Game #77 Nats have a series to win today

The Washington Nationals had to play the Colorado Rockies last night and the umps. In the end, the Nats lost on a blown-save on a bases loaded pitch violation with Kyle Finnegan giving up four consecutive singles and a walk with not one out recorded. He just couldn’t miss a bat last night in his 18 pitches. Not one swing-and-miss induced. He might have blown a bigger lead if he had it. Just a gut punch of a loss in an 8-7 final. The Nats drop to 6-11 in one-run games which is one of the reasons this team isn’t running away with a Wild Card berth right now.

In last night’s game, there were 12 strike calls in favor of the Rockies last night and only four in favor of the Nationals. That is a net of eight incorrect calls that went against the Nationals. A huge disparity, and some calls were costlier than others. Then you had a steal from CJ Abrams that was overturned on a replay challenge. Two replay angles shown on TV backed up that the base was stolen. Was there another angle? Well, the replay umpire reversed the call. It was a huge play at the time, and could have blown the game open.

With Abrams technically thrown out, there were three caught stealing, and in the case of Lane Thomas — he was running on a hit and run that didn’t work. The fourth runner thrown out was Eddie Rosario who tried to stretch a single into a double going against one of the best arms in baseball, and you wonder if Rosario listened to the scouting report? The TV picture sure tells a story about Rosario.

To take four baserunners off of the bases and hand 4-of-the-27 outs in that game to Colorado just tells you that the Nationals must change their baserunning strategy. With Abrams in an 0-2 count, I knew that Jacob Young was going to try to steal and the Rockies called for a pitch-out and nabbed Young by inches. Being aggressively stupid about running the bases is what the Nats have been doing for more than the past month because they have known patterns now. The opposing teams have wised up, and the Nats have not adjusted. In their last 51 stolen base attempts, the Nats’ success rate is only 52.9 percent. As Stever20 points out, just in the month of June the numbers are even worse with just 11 stolen bases in 28 attempts for a success rate of just 39.3 percent. Again, that doesn’t include the other bad baserunning plays like Rosario last night — making the numbers even worse. That won’t work and you will see the manager, Dave Martinez, in denial below in his answer to the question about running the bases.

There were so many good plays in this game by the Nationals that were overshadowed by the umpires, the bad baserunning, and watching Nick Senzel botch another grounder (ruled a hit), and losing Jesse Winker to an umpire ejection for arguing a strikeout call — and in this case the ump actually gave Winker one gift earlier in the at-bat. Yes, it was a strikeout and Winker was wrong. Losing his bat was big.

There is still a game to win today before the Nats fly to San Diego. The Nats will face lefty Kyle Freeland who is fresh off of the IL, and the team will limit his pitch count. They brought up a fresh bullpen long-man to add to their bullpen also. With the lefty on the mound, do we see the callup of Harold Ramirez from Triple-A today? He crushed the pitching in his 7-games there with a .375/ .516/.417 slash in 30 plate appearances and a .933 OPS, but he also had some flaws. Ramirez did not look good at all at first base on defense, and yesterday, he had a swinging bunt which he did not run out of the box — and the ball stayed fair and that just cannot happen.

Technically the Nats only got 2.0 official innings from their bullpen yesterday since Finnegan never recorded an out. Out of the bullpen, it was Jacob Barnes, Hunter Harvey, and Finnegan who pitched in this one.

Here’s what we think the starting rotation could look like going forward without Gray, Williams, and Cavalli:

  1. Sunday: Jake Irvin vs. Rockies
  2. Monday: Patrick Corbin vs. Padres
  3. Tuesday: MacKenzie Gore vs. Padres (Josiah Gray pitches in Triple-A)
  4. Wednesday: DJ Herz vs. Padres (Cade Cavalli rehab start)
  5. Thursday: Day-off June 27
  6. Friday: Mitchell Parker vs. Rays
  7. Saturday: Irvin vs. Rays
  8. Sunday: Corbin vs. Rays
  9. Monday: Gore vs. Mets
  10. Tuesday: Herz vs. Mets
  11. Wednesday: Parker vs. Mets
  12. Thursday: Irvin vs. Mets – July 4
  13. Friday: Corbin vs. Cardinals
  14. Saturday: Gore vs. Cardinals
  15. Sunday: Herz vs. Cardinals

Your top Washington Nationals on the FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboard has MacKenzie Gore at +2.1, and Jake Irvin with a +1.7 WAR. Trevor Williams is at +1.7 WAR, and Jacob Young has the top spot with +1.5 for position players with CJ Abrams right behind him at +1.4WAR. Mitchell Parker is at the +1.3 mark. In total, 22 Nats’ players are in positive WAR and another six are at a neutral 0.0 WAR. Eddie Rosario dropped to -1.0 WAR and Keibert Ruiz is at -1.0 WAR.

“We’ve got to run [aggressively]. We don’t have guys that hit home runs all the time. So we’ve got to get on base, we’ve got to get in scoring position. [On Saturday], we got thrown out a couple times, but we’ve been pretty good at it.”

— manager Dave Martinez said after yesterday’s game, but it was more than a couple times that runners got thrown out. It was double that.

The Nats starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 3.90 and 13th in MLB. The Nats are 13 points from being a Top-10 starting rotation by ERA. Look at those rankings of teams.

Here is how they rank, and if we insert DJ Herz, he would be ahead of Patrick Corbin at a 4.50 ERA:

No. 5 Starter: Patrick Corbin 5.60
No. 4 Starter: MacKenzie Gore 3.49
No. 3 Starter: Mitchell Parker 3.30
No. 2 Starter: Jake Irvin 3.24
No. 1 Starter: Trevor Williams 2.22

Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies

Stadium: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
1st Pitch: 3:10 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app; In Spanish on DC 87.7 FM and La Pantera 100.7 FM/1220 AM. On Sirius/XM, tune to Channel 186 for the home broadcast and the road team is online only.

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

TalkNats is Celebrating the 5 and 100 year anniversaries of World Series Wins by providing Game-by-Game Summaries.

Game 77:
The Nationals lost on 06/23 at home against the Braves resulting in a record of 37-40. But you knew this already. Box Score / Standings
The Senators lost on 07/10 at home against the Tigers resulting in a record of 43-34.  Box Score / Standings

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