Yesterday, the Nationals just lost another opening game to a series where their record is 7-16 (.304 winning percentage) in those first games of new series. That is much improved from where it was a month ago. But today a Twitter follower @TheNatsFanatic commented that the Nationals are 1-9 after days-off and that is a .100 winning percentage in a fairly large sample size. We “fact checked” that stat and can unfortunately certify it as accurate. That begs the question, why? What is happening on days-off? The only win of the season after a day-off was not a well-played game by the Nationals when Stephen Strasburg surrendered 5-runs in 5-innings against the White Sox, but Reynaldo Lopez gave up 6-runs, and the Nationals won. Why are the Nationals seemingly flat like yesterday after days-off when you would think just the opposite? These are the “case study” types of anomalies that the analytics department needs to drill down and see if they can pick up on something.
Today is a new day, and Max Scherzer hopes to keep up the team’s recent momentum when he is on the mound as they have won two in a row with Max, and Scherzer will fill the stopper role to get the Nats back on the winning track in this game. In Scherzer’s previous 4-starts, he has averaged 6 2/3 innings per start with a 0.67 ERA, 9.75 strikeouts per start, and a +0.4 average in each of those starts.
The Diamondbacks are on a roll of their own, and they have the lefty Robbie Ray on the mound. The former ex-Nats farmhand who was drafted in the 12th round in 2010 was then traded by the Nationals in the Doug Fister deal. Ray was an All-Star in 2017 and considered one of the best lefties in the game. Ray has had a 1.430 WHIP on the road this season, and once again has struggled with his stamina later in games and the third time through the batting order. The Nationals are the second best in baseball when facing left-handed pitchers with a .286 BA and an .841 OPS.
After a day-off from starting yesterday, expect Howie Kendrick at first base tonight, and we will see if Michael Taylor gets a rare start as he is 2-5 against Ray in that small sample size. In a larger sample size, the left-handed Gerardo Parra is 4-11 with a home run against Ray.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, FOX Sports – Arizona, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):