Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dontrelle vs. An Army of Twelve


It's a must-win, folks:

1. There's only 23 games left, and the "We'll get 'em at home" line needs to be backed up.

2. The Phillies aren't upholding their end of the bargain of beating the Astros.

3. The Nats need to beat the Marlins so that the Marlins can beat the Astros.

I know "must-win" is more cliched than "MA-ROONEY!!!" but I don't see any other way. At a minimum, the Nats need to finish 15-8. That's 87-75; it might be enough to hold off the other NL East teams, but getting the Astros to 75 losses has become even tougher, given Philly's intransigence the past two evenings.

Can the Nats even do it? Here's the remaining schedule, assuming a five-man rotation:

---> Tonight vs. Florida (Halama)
---> Thursday vs. Florida (Patterson)
---> Friday vs. Atlanta (Loaiza)
---> Saturday vs. Atlanta (¡LIVAN!)
---> Sunday vs. Atlanta (Rasner?)
---> 9/12 (Off-day)
---> 9/13 at New York (Patterson)
---> 9/14 at New York (Loaiza)
---> 9/15 at New York (Hernandez)
---> 9/16 at San Diego (Halama)
---> 9/17 at San Diego (Rasner?---Patterson on three days' rest?)
---> 9/18 at San Diego (Patterson, assuming)
---> 9/19 (Off-day)
---> 9/20 vs. San Francisco (Loiaza)
---> 9/21 vs. San Francisco (Hernandez)
---> 9/22 vs. San Francisco (Halama)
---> 9/23 vs. New York (Patterson)
---> 9/24 vs. New York (Rasner?)
---> 9/25 vs. New York (Loiaza)
---> 9/26 at Florida (Hernandez)
---> 9/27 at Florida (Halama)
---> 9/28 at Florida (Patterson)
---> 9/29 (Off-day)
---> 9/30 vs. Philadelphia (Loaiza)
---> 10/1 vs. Philadelphia (Hernandez)
---> 10/2 vs. Philadelphia (Patterson---on three days' rest, assuming it's needed).

Well, I tried. I can't really anticipate what Frank Robinson's going to do precisely with respect to the off-days and the fifth turn in the rotation. Generally, though, I estimate:

---> Patterson: six starts, assuming he's needed on 10/2.
---> ¡LIVAN!: five starts.
---> Loaiza: five starts.
---> Halama (assuming he's still the fourth man): four starts.
---> Rasner/fifth starter flotsam: three starts

And that equals 23 starts remaining.

It's a tight leash, dog. The Nats either need the Big Three (which is to say, the only three legitimate big league starters remaining on the active roster) to be invulnerable the rest of the way, or Halama and/or (preferably and) the fifth starter's spot to step up in a most unanticipated fashion.

Alternatively, the Big Three need to eat innings like there's no tomorrow, and then Robinson needs to throw the kitchen sink at the opposition in the remaining games. (And both "squads" need to be effective.) That plan started last night, and it generally went well.

Which reminds me: the offense needs to score, too.

At any rate, lose tonight, and our guys need 15-7 the rest of the way, probably at a minimum. That three-game winning streak was nice, but it can't be followed by a losing streak.

Really, it can't---or it's time to start booking reservations for fantasy camp, Brian.

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