In-Game, dueling Aces. José Fernandez vs. Max Scherzer

As pitchers in each series match-up, the Nats once again will face the opposing team’s #1 in a series. Miami starts José Fernandez and his 2.06 ERA, and if that seems like a recurring theme, it is.  It’s been an incredible run through the season where the odds seem almost astronomical for as many times as the Nats face the other teams’ #1. There are of course the 2 times a year you set your rotation, and that’s on Opening Day, and the 1st series after the All-Star break.  With 5 man rotations, the odds of facing a teams #1 pitcher is generally 60% as the season goes on.  It is, what it is, and our resident stats expert Don aka Zmunchkin will cover this after the season as to the stats of facing the other team’s #1 in a series.

The Nats counter with a good pitcher of their own in Max Scherzer who threw an 8 inning shutout giving up 5 hits and no walks in Miami 5 days ago.  These teams are familiar with each other, and that doesn’t make it any easier as batters will tell you as both Fernandez and Scherzer are hard to hit even if you knew what was coming.

With the lack of transparency given the Nats just faced him 5 days ago, the Nats are well aware of  what Fernandez throws.  He has 3 dominant “plus” pitches.  It all starts with his heater that sits 95-96 mph which he locates well and he has the reachback fastball that can touch 99 on the radar gun. Off of that he will throw an 84mph sweeping curveball and a 88 tumbling changeup.  Every once in a while Fernandez will throw the “Livo” curveball in the 70’s. Fernandez likes to bump you inside, but stays outside and in the bottom of the zone, and the way to beat him is to wait for the right pitch in that zone.  He doesn’t go up in the zone often.  What Fernandez does by pitching you outside is challenging you to hit him oppo which is difficult to barrel up.  Fernandez has only given up 1 HR the entire season and that was to Gregor Blanco on a “pull” HR.  That’s 1 HR in 48 innings and if that’s not impressive enough, Fernandez has a career WHIP of 0.973 which means by Hit/Walk, less than 1 batter per inning gets on base against him on average.

Fernandez is on a pitch count and will most likely be pulled in the 5th or 6th inning, and the strategy is to stay patient and push his pitch count up early and foul off a lot of pitches.  The Nats have limited success against Fernandez and Desi is a career .000 0-14 and 10 of the 14 at-bats were strikeouts.  Werth 1-12 and the 1 hit was a HR in 2014.  Harper and Rendon each have 2 hits against him, and Taylor, Ramos and Escobar,  each have 1 hit off of him.  Ryan Zimmerman has the most success off of Fernandez at a career .375 3-8 however Ryan Zimmerman has been sidelined with an oblique injury and we don’t know when he will play again.

Lineups are:

The Nats are doing a great job on behalf of getting Bryce some postseason hardware of a different type:

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