Nationals Baseball

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Everything's Fine

Now for some reason I want to sing "Mother, Mother" You old people get it! But not you really old people, or even you normal olds. I mean you early olds.  You get it!

I know this is going to fall on mostly deaf ears but things aren't necessarily going badly. Well sort of.  Let me explain.

This roadtrip was a difficult stretch at a time when things were arguably as dark as they could be for the Nats. They were down 6 games already, just off losing 3 of 4 to the Rockies and having a 3-7 homestand. The Nats could have spiraled out of the picture. They could have gotten swept by the Mets, gone 1-9 on the swing and found themselves 10 games out. But that didn't happen. They beat the Mets and have a chance to come out of the road trip 4-5 which is more than acceptable against this level of competition.* They could be 5.5 games out coming out of this which would mean gaining ground on this road trip which is actually pretty good! And if they lose... well losing some ground is expected especially for a bad team trying to turn around the ocean liner drifting into the iceberg. As I said to start, this trip isn't about getting back to NATIONALS, KINGS OF THE NL EAST. It's about not falling apart, and then going home where they can hopefully starting winning at a playoff clip again.

The Nats are suffering through offensive injuries while playing in pitcher's parks and it shows. The last 4 games the Nats have scored 8 runs total. But overall the picture isn't that grim. Take out the 11-5 loss and in the other 7 the Nats have scored as many as they've allowed. No that isn't winning baseball but it's not bad and that's what you should be aiming for right now. Get through this. Get back Rendon and Eaton. Get good.

This is what I mean when I say things haven't gone badly. The "stay close enough to the Mets that you can slowly chip away at the lead they have gotten over the next couple months" part of the plan has gone ok.  However, I have to explain that "sort of"

You see, since the Nats lost to Colorado to finish that homestand the Braves have gone 4-4.  The Phillies have gone 5-3. They've both played more games at home than away but still they haven't begin to lose like you'd hope. Instead of pretenders falling by the wayside so the Nats could catch the Mets, the Phillies and Braves (now with Acuna!) look to be real hurdles. Both teams have enough talent where you think they might compete (unlike last year's hot start Phillies). If either of these teams catches lightning like the Nats did in 2012 then the Nats are facing a near impossible task.

The Mets are the enemy the Nats know. A team with a unexceptional offense dependent on a healthy and strong rotation who have gone 3-4 since the Nats have gone on the road. We get what the Mets are and can pretty much figure out what needs to happen for the Nats to overcome them. The Phillies and Braves are the enemy the Nats don't know. Are Swanson and Albies stars who along with Acuna and Freeman are ready to give the Braves an lineup that can carry a ace-less rotation and a pen of questionable depth? Is Jake Arrieta really back to form and is Nick Pivetta the real deal so that the starting pitching matches up with anyone and can combine with a solid pen to carry an timely-hitting but not actually good offense? If either of these teams are real in 2018 then the Nats have to fight to make up that ground as well. If both? Part of catching the team ahead of you is relying on them to have some bad luck. You aren't likely to watch three good teams ahead of you all have the fates turn on them.

This is where the Nats are - trying to set the ship right watching not one, but three ships fade into the distance. If they hope to catch all three then they either have to hope for the breaks to go their way or they need to start winning soon. Like next home stand soon.

Other news - 

Victor Robles injury update. Robles hyperextended his elbow diving for a ball in the outfield. This isn't great news but it's good news because they feared a break or a tear which would essentially have meant Robles would need Tommy John surgery (it does happen for regular players - d'Arnaud is probably going to need it). What that means for recovery is still uncertain, as they wait for the swelling to subside, but you should fully expect (and want) the Nats to take it cautiously. What I'd want to hear is a timetable given by the end of the month, giving a general idea of when they expect Robles back. I'd want this date to be no later than the ASB so Robles has plenty of time to return to form before a September call-up.  We'll see.

*3-6 would clear the low bar I set earlier but that is really just a putting a tourniquet on a massive leg injury type of bar. It keeps them from being in big trouble but that's about it

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Injury Update!

With Shawn Kelley going down yesterday officially but a week ago unofficially it seemed like a good time to go over who currently in the Nats MASH unit and what is there status. 

Adam Eaton - bone bruise
What you wanted to see - Adam Eaton was put on the 10 day DL so the hope was he'd be out for 10 days and then be back. That was Friday. It did not happen.
What you saw - Eaton has been gradually upping his activity. He's taken BP. He's played catch. He maybe has run?  There was talk about him being available to PH but he hasn't been activated yet. Nationals maintain he won't be back until they can be sure the ankle won't bother him again.
What adjustment - When you miss enough time it starts to be a question on whether you can jump right back into the majors or need a couple minor league games to get your rhythym back. I'm not sure what the time frame for that would be but obviously the more time he misses the more than becomes a possibility. Still I don't think we're there yet. I tend to adjust in series and stands chunks for things like this so I'll kick him down the road until the Nats are back home
What you want to see now - Eaton in the OF on the 27th to face the Diamondbacks

Anthony Rendon - fouled a ball off his big toe
What you wanted to see - There was no structural damage to the toe, and Rendon said he was going to be right back so you wanted to see him in the lineup within a couple days
What you saw - Instead he lingered on the bench, unavailable for action while the Nats played short-handed for 8 days. Finally the Nats put him on the 10-DL a couple days ago. It's backdated the max allowed meaning he won't have to sit out 10 more days but 7 more is given.
What adjustment - I'm completely flummoxed by this one. A week of rest wasn't enough to heal his toe.  Will another week due the trick? Presumably so, but you would have said that for the first week. At this point we have to accept what we're told but I don't like it 
What you want to see now - Talk later this week about how Rendon is ready. Rendon in the line-up as soon as he can be (Mon vs Pirates?)

Daniel Murphy - recovering from knee surgery
What you wanted to see - Murphy progressing to the point where he'd be ready for some minor league action soon after those games started (April 6th) which would put him back in the majors right around now.
What you saw - Lost in the shuffle of the new season and the slow start was a slower recovery than hoped for Murphy to the point he could do nothing really in Spring Training to prepare for real game action. Instead, he progressed to extended Spring Training* around the 16th, where he's currently playing what barely qualifies as Spring Training ball taking a few "real" at bats a day and fielding a couple dozen ground balls.
What adjustment - He's gotta be ready here and then go on a minor league assignment. If he were ready by the end of this week then maybe he's back before the mid-point in May but that's the earliest you can put him. I've since re calibrated and put his return date at Memorial Day.
What you want to see now - Continued progression - more at bats and groundballs taken, confirmation of playing fully in a live game. Then a minor league assignment sooner rather than later. Before the end of the month would be ideal, but don't count on it since we haven't heard much right now. I'm hoping for one before the week of May 13th.

Those are the big ones.  Now the rest :

Shawn Kelley -nerve issues
What you saw - After basically sitting out a week to rest, Kelley came in, gave up a homer then couldn't get any extension on his arm and out of the game he went. Afterwords we heard it was ulnar nerve pain
What adjustment -It's almost certain he'll spend time on the DL. Given the choices are 10 and 60, expect 60.  They aren't going to rush him back because hurt Kelley is bad Kelley and does no one any good.
What you want to see now - A clean MRI and Kelley to sit out for a while.

Brian Goodwin  - wrist bruise
What you saw - Goodwin hurt his wrist diving. Gave it a couple days but then went on the DL. Talk was they needed the spot with Rendon out and Goodwin could have been back sooner than that.  However yesterday Martinez told everyone Goodwin was still sore after taking some cuts back in Florida.
What adjustment - Technically none. He wouldn't be ready until Friday anyway, but given how they talked about it you'd have expected him to be 100% by now.
What you want to see now - You want to see him back at the same time Eaton will be - the 27th versus the Dbacks, but keep a close eye on this. This isn't as fuzzy an injury as Eaton's or Rendon's which could explain some missed deadlines. They had a good handle on this and something went wrong. If they don't say he'll be with the team as they leave SF be concerned.

Koda Glover  - shoulder pain
What you saw - You wanted to see him on a mound before Spring was over. You didn't. He still hasn't gotten on the mound as far as we know and was working on long tosses last we heard. 
What adjustment - Given we know nothing it's hard to put a timeline on him other than "weeks" At this point June looks very unlikely so let's just go ahead and say the All-Star Break and consider that optimistic until we hear some news that sounds like progression.
What you want to see now - Any update would be nice. Glover throwing off a mound would indicate he might be a couple weeks away from a minor league assignment. So hopefully we see that sometime before May is over. If not then the ASB becomes iffy.

Joaquin Benoit - forearm strain
What you saw - In early Spring while getting into playing shape Benoit hurt his arm. That meant he wouldn't have the time needed to join the team to start year and he'd stay in extended Spring Training, but as of a couple weeks ago he wasn't throwing 
What adjustment - You ever see Major League? Remember when the owner tells them to cross the dead guy off the list of potential players. I'm not saying do that but sharpen your pencil.He's months away I'd imagine if he's not throwing now and had limited Spring action to start. I'll just throw ASB out there too but it's pretty meaningless
What you want to see now - Anything that suggest Benoit will be able to pitch this year. So he needs to start throwing before the end of May.

Matt Grace - groin strain
What you saw - Grace hurt himself on Saturday and went on the 10-day DL. Nats say this has been bothering him for a while.
What adjustment - He just went out. No adjustment needed.
What you want to see now - Nats to say by end of the week that he's on track to be back whenever he's supposed to be back.

So in short new "expected back" timeline for the hopeful

April 27th : Eaton, Goodwin
April 30th : Rendon
May 1st : Grace
May 28th : Murphy
July 19th : Glover, Benoit? 

*What is extended Spring Training? More time in Florida (or AZ I guess) doing drills for anyone not assigned to minor league camp. This is a motley mix of injury recovery guys - both major league and minor league, late signed FAs, and young players hoping to fill out whatever holes exist in short-season A-ball rosters after the draft. The quality and effort aren't ST quality but it's something. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Quickie - Matt-Tinez?

Look - it's going to plan. They beat the Mets. They took a game against a good team on the road. Going into the road trip I only asked for 3-6 and they could get swept by the Giants and still hit that. That might have been a low bar, so let's assume they win one against SF.  A 4-5 road trip in a stretch that featured the Mets, Dodgers, and Giants and a mid-trip swing to the West Coast? You can't be unhappy with that. Road trips like that aren't the problem. The problem is the 3-7 homestand that preceded that. That should never happen for a playoff team, not even against good teams.*

The Nats don't really have a break soon - in part because there are really only three BAD teams in the NL and in part because they don't start playing Miami until relatively late in the season. Right now it looks like the next nice Nats stretch is heading into Memorial day when they close out a homestand with the Padres, then go on the road to take on Miami, Baltimore and Atlanta, then back home for Tampa Bay and San Fran. This is what looks like their easiest stretch of the season. It's that 18 game stretch where you'd want the team to go like 12-6, 13-5 and make up some serious ground. Until then it's about surviving the road trips and gaining a little ground at home. A step at a time. Anything more is appreciated but extra.


Rendon went to the DL! FINALLY! It was a big swing and miss by the Nats medical staff. If Rendon went on the DL any time in the first couple days he could have been back today and the Nats could have had a full compliment of players to work with for most of the road trip. No, they aren't good players but they are better than no players. Now Rendon has to wait until the 29th (I think - maybe 28th, maybe 30th) to come back. I think Rendon has shown he's not a quick healer (remember the 50+ "day-to-day" diagnosis in Spring 2015?) so DL is probably a safe bet for the future ok?

Zimm looks right which is great. Can't be happier to be wrong about his health status assuming he isn't shot up with horse steroids or whatever. It also shows that skipping ST didn't do a damned thing to make him start out better. The proof that it was worth it now shifts to "July and August". Given he had a great September last year, basically he's gotta come through the entire 2nd half or big in the playoffs to sell this. Good luck to you sir.

MAT's hitting now too. Great!

Who isn't hitting? Most everyone else. Like really. There is not enough talent here to survive guys going cold at the normal rate. Nats need everyone back healthy soon.

Among the not hitting. Hey! Pedro Severino! Huh, Who would have thunk it?

Nats pen is spent with only the back end (Doolittle and Kintzler) working right now. That's the point of depth. The Nats aren't crashing in the pen like last year because they bothered to get 3+ reliable arms in there. But they need more.  Will it be the renewed Gott? Will Solis bounce back? Will Madson be fine after rest? Is Austin Adams ready to give something? Hey, didn't the Nats have a guy named Shawn Kelley? Let's see how it shakes out/resets in the next week and then we'll talk about "needs".

One this else to sit and think about. In the last 20 games, the Nats have gone 8-12. The Nats never went 8-12 in any 20 game stretch in 2017 or 2016.  Dusty > Martinez? Well, obviously. Should go without saying. Dusty is borderline HoF. But that doesn't mean Martinez is bad. Jury's out all year probably but the very first notes back from the foreman are not as positive as you'd hope.

*Oh it will happen, but it'll happen like once. Having it happen this early is not a good sign.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Around the league

With our first break in a good long while, why not take a step back and take a look at what's happening in the National League that's not DC or the Mets. Remember as we roll through that the same thing I said about Zimm - wait until the end of the month - applies to everything here too. 

Rest of the NL East

Braves - The Braves have the best offense in the NL right now. Seven of Eight starters are not just hitting but are hitting it well.  Some of this can be ignored. Ryan Flaherty isn't going to hit .352 the rest of the year. Kurt Suzuki is not a dark horse MVP candidate. But before I said if Ozzie Albies or Dansby Swanson were leading the charge that there may be cause for worry. Well... those guys are hitting now. Hitting it real hard.  The pitching has been good, but the starting pitching may keep the team from being a real threat. Teheran hasn't been good and Anibal Sanchez just hurt himself. The other guys are ok but depth is going to be tested.

Phillies - After a slow start the Phillies got hot and are challenging like we thought they might. Their offense has been led by a "player of the month" type of performance from Rhys Hoskins, but a lot of other bats are worryingly silent. Franco does look below average. Crawford might not be good. Alfaro might be awful. It might take Santana a while to adjust. Kingery might help but the problem is Cesar Hernandez is one of the few bats hitting, so they have to find spots for Scott. Pitching wise it could hardly be better. Arrieta looks good. Nola looks good. And Papelbon tradee Nick Pivetta looks good. Ben Lively hasn't gotten results but his peripherals are pretty decent. Velazquez is a good arm to be talking about 5th. If the pen doesn't fail them this looks to be a good enough staff to challenge for a playoff spot

Marlins - Do we need to talk about them? They're garbage.  Really all you care about is how well the trade bait is doing (Bour is doing fine, Castro is struggling to care, Realmuto just got back) and how well the young players are doing (Brinson is struggling mightily, the rotation is a hideous mix of guys slated to be "never-was"es). Nothing to see here.

NL Central - You'll find that the NL is strangely deep in competitive teams this year, which may not bode well for a Nats team that could be bumped down into the Wild Card hunt. The Pirates are on top but shouldn't hold up. The offense could be fine. But anyone you don't know in the pitching staff (which would be most) is bad.  The Cards sit a game behind and you could see them fly in any direction. They are being carried by things that may not last - surprise older bats and the usual good but injury prone starters - but there's other talent underperforming right now. The Brewers look like a team good enough to win with Yelich, but not so much without him. The surprisingly good 2017 pitching staff is probably just average and it's showing. The Cubs are, like the Nats, floating around in 4th. Like the Pirates in reverse they should come up. The hitting is better than the runs they are getting and that's with an injured Rizzo. All 3 starters who weren't on Cubs to start 2017 look awful but they won't strike out on all three. The Reds are a Raisel Iglesias delivery squad for some better team.

NL West - the D-backs lead but you can see cracks in the armor. The offense is being carried by a few hot bats and there isn't really a lot of talent hiding behind that. It's a pitching led team and the pitching looks good but Walker just went down for the year. We'll see if they can replace that.  We saw the Rockies and they are ok. They've got enough live bats on offense to do damage, but are carrying a couple early aged ones that'll keep them from mashing.  They spent a lot of money on the pen and right now that's working but there's not a lot of starter talent. The Dodgers join fellow favorites Cubs and Nats in early season floundering, but for them it really comes down to one thing - Kenley Jansen is terrible right now. I'd expect them to move back up pretty quickly unless this lingers and they accept it lingering. The Giants are trying to hang on until June when Bumgarner comes back and hope the pitching can carry them to the playoffs as it's done in the past. They might be able to do it if the outfield stops being so bad. Like so bad. Like McCutchen is bad and he's the best one out there. The Padres flirted with relevance for a second but there isn't enough here to keep it up. Maybe next year.

Other notes
  • Pirates trade for Corey Dickerson looks like a steal and Colin Moran looks like he could be a long time major leaguer. Pirates are an interesting team because most of the good talent (Polanco, Marte, Vazquez) are locked up through 2021. There's a chance here for a quick reboot.
  • Ozuna is not doing what the Cards expected, while Bud Norris has turned into a top flight closer. 
  • Matt Albers is doing fine in Milwaukee and the Nats totally should have brought him back. 
  • Addison Russell looks like he might never be the player the Cubs wanted him to be. He was a Top 10 prospect for a couple years. Let this be a lesson to you. And while I expect a Cubs starter to bounce back Quintana, Darvish and Chatwood have all been legit awful. 
  • It's hard to believe in the Diamondbacks when their back-up plan for Jake Lamb going down was Daniel Descalso.  This team has no depth
  • If the Dodgers have a problem it's the 3rd OF spot. You could have walked into this year thinking Chris Taylor was good, Austin Barnes was good, Joc Pederson is still young and thought it could work out but them each being below average was more likely. And they are. Reminds me of my Nats OF take that half of you refused to listen to. But Matt Kemp! Look at that guy go! 
  • If you hated Hunter Pence I have some good news for you. 
  • Austin Hedges strikes me as a guy who will have one good year somewhere down the road but I don't know where. Prospects, huh?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Well, it was a big day for Zimm at least

All in all, it was the start to the road trip you want. Took two of three from the Mets in New York before heading to the West Coast. Still you hate losing and you hate losing when you can see losing coming.

The Nats had not had a day off in a while and the team had leaned pretty heavily on its relief arms over the past few games. Every decent pitcher (KMD and Solis) had gone at least twice in the past three games and Kintzler had gone three times. The strange thing is - the Nats needed at least 7 innings from Roark and they got it. All they had to do was close out the 8th and 9th, with Kintzler out. Smart money would have assumed a Solis - Doolittle finish, because Madson had pitched twice in a row and would normally only be available in the emergency sense. Also Conforto, a lefty, was leading off the 8th.  But Martinez went with Madson, perhaps because of Cespedes and Asdrubal*, and Madson blew up.

Why not replace Madson then after three straight single with lefty Jay Bruce coming up? Or let Solis try to get out Adrian Gonzalez? I can't give you a good answer. But by the time Solis came in and issued two walks the damage was done. Cole's "Send this ball and me to Syracuse" pitch to Cespedes was the icing on the cake.

The Nats now have some time to regroup. They have a travel day going to CA and a travel day back, so a couple days of rest in a week. That'll help. But long stretches without days off happen all the time in baseball. This 12 game stretch is not unusual, and they'll face longer stretches this season.  A 17 game stretch after the West Coast swing which includes NO break going from Philly to San Diego, for example. Nor were there like 3 back to back extra inning games that would explain a tired pen. This was a rookie manager making some mistakes. It happens. Hopefully he learns you can't play to win 162. 

*Better righty bat in recent years

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A win and a Zimm

The Nats win again and are in pretty good position to sweep which would pretty much make the road trip an unqualified success 3 games in unless they lose the last 6. One of the key things is Turner is hitting again, which gives the Nats that desperately needed third bat until the injured guys get back.  For some reason Gio loves to pitch against the Mets (2.90 lifetime ERA in 150 innings, 1.78 in 100 innings at CitiField before last night). I don't get it but I don't care to get it. I'm just happy it's a thing.

One of the biggest at bats of last night was a two out single by Zimm in the top of the 7th. At the time the Nats were only up one and the Mets kept threatening. It was a needed insurance run and Zimm drove it in.

When I talk about giving Zimm the rest of the month before we start judging him, it's not that I'm expecting him to break out. It's that it's not fair to judge a player on 60PA (where he was at about last night) For an example I looked at Rendon last year.

April 5th - 18th : 50 PA : .191 / .240 / .234
August 2nd - 13th : 41 PA : .118 / .220 / .235

or Daniel Murphy
Aug 16th - Sept 3rd : 67 PA : .196 / .313 / .232

or Bryce Harper
May 17th - June 7th : 66 PA : .155 / .242 / .310

Now, you might say "These aren't as long" or "These aren't as bad" and I'd agree with you. But they are close enough for comparison (and really Zimm isn't the hitter these guys are so his streaks should be worse). The point is, even good hitters have fairly long stretches, 2 weeks or more, where they hit terribly. It could be that Zimm is just having his at the start of the season. Is it likely? No. But it could be.

But look at any of these guys and try to stretch it out to a month and it just doesn't happen. You run into games where they are hitting again. Good hitters don't have incredibly bad months. We know this just looking at Zimm over the years. He's a fairly competent hitter most years. But like the guys above, he's had some bad month. He's had slow starts. He's had some in season months where he put up an OPS in the high .500s.* But he hasn't had a flat out terrible month, a low .400s OPS month, ever.  That's why I put the bar out there. If he gets "hot" and gets his stats up to bad, well bad months happen. It's not a good sign for the rest of the year but it doesn't necessarily prohibit Zimm from being a useful to good bat in 2018.  If he can't, we're looking at something we haven't seen before and we can't really use the past for judgement.

Other Notes
The team and the fans are convincing themselves that Pedro Severino is the wave of the future. Good luck with that. The guy has hit .240 / .321 / .320 the past week. That's very likely a best case and would only squeak by what Wieters made you cry over last year. I mean, you start Severino but don't let a good month (if that happens) convince you that he's anything other than a back-up

Goodwin went on the 10-day DL.  Assuming he heals up as they expect, keeping him off of it for a few days cost them a few days of having a player they could use. Will the same be true of Rendon? That's the thing. If Rendon comes back after 9 days that's not a win. That means you traded one-day of Rendon for 9 days of having a full bench. That's a bad trade. If Rendon misses today that's 5 days of Rendon out. That's probably as far as I'd go and say the Nats made the right move keeping him off the DL. Rendon is good but a full bench is at least as important.

*If you ranked Zimm's worst months like 2 of his Bottom 5 partial ones and Three of his Bottom 5 full ones would be from 2016.  Makes you wonder if he should have even been playing that year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I've read this script before

After a lousy start to the season the Nats needed a win like that. An improbable win, an impossible win.  Down big yet getting key hits from role players and coming back despite the odds. Winning late like that, it just changes things doesn't it? And the Mets losing too - you get exactly what you need - a game in the standings and hopefully a turning point for the team to take off from.

Oh, you thought I was talking about last night? Sorry this is a flashback to the "Uggla Game" in 2015. The improbable win that would turn around the year for the early floundering Nationals. Until it didn't. The lesson Boz taught, by accident, came to fruition. That lesson, for those that hate clicking links, is if you fall far enough behind you can play well and still not catch the team infront of you. The Nats did play well after that Uggla game. Well enough to pass the Mets. But it wasn't well enough to put the Mets away and the Mets made the moves and won the games down the stretch.

Last night's game was a fun one but it took all the bad luck the Nats had gotten over the start of the season turning into good luck in one inning. Sierra's hit was a ground ball where they ain't. A few feet in another direction and it's an out. This describes Turner's hit, too. And Bryce's. And Difo's. Both Kendrick and Reynolds were walked on four pitches. The Nats didn't do much different in that inning than they had all year long, except for one glorious three out stretch the balls didn't find gloves and the other team was missing their spots. For me it's hard to point to that, even in the glow of a needed win, and say the Nats did anything special.

Of course this is baseball. This is what happens. You put the ball in play as hard as you can and hope to get it in the air between players. Seven out of 10 times you don't. But the season is long enough that sometimes those three out of 10 times line up just right. This happens for everyone. Better teams more than bad ones, but everyone. This season it seemed like it was happening more for the Nats' opponents than the Nats regardless of their quality (Reds excepted. Ugh the Reds. Don't look at them!).

Take that win and don't think of it as a turning point. Think of it as a gift. The Nats could have lost that game. They won it. Great. It's in the bank now. The goal for today and beyond though is still the same. Get healthy. Play better. Beat the Mets. You got a break now take advantage of it. 

Notes :

Bryce's homer is impressive but it's not like he muscled out a ball on the handle of the bat. He squared it up for the most part and hit it hard and the bat broke. There was probably a crack in the bat already. Not all bat breaks are jam jobs. It still takes a bunch of strength to put something like that out or else you'd see it more often so cheer him rightfully but I still like to make sure reality is respected.

Severino's hit was the realest of the 8th inning - a line drive into left. Do I think he'll hit? Of course not. Do I think the Nats should ride whoever's hot behind the plate? Yes. Right now, oddly enough, it might be both guys.

Zimmerman should have been protecting the plate on that call. It probably just missed the zone but it's one of those "too close to take" pitches.

Kendrick's homer was his first second of the year and the Nats big rally didn't have an XBH. The problem for the Nats is that their power is expected to be Bryce, Rendon, Murphy, Zimm and maybe MAT. With Rendon and Murphy out and Zimm and MAT struggling that means the Nats power is down to just Bryce. He can almost do it himself, but almost.