Game #65 Rubber game of the series; Tanner Roark on the mound

With the Washington Nationals strong line-up and starting pitching there have been very few games that they have really been out of. This is why there has been so much consternation about the bullpen; however, the loss last Wednesday in Los Angeles against Kershaw and the Dodgers bullpen could go squarely on the offense that could not push Trea Turner over from 3rd base with no outs. It takes all facets of this team working well to win as Mike Rizzo pointed out that it takes great games from the starters, position players, bench and the bullpen.

The bullpen is always going to be an easy target as they are usually the ones to hold a lead or lose a lead. They were also an easy target a year ago when the Nats were mired in a 7-game losing streak in June of 2016 as the bullpen lost 3 of the 7 games during that losing streak with Felipe Rivero, Yusmeiro Petit, and Shawn Kelley taking the losses. The Nationals had placed Jonathan Papelbon on the disabled list right before the losing streak started. It put the roles out of alignment in the bullpen. When the closer is not available or not performing well, it can put the entire bullpen in a state of disarray, and that was also a time where we saw starters getting pushed to far and 4 of the 7 losses ended up on the starters during that losing streak.

Without Koda Glover, the bullpen is a mess right now as everyone knows. There seems to be no defined roles, and in recent days Matt Albers, Jacob Turner, and Enny Romero have been used during more than one inning. Blake Treinen warmed up during 3 innings last night.

The Nationals got a win last night but at what cost? Four of the eight members of the bullpen pitched last night with Treinen throwing hard waiting if he was needed. That left three bullpen arms unused last night: Albers, Turner and Joe Blanton.

Presumably tonight Albers, Turner and Blanton are available with Oliver Perez and most likely Gott. Then you have Enny Romero who won’t be available tonight with Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen as available if needed.

Mike Rizzo addressed the current rumors on 106.7 radio about life issues inside the Washington Nationals clubhouse which is most likely a response to claims by Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. Rizzo also addressed the ongoing rumors that ownership is holding him back from acquiring players.

“I can tell you absolutely that there is no finger pointing in our clubhouse,” Mike Rizzo said. “I can guarantee that. Dusty Baker, Mike Rizzo will not allow it to affect team morale. Jayson Werth, Max Scherzer and that leadership group in the clubhouse will not allow it. This is an experienced big league team with great players and great stars on it.

“There’s absolutely no finger pointing. We’re all Washington Nationals. This is a family down there in the clubhouse, it’s a team, and there’s no one part of this roster that is going to get finger-pointed or talked about in a negative manner.”

“All the media hype about ownership not allowing us to do things, and this roster, this organization is constructed by me. Everything lays at my front door and we’re working on it. It’s a difficult thing to do is to improve yourself during the season, especially when you’re one of the lead dogs. When you’re leading, nobody wants to help you. Everybody wants to hurt you and take from you and that’s just the way this game is, and that’s what I love about it.”

“We saw this coming into the season. We tried to make some moves in the off-season. We tried to acquire some of the elite closers (Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen), we didn’t get them, and so now we have to keep looking, keep fighting and keep grinding.”

“Like I said, there’s absolutely no reason for us to panic. This bullpen is going to solidify itself, either by our current players pitching like they’re supposed to pitch, going inward and pulling somebody from our minor league system or going externally in a trade situation to help our bullpen.”

Mike Rizzo has made similar statements like this before. It still does not keep the media from trying to say it is not true. It really comes down to who and what you believe. The bottom line is someone is always looking for someone else to blame.

Tonight’s starter for the Nationals is Tanner Roark and in his last start he gave up 5 runs to Texas with only 2 earned runs. Roark did not look sharp from the beginning of that game. The Braves starter tonight is Julio Teheran. We all know there is history between Teheran and Bryce Harper including a plunking. The video is worth watching if you don’t remember the incident.

There are some large sample sizes here including Bryce Harper‘s 7 career home runs against Julio Teheran which is the most against any pitcher. Jose Lobaton also has some tremendous stats against Teheran. It might be a good rest day for some players who haven’t fared as well.

Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, South Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC
1st Pitch:  4:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, FOX Southeast , MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® XM 187 Sirius 214 (Internet 869)

Line-ups (subject to change without notice):

  1. Trea Turner SS
  2. Bryce Harper RF
  3. Daniel Murphy 2B
  4. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  5. Adam Lind LF
  6. Stephen Drew 3B
  7. Brian Goodwin CF
  8. Jose Lobaton C
  9. Tanner Roark
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