Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Around the NL East: Atlanta's lead slips

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

Taking stock of the National League East, noting that while the Braves' lead has fallen to just one game, no one other than the Nationals appear primed to challenge for a playoff spot in what was once the N.L.'s strongest division.

Atlanta Braves (22-16)
Brian McCann wants you to know that he's back, and that any talk of Evan Gattis taking away at-bats at catcher should be tabled for the foreseeable future. While Gattis has been a nice surprise, ranking second on the team with seven home runs and 20 runs batted in, McCann has accounted for half of that production in just his first six games back from the disabled list. With the long-time All-Star back behind the dish and three of the Braves' four most effective hitters (first baseman Freddie Freeman and the third base platoon of Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco) occupying corner infield spots, Gattis might be the odd man out until someone cools off.

Elsewhere around the diamond, B.J. Upton left last night's game against Arizona with a bruised left shoulder -- perhaps a stint on the DL would do both he and the team some good. At this point, even replacement-level production from his spot in the lineup would be an upgrade. Wonder if there's any chance Gattis can man one of the outfield corners? And a growing concern worth watching: Closer Craig Kimbrel has already blown three saves.

Player of the Week: McCann, C: 4 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, .412 AVG


Miami Marlins (11-27)
The youth movement continues in South Beach, as the Marlins promoted second base prospect Derek Dietrich following injuries to Donovan Solano and Chris Valaika. Dietrich, the organization's No. 12 prospect according to Baseball America, was the 79th overall selection in the 2010 and came over from the Rays in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar in the offseason. Profiling as one of the organization's more promising power hitters, he's off to a great start in very limited action, and has already homered.

Macell Ozuna and Jose Fernandez have yet to slow down, with the latter recording his second victory after going winless in his first five starts (mostly due to poor run support); he sports an sparkling strikeout rate of 9.5 per nine innings. Though he's no prospect, Twins castoff Kevin Slowey has been one of the bigger surprises in the league, pacing the pitching staff with a 2.55 ERA, which is far more telling of his season so far than his misleading 1-3 record.

Player of the Weak: Ricky Nolasco, SP: 0-1, 7 IP, 1 ER, 9 K, 0.71 WHIP

New York Mets (14-21)
On a team hitting as poorly as this one (only David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Marlon Byrd are batting above .260) the only interesting contributions they have to make are on the other side of the ball. Matt Harvey, still with an unblemished 4-0 record and a sterling 1.44 ERA occupies most of that conversation, but young center fielder Juan Lagares stole a little bit of attention for himself by making one of the best shoestring, second-effort catches you'll ever see.

Meanwhile, John Buck hasn't hit a lick since last week, and first baseman Ike Davis continues to be a breakout waiting to happen; he's just too good to hit .175 for much longer, right? Then again, the same might've been said about Dan Uggla a couple years ago, until he proved that a full season at .220 is actually within the realm of possibility. The Mets might even tolerate that from Davis if he can at least chip in the 30 home runs that he's capable of.

Player of the Week: Harvey, SP: 1-1, 16 IP, 16 K, 1.13 ERA, 0.50 WHIP

Philadelphia Phillies (18-21)
Sitting within striking distance of .500, the Phillies remain the division's best threat to challenge the Nationals and Braves -- but that's not saying too much. Roy Halladay is mercifully on the DL and set to undergo shoulder surgery -- here's hoping that he's able to bounce back well next season. A talent like Halladay deserves a more graceful exit from the game, if this really is the beginning of the end for him.

At the moment, the Phillies feature three useful hitters: Chase Utley, Michael Young, and Domonic Brown. No other regular has an OBP over .300 (though Delmon Young has reached base above that clip since returning from the DL -- but when Young is one of your best bets, that in of itself is bad news). As a team the Phils are reaching at just a .301 rate, good for 13th in the N.L. When that's the case, it doesn't matter how good your pitching is (and in Philadelphia, so far it isn't) -- winning games is going to be a real struggle.

Player of the Week: Utley, 2B: 4 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .417 AVG

69 comments:

baseballswami said...

I love it when there is a new lunchtime post. West coast baseball just interferes with my routines. But thanks to my DVR , I will be watching last nights game tonight. At least it won't be stressful. Interesting division we find ourselves in, no?

ehay2k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ehay2k said...

"Player of the weak" for the Marlins. Not sure if it's intentional, but it sure is funny

UnkyD said...

Should read "Around The REST of the NL East, since there's no evaluation of the Nats...?

SCNatsFan said...

To be fair UnkyD there was a whole post on the state of the Nats yesterday

Dave said...

Second time the Marlins are featured with a "Player of the Weak." So I don't think it's a typo.

NatsLady said...

Discussion of pitchers win-loss records as a measure of performance.

Losing Records - Opening Day Starters

http://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/05/losing-records-opening-day-starters.html

Eric said...

From the blogroll:
Lady and the Nats
Table of unearned runs.
3 minutes ago


Nice!

NatsLady said...

Yeah, that wasn't what I wanted, though, Eric. Wanted it to go to the real post. Oh, Well.

Eric said...

Oh...wow, that's bizarre.

UnkyD said...

Fair point, SCNats.... I still would like to have a similar, concise assessment up next to these.... I'm not grumpy, though... :)

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MLB Network just did a look ahead at the Nats game and used Espinosa up on the screen with some horrific stats. They said he is 2 for his last 21 batting .095 with a lot of strikeouts.

I'm sure they will do that again in the next 1/2 hour if you are by a TV.

Eric said...

Honestly, I'll take that over "the team that everyone expects to win the World Series"

The more downplayed we become, the better, imo, especially if the backdrop is us 1 back from first.

3on2out said...

Eric:

Got to say, love your logo. A Grateful Dead tribute?

David Proctor said...

I'm expecting us to lose this game. While Haren has been much improved, the Dodgers have very good numbers against him and are a better team than their record. Plus, Kershaw is pitching. If Haren gives up 2 runs, it may be too many.

David Proctor said...

Interesting looking at the team WAR numbers. As I've said before, WAR is kind of useless before the end of the season because it can fluctuate wildly, but it's still interesting to look. The top 3 are Bryce (1.7), Desmond (1.4) and Span (0.9). After that, it plunges to 0.2, which is owned by Suzuki, Gio and Ramos. Everyone else is 0.0 or negative. Tyler Moore has the worst WAR at -0.9.

Eric said...

>Got to say, love your logo. A Grateful Dead tribute?

Thanks 3on2out, yes it is!

David Proctor said...

Looking at wRC+ is interesting too. wRC is weighted runs created +. The league average is 100. Everything over 100 means that player created that many points more than a league average player. So for instance, Bryce leads the team with a wRC of 174. He's creating 74% more runs than an average player.

We have 4 players with wRC's above 100: Bryce (176), Desmond (130), Gio (109...this is an OFFENSIVE STAT too), and Ryan Zimmerman (104). Werth and Span are very close in the high 90s. Tyler Moore's wRC = 23. That means he is creating 77% LESS runs than a league average player.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

David, you have to add pitcher's WAR to it as I know JZim is higher in WAR than Gio.

David Proctor said...

Whoops! I was set to batting only. So for our pitchers then: JZim has 1.7WAR, Strasburg has 0.8WAR, Detwiler has 0.7WAR, Gio has 0.5WAR, Haren has 0.0 WAR.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

David, do you think Davey knows that wRC stat for Gio? Maybe he wouldn't have pinch-hit for him with a batter who doesn't have any XBH and only has 1 pinch-hit. ;)

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

David Proctor said...
Whoops! I was set to batting only. So for our pitchers then: JZim has 1.7WAR, Strasburg has 0.8WAR, Detwiler has 0.7WAR, Gio has 0.5WAR, Haren has 0.0 WAR.


Thanks for that. JZim and Bryce are both at 1.7

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Observations from last night, I think the Nats can put a shift on like many teams have tried on Adrian Gonzalez. His hits are going in that 3.5 hole between Espi and ALR.

David Proctor said...

Espinosa's WAR is -.1 and that's despite some very good fielding numbers. If he can hit .240 with power, combined with his fielding, he becomes valuable (strikeouts or not). Right now, he's not.

Steve M., Tracy has a -.5WAR. Impressive given his little playing time.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Harold Reynolds on MLB Now says Harper has to move to the infield. Yah, right.

David Proctor said...

MLB Network has been saying that. Larry Bowa was arguing the other night to move him to 3B and Zim to LF.

EmDash said...

Zimm to left field! Wow, that's...quite something.

A DC Wonk said...

NatsLady, in her blog post, noted:

"Jeff Samardzija (yes, I can spell it, it's all in remembering where the "z" goes)"

Nice cute addition -- I like that ;-)

David Proctor said...

I can picture his throws to the cutoff man now...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

David Proctor said...
Espinosa's WAR is -.1 and that's despite some very good fielding numbers. If he can hit .240 with power, combined with his fielding, he becomes valuable (strikeouts or not). Right now, he's not.

Steve M., Tracy has a -.5WAR. Impressive given his little playing time.


I would say sorta kinda with Espi as BA isn't the only thing. I think he has to be a .750+ OPS guy at a minimum and any way he can get to that number.

Right now he is lost. He lacks a true professional approach stepping into the batter's box. I am absolutely convinced that Anthony Rendon is a 800+ OPS guy who could bat in the #7 and give Desi protection in the lineup as well as bat #2. The Dodgers got smart. DON'T PITCH TO DESI. They walked Desi to give the Nats bases loaded with 1 out last night to pitch to Espinosa.

JD said...


Ghost,

In fairness LaRoche is -0.4 mostly because he plays an 'offensive' position and his hitting has been for the most part offensive.

Section 222 said...

I am absolutely convinced that Anthony Rendon is a 800+ OPS guy

For a second, I read that as "a 800 OPS+ guy." Now that would be impressive!

Section 222 said...

Maybe we should just send the whole team down to the minors to learn new positions. Let's give Kobernus, Marrero, and Destin Hood a shot. Can't be any worse than the bums we have in there now with their 21-17 record.

Eric said...

Speaking of LaRoche, how about that literally face-saving web gem he pulled off last night? WOW!

Joe Seamhead said...

222 and Eric, you two are just full of sunshine today! And, yes, that was an amazing play by Adam last night.

David Proctor said...

Interesting looking at Drew's advanced numbers. His ERA is among the highest on the staff (4.40), but his FIP and xFIP are among the best. His BABIP is .370 (league average is around .310). I think we'll see a turnaround from him shortly, he's had very bad luck.

Clippard, on the other hand, has worse advanced metrics than his ERA. His ERA is pretty good, but his FIP and xFIP are in the high 4's and 5's.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD, funny on LaRoche.

Ron In Reston said...

It was a thing of beauty, Eric. And I am quite certain if Peric's mancrush Tyler Moore had been playing first he would STILL be looking for his teeth

A DC Wonk said...

Tyler Moore had been playing first he would STILL be looking for his teeth

Yowza! A scary thought -- that ball was screaming!

The above is probably best case scenario!

Joe Seamhead said...

What to do until after 10:00 p.m. And still be able to stay awake? Man, I hate Left Coast games.

Eric said...

Yeah...that could've easily resulted in a Happ-like scenario or worse.

Eric said...

Joe, I can think of a number of things to do until 10 that will keep you awake, a nap being the most wholesome ;)

Section 222 said...

Joe, a nap?

Section 222 said...

Dammit. Another drink to the man with the steal your face avatar!

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Tyler Moore had been playing first he would STILL be looking for his teeth

I think it generally takes a few days for ... how to put this ... the digestive process to complete.

Joe Seamhead said...

Joe, wholesome?

Joe Seamhead said...

Funny, Eric, I'm sitting here listening to the Pizza Tapes.

David Proctor said...

Harper and Span out. Guessing that Davey wants Eury Perez RHB against Kershaw.

David Proctor said...

Espinosa batting leadoff again. Sigh.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Harold Reynolds on MLB Now says Harper has to move to the infield.

Larry Bowa was arguing the other night to move him to 3B and Zim to LF.


SO, to recap this revised lineup based on suggestions, made there or here:

Zimmerman to LEFT
Desmond to center (granted it's been about a year and a half since that was suggested here)
Moore to RIGHT
Harper to THIRD
Espinosa to SHORT
Rendon to SECOND
Marerro to FIRST
keep RamoZuki at CATCHER

Werth to the BENCH

David Proctor said...

Lombardozzi, Perez, Moore outfield. Yikes.

Eric said...

"Funny, Eric, I'm sitting here listening to the Pizza Tapes."

Ha!

Joe Seamhead said...

No Harp, no Span, no Werth, oh no!

Eric said...

Suddenly things are looking either very good or very bad for tonight...

David Proctor said...

I'm usually the last person to be down, but there is no way we win tonight. I'm bracing myself for that. The Dodgers have great numbers against Haren career and Kershaw is on the mound. Zim-ALR-Desi will have to step up to make this game competitive.

Joe Seamhead said...

Eric, "Guitar Space/Summertime is an all-time favorite Garcia, Rice, Grisman rendition.

Sounds like we have a 4A outfield tonight. Well, at least the Dodgers won't have much of a book on them. They'll probably kick butt!

Eric said...

"all-time favorite [trio] Garcia, Rice, Grisman" works, too. Such a great, laid back album.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I like Eury starting. The Nats need to see what he can do against a tough lefty.

Eric said...

Well, one of my all time favorite trios anyway. They really had some great synergy.

David Proctor said...

Part of me wonders if Eury Perez could be in the mix for a bench spot. With how poor the bench is performing, if Perez gets a few knocks against Kershaw and his defense is great...you never know.

Joe Seamhead said...

I know one thing, David: Perez can play the outfield. I wish him luck. Davey hasn't called me yet, but when he does I'm going to suggest Eury replaces a certain someone on the 25 man roster.

UnkyD said...

Rather partial to "Old, And In The Way", myself....

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

David, I'm thinking the same thing with Perez. With as poor as Bryce is batting vs lefties, you never know if he can show he can hit lefties.

Joe Seamhead said...

Love it, UnkyD!
Eric, have you ever tuned in to the Emory Joseph album? It's a tribute to Garcia/Hunter and it's called Fennario.

Eric said...

I haven't, Joe, I'll have to check it out...

Eric said...

Oh man, what happened to my Bobby and the Midnites link?!
Love me some Old and in the Way.

Eric said...

Check out this hilarity from GD side project land.

David Proctor said...

Greinke is starting tomorrow night.

Joe Seamhead said...

Sorry we got so OT, but Eric, no music, but a good link on the Emory Joseph tribute to Garcia/Hunter :
http://irisrecords.com/artists/emory_joseph/

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