This 4-game series will highlight the new-and-improved Daniel Murphy. The Nats fans will see the difference. Murphy is like a new player. With the Nats, he homered in 3.1% of his at-bats and with the Cubs he is bashing the ball and homering in 7.0% of at-bats. On top of that, Murphy is diving for baseballs on defense and tracking balls with an extra pep in his step. Murphy’s slugging percentage with the Cubs is the 2nd best of his career at .579. Maybe all of this is just a coincidence, but some of Murphy’s newfound power and defensive range seems like some extra motivation playing on a team with legitimate World Series aspirations.
Three years ago, the Cubs chose Ben Zobrist over Murphy when they were shopping for a 2nd baseman. The Nats unfortunately thought they signed the Cubs killer who only hit .211 last year against the Cubs in the NLDS, and we later learned that he was playing on the bad knee. Murphy probably should have been off the NLDS roster if the Nats had another option and fully knew the extent of Murphy’s balky knee. Ironically the Cubs are now reaping the benefits of having Murphy in peak form after the Nats rehabbed him and what did the Nats get in trade? Not much, just a Cubs player who didn’t even make any prospects lists and just appears to be a body in a trade that the Nats could say they got something for an All-Star player who has the ability to carry a team in the postseason.
“[Dave Martinez is] a good man,” Daniel Murphy said. “He’s a good baseball man. I wish I could have played more for him.”
The Cubs are almost assured of making the postseason while the Nats will be watching on TV. That is what happens when you don’t win, and that is the hard cold facts of how it works.
Murphy and his teammates will face Stephen Strasburg tonight, and the Nats will face the righty Kyle Hendricks. By the way, the next three games the Nationals will face 3 lefthanders in Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Mike Montgomery as scheduled.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 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:
- Adam Eaton RF
- Trea Turner SS
- Bryce Harper CF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Juan Soto LF
- Mark Reynolds 1B
- Wilmer Difo 2B
- Spencer Kieboom C
- Stephen Strasburg RHP