Game #156 It is doubleheader day; Joe Ross for the first game!

Photo by Kevin Nibley for TalkNats

There seemed to be a tight-lipped nature as to the ongoing status of pitcher Joe Ross who last pitched on September 2nd and was shutdown for what was reported to be forearm pain he experienced in a bullpen session before his next scheduled start. Ross was replaced by Austin Voth in the rotation then there was little news on Ross, and maybe that was more of a function that the media rarely asked about him or saw him pitching in a bullpen session. All of a sudden and out of virtually nowhere, Ross was announced in the pre-game as the starter in the first game of this doubleheader.

“Joe threw a bullpen the other day and complained about his forearm,” manager Dave Martinez said after the injury three weeks ago. “So he’s got a little bit of a forearm strain and because of his history we want to make sure that we take care of it. I told him, ‘Hey, we are not going to push it. We will treat it and get you right and see what happens.’“

With the Nats “Magic” number at 3 after last night’s win, the Nationals just need to keep taking care of their own business by winning games. If the Nationals get help with a loss by the Cubs, that will ratchet one number off the magic number, but the formula is complicated that if the Cubs lose they will be tied with the Mets which will then need losses by both of those teams to knock another game off of the magic number.

On the stat of the day, the Nationals are 45-2 when holding teams to two runs or less. Sure, you expect your team to win those games, but what is more impressive is that the Nats have had 47 games this season where they have held teams in total to two runs or less.  That is 30.32% of all games this season.

The Phillies are starting the former closer, Blake Parker, in today’s game as their “opener” in a bullpen game for the first game of this doubleheader. Parker has never started a game in his MLB career. The righty has a 4.40 ERA this season, and the plan is to try to get some length from him. The furthest he has pitched this season is 2.0 innings and 35 pitches back on July 3rd.

On the play that ended last night’s game on a “Web Gem” from Anthony Rendon, he ranged far to his glove-side while in a shift to throw out a runner to end the game. Rendon has often showed that range going to his left and coming in on balls, but has had his struggles going to his backhand. Why haven’t the Nationals put him in a more defensive position closer to the line? Just an observation.

With Juan Soto getting walked 11 times in the previous five games, he has only had a dozen official at-bats and is hitless. Soto is the one player the Nats need in rhythm.

For Yan Gomes, he got his OPS over .700 again, and he has not been at that level since May 6th when he was at .732. Adam Eaton got his OPS back over .800 last night. He had struggled ever since he was hit near his knee and had slashed .176/.208/.353/.560 until Saturday when he found his stroke again. With his home run yesterday, Eaton set a new career high with 15 dingers.

Here is an article you should read from Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic that reveals for the first time that Trea Turner broke two fingers on April 2nd and still deals with his finger swelling up. He will be swinging with 9 fingers for the remainder of the season.

“There is a lot of scarring,” Turner told Ghiroli. “Every time you try to push it, the swelling will come back a little bit.”

With last night’s win, the Nationals have clinched their season series with the Phillies as they have reached the requisite 10 win mark. How many fans knew that with the narrative that the Nats cannot beat teams above .500? With the rivalry between these two teams, and the close geographical proximity, it feels good any time the Nationals beat them. The Natonals will also end up with a winning record against the entire NL East as they sit at 40-32 now.

Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
Stadium:   Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch:  1:05 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):

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