The facts are if the season ended today the Nationals would be playing the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the NLDS, but don’t think the current Nationals roster and the results this weekend will be a sneak preview. The good news is that this is not the playoffs because the Nationals are missing several key players who are on the disabled list. It was a Cubs pitcher back on June 29th who caused an injury that sent a key Nats player to the disabled list.
The Cubs are extremely healthy, motivated, and talking big and bold while the Nats have an injury list that has 12 lines filled-out on it, and we have no idea yet who will be pitching for the Nationals on Saturday and Sunday due to injuries.
The last time these two teams played each other, the Nationals split the four game series back in Washington, D.C. on June 26 to June 29th that finished in an excruciating way when Pedro Strop threw a pitch a foot inside on Trea Turner and broke his wrist. The Nationals were ready to take 3-of-the-4 games in that series until Blake Treinen was given the ball in the 9th inning of that June 29th game with a 4-2 lead and could not close it out as one ball went over Stephen Drew which Trea Turner most likely would have caught if he was still in the game.
The Nationals are coming off of 17 innings in Miami where they didn’t look recognizable in terms of quality of play. The Cubs have lost 2-games in a row where their new acquisitions of Justin Wilson and Jose Quintana did not play well. Wilson had a blown save last night giving up 2 hits and allowing 2 inherited runners to score and Quintana started the game and gave up 6 runs in just 5 innings. The Cubs closer Wade Davis took the loss giving up 2 runs and 4 hits in just 1 inning on 30 pitches. On Wednesday, the Cubs were shutout by Zack Godley, and in that game Justin Wilson gave up 1 run while walking 2 batters and 1 hit.
The Nationals are playing with a current roster that looks like a March 15th Spring Training split squad group. The bench is Adam Lind with Andrew Stevenson, Adrian Sanchez and Jose Lobaton if Howie Kendrick is starting. Wilmer Difo is the starting shortstop and Brian Goodwin is the centerfielder.
The middle of the Nationals order except for Anthony Rendon is in a funk right now. Matt Wieters is slashing .136/.208/.182/.390 the last 2 weeks; Bryce Harper is 2-for-his-last-21 which is a .095 batting average; Ryan Zimmerman’s batting average has fallen to .309 which is the low point of his season since the first week of play and he is 0-for-his-last-13; Daniel Murphy is 1-for-his-last-15 for a .067 batting average.
Both Murphy and Wieters got 2-full rest days as they got to watch from the bench on Wednesday. All you can hope for is the day-off and playing the 1st place Cubs is enough motivation to get this team going again, and Goodwin, Difo, and Kendrick have each been hot.
Tanner Roark, the Illinois native, starts this afternoon for the Washington Nationals and he will face Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs in this mid-afternoon game. Expect a large crowd from the Roark family in Wrigley field today. The Nationals roster move for Enny Romero to the DL with a forearm strain is to replace him with Sammy Solis. The only relievers who are questionable for today based on workload is Matt Albers and Matt Grace. Everyone else should be ready to go. Brandon Kintzler threw 23 pitches on Wednesday night.
As far as batting match-ups against Hendricks, the sample sizes are very small and only 5 current Nats position players have faced him before with Harper slashing .300/.417/.600/1.017 and the next best is Adam Lind at a .231 batting average. Ryan Zimmerman is a career 0-for-9 and Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy each have one hit against Hendricks.
Who could forget when Trea Turner stole 4 bases off of the Cubs and they released their catcher Miguel Montero the next game.
Some big news on Adam Eaton h/t simalex2000
Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613
1st Pitch: 2:20 pm EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (out-of-market), WGN (Chicago), MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® (Internet 869)
Line-ups (subject to change without notice):
- Brian Goodwin CF
- Howie Kendrick LF
- Bryce Harper RF
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Adam Lind 1B
- Matt Wieters C
- Wilmer Difo SS
- Tanner Roark RHP