Beltway Baseball: Playoffs preview
CSN Washington dot com. Other nationals fans -- welcome to a very special playoffs preview version of beltway baseball and Casey is. With marks the -- we're gonna talk to men come back for The Washington Times. A little later on in the show right now we're here on the field and Nationals Park with where sometime next week 40000 people are gonna descend on the stands. Ready for the first playoff game in Washington DC and 79 years -- should be unbelievable and it's something that a lot of people around here have never experienced before when their lives. Now mark I know you've covered the World Series before you covered the NLCS. So you kind of know what to expect knowing how to get your opinion on that and also. In the last eight years we've seen pretty exciting games here and there at Nationals Park both -- and at rfk. Is there anything has there been any games in these last eight years the kind of stand up is something that's kind of close to a. Well I write my personal just the fact that we're doing a playoff preview the outrage yeah I'm not sure I mean I think maybe we both thought that there's a chance in doing this back -- -- but it's actually we've kind of expected for a while. But if you look back to three months ago it it seems. I mean it's -- yeah it really say it to -- the fact that this happening in the first place but. -- -- talk first about you like -- that covered I think eight different World Series now a lot of playoff games. You know each town has its own atmosphere to -- you have the traditional places like Yankee Stadium Fenway Park. Where the fans are so in greens are used to those kind of games that there is a certain. Environment energy of those places and then you have the places that get to pattern for the first time I go back to Arizona -- 2001. Now World Series and a time. Q Tampa Bay you know eight they'll have a different kind of odd and I think what's gonna be interesting to see here in DC. Is that while he's new here. It's still liked -- that sports long time -- With some pretty strong tradition you go back to you always talk about what home -- and rfk stadium was for the Redskins. Left them boxing matches are going to be our heads down the stands are gonna bounce up and down I think that. You can bet that you think about the Verizon center for apps games. These are pretty good environments and and I think fans here. In other sports at least have a sense of what happens there's supposed to be like so it's a little different for baseball but I think it's getting pretty good. And -- Probably the reason that you that most is because when you're asking about previous games and had to deal. The clinching game this week yeah that was really the first time I felt like wow this is playoff atmosphere. The -- fans into it didn't have to be told by the scoreboard. Right here although they did when the Braves lost that was kind of a different reason right. The way they were anticipating things getting up and sport in -- -- big at bat speed pitches that sense of urgency. That you get in these games it matters so much that he was the best environment I think any game last year's. Past eight years in DC that few others that and it had a stroke Strasburg yes Strasburg debut but what was different about that I think was there was so much anticipation. Leading up to it and then what happened after that was just kind of pure joy. Right at the -- the outcome of the game didn't answer have a lot riding on it and so much -- it's all focused on one guy and when he left the game it was different. Yet what and it was nice and stay around and it was nice they won the game for him. But all of that energy on one guy this is on. Entire team and so many good players they can bring you know rise it's like you that I go back to the very first -- in our case it was a really special night. For a lot of people especially those that were around for the senators that. And so that. Added an atmosphere to have always -- people from out of town that's about DC it's a great evenings now. The way it's people like to go to what's the big thing it's. Long time baseball hasn't been anything -- it became one this summer and it's really become here this month. You saw that the other night it was there was any event ever rules talking about everyone on the national scene talking about we saw. Wolf Blitzer. Yeah I mean is the DC celebrities who we're gonna see it now they. And network TV types and anchors that -- politicians you know here and extrapolate a little further out you get to the World Series what -- -- present -- states can -- one week before the election that would be an interesting. Maybe cameo appearance and fight appeals to some voters. And maybe his candidate is an opponent but once I get on that do -- enough to -- -- scenario at least we know the White Sox are in the post season. No chance of Obama's dream non nationals like boxers but if it does happen hopefully it's opening nationals cap. And not White Sox -- as -- would. Well mark that would surely be exciting but in order to get there and everything to get out of the first round first and the nationals through. The number one seed with the best record in baseball owner going to be kind of Guinea pigs if you will of the new playoff format they're gonna play either. The Atlanta Braves or the St. Louis Cardinals while we start with the Braves on their division foe that the team that. Got hot late one and -- -- -- public the nationals were able to secured that division and all that. How they match up against the Braves -- there another one playoff series but since Chris Evans become the hottest pitcher in baseball. And correct him on it's closer at least in the National League we've seen how the hottest closers help teams win in recent. Oh absolutely I mean it's an action thing because you write the nationals one of course this season but in September the last series and I went down Atlantic got swept in a series that. That opportunity to panic if knock out punch at that point is that with a great -- back in it and force this thing go right down to the final week. The good thing from nationals perspective that Chris mandolin is gonna start. The wild card game and thus wouldn't be available until game three of the NLD yes they are going to be facing Hudson Hudson. Something else -- -- -- -- you -- To mentally so that helps their cause but you point out -- him. Who by far the most dominant closer in baseball this year you could throw in guy enters having good care of clarity in their. That bullpen if you get -- seventh eighth inning and you're trailing it is so hard to come back against it shortens the game. And that can be done -- actually my biggest concern you have to get out to a lead against them and not count on me come from behind it to a lot of teams this here. -- of the toughest team in baseball today against. Right and they they were a good team last year but now there a year older Chipper Jones is a year older but also is Jayson Heyward and Freddie Freeman that lineup. Is maybe -- I think it might be the second deepest -- national yeah I mean there's a lot of thunder there you can come -- hand in the mix see Dan Uggla. Everything always seem to terrorize. The nationals. But it's very left handed aside from Uggla. And that's that's an interesting matchup possibilities as they -- like to let -- of the starters and relievers and even admitted. And how things work out he would consider John Lannan. In the rotation for series against the Greeks maybe in place of Edwin Jackson because the left right thing and beat Atlanta has had success against them. That's a penalty time. Now the other possibility that I mentioned is the St. Louis Cardinals who was another team that got hotly and the nationals actually faced recently and it wasn't pretty. Bryant Jordan Zimmermann pitched well but they had some some other problems there. How do you think they match up against the team that has really really gotten. Off yet and has experience of winning the World Series last year rights -- and on a similar kind of late season run lead and went on yeah that the team might -- -- Because of experience. Because. The way -- playing at the end of the season. -- one thing again the Cardinals don't have pitching depth and rotation and nationals I'll lows in the best pitches here he's gonna hit the wild card games you can be facing Adam Wainwright. Does not seem absolutely right right Chris Carpenter just coming back from injury he's not the same guy we don't know what his status is going to be. And I'm not blistered the back of the cardinals' bullpen is quite. And it's tough to deal with especially you know have really dominant -- Which I think plays in the national -- harper and the growth in particular. So I think that part of the matchup goes well but the fact they just played him you know guys who. Maybe X-Factor for some versatility makes room in the postseason bullpen well against a lot of other teams they never saw him in -- about the Cardinals got a good look at. Right because he was called up in September and his -- so those kind of things a little X factors like that I think maybe not the place to practice. Well mark we've been looking ahead to the nationals opponents lets look at the nationals right now kind of -- unit by unit that -- you look at their strengths and weaknesses. Let's start with the line and specifically the -- batting order do you think. They have a pretty good balance right left all the way down do you think the national maybe have the deepest and most balanced lineup in the nationally. Certainly what they've shown since the all star break suggestive and this is where they're finally healthy all year they had guys missing and you could see the second at -- to have Jayson Werth helped your top. Michael Morse and no -- in there. This time Espinoza and -- and stuff but he's back. To have Suzuki getting out of the eight hole. Went for so long they were trying to deal with the loss of Wilson Ramos. It does give an -- and rip one through eight any one of those guys people in the bottom. Looking beyond their starters their bench is and one of the best offenses in baseball but there are some guys who don't have much experience they're not only did -- not have playoff experience. They're pretty young Tyler -- numbers of the guys who you think will make you think that'll be considered well it could be but really if you're talking about. A couple of at the game he's not going to be something guys not know the game I don't think you're talking not in -- Graduate and when it comes that he's got Chad Tracy who is it better -- -- -- -- done this kind of stuff before. More and -- goes the other young don't know exactly -- again Roger -- Vietnamese and expect. Because both we could do it might possibly could do in the field maybe as a defensive replacement for Morse and left -- -- And most importantly what he could do on the basis. As a pinch -- potentially for saint Rose where somebody late games Suzuki say you need. A big run here's a guy could steal a base. Go first and third as well as anybody tag up from third on shallow fly ball that's it's -- thing small thing past the Red -- something Dave Roberts -- write them. In their over four rounds in good pinch runner and make all the difference in the world don't. Yeah -- as a bench guy and has never really kind of put it altogether be a starter he's got several schools that you could legitimately consider plus plus yeah absolutely and especially in a situation like this. Where so many little things can add up. So they went -- and X factors looking at the national -- it's very deep there's going to be in some names of everyone's going to be keeping and I am. Harper more some German -- Of the kind of secondary guys who do you think could be a sort of X-Factor and if he had maybe a big divisional series to go along -- -- along well yeah I think the one guy. Who has been kind of struggling down the stretch to watches Danny Espinosa. When he's on. Especially on the left side of the plate it's such a threat at the seventh hole and made that link in that lineup if protection Ian Desmond Robinson. You know -- doesn't allow you to pitch around it Suzuki. I do you think it. It makes him so much better line and -- -- line has been struggling company. Keep an eye on the other X-Factor and it was a big game and I would think Jayson Werth in the -- when he gets on base at the number one spot it sets up everything. Right for harper hitting behind him and and look what we see -- for September's death he's not going to be fazed one bit. -- the post season spot a look at them the other night he was the one patient batter and yeah exactly so I'm not worried about him actually at all. But you gotta get my opportunities -- what is on ahead of him but it's an opportunity to drive in runs and and then. The big boys behind Zimmerman LaRoche and Morse. If Werth gets on it sets the table for everybody else. We'll see what happens is -- we've seen the last two years that David freeze. For Cody Ross can really make the difference I mean it's happened in the history of baseball but recently you've seen this one guy make that big of a difference. Well we're gonna move on the pitching and the bullpen which is something that -- and then mark we'll get into in just a moment. -- welcome back and -- Miami and come back The Washington Times now we are discussed. The nationals offense going in the post season I -- -- you about their pitching staff. For most of the season that's what got him at this point. They kind of faded a little bit down the stretch here let's start with the rotation obviously know Stephen Strasburg -- -- the rotation holes in the stack up against whoever they might things. I think you know it looks pretty did we think it you know you look at the other teams that are in the playoffs -- not too many of them have -- or. Aces and throw out there. I think nationals of Al pennant topics you -- insurance government designated -- and completely unable finished and gone on that note. And now. You know the one question is really having your response to the extra rest I don't think. Either of them all the pitching anything less than seven days. So that's the main thing and you talk to a really big things there because Aggie you actually get through the -- about. Needing a fourth start of the nationals we'll do that they're gonna go through three and more. When he comes up that lot of -- when Jackson and and maybe in John Lannan. You know that -- you're not as confident and I think because namely just -- -- -- and have struggled a little bit down stats. -- you look at the whole body of work at the pitcher they were this season. He should be too. Yeah I think the key here is -- any one of those four guys that's capable of going out there and throwing -- -- and winning a game into Ireland you know. Anyone of the four is also capable of getting beat up pretty good I -- maybe put Jordan's -- In the least likely to get beat up category and then GO second. I've just been good down the stretch I think that helps to have. So I do think. I don't -- so it's a concern but you could see a wide variety of things from them and maybe there aren't many sure things as you'd like don't know what. Another thing we don't know how far I each of them going to respondents are rise for the occasion if if they will not you know and it is the only member of their season is its class at all. So about how they seized the moment and you know rice's days they're going to be pitching on for the first time that that'll be a factor. Part let's talk about the bullpen now and another thing that was a big strength this team promotes this season. But here down the stretch they had to make some changes Tyler Clifford was struggling through -- start it looked more like his old self repeating it switched with -- closer again. For Purdue struggled some Sean Burnett and little -- mr. down the stretch -- in the bullpen lines up going in the post. -- think they're pretty good shape you know we he's seen frank Sammy and you exceptional work. Especially down the stretch. End and not you know I think -- Garcia has really -- and passionate and also if you if you take their top three guys that -- in the morning went very. Any kind of an opinion and then they have other good options as well and you know you don't know the only thing against them and they're gonna need those guys if they gotten sick as well. Burnett and seemed a little bit better lately you know he's young album -- -- -- they keep that under control that inflammation. Or irritation I guess -- to say. You know he's an RA I think Clippers -- the wildcard here because. You know we sign him give up the home run last night and we know that he has been thrown back again in the two outings before that he was looking very much like his old self. What they do have an advantage is true story and I I don't think we've seen these aren't pitching better than he has been. All season I had at this point he looks like himself he looks like he was last year if not better. So I think going into the playoffs you start right now may be one of the -- best -- Yeah and it's funny is I think back to spring training and early April when he had the elbow injury and -- him specifically saying I'd rather. Take care this now and make sure that I -- good September and October that at -- than he did and he was absolutely right because he peaked at the right time. I think the other biggest strengths they have is the -- again saying. If when the other guy's fault but he and -- mentioned Ryan Mathews -- aren't very good and now Michael Collins exactly so there are some options there I think. If Christian Garcia makes the bullpen that's a huge X-Factor -- that guy. Could come in for one inning and throw the ball as hard as anyone with as much movement -- anyone that the other teams have barely seen it all day. When it comes down to is most managers get to the postseason you're gonna count on your seventh eighth and ninth inning guys every single night. If one of them particularly the part where the struggle would be to keep sending him out there or would you feel comfortable enough to make that switch to another. Pleasing to see what happens -- you've been on Davey and he's not that guy is not simple someone you write my guy I'm going with him. And you know -- so it'll be interesting to see how you know let them laugh. My initial instinct and say that he's gonna -- it out -- in the eighth inning no matter what they aren't happening and -- until the eighth inning. I type numbers I'll start -- I agree I agree I let's except that you're the wrap up show and wrap up the regular season it's awards time. None of these are going to be announced until November black. All of the baseball writers' association. Awards MVP Cy Young. Manager of the year rookie of the year all do at the end of the regular season you and I are both voters not to reveal which -- we have right now. After that secret until they come out. But we now have to have some thoughts on all these awards and for the first time really the nationals have contenders in almost every category and -- MVP because. I think it's safe to say that well Adam LaRoche Ian Desmond did some great things for the team this here. I'm not so sure that they're gonna be in the discussion for the MVP over the public eye on the ballot. I think there's they're definitely both going to appear on ballots in my opinion. I think that but I don't think they're going to be in the top -- and getting -- -- to be you know. The MVP of the season but just have two guys that last and Michael -- when he finished nineteenth right and that was seen you know me and a that -- -- -- Yeah I've been it's nice to again they have got even in that consideration -- got a Cy Young this might be their best chance -- GO Gonzales and probably RA Dickey as to most likely. And it's maybe Craig Kimbrel thrown in there although there's always a little bit distinction among closers it's tough for them win. There's a case he made for either of them TO or -- Do you think -- we see here what -- it meant to them so you think around the country other writers need him. As a legitimate Cy Young guys. I think that and he's definitely a legitimate -- I think playing her son conversation. But -- you know I think defense is well down TOR Dickey and not the -- -- actually working against Theo in my opinion is that he's done a very good team. Because you know he's put up great numbers but he has one of the best defense in the league behind him he's got one of the best -- suddenly coming after him and runs and our best offense is currently. So I -- to do what he's done is amazing he has been in an -- the nationals especially you know down the stretch here. But what did he had done on a bad team I think -- value a little bit higher because he's almost doing in spite of the teenage. Sure and I think and it's fair unfair Dickey has turned into such a great story. As a knuckleballer to win twenty games and do everything that he's done exhibit the kind of control. But he -- Strikeout to walk ratio is ridiculously good any day disabled pitching in New York he gets a little more attention -- a lot of other guys. Definitely and a had a book came out beginning of the year that that night you know. -- tomorrow aware of him going into year in -- of the year that he. Right where is GO Gonzales coming into the season was at least second fiddle to Stephen Strasburg not third fiddle to Jordan Yzerman also so. He made a good case for himself I'm going to be fascinating see how this vote. It plays out manager of the year I think Davey Johnson has got to be the runaway favorite for this. And I imagine he's a pretty big block I think you know dusty and Dusty Baker at Cincinnati can get some votes for a share. But you know I think that. What game he has done with this team this is -- 197 games could win 98 by the end of the season and and you know. Seventeen win improvement -- -- -- so I think that you know a lot of I have to ask you on -- Yeah and the -- seventeen games for -- you're gonna -- -- wanting to go from you know sixty to 77 -- -- another thing go from eighty to 97 and 98 and now maybe the most fascinating. Of them -- Bryce Harper and the rookie of the year. I think a month ago we would have said. It probably isn't gonna get back Todd Frazier the reds was putting up some big numbers to be their favorite. Frazier has cooled off considerably. Wade -- of the Diamondbacks has been solid all year was -- -- them sixteen and eleven low three ERA. Harper though has come on -- strong down the stretch and again he's done things. That no teenager barely any teenagers have ever done you think that resonates enough to convince voters to give it to him well. I did and I think that I mean just the things and that's not handing him as a team I think this is actually their best opportunity and and because of especially -- unless -- -- this season but when you look at the body right yet he had that two month stretch where he really struggled. But keep playing the plastic and position and he played as a plus defender for the most and for the most part. And you know that it has also grueling defense -- -- I think that people take that into account. And now and also when you look at his overall numbers pretty darn good especially when you take into account the fact that he didn't play retirement immediately. So you know I think you think -- cooled significantly. As he said and now I think that might have been solid but not like. Right and there is always sort of that spectacular constantly comes harbors -- I mean it's going to be as you said fascinating because there are people who are going to look at two months actually struggled. And you know say that this is ignorant you -- here because you know he struggled and maybe he would have it and you. Not having seen him here is -- count -- out -- year older than him that also I think played into people not. Accrediting Barbara as much because touted as having better yet. Yeah you're right it's been an unfair comparison from beginning -- different ages different leagues and all that. The fact that harper got his batting average up to seven lead and season I think helped for whatever reason to seven he looks a lot better than 269 -- 22 homers didn't get the twenty steals but. Triples. This and yet -- bases -- home runs. 97 runs scored the defense like he's at and really. And a lot of times this isn't necessarily considered rookie year more so MVP but you have to look at his value. 21 up maybe the best team in baseball what he did for them I think it makes it really -- Yeah I agree and you know I -- precedent to judge accurately because we do you see him every day. So it's tough to know what a voter who doesn't see an everyday thing and will think when he looks at the numbers up. It's definitely going to be extremely interesting when -- about the -- in the middle of November. Seat drivers want it any of them have. Yeah absolutely it's the first time that we've really other than Ryan Zimmerman and beginning of the year conversation 2006 that we had to consider itself. Unfortunately we know who were going four for our various awards you don't get to find out until November. But just to play baseball be played between now and thanks for watching us all during the regular season. Hopefully we'll have more for you during the -- CSN Washington dot com.