The Mets have a ways to go before they lock up their unforeseen playoff spot as the top team in the NL East. I’m sure there were a handful of analysts who tabbed the Mets to sneak into the post-season this year. But the whopping majority of just about everyone who forecasts baseball ceded the division title to the Nationals before the season started.
As of late Tuesday night, the rally caps possibly being worn by Washington fans can pretty much be put into mothballs for the winter. The Nats blew a lead for the second straight night at St. Louis, and in the process really damaged the thin chance they have maintained of getting hot and catching the Mets.
I’ve learned that anything can happen very quickly in sports, so until the Mets actually pop the champagne corks, it’s too early to simply hand them the crown. But it’s readily apparent that whatever it takes to win a division title is something the Washington Nationals simply do not have. In other words, the Mets would pretty much have to blow this lead because it sure doesn’t look like any big run is coming by the trailing Nats.
This will be a fascinating off-season for the Nationals. I don’t think Matt Williams is going to be back as the manager, but I also would speculate that it’s possible GM Mike Rizzo could be on the hot seat as well. Let’s call it straight, Rizzo put this team together and they’ve underperformed in what is becoming almost spectacular fashion. The vaunted pitching staff has not been as dominant as predicted. The position players, save for Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar, have not played to their collective potential.
And now there’s the bullpen. I criticized Rizzo for what I thought was a really bad deal that brought Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals. Not that there’s anything wrong with Papelbon, but there’s a lot wrong about his contract status. More importantly, Washington already had a good closer in Drew Storen, and my belief was that removing him from the glamour role might be perceived as a slap in the face that would not serve Storen or the clubhouse well. As of now, that opinion seems to have been justified.
Finally, Stephen Strasburg is dinged up again, as he had to leave his most recent start with another case of back tightness. But the good news is that Rizzo successfully kept Strasburg as his innings pitched limit in 2012 when this team had a great chance to win it all, and look how that’s paid off!
-1.o on Tuesday, and I’m actually thankful it was just one unit of red ink. This was not a card I liked even a little bit, so playing it close to the vest saved some misery.
My opening week college card is now nine games deep, with perhaps one addition still to come, and that will more than likely be a first half play. I usually do pretty well out of the gate in college, and if you want to be on exactly the same games I’m on myself, that can easily be arranged. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll reply with all the costs and details.
Free plays have been the ultimate yo-yo all summer, good for a few days, bad for the next few. Hopefully, a nicely priced home dog can provide some profit tonight.
PIRATES (Locke) at BREWERS (Davies)
Take: BREWERS +130
There are not a lot of spots where I want to even consider trying to buck the Bucs right now. But the one scenario that remains somewhat appealing is when Jeff Locke is the starting pitcher on the road.
To be fair, Locke has done pretty well in his last couple of away outings. But his overall data in road games is less than appealing, and that makes him a dicey road chalk pitcher even with that powerhouse supporting cast.
Zach Davies will make his debut for the Brewers tonight. Davies was a trade deadline mover, heading the Brewers way in the Gerardo Parra deal. Davies is not a great stuff prospect and I suspect he won’t be much more than a #4 starter long term. But one thing he has working in his favor is command of all his pitches and that ability to locate should serve him well as he attempts to outperform the scouting reports.
I’m a fan of giving first-time starters a roll. The opposition hasn’t seen him at all, and whole the Pirates will obviously be armed with plenty of information, seeing a guy live for the first time is a different story, and it’s often that goes the pitcher’s way.
The Brewers were dead in the water from Opening Day this year, but the team has played somewhat respectably since Craig Counsell took over as manager. Not that 48-57 is a sensational ledger, but Milwaukee has been competitive under Counsell. This looks like a winnable spot, at least from a price perspective, and I’m looking to cast my lot with the Brewers to get the upset tonight.