There are all of the baseball clichés of taking it one game at a time. Literally taken, that is how a team has to do it. You cannot start a winning streak until you win that first game. Patrick Corbin has a score to settle with the Cardinals. Back in April, he faced the Cardinals as an unbeaten pitcher. There was an error at shortstop in the 4th inning that seemed to throw Corbin’s game off kilter, and the next batter ended Corbin’s no-hitter. In the fifth inning with a 3-0 lead, Corbin was cruising in the game then some unlucky BABIP bit him hard. Maybe it is the fact that the Nats injuries put Howie Kendrick at third base, and Carter Kieboom at shortstop and balls were finding holes. Maybe Corbin did not trust the defense behind him. Today’s game is a second chance for Corbin to finish what he started back in April.
On that day, Corbin did not have his choice of the defenders behind him. He did not pitch well after the error, and his game unraveled. We saw this last night when Hunter Strickland entered the game. He did not get a strike call on Paul Goldschmidt, and the inning fell apart.
Speaking about last night, we also saw the trade-off with playing Asdrubal Cabrera at second base. He has decent range, but lacks the athleticism he once had in his younger years. He dropped a couple of balls at second base on steal attempts. As they say, it is what it is. When you are pitching-to-contact, you need the best defense behind you — but the balancing act also means you need Cabrera’s bat in the lineup. So why not Cabrera at 1st base, and Brian Dozier at 2nd base on games when you want Cabrera in the lineup? Cabrera is good on defense at first base with a +0.1 UZR in limited reps, and Dozier is a +0.6 UZR at second base. Cabrera and Wilmer Difo are the Nats only second baseman who can bat left-handed as both are switch-hitters. The decision last night was to play Ryan Zimmerman at 1st base, you could see why he is a -0.2 UZR according to Fangraphs, but he also is hitting .194 this season against right-handed pitchers so why go with the configuration against a righty pitcher?
“The players we have are what we have. You can’t create anybody new here or change it,” stand-in manager Chip Hale said. “So the way Davey’s been running the game is pretty much how I’ve run games before., and the situations will dictate how we make moves, whether it’s pitchers versus hitters, or hitters versus their pitchers so we’ll just do the best we can. I’ll use my whole staff.”
There you have Hale’s theory, but he did say that he did not pencil up the lineup. From the hospital, Dave Martinez sent Hale the lineup for last night’s game. They say the little things matter. There was one hit off Trea Turner‘s glove that normally he makes the play, an error on a throw off of Zimmerman’s glove, and two dropped balls on steal attempts by Cabrera. That was not a great showing by the infielders, and what the mistakes did was add extra pitches, and turnover the Cardinals lineup.
Tonight, the Cardinals are starting the righty Miles Mikolas. His last seven games he has a 5.45 ERA, and lefties are hitting him at .287 this season. With that, we will wait and see how the Nationals set their lineup for today.
As we await the start of this game, we also are waiting on any news about the health of Davey Martinez as he recovers from his catheterization procedure.
Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals
Stadium: Busch Stadium II, St. Louis, Missouri
1st Pitch: 7:45 pm EDT
TV: MASN, FOX Sports Midwest, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):