As baseball’s regular season winds down to its final week, the Washington Nationals want to be one of the remaining ten teams that advances to the postseason. As summer is over, we are officially in autumn, and inching closer to October. We detailed how the Nats control their own destiny, and if they can win at least four of their eight games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Nationals will advance to the postseason. They start their first of five games in four days against the Phillies tonight. The Nats have Patrick Corbin on the mound for the first game of this series. This will be his fourth start against the Phillies this season, and he has a 3.32 ERA this season versus the Phillies. Corbin has been great at Nationals Park this season with a 2.00 ERA, and a 7-2 record.
With Corbin coming off that key six inning shutout win against the Cardinals last week, he pitches on an extra day’s rest. The lefty certainly wants to set the tone for this series like he has done for the Nats this season. Last night, the Phillies lost 10-1 in Cleveland on the ESPN Sunday Night game, and the Phillies tragic number is at two on the season. The Phillies team charter arrived at Dulles just before 1 am last night thanks to the earlier start time for the Sunday night game.
When the season started, MLB was hyping the Phillies in social media after they signed Bryce Harper in the off-season. The Phillies won 80 games last year without Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen. The &Pizza chain that started in the DMV and also operates in Philadelphia is still trolling Harper, and they are offering $3 pizza if Harper strikes out in this series. It was not exactly civil when Harper and his new team made their 2019 debut at Nationals Park on April 2nd. Harper was roundly booed during each of his at-bats when he might have expected cheers from a Nats crowd that had always welcomed back departed players, and some like Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Jordan Zimmermann received standing ovations upon their returns.
Officially, the Washington Nationals already have a better record this season than they did with Harper last season. The money spent on him was allocated to acquire players like Corbin, Brian Dozier, Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, Anibal Sanchez, and others in an effort to improve the team, and those players have a combined +9.0 WAR. It worked and rookie Victor Robles made the Nationals opening day roster essentially as Harper’s outfield replacement. Robles has a +2.5 WAR compared to the +3.4 that Harper registered last season for the Nats. While the comparison is somewhat apples to oranges, Harper did play 63 games in centerfield last year for the Nats. Robles is rated as one of the top defenders and leads in outs above average, while Harper was second from the bottom as a defender last season. If general manager Mike Rizzo assembled a better bullpen after the acquisitions of Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough went awry, the Nationals could be the team hoisting another NL East division banner.
The Nationals will face the right-handed Zach Eflin tonight. He has certainly had an up and down season which now sits at a 4.00 ERA. He is coming off of a good start against the Braves who were not exactly highly motivated as they were nearing a clinch of the NL East. Many of the Nats batters have had success against Eflin, but a few have struggled like Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, and Asdrubal Cabrera. We will see if Gerardo Parra starts tonight with his .571 batting average against Eflin with a home run and four RBIs in just seven at-bats. One Nats player who has never faced Eflin is Howie Kendrick.
There will certainly be a drain on attendance tonight as the D.C. football team is playing on the Monday Night game at FedEx Field in nearby Landover, Maryland, and Monday nights during the school year are not too popular anyway. First pitch temperatures are being forecasted at 84°F .
Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, NBC Sports Philadelphia, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):