Gio Gonzalez is Pitching like Gio Gonzalez

It feels like the debate as to who should be in the Nats playoff rotation goes all the way back to when they first grabbed a share of first place on June 8. Doug Fister and Tanner Roark the presumed fourth and fifth starters of the Nats rotation have exceeded all expectations and most believe should be firmly entrenched in the playoff rotation. Doug Fister has at times been the Nats’ best pitcher and has done nothing but go out and gets outs while going deep into games. Tanner Roark has the second lowest ERA on the staff at 2.91 behind only Doug Fister and has looked just as effective and efficient at times. So if the two perceived back of the rotation starters are the two best by ERA then it stands to reason that one of the front three then has to be doing terrible and should be left off the playoff roster.

The debate has wavered between Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, mostly dependent on who did what in their last outing. This was also around the time that James O’Hara mentioned something on the podcast. Something that I’d never noticed before but once it was pointed out I couldn’t ignore it. FP Santangelo controls the thoughts of a large portion of the Nats fan base. When Gio Gonzalez gave up a first inning two run homer to Matt Kemp last evening it wasn’t because Matt Kemp is hitting .281/.346/.475 and has been one of the better power hitters in the NL this season. It was because Gio Gonzalez was under some sort of emotional distress caused by his walk of the previous batter. Tanner Roark the day before had given up a home run after Austin Jackson reached base on weak contact and this was because Dustin Ackley is a hot hitter. Dustin Ackley is nowhere close to being the hitter that Matt Kemp is but Roark had no mental breakdown where Gio Gonzalez did.

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Citizens of Natstown Podcast 8/28/2014

The Citizens celebrate their 100th episode by…doing absolutely nothing and not realizing it until taking a break half way through. Other than that we talk the week in Nats news, a three game losing streak, Fancy Stats, Strasburg, Harper and expectations, somehow come across Woody Woodpecker, answer questions from listeners and more!

Citizens of Natstown Podcast - Citizens of Natstown - A Washington Nationals Blog

Citizens of Natstown Podcast 8/28/2014

The Nats Offense Is Better Than You Think

Well, probably. I don’t know for sure how good you think the Nationals offense is, but I’m speaking more to the general population here. Just bear with me.

Moving on, looking at the Nationals rate stats it paints a seemingly bleak picture. The team average, not including pitchers, is a .260/.329/.403 slash line, a .324 wOBA and a meager 4.28 runs per game. Coming from the steroid fueled offensive funfest that was the early 2000’s that looks absolutely terrible. But spoiler alert, it isn’t the early 2000’s anymore and the game has changed a lot on the offensive side.

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Jordan Zimmermann’s Hidden Season

Somewhere lost between the “Doug Fister is the man” and “Stephen Strasburg is the most disappointing disappointment that’s ever disappointed” talk lies the fact that Jordan Zimmermann has had a great season. If you’re a believer in fWAR, and if you’re reading this blog then you probably are, then you’re likely to buy into its analysis that Jordan Zimmermann has been the second best non-Kershaw pitcher in the NL and the best pitcher on the Nationals. Now if you aren’t a believer in advanced stats then maybe if you’re only looking at ERA you’d believe that Fister and Roark are better than Jordan Zimmermann, but Zimmermann has a 2.97 ERA which is very good and his win/loss record of 8-5 isn’t bad either if you pay attention to those sorts of things.

The Doug Fister vs. Stephen Strasburg debate, as stupid as it is since they are both very good pitchers on the Nationals and the Nationals will need them both if they hope to advance deep in the playoffs, can be framed two ways. It is either a debate over the FIP based fWAR vs. the RA9 based bWAR. By fWAR Stephen Strasburg is much better than Doug Fister and by bWAR Fister is much better than Stephen Strasburg. It is also a debate of advanced stats like FIP vs. ERA. Doug Fister’s 2.20 ERA is preposterously low it is more than a full run less than his career average ERA of 3.36. So even if you aren’t a FIP believer then you’d still have to understand that an ERA that far below career averages is unsustainable. Stephen Strasburg is almost the reverse, but his 2014 ERA of 3.41 is only slightly off from his career average of 3.09 while his 2014 FIP of 3.00 is very close to his career 2.85 FIP.

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Interactive Nats Bullpen Decision Chart

You’ve been clamoring for it and it’s finally here, an updated Matt Williams Bullpen Flow Chart. This time though, to make things even more fun, it’s interactive. Go into the mind of Matt Williams and see what it’s like being the manager of the Washington Nationals. Answer the questions by clicking the links and find out which pitcher you need to send into the game skip. Continue reading

Wiping Days off the Calendar

Right now the most important thing for the Washington Nationals is wiping days off the calendar. They have a six game lead over the Atlanta Braves and a two game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the best record in the NL. The Nationals’ magic number for clinching the division is 33. That is a combination of 33 Nats wins and Braves losses makes it impossible for the Braves to catch the Nationals. To put that more in real terms if the Washington Nationals play close to .500 ball and go 19-20 in their remaining 39 games then the Atlanta Braves have to go 24-13 just to force a one game playoff. In other words the Atlanta Braves, with a current win percentage of .520, have to play .648 ball to catch the Nationals. That is a 105 win pace.

Don’t think for a second that this division race is over. In 2007 the New York Mets held a seven game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with just over two weeks left in the season. They went 5-12 in their final 17 games and ended up losing the division lead they’d held for most of the season, and the Nationals still have six games against the Atlanta Braves, but even if the Braves sweep those two series they have to play exactly the same as the Nationals on every other day in order to catch them. At this point it would take a catastrophic collapse for the Nats to lose the division.

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Nationals Tickets 9% More Expensive Than Season Average for Series Against Pirates

For most of the season the Washington Nationals have been one of the biggest underachievers in the league. For the second straight year they were considered top World Series contenders in the National League, but had failed to separate themselves in the standings despite a top run differential. Now that run differential is tied for second in the league at +89, and the Nationals have a six game lead in their division. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the next team on the Nationals schedule, and they need to win the series more than the Nats. The Pirates are just a game up on the San Francisco Giants for the final wild card spot in the NL. Nationals tickets are averaging $46.86 for the series, which is nine percent higher than their season average.

8/15 PIT Charlie Morton vs. WAS Tanner Roark | Avg. Price: $53.03 | Get-in Price: $18

On another team Tanner Roark would probably be considered the staff’s ace – he has a 2.86 ERA, an 11-7 record, and a 2.3 WAR. But on the Nationals he’s probably their third best pitcher at most. The average price for Nationals vs Pirates tickets Friday night is $53.03 and the get-in price is $18. Continue reading

Revisiting Span

Just last month I wrote about how Denard Span was performing offensively. In that piece I concluded that Span was an average contributor on offense, which made him a valued member of the Nationals. I closed the piece saying “he probably just shouldn’t be batting leadoff, but that’s a discussion for another day.” Well 36 straight games on-base later and that statement is no longer true. Now I still believe I was correct at the time of the article, so what has changed since that first post?

To find out let’s take a comparison of the stats I noted in the first piece and what they look like now. Continue reading

Average at their Worst

The 2014 Washington Nationals have a four game lead in the NL East. Ryan Zimmerman has barely played this season and all but three regulars (Desmond, Rendon, Werth) have spent time on the DL. To add even more onto the pile, both Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are in the midst of the worst seasons of their young careers. The amazing thing about them though is that they are both right around league average.

Bryce Harper’s .698 OPS doesn’t look good and it isn’t good and it especially isn’t good for a player with the talents and abilities of Bryce Harper. It is worth pointing out that Harper has a .722 OPS since the All-Star Break, but that still isn’t good for him, but it is better than the MLB average OPS of .704. So in the middle of this terrible, injury riddled season Bryce Harper has basically been a league average hitter. If this is the worst that it gets then that is pretty good.

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Unsolved Mysteries: Stephen Strasburg

In all of my posts I look to take some statistics, present them in a logical manner and share my own conclusion from these statistics. This has been a tried and true formula that has been highly effective. However, today’s topic has left me without a conclusion and you’ll hopefully soon see why. So instead we’ll go a bit more behind the scenes as I take you through my research process for this post.

To start I knew I wanted to write about Stephen Strasburg. He’s been a hot topic among Nats fans since the Opening Day and no one can quite get a read on him. By many measures he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball, but by the most important measure, runs allowed, he’s been merely average. How is it that someone with such great stuff and peripherals is producing such pedestrian results? This is what I aimed to find out. Continue reading

Nats Tickets Up 35% For Series Vs Mets

The New York Mets had the best record in the National League in July, but still trail the Washington Nationals by eight games in the NL East. They have an opportunity to catch up a bit with a three game series against the Nationals on the docket. But the Nationals schedule hasn’t slowed them down much so far, with the team still sporting one of the most complete teams in the league. Their +76 run differential trails only the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics in all of baseball. Nationals tickets are averaging $49.93 for the series, which is up 35 percent from their season average.

NYM Zack Wheeler vs. WAS Gio Gonzalez | Avg. Price: $93.78 | Get-in Price: $48

The first game of the series is easily the most expensive. The first 25,000 Nationals fans in the stadium will receive a Jayson Werth gnome bobblehead, to celebrate the right fielder. The game is averaging $93.78 with a $48 get-in price. Gio Gonzalez gets the start for the Nationals, and while he’s been great since coming over in a trade with the A’s a few years ago, he might be the team’s fourth best starter this year. That just shows how stacked the Nationals rotation has been this season. Continue reading