In the Cubs/Nats series, the Nationals scored 20 runs — the Cubs scored 17 runs. Of the 17 runs scored by the Cubs, only 13 runs were earned runs. The Nationals had the better batting slash at .186/ .302/ .335/ .637 versus the Cubs more-than-awful .180/ .285/ .280/ .565. The Nationals had the lower pitching ERA. The Nats statistically beat the Cubs in almost all statistical categories except the most important one which is the standings. The Cubs won the series 3-games-to-2.
The series was a pitcher’s duel for 4-games and then both teams faltered last night as 17 total runs were scored. Through it all, Stephen Strasburg threw 14.0 innings with a 0.00 ERA.
The Cubs offensive charts shows how well the Nats shutdown the Cubs offense except Anthony Rizzo who came through when runners-were-in-scoring-position (RISP).
The Nats pitching was just spectacular as a group and even though Gio Gonzalez was not good and Sammy Solis didn’t do the job; Brandon Kintzler seemed to be the victim of a fielder who lost a ball in the lights and other strange defensive mishaps. “The Firm” was excellent and in the facets of the game they were what the Nats have needed in the post-season. As far as the 11 pitchers who made the post-season roster, Enny Romero and Tanner Roark never threw a pitch in any of the 5 games. Max Scherzer was BABIP’d in his relief appearance, but also couldn’t get the job done in relief to minimize the damage and part of the issue was a bizarre missed batter’s interference rule that was not called.
The Nationals offensive stars were “many” to get the Nationals 2 wins, and sometimes the stats don’t tell the whole picture in clutch situations like Anthony Rizzo who had an awful .238 OBP but somehow had 6 key RBIs. Ryan Zimmerman had the Miracle in the Mums and actually had the game winning RBIs in both Nationals wins but last night failed in 4 at-bats ending 3 innings leaving 7 men-on-base. Timing is everything.
It might also surprise you that the Nationals were better in their percentage of RISP hitting .222 6-for-27 with runners-in-scoring-position and a full 10 points better than the Cubs who hit .212 in RISP going 7-for-33. The Cubs were more adept at creating runs through productive outs and the Nats used the long-ball for much of their RBIs hitting 6 to the Cubs 2.
Overall, Michael Taylor was the offensive star along with seldom used Adam Lind who only got 3 at-bats in the series and hit into a back-breaking doubleplay in a pinch-hitting appearance last night in the 8th inning. It’s a team game, and the Nationals certainly lost as a team. Failures in key spots hurt like failed productive outs with runners on 3rd base and less than 2 outs, and Scherzer’s failed bunt in Game #3 become magnified failures in a short-series. There was plenty of blame to go-around.
The question going forward will certainly be who stays and who goes. It is not a foregone conclusion that Dusty Baker will be gone; however, he did not get a strong endorsement from his star rightfielder Bryce Harper who was asked in several different interviews what he thinks Dusty’s future is with the Nats and to sum up one of his responses he said:
“That’s a decision made up top. Don’t want to comment on that really,” Bryce Harper said.
The tone of how Harper gave his answer to the media did not exude a lot of confidence as Harper once was asked a similar question about former Nats manager Matt Williams and Harper found some positives even though he most likely knew Williams wasn’t going to return.
In the next few months we will write incessantly about the Nationals future — which is very bright. The Nationals control the fate of their top 4 starting pitchers of Strasburg, Scherzer, Gio and Roark. They control most of the bullpen except Brandon Kintzler. The bench could lose Adam Lind (mutual option) and Howie Kendrick as well as outfielder Jayson Werth and back-up catcher Jose Lobaton. Starting catcher Matt Wieters controls his own fate with a player’s option that he will most likely agree to. Adam Eaton will return 100%, and Bryce Harper moves into his final season of team control in 2018.
There you have it.