Friday, July 19, 2013

How important is this homestand?

USA Today Sports Images
If the Nationals are going to make a serious run at their second straight postseason appearance, that run is going to have to start tonight and pick up some serious steam over the next 10 days.

Why? Well, for one thing, there are only 67 games remaining on the schedule. As detailed yesterday, in order to get to 90 wins, the Nationals need to go 42-25 the rest of the way. That's a .627 winning percentage, the equivalent of a 101-win pace.

If they only go, say, 5-6 during their upcoming homestand, they'll leave themselves in a position where they have to go 37-19 to get to 90 wins. That's a .661 winning percentage, the equivalent of a 107-win pace.

Point is, each week that passes without the Nationals making up some ground is a week lost at this stage of the process. Yes, there's still time for them to get back in this thing, but there's no more time to merely tread water. They have to begin an uphill climb and sustain it.

Which brings us back to the next 10 days, during which the Nats will host 11 games on South Capitol Street: three against the Dodgers, four against the Pirates, four against the Mets (including a doubleheader one week from today).

Those first two opponents are no piece of cake. The Dodgers, for all their early season struggles, have the majors' best record since June 22 (17-5) and have won nine of their last 11 road games. The Pirates, meanwhile, come out of the All-Star break with the second-best record in baseball and the best pitching staff in the sport.

The good news: The Nationals have been a far better team at home this season than they've been on the road. They're 27-18 at Nationals Park this year, a .600 winning percentage that is only slightly off their .618 pace from last season.

Davey Johnson has a full and healthy lineup at his disposal. His top three starters (Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann) are lined up to pitch this weekend (though the Dodgers will send their own impressive trio to the mound in Ricky Nolasco, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw). And his team gets to open the second half of the season with 11 straight home games.

The time has come to make a move. Now we find out if the Nationals can actually do it.

31 comments:

nats guy said...

Nats need to learn to stop being nice guys and step on some necks when the other guys are down.
They have let so many teams back up when they were ahead early. Mostly they have won but have expended a lot of resources on games that should have been laughers.

Jordan has a limited time left before he expends his innings limit. Detwiler needs to find a breaking pitch. Teams have been timing him and are killing him on the second time through because he has fallen in love with his fastball.

This is a very important game for Strasburg. Last game was pretty brutal. Was that just a bad game, which everybody has eventually. or is something wrong.

Nats need to win or sweep every series for the rest of season to have even a miniscule hope of a prayer.


Laddie Blah Blah said...

"They have to begin an uphill climb and sustain it... The time has come to make a move. Now we find out if the Nationals can actually do it."

That's it, in a nutshell.

SonnyG10 said...

If they're world series material, it doesn't matter whether we have tough opponents or not. We have to be able to beat everyone. With tough opponents, we'll find out right away whether we have a chance or not.

mick said...

Mark stole my thunder from 2 days ago

mick said...

the Pirates and Dodgers series will tell us where the Nats are

mick said...

unrelated to the topic, the one thing that makes baseball the most aesthetic game over all over sports live, are the uniforms from the long time teams...Cards, Dodgers, Yanks, these uni's are beautiful!

mick said...

i love the nats home white uni's...Cards may have the best overall

Rabbit34 said...

As much as I'd like to, I just can't see the Nationals having enough to do it. Wait 'till next year.

hiramhover said...

Any update on Det?

Last word was, he was going to throw a BP session on Thursday, which would help them decide whether he can start as scheduled next Tuesday.

JamesFan said...

When they are 6 games back and playing .500 baseball, every homestand, every game is critical. All hands on deck.

Section 222 said...

It's only July 19, but there's some serious realism being doled out in this and the last thread. Clearly, everyone has taken stock of the schedule and realized that Nats need to start seriously stepping it up right away. I'd say we need to go at least 7-4 in this homestand and although it would be nice to win all three series, we can even go 1-2, 2-2, and 4-0 and come out ok. Basically we have to dominate one of the three series and survive the others. I'm going to remain hopeful we can do that even if we only win one game against the Dodgers. Greinke and Kershaw are awfully tough (we know we can beat Nolasco) and the Dodgers have been off the charts recently.

My quartet is singing the anthem on Saturday night, so we'll be doing our part to support the team. I'd remind everyone who's going to get there early, but you'll be doing that anyway to get the DJ bobblehead.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

They can't make up six games tonight. Just beat L.A.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

And Deuces, break a leg!

Tcostant said...

I think is more than this homestand, they play 19 of their next 24 at home. At the end of that you need to be no less than three games out of a playoff spot. You need a 15-9 in the games, at least.

Section 222 said...

The time has come to make a move. Now we find out if the Nationals can actually do it.

This same thing could have, and probably was, written when the Nats were about to start a seven game homestand against the the weak sister Brewers and Padres. And we proceeded to start making a move, winning 5 of 7 games. But then we turned around and lost 5 of the next 7 against the Phils and Marlins. That stretch against two division rivals we should have been able to beat could prove very costly and has put our back against the wall starting tonight.

baseballswami said...

The thing is-- the Dodgers feel the same way about having to make a run that we do.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

nats guy said...
Nats need to learn to stop being nice guys and step on some necks when the other guys are down.


I have said it similar but I think I added "snap their necks". The killer instinct doesn't end with scoring 2 in the 1st and going with zero's the rest of the way.

bowdenball said...

nats guy said...

"Nats need to win or sweep every series for the rest of season to have even a miniscule hope of a prayer."

Really? If they win every series and don't sweep any of them, that's a .667 winning percentage (ignoring the 2 and 4 game series). A .667 win percentage of 67 games equates to a 45-22 record. That would give them 93 wins.

So even if we remove the "or sweep" part of your post, which is a generous interpretation of what you said, you are saying that the Nats need to win 93 games to "have even a miniscule hope of a prayer."

Sorry, but you are just plain wrong about that.

Section 222 said...

Sure, the best way to assure a very strong second half is to win every series. But as noted above, we could lose the series to the Dodgers, split with the Pirates, and sweep the Mets, and we'd be 7-4 (.636). So it would be silly to say we have to win 2 of 3 from the Dodgers or we're done. But you've got to make up ground somehow. No more treading water like we've been doing for the last 3 and a half months.

There are many ways to get there from here, but they all involve better hitting.

Kevin X said...

Thank you bowdenball for bringing reasonability into the discussion.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

I would argue they don't "need" to crank it up now, although I won't object if they do. The Braves are ahead because they got hot for a couple of weeks, early. If the Nats can get hot for two weeks, preferably in-division with the Braves included, they're right in the mix. The first two weeks of August, for instance, would do nicely.

Ron In Reston said...

I know it's going to sound horribly cliche, but One Game at A Time. We don't need to go on "several 6-game winning streaks" as someone posted a couple of days ago, nor do we need to "win or sweep every series". We also don't need to watch what the Braves or Cards or Reds or anyone else is doing. We need to maintain some semblance of consistency and so far this season we;ve been consistent in one thing: being inconsistent. Deuces brings up a good point, that we could lose the series to the Bums, split with the Bucs and sweep the Mets and have had a 7-4 home stand. The only issue there is sweeping a team in a four-game series is very difficult. But there's also no reason we couldn't go 2-1, 2-2 and 3-1 and come out the same. And if the games go: W-L-W-W-L-W-L-W-W-L-W, that's 7-4 with no more than two wins in a row. Keep up that same kind of pattern five more times and that's 42-24....but there's that consistency thing again.

baseballswami said...

Process- play good baseball, pay attention to the small things, play the game the right way, hustle. Let the wins take care of themselves.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

But when they play them one game at a time in August, this is who they're playing: exactly the teams they need to beat, and exactly the teams they should beat:

AUGUST

1 OFF

2 @ Brewers
3 @ Brewers
4 @ Brewers

5 vs Braves
6 vs Braves
7 vs Braves

8 OFF

9 vs Phillies
10 vs Phillies
11 vs Phillies

12 OFF

13 vs Giants
14 vs Giants
15 vs Giants

16 @ Braves
17 @ Braves
18 @ Braves

19 @ Cubs
20 @ Cubs
21 @ Cubs
22 @ Cubs

23 @ Royals
24 @ Royals
25 @ Royals

26 OFF

baseballswami said...

No reason at all not to do well in August.

nats guy said...

Bowdenball,

My opinion is as good as yours. The "rose colored glasses" group has been just plain wrong so far. Maybe they should try playing with some serious urgency. 67 games is a very short peiod of time. Play like there is no tomorrow because if you don't there won't.

nats guy said...

Every time you guys say there is plenty of time and they'll start playing better soon they haven't. Maybe if someone lights a fire under them (Davey are u listening) to play with some urgency they will. I don't truly believe they have a snowballs chance in Hell of getting to the playoffs because they they take things too easily and roll over way too much to be a team that can play with fire in ther bellies.

hiramhover said...

nats guy

So if I can follow that fiery post--what you're saying is, that snowball would stand a better chance in their stomachs?

Day like today, I'm not so sure.

baseballswami said...

They will play however they will play. Health will be an issue. The play and health of other teams will be an issue. Rose colored glasses/ gloom and doom-- whatever. Do yourself a favor - watch your team , enjoy the game tonight.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

Hear hear, swami

sjm308 said...

I will enjoy baseball tonight!
I will enjoy it more if we score more runs than the Dodgers!
I will enjoy it if we play solid defense and run the bases with intelligence!
I will enjoy it even more when I am there on Saturday!

Go Nats!!

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