Game #57 The business trip shines the spotlight on Max Scherzer; What is Koda Glover’s status?

Fangraphs WAR tops of the NL

The Washington Nationals have a pivotal game tonight with Max Scherzer on the mound in this 3-game series with Clayton Kershaw lurking as the probable pitcher for tomorrow. Last night’s game was a Vegas pick ’em and the Nationals took the first game of the series with a win and final score of 4-to-2. If the Nationals can win tonight, they would clinch this series and allow tomorrow’s afternoon finale to shift all the pressure on the Dodgers.

As we reported early afternoon yesterday, Koda Glover would be available to close pending how he felt which did seem to be an ominous caveat with the way Dusty Baker used him on Sunday in Oakland. Dusty Baker reported after last night’s game that Koda Glover complained of soreness and was kept out of the game last night. We don’t know what type of soreness or the severity. We may not receive an update on Glover in Baker’s pre-game presser and might have to wait for the 9th inning tonight to see if Glover warms up.

To quote Thomas Boswell excerpted from his “chat” mid-day yesterday as he discussed why you don’t pitch Koda Glover for the 9th inning on Sunday:

“Why risk a 30-pitch outing, just for the sake of Glover getting a meaningless save, if he has a long 9th inning? The Nats play the Dodgers Mon-Tues-Weds. Right now, they look like the 2 best teams in the NL. Keep Glover fresh in case you get a couple of save situations in the first two games when the Nats have good starting pitching match-ups.

Maybe the pessimist (me) thinks, “What could go wrong here that would have implications beyond this one game– that might deal a blow to either our young closer or our fragile bullpen? What if this ‘garbage time’ inning goes sideways. What if…”

Well, you saw what happened. There was a 23-minute (22:50) gap between Glover’s last pitch of the 8th and his first pitch of the 9th. How badly had he “cooled off?” Glover went back to the bullpen to warm up again! Arrgghh.”

The sum of our worst fears are sometimes realized by poor decisions. Health is the ultimate concern in the physicality of this sport. 22 minutes and 50 seconds is too long for a reliever between innings in most cases. Tom Boswell had other points in the chat about bruised egos and the fragile psyche or as Boswell wrote, “You especially don’t want that bad ‘let-down inning’ to happen to Glover when he’d built up a string of good performances and is starting to look—and think of himself as your closer.”

Here is another decision from last night that will have an effect on tonight’s game. Dusty Baker sacrificed his “rook” in this chess game, and the rook has a name: Enny Romero. Like in chess, you only have 2 rooks and similarly in Baker’s bullpen, he only has 2 left-handed relievers and they are Romero and Oliver Perez. By using Romero last night for 2 innings and 31 pitches he will not be available for tonight’s game. Unless Mike Rizzo pulls a rabbit out of his hat and has another lefty activated for tonight’s game, Dusty Baker will have to use Oliver Perez as his only left-handed weapon tonight.

The bullpen will be down Romero and could be without Koda Glover. The good news is Max Scherzer is starting tonight, and if he can go 7 full innings, the bullpen should be able to mix and match and get the job done. The bullpen has been unscored upon now in 9 of their last 12 games, and at some point we can hopefully laugh off Sunday’s near-disaster that blew up Glover’s ERA and caused him the soreness he is dealing with.

The Dodgers are pitching right-hander Brandon McCarthy tonight. Besides Adam Lind, there is not a lot of meaningful data. Lind has not fared well against Lind and it might be a night to go with your normal starters unless you sub in Stephen Drew.

Some of the scouting on McCarthy is that he has pitched better in his home park, and while lefties hit for a higher average, the right-handed batters have hit for more power. He was not good in his last start and was pulled after the 4th inning. You really do your damage on McCarthy the 2nd and 3rd time through the order.

McCarthy is a sinker, cutter and curveball pitcher. When he is over-throwing his pitches, you can do damage as his sinker and cutter can be hit hard.

Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers 
Stadium: Dodger Stadium, 1000 Vin Scully Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
1st Pitch:  10:10 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, SportsNet LA, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM®  (Internet 869)

Line-ups  (subject to change without notice):

  1. Trea Turner SS
  2. Brian Goodwin LF
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. Anthony Rendon 3B
  7. Matt Wieters C
  8. Michael Taylor CF
  9. Max Scherzer RHP
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