OK Nationals… let’s see if you are for real or not

Every year there is a team that starts off super hot out of nowhere.
Every year there is a team that makes people say “Wow! Is this team for real?”

A lot of times, the answer turns out to be “Nope.” At this point of the season last year, the Indians were the best team in the American League. They finished as a sub .500 squad.

Sometimes the answer is “Holy Cow! Yes!”

Did you pick the Diamondbacks to win the NL West last year? Or the Padres to win 90 games in 2010? Or the ’06 Tigers, the ’07 Rockies or ’08 Rays to make it all the way to the World Series?

Well here we sit with the Washington Nationals.
A team loaded with talent that jumped out to a 14-4 start.
A team with Strasburg and Harper, the potential new faces of the National League.
A team that took advantage of poor Philadelphia and Miami starts to leap from to the top of the standings.

Since that 14-4 start, they are 5-8 and lost some heart breakers to Los Angeles (who swept them) and Pittsburgh.

And Bryce Harper has seen his average dip under .270. Maybe Cole Hamels was onto something.

Miami seems to have righted themselves and the Braves are playing well (so are the Mets). And the Phillies are a modest winning streak away from getting into the thick of it.

As the Nationals enter Cincinnati, they need to start to make a stand. Memorial Day is the first unofficial test of a team. Pretenders tend to fall off around the 1/3 mark.

I’d like to see the Nationals be for real.
Show that you are… or fall by the way of the 2009 Kansas City Royals. They were in first place at this point of the season. They finished with 97 losses.

 Did you remember them?
Didn’t think so.

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Watch Jesus Montero homer this weekend in the Bronx

As a petty Yankee hater, I would LOVE to see Jesus Montero come into Yankee Stadium this weekend and hit at least one homer.

I’d love to see him put on a show. Smack a few over the fence, hit a few doubles in the gap and maybe even throw a few runners out from behind the plate… you know, to answer those who say he doesn’t have a position.

If he does that, there will STILL people who claim that it isn’t a bad trade in the short term.

Square off, Jesus. Make them pay.

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A stupid thought… why not bring in Strasburg in the 3rd?

Stephen Strasburg was dominant tonight.

13 strikeouts in 6 innings letting up only 1 earned run.
He got the win but they handed the ball off to the bullpen in the 7th.  Why? Because he hit the 100 pitch mark and Washington is still inching him along after his Tommy John surgery.

So in the critical 7th, 8th and 9th innings, where the margin for error is smaller, the Nationals weren’t using their best pitcher.

Now the three relievers they used did the job and the Nats won, but a thought plopped into my brain.
If you know that Strasburg is on a tight leash, why not set up the game so he is pitching deeper into it?

In other words, on his scheduled games, have a reliever throw innings 1 and 2. Maybe a left hander or someone who pitches completely differently than Strasburg. Perhaps even a pitcher having his “throw day” goes an inning. Then in the start of the third inning, in comes Strasburg.

He could throw his 100 pitches but now that would last until the 7th or 8th innings.
He warms up like it is a start and you make sure he never comes in before the start of the third.

It might be a bonkers idea, but when my team only has 1 or 2 more swings left, I want my best pitcher on the mound keeping it close.

It’s something that just popped in my head.

OK, that is a 100% lie. It has been stirring in my head since 1999.

I remember when the Red Sox beat the Indians in the clinching the 1999 Division Series.

Pedro was from another planet he was so good that year but left Game 1 with an injury. Nobody was sure if he was available for Game 5. The Red Sox started Saberhagen and  Lowe who were both rocked.

Pedro Martinez entered the game in the 4th. It was already 8-8.

Pedro then threw 6 no hit shutout innings. The Red Sox won and Pedro was on the mound to clinch it.

With their bullpen worn out and the starters totally ineffective, the Red Sox were able to have the best pitcher in the Solar System pitching in the late innings.

And I’ve been thinking in the 13 seasons that have passed “Why don’t more teams do that?”
Especially when it is a super talented pitcher on a short leash.

You still get to monitor the innings but the best pitcher throws deeper into the game. If the reliever coughs up a run, there are 7 innings to make up for it rather than one or two.

It makes sense to me.
Which is why it is probably totally illogical.

Either way, I wanted my thoughts on the matter recorded before it becomes the new trend!

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