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Perspective on the 11-24 slide

Morning roundup

How bad is the Nationals' 11-24 stretch over their past 35 games? Well, do you remember the atrocity that was the beginning of 2009? The Nationals lost their first seven games, suffered three more defeats until they first won two in a row and, despite the season beginning April 6, did not win their sixth game until May. And that team still went 12-23 to start the year.

The Nationals' record since May 15, the day after they hit their high-water mark of 20-15 in their first 35 games, is third-worst in the majors that span, ahead of only the Pirates and Orioles.

As the Nationals lost 103 games last year, they had a .364 winning percentage. Since May 15 -- a span of games that represents more than a fifth of the season -- the Nationals have a .314 winning percentage.

The Nationals have plenty of time to regroup. If they can go 20-15 again in their next 35 games, they'll be 51-54. Last year through 105 games, the Nats were a ghastly 33-72. When the Nats were that bad, it was Aug. 2. On that date, 51-54 would have been just 6.5 games back of the wild card.

So, there are two points. First, even with how bad the past month-plus seems, it is nothing compared to last year. This team is much, much better, period. Second, the Nationals may be drifting close to the point of not being able to seriously contend. But if they can recapture the way they played for the first portion of the season, they can still churn their way close enough to the race to feel like they're in it. All is close to being lost, but it is not yet lost.

"The teams years past, they got in this situation and it seemed to kind of snowball," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "I think that this year, we'll put and end to it. Everyone here believes that we're winners. We'll move on."

Yes, 11-24 is terrible. But a baseball season is long enough for a team to recover from it. Whether or not the Nationals have the personnel to do it is a question to debate, but it is possible.

"We're just not playing good right now," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "Every team goes through a little rut. All year long we've pulled ourselves out."

Will they again? To start, they get the Royals and Orioles for six. And Bruce Chen goes tonight for Kansas City. Every little bit helps.

FROM THE POST

The Nationals finally had a lead, but they lost their sixth straight and were swept with a 6-3 loss to the White Sox as John Lannan extended a slump.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Gwinnett 7, Syracuse 4: Boomer Whiting went 3 for 5. Collin Balester allowed no runs on one hit and one walk in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

Bowie 5, Harrisburg 4 (11 innings): Danny Espinosa went 2 for 4 with a walk. In his last 10 games, Espinosa went 14 for 40 (.422) with a 1.147 OPS. Andrew Kown allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks in six innings, striking out five.

Lynchburg 3, Potomac 0: The P-Nats had just three hits, all singles. In his second start for Potomac, Trevor Holder allowed three runs, none of them earned, on five and one walk in 5 1/3 innings, striking out four. Potomac's bullpen pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless, hitless relief, paced Justin Phillabaum's 1 2/3 innings.

Hagerstown 11, West Virginia 7: Justin Bloxom went 3 for 5 with a home run, his fifth in eight games, while raisining his average to .333. Destin Hood went 3 for 5 with two doubles. J.P. Ramirez and Eury Perez each went 3 for 5. The Suns pounded 19 hits total.

Vermont 3, Lowell 1: Fifth-round pick Jason Martinson went 2 for 4. 15th-round pick David Freitas went 2 for 4 with a double. Matt Swynberg allowed no earned runs on one hit and no walks while striking out three in five innings.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Mike Rizzo would embrace Stephen Strasburg on the All-Star team, Bill Ladson writes.

The Nationals should be sellers, Fire Jim Bowden says.

Hagerstown had an especially impressive weekend, according to Nats Farm Authority.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 21, 2010; 6:01 AM ET
Categories:  losing streak  | Tags: Washington Nationals  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Even for Ryan Zimmerman, 'it's never easy all year'
Next: Guest post: Stat prediction winner

Comments

I don't think the Fire Jim Bowden blog should even be mentioned in polite conversation.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | June 21, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

It's unfortunate that there was no way to foresee this team's weaknesses during the offseason or back in spring training.

Who would have thought that we didn't have good enough starting pitching?
How could anyone have known?

And that our lineup lacked good table setters, and depth. Impossible to have predicted.

That our defense would be poor, or porous (poor us?).

Too bad there was no way to recognize, or remedy any of this.

There should be a way for teams with new stadiums and rich owners to become competitive. Ah well.

Posted by: Sunderland | June 21, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Sunderland gets an A+ for todays lesson in "How to write a snarky, sarcastic blog entry."

Posted by: TimDz | June 21, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Sunderland gets an A+ for todays lesson in "How to write a snarky, sarcastic blog entry."

Well played....

Posted by: TimDz | June 21, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the Fire Jim Bowden blog should even be mentioned in polite conversation.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard

So who said you should be polite with FJB?

Posted by: CBinDC | June 21, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"This team is much, much better, period" No sir it is not. There are incremental improvements, but nothing that addresses the glaring weaknesses of this team, weaknesses that were readily apparent last and before the season started this year. The improvements are still down the road and will still require a patient approach to a continuing rebuilding of the entire system. Some of the pitching they're developing hasn't so far panned out, but overall it's making progress. As far as position players go they have a long long way to go. It's not at all about this season's won loss record, it's about development and continuing to do what is needed to secure the long-term future of this ball club and to that they are a long way off.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 21, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Bender - You're right about the deficiencies of this year's team but forgetting the point of comparison. Even after their dreadful last month, the Nats are on pace to win about 72 games this season, vs 59 last season.

That is indeed "much, much better." It's still just not very good.

Posted by: HHover | June 21, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

A few more thoughts (and quick calculations) on the first 35 games (20-15) vs. the second 35 (11-24).

11-24 is exactly what Baltimore did in its first 35 games.

Runs per game dropped from 4.51 (1st 35) to 3.86 (2nd 35) while runs allowed per game held steady at 4.71 and 4.69.

The 20-15 pace was precarious, as the run differential suggested a sub .500 record. After the 11-24 slide, the actual W-L of 31-39 is exactly the same as the "expected" W-L.

What happens over the remaining 92 games? The 2009 Nats were 38-54 over their last 92. If the 2010 Nats do that, the final record would be 69-93. If this team really is better than 2009, they need to show it over the final 92, and finish better than 69-93.

Posted by: KenNat | June 21, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Well, they won a bunch of games to start the year. They were bound to come back to earth eventually.

Posted by: futbolclif | June 21, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

To paraphrase that great football sage Steve Spurrier

11- 24 ....... not very good !!

Posted by: CBinDC | June 21, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else think lannan needs to work it out in the minors? DL if he doesn't have any options. Atilano too.

Posted by: curz | June 21, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The disturbing trend is not that the Nats are in a slump it is that they are in a slump and in July they have 5 wins - Three against the Bucs and 1 against the Reds and the Indians! If we cannot beat the likes of the Astros, Indians and White Sox. The games to look at are not how we handle the Royals and O's but how we handle three games in Atlanta at the end of the month!

Posted by: markfd | June 21, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

@curz. I was at the park yesterday, such a beautiful day. I can't remember any pitcher giving up so many hits after the second strike. Whatever JLan is doing after strike two, it isn't working. Same for two outs. In fact, Lannan's three biggest fears must be 1) strike 2, 2) two outs, or 3) a lead. Riggles wants to take the long view and see if Lannan can straighten himself out. I guess I agree deep down--but man does it hurt to watch right now.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | June 21, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

KenNat hits the nail right on the head, except I'm thinking more towards 95 L's.
Does anyone remember that article Kilgore wrote back about the 20-15 Nats, if my thinking is correct he gave us some crazy numbers that they would need to duplicate 09, well Adam since then they haven't failed to deliver.

Has anyone taken a look at the sked past this week? Its a repeat of the first 35 w/lots of games against the Braves, Mets, Reds, Padres, Giants, Phillies in simple terms its brutal. 5-25 streach with this pitching staff is not out of the question.

Lannen is a 4A'r, MLB finds homes for guys like this in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and of course DC. Soft tossers luck usually runs out when the league gets a good book on them and then the rest is history.

Its amazing when Carpenter gives you these guys states i.e. 3 for his last 40, hello Willie Harris come on down! Riggleman will wiggle himself right out of a job if he keeps this loyalty crap up. Its down right disgusting that the LernerStank can now calculate exactly when they will clock 40K for the rest of the season, reap the rewards and basically laugh at our expense for showing up in between SS starts!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 21, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, can't agree with the negativity or Sunderland's snark.

This team is significantly better than the last two years. Did they have enough starting pitching at the beginning of the spring? Yeah, they did, if Olsen, Marquis and Detwiler stayed healthy, Lannan continued his form of the last two years, and they got anything from the other guys, while they waited for Strasburg.

Instead, they got more than expected from the other guys (Atilano, Livan and J.D. Martin), Strasburg's been great but they got nothing from Lannan, Detwiler, Marquis and Olsen.

In a few weeks, they'll have an okay rotation when they get Olsen, Marquis and Detwiler back. At some point, the offense will pick up and they'll score enough runs to balance out okay starting pitching and lousy defense and they'll go back to being a .450 team. Which is all they are but which is a lot better than the last two years.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing what 35 games can do to a fan base. Nats start 20-15 and most everyone in here were talking playoffs, especially with Strasburg coming up and the Nats trading for Oswalt.

Then the Nats go 11-24 in the next 35 and most everyone in here wants to get rid of most of the players and the manager.

Guess what? The Nats were not as good as that 20-15 strecth and they really aren't as bad as the current 11-24 stretch. Are they a .500 team? Not as currently constructed. But I do believe they are better than last year.

And all this nonsense about DFA'ing Lannan/how terrible he is/how terrible he's always been, blah, blah, blah. He busted his rear for two plus years for this team (for you!) and now that he's had a rough stretch of games - where it's been proven that he was hurt and I *HAVE* to believe that he really his still hurt - and now you want to just get rid of him? Some of you "fans" just will never be satsified. Players go through slumps (yes, even Zim). Sometimes you just have to go with the bad to get to the good. And I truly believe that a good number of our players will be back to being good shortly. Patience, my friends, patience ...

Posted by: erocks33 | June 21, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

erocks33, I'm with you, my brother, but I think we may be outnumbered right now.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 21, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

To everyone who says Lannan is a AAAA pitcher or otherwise dumps on him, I present the stats from two pitchers' 2009 season. Without looking it up, tell me which column is John Lannan (9-13 W/L) and which is Andy Pettite (14-8):

G - 32 / 33
IP - 194.2 / 206.1
H - 193 / 210
R - 101 / 100
HR - 20 / 22
BB - 76 / 68
WHIP - 1.382 / 1.347

Give up? Okay, let's compare 2008, maybe that'll help you. Pettite was 14-14 that year, Lannan was 9-15.

G - 33 / 31
IP - 204.0 / 182.0
H - 233 / 172
R - 112 / 89
HR - 19 / 23
BB - 55 / 72
WHIP - 1.412 / 1.341

Yes, Lannan is having a lousy season. But he's been a good pitcher all along, on a lousy team. Pettite has been a good pitcher along, on a very good team.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

First column is Pettite, second is Lannan.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Y'all aren't alone erocks33 and baltova.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 21, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

@erocks33 - I agree as well but since we both feel Lannan is hurt, do you feel let down that he won't admit it? I'm sick of the macho pros sports "code", if he's hurt he's hurting the team.

Posted by: sjt1455 | June 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Count me in.

---

Y'all aren't alone erocks33 and baltova.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 21, 2010 11:26 AM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 21, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Woo-hoo! We can have a parade!

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

@gilbertbp,

Dude, Livan Hernandez, that's right Livan Hernandez was a world series MVP. Let that sink in some ... he is the second best pitcher on this staff, the #2 guy at his advanced age. However, when he started to pitch poorly last year didn't the lowly Mets release him? This year he was supposed to be a #5 pitcher. Do you seriously believe that John Lannan could be half the pitcher this soft-tosser is?

Lannan and Marquis were supposed to be the veteran stabilizers on this staff. Both ended up being the worst pitchers in the rotation. Now, what would a winning team do about that? IN the case of Colorado they left Marquis off of their playoff roster.

You can't live on past laurels leaning on veterans preference for past deeds (and Lannan's is actually VERY questionable according to FanGraphs, while Marquis was considered the worst FA signing before his pitching debacle), to continue to pitch in the rotation? This most certainly a losing proposition on the part of JIm Riggleman. He has done this from the beginning and it is now coming back to haunt him as teams improve as the summer progresses.

Lannan should be in the bullpen working on his problems, replacing Batista who should be off this team. Either Detwiler or Stammen should be brought in to replace him.

Posted by: periculum | June 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I think that if Lannan has two more bad starts and Stammen continues to pitch well in Syracuse (a near no-hitter the last time out and a good outing before he was sent down) then Stammen should be brought back up to the starting rotation, Lannan should go the pen, and Batista should be DFA'ed.

Posted by: bertbkatz | June 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I promise, I didn't read Periculum's post before I posted mine.

Posted by: bertbkatz | June 21, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@Periculum: before you dismiss Marquis, remember that he had his elbow flushed for bone chips (same as Stammen after last year). So he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Since Lannan's elbow tendon problem, he's had four good starts and three bad ones. Unless he is pitching hurt (Austin Kearns is a very bad role model, John), Lannan's ups and down are a lot harder to figure.

Posted by: bertbkatz | June 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"@Periculum: before you dismiss Marquis, remember that he had his elbow flushed for bone chips (same as Stammen after last year). So he deserves the benefit of the doubt."

Dude you lost me when you said " promise, I didn't read Periculum's post before I posted mine."

In any case you use a very good analogy: Austin Kearns. Marquis misrepresented himself when he came to this team. He knew he had elbow problems as it was clear something was wrong right from the very start of spring training. I'm not sure you ever trust a Marquis again ... maybe as an innings eating #5 starter at the most. But you already have the best in the business at that in Livan Hernandez.?

Posted by: periculum | June 21, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland,

Wow, so would you prefer O-dog? Over Guzman and Kennedy? I'm not sure that's a winning combination for the money he would have cost? You sound like JayB. Riggleman probably wouldn't play these people you claim they should sign anyway. He has his "veteran's preferences" and they include the .157 hitting Willie Harris.

Look, let's wait until next year. Maybe they sign a Cliff Lee to ****truly*** stabilize this rotation and pitching staff? With Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Olsen if he ever recovers ... and perhaps Wang maybe you've got something?

Meanwhile they should be looking to make some strategic trades for prospects. They should start with Adam Dunn and Cristan Guzman. Clearly the roster as it is currently configured isn't working. The starting pitching rotation needs serious revamping yet again. And Jason Marquis is definitely NOT the answer.

Posted by: periculum | June 21, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

In order for this franchise to move forward you need prospects in order for the prospects to succeed they need to develop and that takes place if the coach's in your farm system can teach and that is why F.Robby should have been retained to oversee the developmental aspect of this franchises farm system,you need people who have been there and done that on a high level not some career journeyman,Zimm waving at a ground ball in the ninth(at Houston)to open the floodgates in a game was symbolic of the teaching aspect, i'm not interested in how long he's been doing it that way if it's wrong, there'e a right way and a wrong way to play the game and that should take precedent over anything else.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 21, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Peric -
2B? I didn't mind the Kennedy signing, and I think if he was playing regularly, we'd be getting what we expected, an OK bat, some smart at bats, moving runners along, and with ID playing regularly next to him, we'd have a good defensive combo.
I didn't mind the Marquis signing, accepting the notion that real good FA SP's are not coming to DC, and decent ones, such as Marquis, are only coming if we overpay.

The point of my snarkiness was just to some degree to point out that we're simply getting the return on investment that we should have expected. That we have big holes in our roster and in out farm system and that our front office is deliberately choosing to address these holes slowly and sparingly.

We lost over 100 two years in a row, we spend frugally at draft day 2009 (deeply, deeply annoying) and on free agents (more understandable, but frustrating), and we have Stan K telling us how our farm system is stocked with young arms that are the envy of MLB.

I'd love to see them move Guzman and getting anything of value in return. He hurts us defensively no matter where we play him, his offense in marginal, and has been for his full 10 year career (.310 career OBP is it?). It hurts us not having a regular middle infield combo (and I'd really like to see Alberto G get a shot at that).

I'm happy if they keep Dunn, or I'm happy if Rizzo gets a deal he likes and moves him. I do certainly respect and trust Rizzo. It's just obvious that he still deals with a tightly controlled budget.

Posted by: Sunderland | June 21, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm on the half-full side, too. (But I think JL should work things out in Syracuse for a couple starts. Something's not right. Either his mechanics are off or, mentally, his confidence or something else has suffered a hit.) I also think something as cataclysmic as a rookie phenom coming up and all the incredible resultant fuss, attention, and changes to schedule, have probably collectively gotten into the team's mind. After things start to settle down, maybe they'll get their mojo back.

Posted by: samantha7 | June 21, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"And Jason Marquis is definitely NOT the answer."

Depends on the question, doesn't it? As a middle of the rotation guy, if he's truly healthy, he could be a perfectly acceptable answer. Fair or not, he's earned a second chance because of the injury. Then you hope he refinds his form of the past few years when he's been a dependable double figure winner.

And there's now way I'd trade Dunn unless you get a really good offer in return. Who's going to replace him at first and in the middle of the order?

Posted by: baltova1 | June 21, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Ben Goessling of MASN will be the special guest on Nats Weekly at PrimeSportsNetwork.com starting at 5:30pm. Brian Oliver of NatsFarm.com will also do his weekly minor league report. Questions or comments during the show at toll free, 877-244-0585.

Posted by: gdpsports | June 21, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"It's just obvious that he still deals with a tightly controlled budget."

Yes, but he still managed to get Pudge. Which is a key for this team. Justin Bloxom just won SALLY player of the week. Hood, Kobernus, Ramirez and Eury Perez continue to improve. Espinosa has as many homers as Marerro. He won player of the week in Harrisburg. He is almost ready. And Trevor Holder continues to improve and advance looking more and more like an MLB #2 starter.

"And there's now way I'd trade Dunn unless you get a really good offer in return. Who's going to replace him at first and in the middle of the order?"

IN his article evaluating teams before the season Posnaski suggest moving Dun. He felt that 2 B level prospects would help this team because of the defensive liability that Dunn represents at first. He suggest the White Sox or Rays. BJ Upton plays for the Rays. He might make a good addition to this team. They also have quality prospects in the minors behind him. They all are great fielders and feature power at the plate.

Do you see Dunn ***really*** helping this team with his offense? We are very, very lucky they signed Pudge, (There's your great strategic offseason move @Sunderland! Al Kaline refers to him as the best FA signing in Tiger's history.) , and that Livan had his amazing spring. Without those two this team would probably have a worst record than last year's did?

You can move Willingham to first base. And then mix and match between the prospects you obtain for Dunn with Morse and Bernadina. At this point better defense plus better pitching with a decent offense is better than what they feature now.

I agree about trading Guzman, and they should dispense with Harris. He is a free agent after this season as well and wants to rejoin Manny.

Posted by: periculum | June 21, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

@Periculum - I'm not saying Lannan shouldn't be in the bullpen or in Syracuse or in surgery to work out his problems. I'm saying he's been a better pitcher than the people who routinely trash him here say he is. Do you seriously doubt that if he and Pettite had traded teams in 2008 and 2009, Lannan would have had a much better W/L record, and Pettite much worse? They both had VERY similar stats, in particular WHIP, where Lannan was actually a little better. Whether you're on the Yankees or the Nats can make a big difference in your W/L. Having Mariano Rivera coming out of the bullpen is a huge advantage over having Joel Hanrahan. Having Jorge Posada behind the plate and holding a bat is a huge advantage over having Wil Nieves. Having Derek Jeter's glove and bat is a huge advantage over having Cristian Guzman's. Having Robinson Cano's glove and bat is a huge advantge over having the cast of criminals the Nats had at second the last few years.

That said, Lannan needs to figure out why his sinker doesn't sink, or else lose his spot in the rotation.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"Espinosa has as many homers as Marerro. He won player of the week in Harrisburg. He is almost ready."

Posted by: periculum | June 21, 2010 2:34 PM

Periculum: Ready for what?

Posted by: outsider6 | June 21, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Lannan:

"I believe in John," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "John's been too good for us to let a few starts detour us too much, you know? We've got a lot of leash there with John."

I love this quote. Riggleman and Rizzo are true pros... they recognize two things: 1) Lannan has been, and will likely again be, a superb pitcher. Showing confidence in him and treating him with the respect they're showing will be beneficial in the long run. 2) The Nats are not and never were going to compete for a playoff spot in 2010. Sending down the guy who's been your best for 2 years doesn't fit with the message of growth and development they've stressed this year.

I don't know if Lannan's problem is mechanical, physical, or mental but I love that they're going to let him work it out right here. For a while longer, anyway. They've "got a lot of leash" with this one. Very good call.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 21, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Do I see Dunn "really" helping this team offensively? Um, 35-40 HR's and 100+ RBI? Um, yes, yes, I do. And he hasn't been terrible at 1B. 1B isn't our defensive problem. 2B, CF and SS are. Desmond will get better at SS, the other two spots are questions.

As for Upton, I know he was a highly touted phenom a few years ago, but his numbers are no better than Nyjer Morgan's. I'd be very doubtful that he'd be a big addition.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 21, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I believe.

Go Nats!

Posted by: summerandwinter | June 21, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

>That said, Lannan needs to figure out why his sinker doesn't sink, or else lose his spot in the rotation.

Posted by: gilbertbp

Hitters are looking for the cutter now, and when they spot it, they lay off of it because it's never a strike and they know that. They wait for the fastball, because he rarely gets his curveball over. The umps are making him throw strikes because the hitters aren't biting on his stuff off the plate. The gig's up - they've had a couple of years of video to look at. He's finished. Sentimental guys finish last.

Posted by: Brue | June 21, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Bruce Chen has been a very good pitcher this year. Being dissed in this space guarantees a Nats loss/Chen win.

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 21, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

It was only time before the Nats came down to earth. The SP and even RP (not named Strausberg) is terrible from top-to-bottom and even when we were winning, we were barely getting by

Posted by: Bious | June 22, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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