Monday, August 20, 2012

Nats have chance to bury Braves

US Presswire photo
Freddie Freeman and the Braves enter this series five games behind the Nats.
There was a point, for a couple of hours in between games of their July 21 day-night doubleheader, when it appeared the Nationals were on the verge of surrendering their lead in the NL East to the Braves. After taking the first two games of that four-game series, Atlanta had crept to within 1 1/2 games and appeared to have momentum on its side.

All the Nationals have done since is go 22-7. During that same span, the Braves have gone 18-10.

Which makes the dynamic for this week's showdown between the two clubs a bit different than perhaps everyone expected. Instead of coming back to D.C. with a chance to reach or even overtake the Nats, the Braves instead arrive here a full five games back and desperately needing to take at least two of three simply to avoid falling into an even deeper hole.

That's an advantageous position for Davey Johnson's squad to find itself in.

"It goes back into July, August: We've played them pretty good," the manager said. "So they need to prove something to themselves when they come in here. And we're still trying to prove it to everybody. It's going to be fun."

The Nationals have gone 8-4 against the Braves this season, winning the last two games of that previous series to help create some separation between the two clubs. In the month that has elapsed since, Washington has become the frontrunner, with Atlanta now trying to play catch-up.

Through it all, players have tried to insist they're not constantly keeping an eye on the team directly behind them in the standings, even though they're well aware of the state of things at this moment.

"Sure, we're paying attention to Atlanta," Johnson said. "But we're concentrating at what we've got at hand."

What they've got at hand this week is an opportunity to deal their lone remaining challenger for the division title a serious blow. With Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Ross Detwiler lined up to start these three games at home, the Nationals have positioned themselves well.

Not that they're taking anything for granted.

"We have a great team. But the Braves have been playing unbelievable baseball as well, so it's not going to be an easy three games," Danny Espinosa said. "It's definitely going to be a dog fight with them."

67 comments:

Darin H said...

Does anyone know a good site or blog to follow the Nationals's minor leage teams?

DaveB said...

Darin:
http://nationalsprospects.com/

Laddie Blah Blah said...

This is shaping up to be a great series. The Nats just came back from their best road trip and took 2 of 3 from the Mets, while the Braves offense disappeared as they dropped their last 2 of 3 to the Dodgers.

Harp and Danny are ripping now. Zim and Morse are rolling. Werth has been fantastic since coming back from the DL. ALR is overdue to break out, and Desi just needs to get his timing back. The offense is ready.

JZ has had an extra day of rest. Det has had success against a team which has trouble with lefties, anyway, and SS is still capable of dominating any lineup.

This series is kind of put-up or shut-up for the Braves. They cannot afford to go 8-back against a team like the Nats and realistically expect to catch them with so little time left in the season.

MicheleS said...

NatsLady. Clipp was on 106.7 and said a few years ago, he was 6'4" 168. He is now up to 205. I am sure they will have it up on the website soon.

MicheleS said...

Also here is the link to the Schilling interview on the Herd

Schilling

alm said...

Looking forward to these 3 games and especially Tuesday when I will be at the park.

5 up is a nice cushion, but let's not take anything for granted and keep the pedal to the metal.

Looked on stubhub Saturday and then again this morning to buy and there were alot less tickets for sale for Tuesday.

Go Nats!

Joe Seamhead said...

I honestly expect this race to go down to the wire with the Nats and Braves, with us winning in the end because, though the teams are pretty evenly matched, we'll win it because we have a manager that will guide our boys through it better then theirs will. But, it wouldn't break my heart if just pulled away. Regardless, though important, this series is not the end all of this race.GYFNG!!!

peric said...

It was clearly a praying mantis Nats Lady although Carp called it a grasshopper and it was gigantic certainly capable of eating a snake.

'Ware Braves outfielders ... the Blue Plains Monster in the outfield grass, waiting for you! Don't don't near those hit balls!


PFB Balls of Fire said...

If the Nats can win two out of the remaining 6 with Atlanta they also win the tie-breaking edge, and Atl would have to finish a game up in order to win the division.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Thanks for the link Michele. I listened but it did ruin my lunch as I loathe both individuals involved in the discussion.

The Z-Mantis! said...

MLB Tie-breaking procedures

"One game tie-breakers are played between teams tied for a division championship or the second wildcard berth in either league. These games are played the day after the season was scheduled to end."

MicheleS said...

NatsJack.. Yup agreed on both people on the radio discussion. But with both local radio stations covering a PRACTICE game vs discussing the Nats, I had to switch over the the mothership to actually have something else to listent too besides a PRACTICE game.

I just keep reminding myself that I get lower bowl seats at Nats games because I indulge a man's love of the pointy ball team.

MicheleS said...

Isn't the Z-Mantis supposed to be on the Z-Sofa?
Just Sayin, want the Z-Mantis to be comfy.

;-)

NatsJack in Florida said...

MLB Radio is all I listen to during the day. Although I do turn to the 60's station the instant Stephen Strasburg is mentioned.

Swift Eagle said...

It is amazing how the local radio barely even talks about the Nats...but then again, when they actually do bring them up, they are so painfully uninformed that I get even angrier!...It's better if they stick to football

I'll keep listening to MLB radio when in the car...

PFB Balls of Fire said...

Z-Mantis, I believe the situation you cite above only applies if only one of the two teams that are tied for the division lead will make the playoffs. If both are going to make the playoffs, then it's based on head-to-head.

MicheleS said...

And Suzuki will be on 106.7 in about 2 minutes. just in fairness, 106.7 is definitely getting better with Nats coverage. LaVar and Chad actually had Dribble on him and nailed him.

The Z-Mantis! said...

No, PFB. If the Nats and Braves finished with the same record, they play a baseball game to determine the champion.

The Z-Mantis! said...

*finish

The Z-Mantis! said...

"The situation may arise that two teams from the same division are tied for the division championship, but they are also tied with another team from a different division, with that team not having the best record in their division, but having a better record than all of the other non-division winners.

"In this case the two teams in the same division play a one game playoff [emphasis added], with the winner declared the division champion. The loser of the first game earns the #2 wildcard slot, and travels to the stadium of the team outside their division for the Wild Card Showdown."

pwilly said...

Hate to put a damper on things but just saw a report from Keith Law that Giolito re-injured his elbow and will be evaluated by Dr Yocum. Might as well the the TJ out of the way now.

PFB Balls of Fire said...

Is this a rule change with the new playoff format?

baseballswami said...

Lucas Giolito reinjured his elbow and is headed to Dr. Yokum. Just go ahead and get the TJ over with already.

The Z-Mantis! said...

Is this a rule change with the new playoff format?

Yes, I believe it is.

waddu eye no said...

department of redundancy department:

don dixon from the 80's
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VOwoWlyDpE

The Z-Mantis! said...

Giolito to have elbow checked
ESPN, 14 minutes ago

The Z-Mantis! said...

full text as of now:

Right-hander Lucas Giolito, the Washington Nationals' first pick in the first-year player draft, has re-injured his elbow and will be evaluated this week to determine the extent of the injury, a team spokesperson said.

The pitcher will be examined by orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Giolito was the 16th overall pick in this year's draft out of Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. He chose to sign with the Nationals for a $2.925 million bonus, turning down a scholarship to pitch at UCLA.

He made his professional debut on Aug. 14, pitching two innings for the Nationals' affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, but according to a source close to the player, Giolito's velocity dropped off substantially in his second inning of work and he was pulled from the game for further evaluation.

Giolito's spring season was cut short by a thickness tear in one of his elbow ligaments that did not require surgery at the time, although he did not pitch another game for Harvard-Westlake after the first week of March.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Z Mantis, was just going to comment on Giolito. Not a surprise.

The Z-Mantis! said...

Cue the Legion of Doom

The Z-Mantis! said...

Wait, you mean, I was first? (after Swami, who gets "Nawt-seccund")

pRAA with the ISO said...

Let the Great 2015 Giolito Shutdown Debate begin!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Elbows are highly correctable. Surgery now would bring him back as a just turned 19 year old.

If there's one thing us die hards have developed, it's patience.

ehay2k said...

FYI - link to video on the CSN site of our PFBL (Pretty Fearless Blog Leader) discussing the matchup with the Barves:

http://www.csnwashington.com/baseball-washington-nationals/nationals-talk/Harper-keeps-contributing-to-first-place?blockID=759649&feedID=6358#video_lightbox

Please head on over since CSN is paying the bills. ;-)

Section 222 said...

Harper's homer trot yesterday was 18.26 seconds, slower than his trot on Friday night (when he paused for a second to admire and then almost lapped Werth) but still the fastest in the majors yesterday.

Let's see, if Giolito has TJ now, the season will be too far gone for him to pitch in the minors next year. So does he do a brief stint in the AFL or the instructionals, or just shut down for the whole year and then come back for a 160 inning season in 2014, presumably in the minors? So then he's ready for a JZnn second year back in 2015, right? No shutdown in the majors needed.

Grandstander said...

It was pretty clear all along that Giolito would need TJ surgery. I doubt this comes as a surprise to anybody who has been paying attention. Go get the surgery and come back better Giolito!

peric said...

Whaaa the Mantis is eating a Marlin? No, we need them to eat Barves.

Gonat said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
Elbows are highly correctable. Surgery now would bring him back as a just turned 19 year old.

If there's one thing us die hards have developed, it's patience.

August 20, 2012 2:00 PM
__________________________________

Better now than 3 or 4 years from now. Given his age they can also ramp him up in innings.

I certainly feel sorry for Lucas and his family, but the timing is good and he can be back to throwing on the JZim/Stras schedule and luckily for him and the Nats will be doing it in Minor League time.

peric said...

Smart move for both parties if you think about it? Giolito already had an injury history, injuring it in college would have been devastating for him in terms of the baseball draft. In this case he gets 1st round money and goes to a team that may be the best in baseball at dealing with TJ injuries and developing expertise in dealing with other types of injuries (Cole Kimball, CM Wang, Adam Carr).

NCNatsie said...

Thanks for the rule-read, Z Mantis, but what does it say if the teams that tie for the division lead are also tied with the second Wild Card finisher from another division.

I asked this question a week or so ago, but didn't get an answer. On that day, SF and LA were tied for the west lead, and also tied with Pittsburgh, which was behind only Atlanta in the wild card race. If the season finished that way, Atlanta would obvvioulsy be WC #1, but my question is, would the loser of the SF-LA division championship game then have to play a second playoff game with Pittsburgh to determine the final Wild Card team???

Section 222 said...

Catching up on NatsJournal and saw this:

Werth, in 168 plate appearances (a small sample), leads the Nationals with a .417 on-base percentage and .889 on-base plus slugging percentage. His OPS+, which adjusts for a hitter’s ballpark, is 141 — best on the team and in the top 20 in the majors.

He also would be third in the league in pitches seen per at bat, if he had enough qualifying ABs.

Just sayin'....

NatsLady said...

MicheleS, when watching pointy-ball game, just consider how nicely the uniforms fit the posteriors...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Izturis agent says he won't accept an assignment to the Minors and will go to Free Agency if he isn't picked up by another team.

rarumberger said...

There's no way little Gio gets ramped all the way to 160 in 2014 if he gets the TJ. He's still too young for that.

The good news is that, honestly, we don't need him anytime soon. He can recover and develop in the minors for several years. We have three aces locked in for the foreseeable future already, plus Detwiler for several more years, and potentially even EJax beyond this year, but even if we lose one or more of those guys we have enough depth that we won't miss Giolito.

I would suggest forgetting that he even exists, at least until some time in 2015. That's the very earliest he'll be on anyone's radar, with 2016 being the absolute bare minimum earliest we should expect him in the majors, and that's being optimistic. Assuming, again, that he's in for the TJ.

Gonat said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
Izturis agent says he won't accept an assignment to the Minors and will go to Free Agency if he isn't picked up by another team.

August 20, 2012 2:51 PM
__________________________________

I think based on that there is no reason for Rizzo to sign him on September 1st as he chose the Ankiel route.

I took Davey at his word that the Nats were interested in bringing him back when rosters expanded on Sept 1st.

The Nats can now use that coveted 40 man spot for Zach Duke or Christian Garcia.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

If Izturis had accepted the Minor League assignment he could have been put back on the 40 man prior to August 31st. Now he kind of screwed himself as he won't be post season eligible even though that would've been a long shot to make the post season roster.

No reason to bring him back now. Like Ankiel, these guys sometimes make decisions based on ego.


peric said...

It'll end up like Nate Karns. Everyone forgot about him ... but he's an older prospect since he was a college draftee. So, the year plus 6 probably hurt him relative to his age. And now he may be injured again.

Giolito is at least young enough to come back as a prospect. Keeping in mind that although Karns came back McGreary and Smoker apparently aren't the same ... especially McGreary and that's two top left-handers likely lost.

peric said...

If Izturis had accepted the Minor League assignment he could have been put back on the 40 man prior to August 31st.

I watched the Beasley podcast, Nats brain trust and he apparently like the improvements Zach Walters has made in the field (a case were Luke Erickson needs to take a trip to Syracuse and perhaps change his opinion on that) so that may be a part of it. They seem to really like him.

I think its a foregone conclusion that slot on the 40-man is going to Christian Garcia at this point. But, I guess you never know.

MicheleS said...

NatsLady. My pointy ball team plays in Chicago. But yes, I do like the uniforms

natsfan1a said...

They don't call them tight ends for nothing. (Oh no, I didn't!) :-)

NatsLady said...

MicheleS, when watching pointy-ball game, just consider how nicely the uniforms fit the posteriors...
August 20, 2012 2:50 PM

MicheleS said...

Dr Andrews is on ESPN and I will post the interview if they put it up. Andrews is siding with Yocum.

Pilchard said...

For flexibility in case of injury in September, I would think that the Nats would want to add another middle infielder to their active roster after Sept. 1. With Izturis out of the picture, the Nats would have to add someone as of the remaining available call ups currently on the 40 man, only Anthony Rendon can play 2b (which is questionable) and no one can play SS.

NatsLady said...

Good on the doctor. Someone said, OK, if the doctor comes on, that will settle it. Or if Stras comes on, that will settle it. Of course, it won't. And it's not like Romney's taxes (sorry!)--no one is owed an interview with Dr. Andrews/Yocum or Stras!

NatsLady said...

MicheleS, I thought you meant he was skinny NOW! LOL. Yes, 168 would be a string bean.

pRAA with the ISO said...

On that day, SF and LA were tied for the west lead, and also tied with Pittsburgh, which was behind only Atlanta in the wild card race. If the season finished that way, Atlanta would obvvioulsy be WC #1, but my question is, would the loser of the SF-LA division championship game then have to play a second playoff game with Pittsburgh to determine the final Wild Card team???

One would think so, unless the result of the lost tiebreaker game is deemed to count as a regular season game. (In the past, it would have. Look for instance at the 2007 NL standings, where the Rockies and DBacks who played the tiebreaker game both are shown as playing 163 games.) In your example, then, the loser of the SF-LA tiebreaker game would be 0.5 game behind PIT, thus losing both the division and the wild card in the one game. Would Bud let that happen?

pRAA with the ISO said...

For flexibility in case of injury in September, I would think that the Nats would want to add another middle infielder to their active roster after Sept. 1

I'm pretty sure they can wait until an injury actually happens to do that.

baseballswami said...

Any word on the Clip interview and how one might go about accessing it?

The Z-Mantis! said...

NCNatsie said...
Thanks for the rule-read, Z Mantis, but what does it say if the teams that tie for the division lead are also tied with the second Wild Card finisher from another division.
I asked this question a week or so ago, but didn't get an answer. On that day, SF and LA were tied for the west lead, and also tied with Pittsburgh, which was behind only Atlanta in the wild card race. If the season finished that way, Atlanta would [obviously] be WC #1, but my question is, would the loser of the SF-LA division championship game then have to play a second playoff game with Pittsburgh to determine the final Wild Card team???


A good question, which the Wikipedia article I linked to does not explicitly address. It seems to imply the division championship game loser (LA or SF in your example) would get the second wild card, but that seems unfair to the Pirates (in your example), who did finish tied with them.

So I dunno.


Jaxpo Nat said...

GYFNG!

SonnyG10 said...

This might be a blessing if Giolito gets TJ surgery now. The Nats will be able to bring him along slowly and still avoid having it interrupt his career when he's in the majors. If this is the case I'll be praying he comes back stronger than ever.

SonnyG10 said...

I will be one happy puppy if we just smack the Barves around the whole series. SWEEP!!!

GYFNG!!!

SonnyG10 said...

Off subject, but I've been wondering what happened to Lincecum's velocity. He used to throw his fast ball 97-98 mph, but now only 92 or so. Did he have an injury I've not heard about? Any of you NIs know?

A DC Wonk said...

"I asked this question a week or so ago, but didn't get an answer."

I did answer it. Well, sort of. I didn't cite an actual rule, but did cite a recollection of a discussion I heard on TV about it, that said that there would, indeed, be two one-game playoffs.

NCNatsie said...

pRAA, I don't see how they could screw a team that tied for its division championship in favaor of a team that finished a potentially distant second in theirs.

The thorny problem is when and where would be the game be played. It has to be played the next day, or else the whole playoff schedule gets blown up. If the second playoff was held in Pittsburgh, then the losing team would have to fly all the way from the west coast. If it is played in LA or SF, at least the Pirates could come to California a day ahead. But nobody could know in what city it was going to be played until the first playoff game was over. How would the stadiums handle it from a simple logistics perspective? What a mess it would all be.

NCNatsie said...

Wonk, sorry I didn't give you credit for your answer. I just wondered if there was an actual rule, and I'm more and more becoming convinced there isn't, that Bud and the boys just hoped it wouldn't happen. Hopefully they're right.

Section 222 said...

Izturis agent says he won't accept an assignment to the Minors and will go to Free Agency if he isn't picked up by another team.

If this is true, he's not as smart as I thought he was. Does he really think he could end up in a better situation before Aug 31? How's that working out for Ankiel? Moving on.

sjm308 said...

I read this same scenerio on a Jayson Stark blog about a week ago. Like mentioned earlier. At that time SF & LA were tied for 1st and also tied with Pittsburg for the 2nd wild card. As Stark laid it out. He had SF losing to the Dodgers, then flying to Pittsburgh to playoff for the 2nd wild card. Winning that and flying to Atlanta for the one game wild card play in. Winning that and flying home to host either the Nationals or Reds. Wouldn't we like to 1. win the NL East and 2. Have the best record in the NL so we don't have to worry about stuff like this.

A DC Wonk said...

Wonk, sorry I didn't give you credit for your answer. I just wondered if there was an actual rule, and I'm more and more becoming convinced there isn't, that Bud and the boys just hoped it wouldn't happen. Hopefully they're right.

The guys on TV (or radio? perhaps even it was Charlie and Dave) were certainly discussing it as if there were an explicit rule. Because they were phrasing it as: "and there's even a way that there could be two single game playoffs on consecutive days", and went on to describe the scenario that you were talking about.

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