Game #74 Another ballgame — another iffy weather forecast!

Bryce Harper in centerfield; Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

Another night of questionable weather in the forecast as the Washington Nationals prepare for a weekend series with the Phillies. Only a ½ game separates these two teams in the standings, and this is one of those series where you wonder how the Nationals can stay on top of the Phillies with a weekend rotation of Tanner Roark, Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez. Out of the three, Roark had the shortest outing in the last turn through the rotation, and we once again wonder — which Tanner Roark do we see in this start?

Roark just has not been in “attack” mode and has allowed innings to spiral out of control when he has had 2-outs as he has seemed to lose focus. In the “he said it” — “we did not” in Roark’s last start, he summed up his last outing quite well:

“I stunk…,” Roark said. “Didn’t really have much working for me.”

So the question goes, how are you not going to stink? That rhetorical question has nothing to do with deodorant or a splash of cologne rather how can Roark figure out how to get that 2-seamer sinking which has eluded him for some time now. He just has nothing to challenge batters lately if he is not locating on the edges with his nibble/nibble style. Father’s Day in Toronto had a barbecue, and it was Roark and the Nats who got feasted on.

The Nats really need a gem out of Tanner Roark to set the tone for the weekend, and the Nationals offense must do their part. Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez made it a point to mention after last night’s post-game that he has no clue on what his next line-up card will look like. It really made a lot of sense moving Bryce Harper out of the power part of the line-up and into the OBP/speed part of the order in the lead-off spot, and it worked like a charm. Harper was patient at the plate and -bonus- he delivered an RBI on a sacrifice fly. Bryce Harper drew a 9-pitch walk and a 7-pitch walk to go with a key double where he scored the eventual game-winning run in front of Trea Turner on Juan Soto‘s opposite field double.

Soto continues to rake, and he has been peppering the opposite field with great contact distribution that really is Joey Votto-esque. Soto has hit exactly 29.2% of his balls-in-play to the opposite field and 34.70% to centerfield and only 36.10% have been pull-side. This is by design to where you just can’t shift on lefties like him. If you do, he seems to be able to change his approach. Some players never master a sound inside-out swing and Soto is doing this at just 19 years of age.

“I always [like to] hit it to the other way,” Soto said. “I like to hit it [to the opposite field]. It’s better for me. I can see the ball better when I hit it over there.”

This kid just gets it and in a h/t to Bernie aka Candide he tweeted us last night that Jim Palmer in the Orioles broadcast booth call Soto the “Magic Juan’d”. He does seem to wave his bat like a magic wand and produce something spectacular.

The Phillies have their #5 starter going in Zach Eflin and he has been mostly excellent this year except for two starts. His ERA has been lower than Roark which tells you something and the Nationals have to hope that they can get to Eflin early and often.

Philadelphia Phillies 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:

  1. Bryce Harper RF
  2. Trea Turner SS
  3. Anthony Rendon 3B
  4. Juan Soto LF
  5. Daniel Murphy 1B
  6. Michael Taylor CF
  7. Wilmer Difo 2B
  8. Pedro Severino C
  9. Tanner Roark RHP
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