The schedule makers set the last series of the season for the Nationals to host the Cleveland Indians, and they created a meaningful series for the 160th game. The Indians are in third place for the Wild Card in the American League, and they need to win. If the Indians lose one game this weekend and the Tampa Bay Rays win just one — the Indians season will end as their Tragic # is 2. The Nats are fighting for Home Field Advantage in the Wild Card game and control their own destiny because they have a 1.0 game lead over the Brewers. Earlier today, the Nats made it official and named Max Scherzer as their starter for the Tuesday winner-take-all game.
For tonight’s game, it is Austin Voth with another start as the Nats 5th starter. It looks like Patrick Corbin will still pitch tomorrow, but according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio, Corbin won’t go deep into the game. On Sunday, obviously Max Scherzer is not pitching, and it should be Joe Ross unless he is a tandem starter behind Corbin on Saturday.
The Indians will go with the rookie right-handed Zach Plesac. The 24-year-old has a wicked pick-off move for a righty, and he has a 3.82 ERA on the season. His ERA this month is 4.91, but he does pitch better on the road, and has reverse splits against lefties. His fastball averages 93.9 mph, and he relies on his slider as his primary breaking pitch. Plesac will also mix in his changeup, and the occasional curveball in a 4-pitch mix.
In manager Dave Martinez‘s lineup, he is resting Victor Robles and going with Gerardo Parra in centerfield, Howie Kendrick at second base, Matt Adams at first base, and Kurt Suzuki is back behind the plate for the first time since September 7th when he complained about pain in his right elbow. Fortunately, there was no structural damage, and the team was careful with not rushing Suzuki back who had not thrown out a baserunner in two months. Suzuki has only thrown out 5 of 50 base-stealers this season, and league average is 26%. Based on league average, Suzuki should have thrown out eight more baserunners, but a catcher with a good arm averages 33% which would have retired 12 more baserunners. In contrast, Yan Gomes is averaging 31% on his caught-stealing stat, and he is obviously getting a well-deserved rest day. Gomes has a .302 batting average and .899 OPS over the last two weeks.
Cleveland Indians at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, SportsTime Ohio, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):
Kurt Suzuki is back! #Nats against RHP Zach Plesac of the Indians:
Trea Turner – SS
Adam Eaton – RF
Anthony Rendon – 3B
Juan Soto – LF
Howie Kendrick – 2B
Matt Adams – 1B
Kurt Suzuki – C
Gerardo Parra – CF
Austin Voth – RHP pic.twitter.com/XLoGGYTf8i
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) September 27, 2019