Game #32 Nats home against Tigers. Strasburg has to be the stopper: Game Thread

To sum up the pitching in the 4 game Chicago series, you only win games when you outscore your opponents, and the Nationals could have easily won 3 of the 4 games in Chicago with a few more add-on runs except the Scherzer start which was over early. Tanner Roark pitched a very good game and so did Gio Gonzalez before him; however, both pitchers got into pitch count troubles and taxed the bullpen especially considering Max Scherzer on Friday only made it 5 innings, and yesterday’s extra innings fiasco needed Papelbon to pitch 2 innings in relief. Joe Ross pitched into the 7th inning on Thursday as he went the deepest of all the starters in that series and in his start seemed to be a victim of defense that was not stellar giving up 2 runs and received 0 in run support.

“I take away from this series that we’ll see ‘em at our house, and I’d love to come back here in the playoffs,” Dusty Baker said yesterday. “They got everything they needed in this series. It’s hard to keep getting whatever you want, whatever you need. Our guys got a lot of pride out there. We’re still right there.  I mean big time. So like I said, we’ve got to lick our wounds and come back in and regroup.”

The Nats need a “near” complete game performance from Stephen Strasburg today, and it is not clear if Mike Rizzo will make any roster moves to get a fresh arm called up as the Nats have nobody who can pitch in long relief today.

Strasburg must be the stopper as the Nats are mired in a 4 game losing streak.  Tonight’s 7:05pm game at Nationals Park features Strasburg against righty Anibal Sanchez. The Nats veterans are very familiar with Sanchez from his time with the Marlins.

After last night’s game ended in Chicago, Pedro Gomez of ESPN reports: “After Bryce Harper was walked 13 times and the @nationals were swept in four games by the @cubs, it looks like Washington will change its lineup on Monday night and have Daniel Murphy bat cleanup behind Harper. It means 3-4-5 will be Harper (lefty), Murphy (lefty) and Zimmerman (righty) instead of the L-R-L the Nationals have been using.”

That line-up discussion has been a source of much debate on by week 2 of the season, and Game 2 if you consider the rumblings about Michael Taylor batting lead-off. Ryan Zimmerman ranks near the bottom of qualified 1st baseman in OPS, and even worse than that is his spot in the line-up which has him as the worst #4 batter in the league alongside Ryan Howard who actually has a higher overall OPS.

Ryan Zimmerman is not a bad batter, and is a beloved member of this team. He was the Face of the Franchise and has built up a lot of goodwill. With all that said, baseball is about output and stats and helping your team to win. Ryan Zimmerman’s placement in what most consider the most premium of offensive positions at 1st base is a spot that requires a power bat. Zimmerman is stuck at 1 HR which is tied for last for qualified 1st baseman. On top of that ESPN has Zimmerman at a negative WAR of -0.4.

Why has it taken Dusty Baker this long to contemplate a change? We had to endure over a full month of Michael Taylor at the lead-off and made mention that he never scored more than 1 run in a game all season, and in Ben Revere‘s 2nd full game of the season he scored 2 runs against the best team in baseball. The prevailing wisdom was that you don’t change line-ups when you’re winning so is the counterpoint to that you change line-ups when you’re losing?

We will know shortly if Pedro Gomez was correct.

As to today’s matchups, here is the Nats stats against Anibal Sanchez:

Here are Stephen Strasburg’s stats against the Tigers:

This morning’s stats for RISP situations:


Line-ups (subject to change without notice):

  1.  Ben Revere LF
  2. Anthony Rendon 3B
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. Wilson Ramos C
  7. Michael Taylor CF
  8. Danny Espinosa SS
  9. Stephen Strasburg RHP
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