Monday, August 27, 2007

21 Down, 5 To Go

Sometimes the baseball season -- as in May -- seems interminably long. Other times, such as when you realize that there's barely a month left, it seems too short. So enjoy what you can.

It's been a tough few weeks for the Nats. Since finishing up with the Giants -- doesn't that seem like ages ago? -- they've played postseason contender after postseason contender (note: does not include Astros!). As the quality of teams has increased and as Dmitri Young has consumed all the team's pixie dust -- MMM! Sugary! -- the wins have wilted away in the heat. They're 2-10 against these non-pretenders, with only the 3-1 record against a terrible Houston team deluding us into thinking we're still ok.

Every game in September is against a playoff contender, save for the serieseses with the Marlins and Giants. I just have the feeling that things are going to get ugly again, a bookend to the season's opening shots. I hope that doesn't happen, but...

Now covering the last fortnight...

Nats Record: 4-9. Thank you, Houston!
Overall: 58-73, tied for 13th in the NL, but only 1 game out of last place. They're in a huge cluster of 7 teams with roughly the same record; they'll either finish 3rd worst or they'll finish 10th, so there's lots of room to move.

If we look at the May 9th rock bottom record, they're still 2 games above .500 (49-47), but they're middle of the pack now, 7th best in the league.

Runs Scored: 54 (4.1/g), 517 overall, dead last in the majors. They're not within 40 runs of any other team and have scored 183 fewer than league-leading Philadelphia. The average Philadelphia game sees both teams score 2 more runs than the average Nats game.

Runs Allowed: 66 (5.1/g), 619 overall, 8th in the NL. Barring the return of Walter Johnson, they could finish as high as 7th. But there's a lot of room to drop with lots of games against NY, ATL and PHI coming up.

Expected Record: 68-94, the same record as last time. By winning percentage, they're on pace for 72 wins.

What's Good?

1) Shawn Hill! 3 games started, 3 runs allowed, and 3 walks. Add it up and you get -- WHAT? -- 0 wins! What's impressive about Hill's outings lately is that he's missing bats and getting strikeouts. In terms of run prevention, every ground ball a pitcher gives up yields fewer runs than a flyball. And every K a pitcher allows yields fewer runs than a ball in play. So a groundballer who Ks batters is about the best combo there is!

2) Dmitri Young! His season really has been incredible. It's not so much the individual feats -- tho batting .330 isn't anything to sneeze at. It's how he's done it, consistently hitting the ball week after week. Other than at the beginning when he recovered from his May foot injury, he hasn't had a really torrid stretch. It's just been 2-3 months of just smacking the ball around one out of every three times he rolls up to the plate. These last two weeks are no different and his .333 .417 .571 line could be dropped into any other two week stretch this season without missing (or adding!) a beat.

3) Austin Kearns! Supposedly he made an adjustment with his hands a week or two ago, allowing him to handle the inside pitch better. It really did seem like he was getting jammed consistently in the middle of the season. He's had a rough season. Early, he was hitting liners all over the park, but at gloves. Then he had a long stretch where he just stunk. Hopefully he'll continue to build off these successes so he can finish strong. .391/ .500/ .587 on the week.

What's Bad?

1) Felipe Lopez. He was another one who looked like he had turned a corner. If he did, it was just into a dead-end alley. .140/ .218. .180

2) Chad Cordero. Everybody's favorite scapegoat DID have a rough week, yakking a game away that the Nats should've won. What's surprised me about his line was that he pitched just 3 IP over the last two weeks. Is Manny holding him back for save opportunities only, which he didn't do earlier in the year, or are their unspoken fatigue issues, something he battled back in 2005.

3) Catcher. 9 hits in 48 ABs. One extra-base hit. Two RBI. But at least they call a good game, allowing such precision pitching...

Game O' The Week

It may not have been the most exciting game of the last two weeks, but Tim Redding's and Dmitri Young's 7-0 demolition of the Astros sure felt good. It's nice to be able to breath easy for once!

(Bi!)Weekly Awards

MVP: Ryan Zimmerman. What's better? 12 RBI in 13 games or his .680 slugging average? Maybe I'll take the .340 BA instead.

Cy Young: Shawn Hill. The poor man's Webb wins the mini version of the Big Webb's award.

LVP: FLop!

Joe Horgan Award: Tie, Hanrahan, Chico, Rauch, Cordero.

Majority Whips:
8/14: Shawn Hill deserved better with 6 innings of 1-hit ball.
8/15: Tim Redding wasn't particularly sharp, but his 2-run hit sealed the deal.
8/16: Kearns had a nice night. 2/2, with 2 walks and a SB.
8/17: Zimmerman had 3 hits and 2 runs scored; can the man pitch?
8/18: Two doubles for Zimmerman wasn't quite enough either; can the man pitch?
8/19: Shawn Hill deserved better. Hey, that sounds familiar.
8/20: Think the Astros wish they had Redding instead of Jennings?
8/21: Five hits for Logan!!
8/22: Kearns' two-run homer wasn't enough.
8/23: Belliard's first-inning tomahawk homer really blew the game open.
8/24: The more we focus on Zimmerman and the less on Cordero, the better we'll feel. (That's what she said! -- they tell me the cool kids say that now.)
8/25: Chris Schroder kept the game "close", cleaning up a bases-loaded, zippo out jam and chipping in 3 shutout innings of his own.
8/26: Kearns had 2 hits, 2 RBI and a nice wall-crashing catch he'd probably like to have back given what happened immediately after it anyway.

What's Ahead?
Three with the struggling but 'contending' Dodgers then a trip back home to face the punchless Giants.

Jason Bergmann returns off the DL to start tomorrow and it'll be interesting to see how he does. He's been terrible since returning from his mid-season injury, and it seems like he hasn't been able to spin the slider the way he was early in the season. If he doesn't do that, he has no chance. But will his arm allow him to do that? The Dodger bats will let us know!

This week also sees the playoff rosters lock, so it could be a final farewell to lovable tub o' goo (with apologies to Terry Forster), Ray King. Is there anyone else who's even a remote possibility of being wanted by a playoff team?

1/3 against the Dodgers would be good. 2/3 against the Giants would be better. 3/6 on the week would be an improvement. Can we do it?


  • Is there any scuttlebutt as to who on the Nats cleared waivers?

    If they cleared waivers, I would guess these are the possible players that could go before Sept. 1:
    - Ray King
    - John Rausch
    - Ryan Church (I would be shocked if he is on the Nats by the start of 2008 with the Nats crush on WMP)
    - Tony Batista (I know plays like he is too old for the 50 and over league, but he got a bunch of pinch hits in August, hit .444 for the month, it's possible that some NL team could want him as right handed PH, and the Nats really would trade him for a box of balls).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/27/2007 12:18 PM  

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