Nationals Arm Race

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

A “Sweeping” Change for the Nats

6 comments

So, I know “small sample sizes” and all that, but he’re something I found interesting upon watching the Nats finish their second sweep of the series against the White Sox.

Last year early on, the Nats had a bad tendency to drop the final game of series that they were on the verge of sweeping.  Check out the 2012 Nats game-by-game results: time and time again they won the first two (or three) games in a series then dropped the finale.  In April and May of 2012 this happened against the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Houston, San Diego, Philadelphia, Cincinnati again, and then Philadelphia again.  That was 7 straight attempts at sweeping a series where they dropped the 3rd game (I’m not counting the 2-game mini series sweeps they had along the way).  They also threw in a couple other series where they won 2 of 3 but lost the first game instead of the last.  Finally on May 25-27th they finished off a series sweep in Atlanta (and then promptly got swept in Miami the next series).

So far in 2013, they have had two inferior opponents (Miami and the White Sox) on the ropes and then promptly  swept them.  No let down in the final game; they powered through and got the 3rd win in the series.

Why is this important?  Because these extra wins against these crummy teams will make a difference down the road.   If you sweep every sub .500 team (or come close to it) and then break even against your playoff contenders, you’re a 110 win team.   Check out this possible result-grid for the Nats 2013 season (put in with approximate records with the team splitting with any playoff calibre team and then dominating or sweeping the lesser clubs):

Team W L
ARI 3 3
ATL 10 9
BAL 2 2
CHC 6 1
CHW 3 0
CIN 4 3
Cle 3 0
COL 6 1
Det 2 2
KC 2 1
LAD 3 3
MIA 15 4
MIL 5 2
Min 3 0
NYM 15 4
PHI 10 9
PIT 4 3
SDP 6 1
SFG 3 3
STL 3 3
Record 108 54

Looks pretty good doesn’t it?  And this assumes we break even with Philadelphia … who I think is really weakened this year and could be fodder for the Nats once the games come around.  Can this team take 15 of 19 games against Miami and the Mets?   Well, they beat the Mets 14-4 last year and they’re about the same team, and Miami is (of course) significantly weaker than the team that had a season split with the Nats last year.  So yeah I think those are decent predictions.

I also feel these 3rd game of 3 wins are important because perhaps last year they were, for lack of a better term, “embarassed” to be suddenly in the dominant position as a team, and I think mentally this prevented them from really putting their foot on the throat of an opponent and finishing them off.  Perhaps they were of the mind-set going into a 3-game series of thinking, “wow it’d be great if we won 2 of 3 here” and then they mentally let up in the finales after winning the first two games.

Now, the Nats are serious.  And they’re getting wins where they should be getting wins.  I can’t wait for this weekend’s series against what is looking like the 2nd best team in baseball (behind us of course :-) ).

Written by Todd Boss

April 12th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Nats in General

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6 Responses to 'A “Sweeping” Change for the Nats'

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  1. You know, I remembered that too from last year (that they always seemed to start well but never quite finished people off). I don’t know if I can extrapolate it out quite as well as you have to conclude a 108+ win season, simply because those are pretty rare.

    But what I find impressive is that, with the exception of Harper and Werth, and perhaps Span, it doesn’t seem like they are playing particularly well, yet the results have been exceptional. The pitching, especially, seems like it has been below what we have come to expect. Is any pitcher ‘on fire’? I don’t think so. The sweep against the Marlins … well, ok they are terrible and Stanton doesn’t look into it, so I guess that the Nats can sleep walk through it and still win. But CWS aren’t terrible, and we didn’t play great, yet we swept. Maybe they are just ingraining a confidence level that they expect to win.

    Span has been interesting to watch. As hitter, he’s done well but I think he probably is just OK, and while his walks have certainly been great, he can’t keep up this pace. But he seems to get the best reads on balls of anyone in recent memory. He has been very impressive that way.

    Wally

    12 Apr 13 at 4:16 pm

  2. Of course; i’m not predicting a 108 win season, i was just demonstrating how splitting games against good teams but dominating bad ones can easily lead to a very lofty win total.

    I like how many pitches Span has been seeing. It seems like he’s worked a full count every time he’s up.

    Todd Boss

    12 Apr 13 at 4:28 pm

  3. Span = Daryl from the Office. The resemblance is uncanny.

    Yikes, that was tough to watch last night. Well, if this holds, at least the bullpen is the easiest piece of a major league roster to fix on the fly.

    Wally

    13 Apr 13 at 8:27 am

  4. Its still early in the season … but i’m beginning to agree with some of the critics of Johnson’s early pulling of our starters. Detwiler was cruising and in control, having only thrown 90 pitches through 7 complete last night. Yes its just April, and yes there’s no reason to push a guy … but how about letting these starters at least hit 100 pitches? I’ve never understood why Detwiler isn’t allowed to go as deep into games as his battery mates; he only hit 100 pitches once the entirety of last season. You let him come out for the 8th until he gets in trouble. I mean, yes the top of the order was up again in the 8th and we all know how much player BAs increase the 3rd and 4th time through the order … but Detwiler had only given up 4 hits.

    its like Johnson is purposely looking for work for his bullpen at the expense of the starters. Well, they’re starters for a reason; they’re better than the relievers.

    The bullpen may look like its “easy” to fix, but is the Nats really that flexible a bullpen? Here’s the ERAs of our bullpen right now: 3.18, 3.38, 6.00, 6.35, 7.20, 7.71 and 16.88. That’s frigging ugly. Of these 7 guys four are non-optionable (Clippard, Duke, Soriano, Rodriguez) and 2 of the other 3 guys are the best performers out there. So how fixable is this bullpen really? I’m downright concerned about Clippard right now; he just does not look comfortable on the mound.

    Todd Boss

    13 Apr 13 at 9:01 am

  5. I don’t think the bullpen is easily fixable, just that between the rotation, lineup and bullpen, the bullpen is the easiest of the three to fix in-season. The others can be tweaked in season, but really need the offseason for a substantial redo.

    I am actually a little more worried about Storen. His stuff looks good, but his psyche has to be suffering, and that is crucial for a reliever. Clip is troubling, but his velocity seems fine. I wonder if the movement on his offspeed stuff is off. Maybe he is just due for one of those off years that relievers get from time to time. He is getting expensive too; I wouldn’t be surprised if he is traded in the offseason.

    Wally

    13 Apr 13 at 3:21 pm

  6. I think we can tweak the fringes of the bullpen, but if the core guys we will be depending on are in trouble (Clippard, Storen, Soriano) then the team is in trouble. As we stand, the bullpen has the highest ERA in the majors. That’s gotta change (thank god the starters have 5th best or this team would be 3-7 instead of 7-3).

    Todd Boss

    14 Apr 13 at 8:58 am

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