Game #72 Third time is the charm if Mother Nature cooperates!

We hope today that Mother Nature cooperates as the Nationals will try to get a doubleheader in today. The weather forecast looks dicey once again with terms like “isolated thunderstorms” and “scattered thunderstorms”. Right now Weather.com has  a 35% chance of precipitation at first pitch of game 1 today. Last night’s weather never allowed for a window to play that game as it rained off and on for hours. Both teams will stay with their starters for this afternoon’s game with Patrick Corbin and the right-handed Jake Arrieta Zach Eflin. Corbin will now be pitching with three extra rest days due to a day-off after his last start plus the two rainout games on Monday and Tuesday. The big question will be who pitches game 2 of the doubleheader for the Nationals after Max Scherzer broke his nose during bunting practice. Jake Arrieta is now scheduled to pitch in the second half of the doubleheader.  Continue reading

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Game #72 (Weather permitting) They will try to get in Game 1 of 4 in this series tonight!

Photo from WTOP

When Mother Nature changes course, look out. Last night’s weather never allowed for a window to play the game after a change in the weather patterns. Last night’s starters of Patrick Corbin and the right-handed Jake Arrieta who were scheduled for last night were moved to tonight. It is hard to say who will benefit from the rainout as both teams got an extra day of interrupted rest to come back this afternoon and try again with another gloomy weather forecast in the offing at a 7:05 pm first pitch. Continue reading

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Rain — rotation — roster; The Nats have to make moves due to the rain

The familiar scene from last year; Only thing that has changed is a smaller Skittles logo

Last month’s rain set the wettest year in Washington D.C.’s history at over 71 inches of precipitation, and the wet stuff continues like we saw with the inconvenient rains of 2018 that have returned and wreaking havoc on the Washington Nationals rotation and roster. With last night’s postponement and a day/night doubleheader for Wednesday, the Nationals either have a need for an extra starter on Wednesday or Saturday. By MLB rules, the Nationals will get to call-up a 26th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader, but it does not have to be a starting pitcher.

In last night’s game for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies, Joe Ross was pulled at 5.0 innings of shutout baseball and a pitch count of 57 to preserve him just in case they decide to call him up on Saturday and go with this configuration:

  • Tuesday: Arrieta vs. Corbin
  • Wednesday Game 1: Eflin vs. Fedde
  • Wednesday Game 2: Pivetta vs. Scherzer
  • Thursday: Nola vs. Strasburg
  • Friday: Keuchel (if activated) vs. Sanchez
  • Saturday: Foltynewicz vs. Ross (if activated)
  • Sunday: Soroka vs. Corbin
  • Monday: Day-off

There certainly is no guarantee of any of this as it might make more sense to match-up with Max Schezer against Eflin tomorrow with Fedde against Pivetta in the second game of the doubleheader.  There is also the question on Friday as to whether the Atlanta Braves will activate Dallas Keuchel to pitch although the Atlanta beat writers believe that is the case.

There is rain scheduled for the Washington, D.C. area through Thursday and these pop-up thunderstorms are unpredictable as you saw last night in reality versus the forecast. The changes in the weather are the other great unknown. If Joe Ross is called up for Saturday, the Nationals will have to make a roster move and could certainly option Adrian Sanchez back to the minor leagues to make room for Ross. The advantage of doing that is the Nationals could skip Fedde for a turn in the rotation with the day-off on Monday and go with Schezer in Miami on Tuesday followed by Strasburg, Sanchez on Thursday, Corbin on Friday in Detroit, Fedde on Saturday, and Scherzer on Sunday in Detroit.

For historians of Washington, D.C. baseball, there is an interesting parallel here to 2012 when John Lannan was pitching for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs after he lost his rotation spot to Ross Detwiler in a controversial move between manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo. The Nationals had a scheduled doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves and called-up Lannan. The night before, the Nats entered the game against the Braves with a 3 ½ game lead over the Braves but blew a 9-0 lead to lose 11-10 and watch their lead shrink to 2 ½ games. In game 1 of the Saturday doubleheader, the Nats were blanked 4-0 by Ben Sheets over Edwin Jackson. The lead shrunk to 1 ½ and the Braves were feeling it. Lannan was shaky in the first inning and gave up 2-runs but then settled down and was masterful throwing a 6.0 inning shutout after that and righting the ship for the Nats. Lannan could have mailed it in after losing his rotation spot to Detwiler, and he quite possibly saved the Nats season as they rolled from there and never looked back. Lannan went 4-1 for the Nationals in spot duty in 2012 and was an unsung hero in the Nationals first season making the playoffs.

With all the moving parts, we will see how this all works out.

Joe Ross could be the spot starter on Saturday

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Game #72 It’s time; Corbin must lead his team!

MLB Network graphic

When the Nationals ownership group greenlighted $140 million in the off-season to sign the top free agent pitcher, Patrick Corbin‘s deal was finalized by general manager Mike Rizzo in what was a surprise to many who were convinced he was heading to the Yankees or Phillies who vowed to spend “stupid money”.  For Corbin, he would start the Nats portion of his career looking like the ace the Nats paid the big bucks for. On Corbin’s 11th start for his new team, he would throw a complete game shutout to lower his ERA to 2.85 — but that is also where the controversy starts. Was it necessary to have pushed Corbin to another high pitch count? In his first 5-games in May, he threw 547 pitches in that span including counts of 107, 108, 116, and 118 pitches with an average of 109.4 pitches per start. The problem is Corbin’s previous 3-starts he is 0-3 with an 11.37 ERA and 12 2/3 innings completed. Not only has Corbin pitched poorly, but he has also stressed his bullpen to cover more innings than he pitched. Continue reading

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Happy Father’s Day to the Nats!

The Nats won this game in a laugher to even the series 2-2 as Anibal Sanchez delivered on the mound and Matt Adams with the bat. Adams crush two homers and finished with 7 RBIs for nearly half the team’s 15 runs. Every position player reached base safely, and Sanchez once again pitched great since returning from the 10-day IL with another game of two earned run or less. Sanchez gave up a home run in the first inning then only gave up one more the rest of the way for his six innings.  Continue reading

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Game #71 Father’s Day has a different meaning for today’s starter Aníbal Sánchez

 

Baseball as we saw in the movie “Field of Dreams” brings many fathers together with their children, sons and daughters. Today, we celebrate fathers and father figures in our lives. For the Nationals, Anibal Sanchez will take the mound on this Father’s Day wearing that “baby blue” cap to celebrate a day that has a meaning for him beyond baseball. Sure, Sanchez has a young daughter Anabella with wife Ana and their son Anibal Jr., but he also mourns the loss and memorializes his baby son who died in 2007.  Alan Sanchez was bit by a mosquito in his native Venezuela and contracted dengue fever and passed away.  Continue reading

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A Strasburg stinker sinks the ship!

The matchup today looked like a “lock” for the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg going up against rookie Taylor Clarke who had an ERA over 5.00. There is a reason they play the games as Clarke out-pitched Strasburg in this one although neither was good. The Nationals actually had a 3-2 lead in the first inning, but Dave Martinez’s team never scored again. The final score in this stinker was 10-3. Continue reading

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Game #70 Stephen Strasburg versus the long-time Nats fan

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

Baseball proves so often that great pitching beats a hot hitting team, and Max Scherzer did that last night and Stephen Strasburg hopes to follow Scherzer’s lead in today’s game. Stras is having a solid season, and the team has him at a .700 win percentage that the fireballer is hoping to improve on today. Arizona had a recent 7-2 record until they ran into Scherzer last night. The Nationals have also been on their own hot streak recently. This four-game series is tied up at one game each, but the Diamondbacks are struggling at the back of their rotation as most expected as the D’Backs went into the off-season in rebuild mode as they lost their ace, Patrick Corbin, to free agency as he signed with the Nats and A.J. Pollock also moved on in free agency. In addition, their General Manager, Mike Hazen, traded away Paul Goldschmidt who was their best position player, and they netted back Carson Kelly in that swap. Kelly showed last night that he is a keeper.  Continue reading

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Max Scherzer is the stopper and delivers the win!

The Washington Nationals needed to end a 2-game skid, and Max Scherzer delivered with a 7-inning 2-run performance that finished with one in the “W” column. Scherzer exited with a 5-2 lead, and his offense gave him two more runs after they pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the 7th inning. Even with a 5-run lead, it got tense in the 8th inning as Wander Suero had to be pulled after allowing a run and exiting with two runners on-base. Tanner Rainey quickly put out the fire with a quick out as he stopped the ball ticketed for centerfield with the back of his leg as the ball hit his just below the back of his knee. The final score on this one in favor of the Nats was 7-3. Continue reading

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Game #69 Max Scherzer enters as the stopper!

Yesterday, the Nationals just lost another opening game to a series where their record is 7-16 (.304 winning percentage) in those first games of new series. That is much improved from where it was a month ago. But today a Twitter follower @TheNatsFanatic commented that the Nationals are 1-9 after days-off and that is a .100 winning percentage in a fairly large sample size. We “fact checked” that stat and can unfortunately certify it as accurate.  That begs the question, why? What is happening on days-off? The only win of the season after a day-off was not a well-played game by the Nationals when Stephen Strasburg surrendered 5-runs in 5-innings against the White Sox, but Reynaldo Lopez gave up 6-runs, and the Nationals won. Why are the Nationals seemingly flat like yesterday after days-off when you would think just the opposite? These are the “case study” types of anomalies that the analytics department needs to drill down and see if they can pick up on something.  Continue reading

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