When the Nationals lost the first game of the doubleheader yesterday, it pushed the Nationals back to a 6.0 game deficit in the NL East behind the Phillies. Fortunately, the offense that could not score runs Saturday afternoon — exploded for a half-dozen runs in the nightcap of the doubleheader. Anthony Rendon who was hit-less in the afternoon knocked in 2-runs on 3-hits in the evening. It was like two different teams from afternoon to evening. Juan Soto was consistent in both ends of the doubleheader with 2-hits in each game which tied a teenager record, but the difference is that he scored 3-runs in the nightcap.
This team proved that they play differently based on the pitchers on the mound beyond just the number of earned runs surrendered. The Nats woke up in the nightcap in a “must win” game. And “Big City” Matt Adams certainly was a difference maker once again with 2-hits and a HR and 2 RBIs while getting on-base in 3-of-4 plate appearances is what Adams has been doing for this team. When Adams starts, the Nationals are 36-19 which is 17 games over .500. Conversely, when Ryan Zimmerman starts, the team is 16-18 which is easy math that tells you “no bueno”.
The paradox makes it difficult to see the stark differences in what we saw between winning and losing yesterday. If you compared the Reds starters yesterday, Matt Harvey is the better pitcher over Anthony DeSclafani — but the Nats got nothing going against DeSclafani while they got it all going against Harvey.
With almost 50 game days remaining in the season, general manager Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez need to figure it out, and figure it out quickly. Gio Gonzalez said after the game he has no answers. Well, we have questions. Can Rizzo replace Gonzalez because the team has now lost 8-of-his-last-9 games since June 15th. That is not a misprint. In his last 8 games, Gonzalez has received 7 total runs in support while he’s in the game. Hellickson last night almost matched that total in one game as he received 6-runs in support last night.
Ignore these facts if you want as to how this team reacts, but while it defies logic, these are the results.
This afternoon, Tanner Roark gets the start. He seems to have figured it out with the assistance of his former teammate Brandon Kintzler. A source told us that not only did Kintzler work with him on 2-seam grips and the mechanics of the sinker, but also where Roark was setting up on the pitching rubber. Sometimes it is the small things that count.
For the Reds today, they have the righty Luis Castillo on the mound. Castillo has a 4.97 ERA. A quick look at Castillo, lefties kill him at an .889 OPS versus righties at only .655. Castillo has a 6.44 ERA on the road which is surprising that he pitches so much worse away from his bandbox home ballpark.
Bryce Harper is back in the line-up after a nasty HBP squared him up on the lower kneecap on his right knee. Manager Dave Martinez is going very lefty with the switch-hitter Wilmer Difo in for Trea Turner. The only righties are Anthony Rendon and starter Tanner Roark.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 1:35 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: