit.


    28 Jun 18 at 10:40 am

  30. Its also worth noting that we kinda knew this period in the schedule would be tough. Any game against an AL team is going to be tough, so all these games against NYY, Boston, Balt, Tampa; not easy games to win even if Baltimore and Tampa are struggling. In the middle of that we run into Philly and get their two best arms. now our next 7 are in Philly and then home to Boston; we may very well go 2-5 or 3-4 here.

    but here’s what comes next: Miami, Pittsburgh, Newyork series, All Star break, then Atlanta at home, then Milwaukee, Miami, the Mets and cincy. That’s 7 of 8 series that are winnable, in fact in some cases sweepable. This team will get healthy again In late July and early Agust.

    Its also worth noting that Atlanta and Philly have not had nearly the same injuries to deal with. the nats lead the frigging NL in games lost. At some point, they’re going to have to deal with losses of key starters or key bats.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 18 at 3:30 pm

  31. “Its also worth noting that Atlanta and Philly have not had nearly the same injuries to deal with. the nats lead the frigging NL in games lost. At some point, they’re going to have to deal with losses of key starters or key bats.”

    When the Mets jumped out to their hot start, I made the point that injuries would inevitably hit them. I felt comfortable making that point because the Mets’ lineup is full of old, fragile players. The same is not true of the Braves and the Phillies. Yes, ordinary injury (b) luck should be expected, but, as younger teams, I think we should expect the Braves and the Phillies to be less injured than the Nats over the course of a season.


    28 Jun 18 at 5:52 pm

  32. This is pretty hard to watch these days. I won’t rehash things already being discussed, other than to suggest that Harper needs a few days off.

    They miss Adams a shocking amount, too.


    28 Jun 18 at 10:20 pm

  33. Well, it looks like Shaddy will go down as the goat of the CWS. I’m sorry, though, but it’s just ridiculous/terrible/disheartening that Oregon State coach Pat Casey rode a freshman pitcher for 129 pitches to win the finale, even with a four-run lead after the 5th. People try to claim that things have changed/improved with how college pitchers are handled, but they haven’t. Kowar went 121 pitches in a game earlier in the CWS.


    29 Jun 18 at 7:27 am

  34. Some people also claim that Taylor needs to play because of his defense . . . and try to ignore the Little League errors like the one he made last night. Sigh.

    Speaking of which, where the flip was Eaton, after a day off and facing a RHP, in a big game/series???

    I’m encouraged by the outing from Elvis Roark. He didn’t have his best stuff but battled through six with only one earned run and kept the ball in the bandbox. I’m also incrementally encouraged by Murph. He’s squaring up balls better and driving them a little harder/farther.

    The whole team looks tight, really tight. And let’s hope Harper didn’t do significant damage to his foot.


    29 Jun 18 at 8:03 am

  35. It’s very difficult to watch them now, and that was a poor play by MAT, but Taylor’s defense is excellent, I don’t think there’s any disputes about that.

    I also don’t know what’s going on with Eaton. My guess is DMart feels like he can’t sit Harper, thinks Soto is his best hitter and so chooses between MAT and Eaton, and thinks right now MAT is hotter. Taylor is playing and hitting well- the obvious choice is to sit Harper for a bit, but they are probably reluctant to do that in his walk Year for fear of embarrassing him.

    Ok, let’s see if Shaddy and Denaburg sign quickly now. That’s too bad for Shaddy but there were 3 guys there, too. It was mostly his fault, though


    29 Jun 18 at 8:29 am

  36. Yeah, Shaddy had a long run and if anything over-hustled. Not sure any of them called the ball, either.

    I don’t think Bryce needs to sit (unless his foot is purple). He seems to be trending in a more positive direction. And the biggest thing that could happen for the team would be for him to break out. It would take some of the pressure off of everyone else.


    29 Jun 18 at 9:08 am

  37. I’m not saying bench him for the season, just a few days off to regroup. Dusty and Davey 1.0 used to do that and it seemed like he benefitted.

    Just because Harper is a professional athlete, already rich and been in the spotlight since a young age, it doesn’t mean he is immune from the external pressures of his contract year, and I think that is largely what’s going. The difference in his potential contract this offseason is insane money. If he had a range of $200m-$400m, that is a massive swing for 2018 performance. I think its getting in his head, and some time off, maybe to spend with his dad, could help.


    29 Jun 18 at 9:31 am

  38. Yeah, but Wednesday was an off day, and this is one of the bigger series of the year thus far, with the team sorta teetering psychologically. That’s why both Harper and Eaton need to be playing.


    29 Jun 18 at 9:45 am

  39. Well, at least his freshman pitcher has … 8 months to recover from his 129 pitch effort 😉

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 18 at 11:44 am

  40. Kowar doesn’t, though. That would seem to be a selling point for the Nats with Denaburg — don’t go to UF and have your arm abused.

    It’s just a sad commentary on the lack of advancement/enlightenment of college handling pitching.


    29 Jun 18 at 12:36 pm

  41. Kowar at 121 pitches is borderline for sure. the research i’ve read is that 120 is the threshold for Pros … now Kowar at 21 is still a kid really, so ideally you’d like to see no more than 110.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 18 at 12:58 pm

  42. Generally speaking though about the college game … lots of bad actors down there.
    – Plenty of programs whose coaches really suck at developing hitters but who are basically untouchable
    – Lots of horror stories about programs destroying starter arms.
    – Lots of faux macho behaviors staying in games way too long
    – lots of really bad strategy in play (just yesterday i think OSU’s #6 hitter was bunting … not the #8 or #9 hitter but a guy just outside the middle of the order).

    In fact, college is a haven for the older baseball generation who doesn’t understand the advances in strategy and statistics.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 18 at 1:02 pm

  43. I think the college guys have motivations different from the best long term interests of their pitchers, however even this is more complicated. Kowar pitches 1 a week, theoretically his arm could handle a higher load because he is resting it more frequently.

    Even then, we know overuse is bad, but much of the specifics is art, not science.

    But look, I don’t disagree that a promising HS pitcher who’s offered > $1m and wants a professional career, should sign with the pros. They are more advanced, and they are certainly more aligned with a pitcher’s long term health. Well, except the Mets. I’d even go to Rice over signing with them.


    29 Jun 18 at 1:03 pm

  44. OT:

    what do you think about trying to trade for Brandon Drury? I know they need pitching but that’s so competitive and costly this time of year.

    Drury would fill in nicely at 2B, hedge Rendon leaving and provide a good bat off the bench. if it cost Crowe + something less, would you do it?


    29 Jun 18 at 1:13 pm

  45. Any HS kid offered 1st round money would be a massive fool to turn it down. What do we t hink the odds are of Denaburg improving on his draft position 3 years from now? He misses one start his junior year and he’ll get crucified on the boards. Hell, just look at what happened to JB Bukauskas his draft year. He was projected 6th or 7th, got hit hard in his final ACC tourney start and dropped him to 15th or so. And that was one start after a 3 year college career! Imagine if we had that kind of over-reaction to every start a guy had in the pros. Scherzer last September gave up 7 hits, 6 walks and 7 runs to lowly Atlanta; we say “oh that’s just one start.” But amateurs never get that benefit of the doubt.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 18 at 1:14 pm

  46. Rice has finally sent 82-year-old Wayne Graham into retirement. Scuttlebutt has Lance Berkman taking over, possibly with Andy Pettite as his pitching coach. Alas, Pettite would probably be of the tough-it-out school of thought that he learned in JUCO . . . under Wayne Graham.


    29 Jun 18 at 1:21 pm

  47. Wally, Carter Kieboom is probably better right now than Drury. I don’t see them giving up much to get a 2B with Kieboom lighting up AA. I did sorta smack my head when I saw that the Bosox had signed Brandon Phillips, though.

    I do think you’re right in pointing to Crowe as a possible trade piece. If Soto/Robles/Kieboom are untouchable and Romero probably not worth much, their remaining better prospects are probably Crowe and the very young Garcia and Antuna. I would think that Jefry Rodriguez could probably be tradeable as well.


    29 Jun 18 at 1:31 pm

  48. Lance Berkman? you mean this Lance Berkman?

    Yeah; that sounds like a real progressive thinker there 🙂

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 18 at 1:43 pm

  49. So, i’m thinking of doing another “monthly” piece about the minor league pitchers, but sinc eyou mentioned Crowe … I don’t think the nats should be thinking about trading Crowe. I mean, what is the pipeline of starting pitching prospects right now?
    AAA: JRodriguez has looked promising. Voth? i dunno what to think about him.
    AA: Anyone? Sharp is a 22nd rounder punching way above his weight right now; can that continue? Is Mapes a prospect? I like Austen Williams; why did they take him out of the rotation? Maybe he’s a 2-pitch guy destined for relief.
    High-A: I’ve got doubts on Raquet’s ability to get better hitters out. Braymer looks awesome and could be a good find. But Crowe might be the pick of the 2017 draft.
    Low-A: WTF is wrong with Romero? His last start was… ok i guess. But he should be doing far, far better than he has been.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 18 at 1:49 pm

  50. What’s wrong with Romero? He doesn’t care enough to maximize his talent. That one’s easy.

    I’ve made a similar argument before that Crowe is about only the starter on the horizon beyond Fedde. I think J-Rod is probably a reliever or trade bait. I don’t see him as a starter for a contender. Same for Voth (who the Nats have sorta ignored for three years now). Austen Williams failed promotion to AA twice before they made him a reliever, where he has showed some progress. Sharp has made nice progress this year, but past performance makes one question whether it will last.

    Who else? Raquet has gotten promoted to A+ but hasn’t been dominant. Most of the rest of the guys from the 2017 class have really struggled, some badly, . . . so the Nats basically blew the 2018 draft on pitching as well. Still, they took a high schooler first, who is likely a long way away, no matter how good he is. I think Cate has a limited ceiling, and Schaller is a project.

    So yeah, I’m not particularly advocating that they be quick to move Crowe. That said, Crowe hasn’t been very dominant, either, making me wonder about his ceiling as well.

    Sure hope Joe Ross is healing!


    29 Jun 18 at 2:58 pm

  51. That’s right, Ross and Fedde are their best internal hopes for SPs over the next few years. JRod is a 6th SP/long man type, but maybe he gets his command together and is more. But he’s shown enough that I think he has a 3-5 year career somewhere/somehow.

    After that, maybe Crowe but I’m not bowled over by the stat line. He wouldn’t be a guy I’d hold on to if I could get real value right now.

    And then it’s probably down to the rash of IFAs playing in DSL or GCL (well, Denaburg or one of the new draftees, maybe). In other words, the Nats will be signing MLB FAs or trading for their rotation needs for the next 3-5 years. I think it’s ok though. It was a conscious choice to trade all those pitching prospects for other immediate needs. Those trades didn’t provide the ultimate result the Nats wanted, but they had logic behind them at the time.

    Drury – you don’t really think Kieboom is better right now, do you? I find that very hard to believe. Higher ceiling, sure. But I’d lay odds Drury provides more major league value in 2018 and 2019 than Kieboom.


    29 Jun 18 at 4:12 pm

  52. Last year with the Snakes, Drury slashed .267/.317/.447. Yeah, I think Kieboom could do that, or or at least enough not to make it worth giving up someone legit to get Drury. I’m not saying that Drury wouldn’t be a nice piece, just that it’s not worth enough the Nats right now up good players to get him. But I was shocked to get Herrera for Gutierrez and Perkins, so it never hurts to poke around.

    I wonder whether Sharp is showcasing in AA right now for trade possibilities. His numbers this season are nice, but he’s made such a significant leap that it’s hard to believe in them. He’s also still not striking out a lot of guys.


    29 Jun 18 at 4:47 pm

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