Ok guy (that is, if anyone is still reading), I know we’re behind. I know we’ve been “bad bloggers” this season, but perhaps it’s because there’s other things we’re doing with our time. When you’re watching baseball games every night, it’s hard to concentrate on what’s going on on the TV AND to write a blog post. And then there are the non-baseball things going on in our lives. In any case, Drew and I are still making predictions, and while I haven’t gotten around to rounding up our July predictions (super quick summary: we weren’t quite optimistic enough), we’re going to put in our August predictions before the month gets too far ahead of us. And because we’re going for speed here, there won’t be pictures (at least for a little bit).
Maggie: I’m thinking at least 2. They’re having a crappy year, and showing it, but the Nats do have to face Cliff Lee. (2-1)
Maggie: We’re playing them at home (as opposed to Miami, where they historically cream us), so I’m happy enough to say (3-1)
Maggie: All my past predictions have been so cautious. They have more losses than we do wins. I’ll go with a big series win. (3-1)
Aug 10-12: @ Arizona
Maggie: For whatever reason, the Diamondbacks make me wary. I’ll go with (1-2)
Maggie: This is the right time of year for a late season Mets collapse. (3-0)
Maggie: I think it would be silly to count Atlanta out since they’re the last team other than the Nats that seems to have any spark in the NL East. I’ll say Nats win the series, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta took it instead. (2-1)
Maggie: A group of Nats fans will be visiting CBP on Saturday night, and I’ve got high hopes they leave happy. I say we sweep the series. (3-0)
Maggie: Visiting Miami has never been the Nats strong suit. Thank goodness it’s only a 2 game series! (1-1)
Maggie: The Cards are one of those more historically (well, recently historically?) dominant teams. I don’t see them fading off into the autumn light. I should end my optimistic month with a won series, but I’ll call it a split. (2-2)
Maggie: a ridiculous 22-10.
So – are we totally nuts for imagining a 22-10 run over the month of August (plus 1 day in July and 2 in September)? Let us know your predictions in the comments!
The Nats have been off to an awesome start in the month of April. To end the month at 14-8 is somewhat unexpected. Fans were optimistic before opening day, but I’m not sure that anyone would have predicted how many ways our boys on the field would find ways to win (despite the frustrating road trip to California).
And now we leave the first month, and we start to have some real data to work with instead of merely making guesses based on limited opportunities. But because I’m not REALLY a baseball math person, I called up someone who is – Drew, husband of First Lady Ashley, who also writes a stats blog called Crunching Through My Day. We’re going to try something new this month, and depending on how things go…this could be a semi-regular thing. Let us know what you think, and we’ll see what happens.
The next month is going to be the Nats first real challenge. Everyone said that their opening schedule was one where they had a chance to dominate, and clearly they did since they sit tied for first at the top of the NL leaderboard. What we’re going to do is go series-by-series and using Maggie’s guts and Drew’s computer programs, try to predict how things will look by the end of the month. We’ll address the first four teams the Nats will face in today’s post on FLoB, and the back half’s opponents tomorrow on Crunching Through My Day.
Currently, the DBacks sit in the middle of the NL West with a record of 12-11. After this series, the next time they’ll see the Nats is the middle of August, once things get interesting. Last year the Nats were 2-5 against the D-backs who finished 1st in the NL West with a record of 94-68. With that history and the back end of our rotation facing Arizona, I predict 1-2.
The Dbacks are an enigma to me since I hear so little about them. Looking at the #s this will be an interesting series for the Nats. Arizona’s pitching looks awful, allowing 1.09 HR/9 and a 4.01 FIP. 290 BABIP. The Pirates aren’t that bad. However, their offense seems better than most. This should be a real series with the Nats pitching strength pitted against their offense and their poor pitching against our abysmal offense. After the series with the Dodgers, I’m going to say that our offense won’t get it done here. One upping Maggie and saying a sweep.
The Nationals will take on the Phillies twice in the month of May – during the first weekend of May for the highly touted “Our Park” initiative, followed by a trip to Citizens Bank Park towards the end of the month. They’ll face the fury of Strasburg during the first series, and will see the middle of the rotation up in Philly. I predict 2-1 for the first meeting, and 1-2 for the second (we’ll blame the Philthies for that) for an even 3-3 for the month of May.
The Philthies suffered a huge set back this spring with Howard and Utley going on the DL. While questions swirled about whether or not their pitching would be enough to carry them through the NL. Through April, the results aren’t pretty. The Phillies pitching staff has pitched pretty middling, with middle of the NL stats in K/9, BB/9 and BABIP (oddly enough, their FIP is 2nd in the NL behind the Nats). Their offense has been fairly nondescript which probably explains their record. While April results don’t have much bearing on post season outcomes, particularly for the Philthies, I’m not counting them out yet. Playing the Nats brings out the best in both teams (and the worst in Philthies fans). For the two series, I’m going to say that there’s a split, with the Philthies taking 2 of the first 3 and the Nats taking the 2 of the last 3.
Pittsburgh Pirates – 5/8-10, 16-17
The Pirates are a team that I always feel bad for. They haven’t had a winning season since 1992, and they’ve been dumped on for so long in a way that the Nationals only had to endure for a few seasons. They’ll face off for a three game series in Pittsburgh, followed by a 2 game series a week later in DC. I say 2-1 for the first series, and 1-1 for the second, leaving a prediction of 3-2 for the month.
I agree with you Maggie. Despite the fact that Sid Bream sliding into home is still the most exciting baseball moment of my life (Braves win! Braves win!), I feel bad for the Pirates. Even for a bad team, they’re underperforming. The Pirates pitching is ok but their offense atrocious, falling near the bottom in BABP, H, HR, and K%. Pair that against the Nationals pitching and I’m calling for a sweep in the first series and a split in the second. Assuming the Nats actually hit, that is.
Cincinnati Reds – 5/11-13
The Nats played the Reds as their first home stand of the year and took 3 of 4. If the Nats stay on top of their game, I bet we’ll see another win…even if they are playing this series in Ohio. I predict: 2-1.
While the Nats took 3 of 4 from the Reds at home, they got lucky. Going into the 8th inning of each game, the Nats’ win probability was 94.8, 21.6, 94.2, and 50.0. Games 1, 2, and 4 went into extra innings and the Nats lost the last one. The Nats could have easily lost the first two of those games and we’d be looking at a very different season right now. While the Reds haven’t been outstanding, they’ve got a core that’s as good as the Nats. I’m afraid the ball is going to bounce their way in the series. I’m going to be a downer here and say the baseball gods will smile on the Reds with a sweep.
We’ll finish up the rest of our thoughts tomorrow on Crunching Through My Day. Be sure to check back for the thrilling finale (haha) where we reveal how we think the Nats will finish out the month.5 Comments
Meet John Hester! He’s the backup catcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks and went to high school with Ashley!
Ashley got to Sunday’s game early and walked down to the visitor’s bullpen. There was one D-Backs player signing autographs (everyone else was inside because of the rain). Ashley asked him if he would see if John Hester would come out and say hello. A little bit later, a tall, scruffy player walked out and started throwing a ball in the outfield. Ashley kind of waved and he waved back. She hadn’t seen him with a beard before, but he was throwing with a catchers mitt, so she was pretty certain it was him. As you can see from the high school picture, he’s grown up! It’s amazing what a difference a decade can make!
After a few minutes he came over. He did remember Ashley from high school, although he is a year younger. Ashley has always been a sports fan and was the manager for 4 years of football and 2 of baseball, so most of the players remember her as the “water girl”. Ashley and Hester chatted for a while, and the whole time he was signing autographs for fans. I guess players learn how to do that without paying attention!
Hester made it to the majors this year and doesn’t get to play a lot, but Ashley was pretty excited to see him anyway! It sounds like life is tough for a rookie player, but hopefully he’ll get more time on the field soon. To read about Hester’s major league debut, click here. (Spoiler alert: He hit a home run. Video included.)
Ashley’s brush with fame was brief, but she’s excited that someone she knows is living the dream.
Game: #118 – Nationals vs. Diamondbacks
Starting Pitchers: Stephen Strasburg (#37, 4-3, 3.02) vs. Barry Enright (#54, 3-2, 2.91)
Final Score: Nationals: 5, Diamondbacks: 3
Nats New Record: 51-67
Play of the Game: Josh Willingham gets a 2-run dinger to deep left-field to tie the game and give the Nats some hope. What’s more amazing? This was his first homer in more than 6 weeks and he did it on a knee that is likely to put him on the DL in the not-so-distant-future.
Player of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman – with an HR of his own, and a spectacular backwards catch, he showed that he’s really the heart of this team. A friend who is not completely familiar with the Nats situation was thinking the team should trade him now, “while he’s still good”, but was pleased to be proved wrong when he heard that Ryan is younger than he thought, and also constantly improving his game, hence last year’s Golden Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Having a day of excellent play proved that he deserved both, and should be with the Nats for a long, long time.
Most Interesting Non-baseball Moment: Four runners took to the field – a guy first in short left field, followed by a girl in right. They ran, evading the security guards, only to meet up in center field and high-five. This was all apparently a distraction because they went away fairly quietly as another pair of women came out carrying a banner. I think most everyone at the game was pleased to see these people get taken down quickly. There is a place for protests, and that’s outside, where you got your permit. Doing something illegal that will delay a sporting event will only make people think you’re stupid and think poorly of your cause.
Who was there: Ashley, Maggie, and many of their friends and coworkers (too many to name individually!).
Our Records: Ashley – 8-8; Maggie – 9-10; (AND notable group members/previously appearing) Maggie’s Mom – 1-4; Jon – 3-0
Where did we sit: Our large group (we had 40+ people buy tickets) was in section 405, waaaaaay at the top. Despite being in what most would call the nosebleeds, we all had a great view, were covered by the overhang in case of rain (which was a threat), and the price was definitely right. If you’re interested in doing a group outing (20+ people) I would definitely recommend getting in touch with Nicole who tweets @NatsTix
Promotional Items: A back-to-school supply kit that neither Ashley nor Maggie managed to get a hold of. We got a closer inspection when the children in our group brought them out to look at, and they were really neat: Zimmerman themed binders and pencil case with items inside! Makes us wish we were 12 or under, or had children.
President’s Race: Teddy had the lead for half the race, but Abe eventually took the win (boo!)
- We mentioned the protesters on the field above, but there was a larger, more legally gathered group before the game, urging Bud Selig – commissioner of Baseball – to move next year’s All Star game from Arizona. They marched in a circle yelling rhyming slogans. It was really interesting to see them, and then the counter-protesters who showed up. It’s one of those things that makes it interesting to live in Washington – we’re never for want of people who are unhappy with the way things are being run. But it’s great to see people’s right to gather and speak freely exercised in a peaceful way.
- If you get a group together – as suggested above – consider carefully where everyone will sit. The most difficult thing about being an organizer for an event like this is that you want to talk to everyone and to make sure they’re all having a good time. If you’re sitting 10 seats away…that’s nearly impossible. And it’s easier when large parts of the group know each other and will have other people there to converse with during the game (about baseball, of course – not shopping!)
- Even though Strasburg didn’t get the curly w for himself, it was good to see him pitch, and start to get back to his old form.
- Ashley had the good fortune to meet up with an old high school acquaintance before the game. He’s doing some interesting things now, and she’ll explain more about their reunion in a later post.
Game: #116 – Nationals vs. Diamondbacks
Starting Pitchers: John Lannan (#31, 3-3-, 4.37) vs. Joe Saunders (#34, 2-5, 4.20)
Final Score: Nationals: 4, Diamondbacks: 2
Nats New Record: 50-66
Play of the Game: Wil Nieves gets a solo homer, which is totally unexpected for him, but it was a great shot to far center field.
Player of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman has a great double in the first inning, and makes a couple spectacular plays.
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: Two girls in our section were up for fan of the game, and one of them won! The girl who won argued with the Nat Pack guy who came to give her the Harris Teeter gift cards…saying she’d been promised a Ryan Zimmerman autographed baseball instead. Sorry girl – it’s the “Harris Teeter Fan of the Game”, which means (probably – I don’t know for sure) $50 in grocery gift cards, not valuable collectibles.
Who was there: Ashley and Maggie
Our Records: Ashley – 7-8; Maggie – 8-10
Where did we sit: Section 136, Row K. It was a great section – close to the field, a great view of the game. We also had a fantastic usher named Richard who was all over the section making sure everyone was comfortable, and having a good time. And he sent us a photo that he took from the game! The seats are normally $36 apiece, but Ashley had a Groupon, and thus got a deal.
What did we eat: Maggie had a chicken and waffle sandwich (previously reviewed here), and Ashley tried out the chicken Twisters from the same vendor. They were, in Ashley’s words, “vile”.
Promotional Items: Beer pitcher and cup set. The pitcher isn’t so bad – Maggie’s had a slightly scratched logo – and the cups were the kind you would get a college football game. Ashley has already used hers and likes it a lot.
President’s Race: The Presidents “celebrated” Friday the 13th by wearing “Jason” hockey masks. Teddy led (as always), but George took the win in the end.
- Ashley and Maggie got there early to take advantage of the pre-game Happy Hour that happens every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Because Clint was filming nearby, they managed to make it onto the big screen, and finally got photographic evidence!
- John Lannan had a great game. He was very consistent, and didn’t let little things get him down.