Game #101 Nationals try to salvage the series and avoid a sweep with Roark on the mound!

Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats

Camp David or Camp Davey or whatever you want to call it got serious yesterday and benched Trea Turner from starting for not hustling the night before. It took 100 games into the season to finally drop the hammer on a player. Camp is finally over, or is it? The “feel good” style that has allowed other players to not hustle without punishment set a tone. Now the camp counselor wants to get tough? In April, Gio Gonzalez was rightfully pulled from a game in the 5th inning, but Gio angrily thought he should have stayed in longer “100 percent” and also said in a mocking tone, “Apparently, I just got to someway somehow convince [Dave Martinez] I can go past five innings.” Other words were spoken that were not complimentary to his manager, and afterwards Martinez and Gio spoke privately, and all of a sudden Gio was allowed to stay in games as if he was Mickey Lolich. Four straight starts from May 9th on, Gonzalez threw at least 110 pitches per game. A couple starts later, he hasn’t been the same since and the team lost 6 of the last 7 games started by Gio.

Who is in charge and why do the rules suddenly change? Where is the communication? According to reports, Martinez did not even speak to Trea Turner after Monday’s game or before Tuesday’s pre-game media session when it was announced he was benched.

Who knows if benching Turner cost the Nationals a win yesterday because Turner’s replacement, Wilmer Difo. wasn’t good offensively or defensively and no surprise as he has been glued to the bench for a long time and certainly looked rusty.

Yesterday should have been a Nats slugfest, but Bryce Harper called in sick with a tummy ache and Matt Adams was benched for the second game in a row. The Brewers starting pitcher, Junior Guerra, threw one meatball to Adam Eaton that he missed and then threw another an inch higher and Eaton didn’t miss it the second time and smashed it for a long home run, but the Nats swung through many meatballs unfortunately. Guerra’s command was awful, but the Nationals didn’t get much more than Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, and Spencer Kieboom showing up with their bats. Juan Soto was 0-5 and the threesome (Murphy, Taylor, Difo) behind Zim in the line-up were 0-12 in the game with only Taylor producing something out of nothing. It was Murphy with the golden opportunity with a productive out to move Zimmerman to 3rd base and he couldn’t do that. The “little things”.

To steal Tom Boswell’s line, “he was still dishing meat balls like a restaurant in Rome.”

Junior Guerra chart

Today’s starter is Tanner Roark. No matter what happens today, it can’t change the past. Today is a new day. It’s the same with all players who haven’t performed well. What’s done is done and Roark’s team is 1-9 in his past 10 starts with a 7.11 ERA. Roark’s pitch command has been dreadful lately even though he has tried to tell the media “I felt great” and “all my stuff was down”. Classic B.S. that you can’t believe your ears when you have charts to say it just is not true. Not even close, but some casual fans buy what he’s selling.

Tom Boswell this week wrote this on Roark: “IMO, 90 percent of Tanner’s problem is bad command. He’s pitched at the knees and the letters, or on the hands, from the first day he got to the Nats. One of the best command pitchers in baseball. They hit it, but not off the barrel. It’s usually all pool cues and jam shots versus Tanner.”

”But his last seven starts, everything has been thigh-high and many running right back over the plate. They say he pitched better after the first inning in his last start. I think he just pitched luckier. He was still dishing meat balls like a restaurant in Rome. It’ll click — the Nats pray. Otherwise, Bernie the Brewer is going to wear out that slide in center field in Milwaukee.”

Tough words and it’s good to hear it from someone besides me. Roark has been getting help from Max Scherzer and Brandon Kintzler. In fact Kintzler has been trying to get Roark to throw a two-seamer that actually sinks which has been a problem for Roark as he tries to massage the corners of the zone only to struggle with long counts because he can’t come over the plate with his 2-seamer because it hasn’t been sinking or his changeup which looked like those grooved HR Derby fastballs “straight as an arrow and mid-80’s velo”. If there is any irony with Kintzler teaching Roark the sinkerball is that Kintzler’s sinkerball didn’t sink last night and he blew the 7th inning save and the Nats 4-3 lead. Whoops.

All we can hope for is that Roark is good enough to win, and the tutelage from his teammates helps because the Nationals sure could use a Roark gem today. Roark has not pitched in 12-days taking advantage of the All-Star break and the reseeding of the rotation.

The Brewers for their part have helped the Nats and pushed lefty Wade Miley (1.56 ERA) to tomorrow. The Nats have been poor against lefty starters this year.  Miley has been their best pitcher this year as he has worked around an oblique injury. Instead of facing the crafty lefty, the Nats get the Brewers second best pitcher righty Freddy Peralta and his 2.65 ERA.

In order for the Nats to avoid being swept today, they have to find a way to beat Peralta because the Milwaukee ‘pen is one of the best in baseball.

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams are all back in the line-up along with catcher Matt Wieters for this 2:10pm afternoon game.

Washington Nationals vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium:  Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1st Pitch: 2:10 pm EDT
TV:  MASN; MLB.TV app out-of-network
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app

Line-ups subject to change without notice:

  1. Adam Eaton RF
  2. Anthony Rendon 3B
  3. Bryce Harper CF
  4. Matt Adams 1B
  5. Juan Soto LF
  6. Daniel Murphy 2B
  7. Trea Turner SS
  8. Matt Wieters C
  9. Tanner Roark RHP
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