Who would you want on the mound after a 5-game skid? Probably Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer or Chris Sale. Guess what, the Nationals have Max Scherzer pitching tonight, and he has a 4-and-1 record stopping losing streaks of 4-or-more games. A year ago leading up to the 10-game mark, the Nationals entered with a record of 5-and-4 which is one game better in the standings compared to today. That is all. If the Nationals won last night they would have had identical records at this point in time compared to last year. A great Max Scherzer game could make all of NatsTown feel better. Don’t worry about the New York Mets hot start with a 7-and-1 record. At some point, the Mets will have a 1-and-7 slide. Call me in 30 days — and let’s compare records.
Compare 2017 to today and the Nationals had scored 49 runs through the first 9 games but gave up 52 runs which was bloated due to the Jeremy Guthrie disaster in which the Nationals gave up 17-runs. This year, the Nationals through the same amount of games have scored 45 runs and have given up 50 runs. The differences if you start comparing Jeremy Guthrie’s to A.J. Cole‘s blow-up game and other factors just are never apples to apples but some would say the pitching even with the revamped bullpen has performed worse and the offense with better weather would have surpassed last year’s. Sample sizes like this will just put you into a flawed statistical significance if relied upon them to project an entire season based on a 5.56% samples size. It’s just not worth trying to compare much more than the record.
“You’re never as good as you think you are when you win; and you’re never as bad as you feel when you lose.”― former Coach of Penn State football
So why get yourself down when you do not need to be. Yesterday’s game has little effect or predictability on today’s results. Win today and go from there. Last year you learned the bullpen had fatal flaws, and this year the weak links have already been exposed by the eye test and the statistics. Unfortunately, the Nationals are struggling at 3 positions: catcher, centerfield, and first base. The good news is the Nationals have options to fortify. No need to panic. Victor Robles is a phone call away in Syracuse, and Matt Adams is in the dugout. The catcher position is a little more complicated with Matt Wieters on the DL but so far so good with Pedro Severino.
Last year at this same point in the season, Ryan Zimmerman was a +0.7 WAR and knocking the cover off of the ball slashing .382/.417/.735/1.152 compared to now at .111/.200/.222/.422. Last year Trea Turner was slashing .158/.158/.211/.368 through yesterday’s date on the calendar when he pulled his hamstring. This year it’s an improvement, Turner has an OBP of .381 and a .704 OPS. Take the positives where you can find them. It is the typical fan to search for who to blame.
Sure, Brandon Kintzler has not been what we saw from him last year — so far, and he is not making any excuses, but you can see his stuff is there and he will get into a groove. Give it time and stay positive because it really is not as bad as the results looked.
“It’s not that at all or physical,” our source told us on Kintzler’s issues as Brandon is not blaming the weather or an injury. “…the ball isn’t sinking [like normal]…Both hits last night were broken bats — he wouldn’t have talked about, but it’s part of the game. Either way he wasn’t sharp—he’ll get it back.”
Again, no excuses from Kintzler. He knows it, and he is not ducking it. Between Kintzler and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist they will figure it out. In the meantime, it seems like last night that Nats’ manager Dave Martinez kept him out of the game as long as he could leaving just Kintzler and Trevor Gott as the last two arms in the bullpen who were not used.
For tonight’s game Martinez will have to determine who will set-up and close. Sammy Solis covered two scoreless innings last night and won’t be available and Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle have pitched now two days in a row. It could be A.J. Cole in the bullpen tonight with Trevor Gott as the fresh arms or possibly a roster move. Of course if Scherzer can go a full 7-innings tonight with a large Nationals lead, Martinez will be able to figure it all out. That is when things are easy. Pitching has been the Nationals secret sauce for years.
The line-up from tonight is the same line-up the Nationals used on Saturday except they flipped Brian Goodwin and Taylor in the order. Ryan Zimmerman is back at clean-up and according to our source Bryce Harper has no issue with Zim behind him in the order. Maybe that is diplomacy or how Harp really feels. If Zimmerman swings the bat like he did last night in his pinch-hit appearance, he should do well as the BABIP gods should be kinder to him tonight.
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
- Trea Turner SS
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Bryce Harper RF
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Howie Kendrick 2B
- Brian Goodwin LF
- Michael Taylor CF
- Pedro Severino C
- Max Scherzer RHP