Both the Nats and the Os won home-field advantage for initial round of the playoffs by winning more games than anyone else in their leagues in the regular season. But both went 0-2 for those 4 home games! And most of the baseball pundits predicted both would roll over their weaker opponents who were very lucky to even be in the playoffs.
Tom Boswell, as usual, comes through today with another excellent article. As he says, “Luck and breaks prey on minds at this time of year.” And some players and teams get hot while others don’t. And it’s also interesting that Las Vegas has been betting on the teams that have been losing this year! This shows us once again that Pete Rose was betting on the wrong sport.
The 2012 Nats playoff performance was way better than that of the 2014 Nats! The players who performed up to their ability this time were few: Harper, Rendon, Strass, JZimm, Fister, Cabrera, Blevins and —are you ready—-Soriano. 8 out of 25. Maybe we should bring Davey Johnson back. The Giants didn’t play much better than the Nats either.
Matt Williams cost them game 2, by removing JZimm when he was one out away from a victory! And bad defence played a major role in the losses of games 1 and 4. But the biggest problem was the near lack of any offense.. And most of the Nats played with little EMOTION! They often looked like robots. Maybe that is partly a reflection of William’s managerial style; he rarely shows ANY emotion. He tried explaining why he took JZimm out in the 9th inning of game 2 by saying that was his game plan he put together before the game even started! One wonders if he has any “feel” for how the game is flowing or how his players are feeling. JZimm had thrown 8 and 2/3 innings of a three-hit shutout and was looking strongly in control of what he was doing!
Nope, the Nats/Giants playoffs were not fun to watch. I find myself looking forward to watching the Orioles/Royals playoff series. Both teams are playing exciting baseball as if they really want to get to the World Series.
The gurus at MLB.com have ranked the Nats at the TOP of their power rankings, as we head to the playoffs. That has me worried a bit mainly because I’ve had a lifetime of experience watching favorites NOT being able to live up to expectations, ESPECIALLY in the game of baseball!
Yes, Matt Williams has the team peaking at just the right time. And even Ryan Zimmerman finally got some ABs at the end of the regular saeson. Winning the most games in the NL (96) is quite an accomplishment for a rookie mgr. and the players. (Before the season began, I predicted they would win 88-92 games). And The Nats “run-differential” was huge (+131 I think). That is a very important stat.
But even more important in baseball playoff games is starting pitching. This is why teams will pay the big bucks for John Lester, David Price, John Shields, Zack Grienke, etc. The Nats have 5 playoff-ready starters, more then any other team! Their only problem is which of the 5 gets added to the bullpen. I’m thinking it will be Roark because he has done it before and was effective. In their final 13 starts the other four guys (Strass, Zimm, Fister and Gio) went 13-0! In their last “turn” (meaning the last 4 starts) they pitched 31 innings, gave up ZERO runs, 6 hits, had 38 strikeouts and only 4 walks!
Here’s hoping they play the Giants rather than the Pirates in the first round. The Pirates have given the Nats a harder time this year:)
Note: the 4-day layoff (Monday to Friday’s game) could be a problem, but I know Williams is trying to counteract that with simulated games and other activities.
The Nats look (to me) poised to get into October in pretty good shape. But I would not bet the farm on them getting to the World Series:)
Manager Matt did a great job of managing last night (Sept. 1). The best move of all was bringing Thornton in to rescue Storen. He has been showing a tendency to switch pitchers quicker recently; GOOD!
The guys are looking (as a team) ready for the necessary Sept/Oct. “push.” Span, Gio, Strass, Werth, Harper, Rendon, Cabrera, Lobaton and Ramos have been stepping up their production recently. The good teams do that.
The team brought up 6 players for the “Sept. Call-up.” The best of those moves was getting Barrett and Cedeno for the bullpen. They had been trying to rest Barrett in Syracuse and they accomplished that. Hopefully he is ready for what is ahead; he could very well be the additional “stopper” the Nats need. Cedeno is another lefty weapon in their pen. No team has enough of those. I used to be one myself:)
Us fans need to hang onto being positive, no matter how hard that is!