Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Nats salvage the split; how’s our chances of getting back to DC for a 5th game?

83 comments

Harper certainly liked Zimmerman's homer. Photo via fanragsports.com

Harper certainly liked Zimmerman’s homer. Photo via fanragsports.com

It was looking pretty gloomy heading into the 8th inning.  Trea Turner had just struck out for the 8th straight time (ok that was an exaggeration, but he is 0-8 with four punch-outs from the lead-off spot this series) with the bases loaded and the Nats had gone 17 innings and scored precisely one lucky run (Anthony Rendon‘s excuse-me-opposite field homer).

Then Carl Edwards Jr. hung a curve-ball to one of baseball’s best sluggers.  And I mean, he frigging hung it.  It came up to the plate on a big ole loop and Bryce Harper, who has been hitting majestic homers to the upper deck in RF since he was in his teens, did not miss.   Tie Game, and the curious bullpen usage of the 8th inning by Joe Maddon continued a few more batters, enabling Ryan Zimmerman to hit one *just out* of left field off a lefty reliever to cap off a 5 run 8th inning come back and seal the victory.

(Note, per comments, yes this definitely cracks my all time top 10 games list … we’ll publish it again in the off-season.  I think i’ve got it 8th or so).

So we head to Chicago with a 1-1 split and disaster averted.  How do things look in Chicago?  Lets look at the presumed starters here on out:

  • Game 3: Max Scherzer vs Jose Quintana: Scherzer is (hopefully) healed from his hamstring issue, and hopefully can get the Nats the win they need him to get.  Meanwhile, lefty Quintana has been decent for the Cubs since his acquisition, posting a 3.74 ERA for the team (which, ironically, is exactly the same ERA as Max’s career post-season ERA).  Not one current National has ever batted against him, so I’d expect some struggles at the plate from our team, especially our big lefties.  But, we also have some important RH batters who should benefit from facing a lefty starter who doesn’t have as good of stuff as Jon Lester has.  Advantage Nats.
  • Game 4: Tanner Roark vs Jake Arrieta: Arrieta’s 2nd half was awesome (he went 7-2 with a 1.29 ERA in the season’s last two months), but he also suffered a Hamstring issue that pushed his start back.  He hasn’t pitched since 9/26; how rusty will he be?  Roark got bombed in his last start (9/27), then struggled in a mop-up inning to keep him fresh (3 hits and a walk), and is a creature of habit in terms of preparation … so how will he look on October 10th after not having started for 2 weeks?  I suspect this game could get to the bullpens early on both sides.  Advantage Cubs though for the obvious reasons: they’re throwing a former Cy Young winner and we’re not.
  • Game 5 if we get here: Strasburg against Hendricks again.  We feel confident Strasburg will continue his reign of dominance … but can the Nats figure out how to be more patient against the soft-tossing Hendricks?

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here; we need to get the split in Chicago before we talk about Game 5.  When we get there, we’ll talk again.

Bright Spots for the Nats so far: Strasburg, the bullpen, Adam Lind‘s game changing pinch hit in his first post season AB.  Even Gonzalez‘s start wasn’t that bad.

Areas of Concern: The offense in general; the team is hitting just .136 and is lucky to have gotten the split.  Turner is the biggest concern; Werth is 0-fer but is putting the ball in play, and Rendon’s paltry BA takes some of the context out of the harder hit balls he’s hitting; they’ll fall eventually.

83 Responses to 'Nats salvage the split; how’s our chances of getting back to DC for a 5th game?'

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  1. Edwards appeared in four regular-season games against the Nats this season. His line: .417/.556/1.000. The Nats don’t fear this guy at all, even after his strong appearance on Friday.

    Edwards and Montgomery actually do have pretty good reverse splits, but do you really want to trust reverse splits in those situations? We know Maddon has no respect for Zim, though.

    Here’s one point about Joe the Genius I don’t hear anyone bringing up: if he’s truly “enlightened,” then the top of the Nat order wouldn’t have been facing Edwards and Montgomery. But no, he still believes that his Closer (TM) only pitches the 9th, not when the game is on the line. The game was on the line in the 8th, all the more so after Harper blew the top off the joint. Ol’ Joe stayed Old School, though, and lost the game, and perhaps momentum in the series, without his best pitcher taking the mound.

    KW

    8 Oct 17 at 1:50 pm

  2. How do I feel about the chances going forward? Better than I did in the 7th inning! I’m back to about the normal level of playoff angst, although the Nats’ chances look considerably brighter now, particularly if Max is reasonably healthy.

    Even though the Nats struggled to get hits yesterday, they only struck out four times (two by ultra-tight Trea). The gods of BABIP luck say that if you’re putting the ball in play, good things will eventually happen. (That said, defensive position by both teams has been superb thus far. The Nats seem to be trusting the stray charts more than they usually do.)

    If you take away the wind-blown Contreras “homer,” the only Cubs doing much damage thus far are Bryant and Rizzo. The rest of the lineup looks pretty suspect. The Cubs have struck out 21 times in two games and are facing Scherzer on Monday. They don’t have that much going for themselves offensively, either.

    The key to the whole thing for the Nats may end up being Roark. Yes, the Nats could still take the series with both Max and Stras left to start. But I think the Cubs are really worried about Arrieta, who only pitched 10.1 innings in Sept., during which he gave up nine runs.

    We’ll see. The Nats have found their mojo. Now all they’ve got to do is keep it going. Then maybe you’ll have a few more games to add to the all-time list!

    KW

    8 Oct 17 at 2:07 pm

  3. Well, still no predictions for me. Some observations though:
    It would be huge if Trea could relax and just get on base a few times. He looks more messed up than I can recall seeing him. He makes the whole offense go. He does kind of turn it on quickly though, so here’s hoping.
    Murphy doesn’t look entirely comfortable either (although his last AB looked like the old Murph). Wonder if he is hurting somewhere.
    And I’ll repeat something I’ve said a few times: get Lind into the starting lineup against RHPs. Werth or Zim has to sit (my choice is Werth), Dusty can’t defer to these guys. The only Nats hitting better against RHPs are Harp and Murph. We have to play to win, not keep people happy. And if it goes 5 games, that’s two games against RHP starters. Could be as many as 6-7 ABs we choose the lesser option.
    MAT has had some good ABs. Not much to show yet but he feels better to me, not the automatic ‘strikeout on soft stuff low and away’ guy. I think I’m buying this year as a sustainable step forward. And if that’s true, boy does it make a post-Harp world feel a little better. No one is replacing Harper, but between this version of Taylor, Eaton, and Robles, that’s a 10 war outfield that is probably the top defensive outfield in the game.

    If we can keep pitching well (and I think everyone has pitched well so far), I like our chances. It’s amazing how a 1/2 inning can change your outlook. Just really glad I saw it live.

    Wally

    8 Oct 17 at 2:27 pm

  4. Turner looks totally overwhelmed by the moment.
    Werth hasn’t hit since he came back.

    The Nats have great choices if they have the sense to replace them. Dusty won’t do it.

    Mark L

    8 Oct 17 at 3:21 pm

  5. I refuse to contemplate a post-Harper world! It’s his team now, no doubt, and he has no problem stepping up to take responsibility for it. There may have been some resentment of that spotlight in 2014, but not now.

    Like it or not, Werth isn’t sitting unless he goes to Dusty and says to play Lind. There’s clearly a huge amount of respect for Lind on the team, though. Nearly every player I saw interviewed after the game went out of his way to praise Lind for getting it all started. FWIW, I think Werth still has at least one big Nats moment left in him.

    Trea has many of them ahead. Let’s hope a few are still during this season. Also, to his credit, his defense has remained solid despite his struggles at the plate.

    KW

    8 Oct 17 at 10:09 pm

  6. Yes, Trea has a great future but the bright lights are overwhelming him right now.
    Why would any pitcher throw him a strike when he’s swinging at everything.

    Mark L

    9 Oct 17 at 9:25 am

  7. Just looking at Quintana’s game log. He had a complete-game shutout on 9/24 but gave up four runs in 4.2 IP on 9/29. Except for a couple of super starts, he’s been pretty hittable as a Cub. He also has no postseason experience. He’s given up 23 HRs this season and 22 last season. If he’s not really “on,” it looks like he can be had. Time for a breakout game to get everyone feeling better about their strokes.

    KW

    9 Oct 17 at 12:43 pm

  8. An all-Nats Boz chat today that addresses a number of these topics, including Trea and Werth:

    https://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-boswell-20171009.html

    He points out that Kendrick owns Quintana and deserves the start today. He also notes that Maddon ain’t so smart for continuing to play Trea like he’s a good bunter.

    KW

    9 Oct 17 at 1:16 pm

  9. Same lineup for Game 3. Max is insisting that he’ll pitch on one leg if he has to, or some such stuff.

    KW

    9 Oct 17 at 1:59 pm

  10. Life sucks. The Nats have gotten the two best performances by starting pitchers in the postseason . . . and have scored ZERO earned runs in support of them.

    KW

    9 Oct 17 at 7:45 pm

  11. Was it another quick hook from Dusty of Max?? He was on 98 pitches. It was a man on 2nd with one out; thats a Run Expectancy of .664. Max had given up just one hit … why yank him? Isn’t this shades of GAme 5 last year, where Dusty trusts his bullpen more than his $30M/year starter? I know this sounds like complete second guessing knowing the outcome … but i *railed* against the quick hook last year too. Its like everyone just assumes that a bullpen arm is better than your Ace starter.

    If Max was hurt, so be it. If he was tired, fair enough. But until your Ace horse starts pushing 110 pitches … i just don’t get it unless there’s an obvious matchup to exploit. And there wasn’t; he brings in his favorite reliever Solis to face Schwarber (a .219 hitter who is a defensive liability to say the least so its pretty obvious he would get Pinch Hit in that situation late in a game), instead faces a righty and gives up a hit. If i’m max im pretty pissed in the dugout.

    Todd Boss

    9 Oct 17 at 7:57 pm

  12. Max himself had said 100 pitches before the game. But yes, he probably could have thrown three in the dirt and had Schwarber spin himself into the ground every time trying to hit it into Lake Michigan.

    I’m madder about the leadoff walk to La Stella in the 9th. To his credit, and with me totally thinking how bad he is against RHB, Kintzler got Bryant in a massive situation. And Ollie got Rizzo to hit a harmless bloop. Well, harmless in one sense, not so much in another.

    Just gotta hope Arrieta isn’t full strength and that Tanner is ready for the challenge.

    KW

    9 Oct 17 at 8:40 pm

  13. Best to keep in mind the true rule — Other managers play chess when Dusty plays checkers.

    How many blunders, let me count the ways……..

    Mark L

    9 Oct 17 at 10:47 pm

  14. I don’t put this on Dusty. It was arguable to not even let Max come out for the 7th. Taylor has to catch that bloop.

    They have to hit. The Cubs pitchers aren’t this good.

    Very frustrating to watch.

    Wally

    10 Oct 17 at 6:58 am

  15. I’m in the not-putting-this-on-Dusty camp as well. There were no “blunders.” The decision to pull Max seems to have been a collective one. The team just didn’t hit and got no luck on their two rockets hit to the gap. Team AB thus far is .121, or .084 if you take out the 8th inning on Saturday. John McGraw couldn’t win with a team that hits that poorly.

    So onward we go. The Dodgers came back from 2-1 down to beat us last year. Here’s the question of the day: if Roark struggles, do you go straight to Stras, or do you use Gio and try to save Stras in case they make it to Game 5? Both the Bosox and Stros brought in their aces in relief in Game 4 of that series yesterday. If the Nats do make it to Game 5 with Stras available and Max probably good for two or three innings of relief, you have to like our chances. That’s as much of a half-full view as I can summon.

    KW

    10 Oct 17 at 8:25 am

  16. Larger issue of course is the fact that the team is now batting 11-91 (.121/.200/.431). You can’t win if you don’t score. Its patently amazing that we had one pitcher take a no-hitter into the 6th and an other starter take one into the 7th and the team managed to lose both games.

    I still thought it was a quick hook. Yeah I know he said 100 pitches; you mean to tell me he can’t go 110? What exactly is the difference between 100 and 110 pitches on a guy who is nursing a leg injury (not an arm injury, a leg injury). Why put that limit out there? He was throwing a frigging no-hitter. I mean, this is it. You lose today, see you in april. You have to try to win that game at all costs.

    Yes, Taylor needs to dive after that bloop. Maybe Werth charging at him threw him off. All you “Oh Taylor’s defense is awesome” apologists can chime in on that play. Does Eaton make that play if he’s in CF? Does Robles? Clearly he’s playing deep since its a power hitter at the plate. But that ball was up a long, long time. In this respect Dusty’s bullpen moves worked out great; He pulls Knitzler, brings in the Pirate who jams Rizzo to get that popup.

    I wonder; is this something that affects Dusty’s extension?

    Todd Boss

    10 Oct 17 at 9:31 am

  17. Do you bring in Strasburg tonight if Roark struggles? Hmm. He’s on 3 days rest so its not completely out of the question; i don’t think he’d be in jeopardy of injury but he may not be that effective. I’m pretty sure he’s never thrown on short rest. Thanks to the desire to carry one extra bat, we don’t have a real long man (Jackson, Grace, etc). Romero hasn’t pitched yet, Madsen and Doolittle are fresh. Perez can usually go a couple innings. Maybe it just turns into a bullpen game if Roark gets hit early.

    Todd Boss

    10 Oct 17 at 9:37 am

  18. According to Max, Dusty had not fully made his decision when he came to the mound. He talked to Max and to Wieters. It seems that Wieters’ opinion was that Max might be close to done.

    As I said, I’m not big into what-ifs. I saw that Steve at Nats Talk was screaming that Robles should have been a defensive replacement for Werth in the 7th and might have caught up with the double. I don’t think the thought was even out there to pull Werth for defense that early when he might get one or two more ABs.

    The Nats got beaten by a bloop. Ollie sawed off Rizzo, exactly how you’d hope he would. The Nats’ two fastest players ran screaming for the ball, but neither got within diving distance. (No, Robles wouldn’t have been that much faster than Taylor.)

    As for tonight, my point about possibly bringing in Stras is simply that he’s better than any “bullpen game” they could assemble. Boston didn’t try to save Sale for a potential Game 5, and for a while, it looked like they had made the right move. They pushed him too far, though.

    KW

    10 Oct 17 at 10:53 am

  19. There is absolutely no way I would have let Max face Schwarber. Schwarber tattooed a ball just foul during his first AB. Max definitely looked like he was running out of gas, and the third-time-through-the-order penalty is real – I don’t think it was an early hook at all. I do think it’s fair to question whether it should have been Kintzler or Solis out of the ‘pen, knowing they would PH Schwarber if a lefty came in. I think I’d probably prefer Kintzler-Schwarber to Solis-generic cubs righty, but I don’t think Dusty made a blunder here.

    We got beat by a broken bat bloop single. That’s the nature of baseball though – small things can have large effects on the outcome. One of these days, I’d like one of these small things to go our way in the playoffs (and yes, Schwarber’s grotesque error would have counted had the lead held up).

    Derek

    10 Oct 17 at 11:04 am

  20. I’ve lurked the comments section of various Nats blogs for a long time, but at this point I’ve got to throw in my two cents (on two separate blogs, at once!). A couple of things:

    1. Despite what I’m about to say, last night (and, frankly, the rest of the series) can be placed squarely at the feet of the offense, not the pitching or Dusty or Rizzo etc. If Kyle Schwarber (nobody in professional sports makes me feel more like an Olympic athlete than him) doesn’t boot a ball that hits him in the glove, we don’t score in 2/3 games in this series. Unless Dusty can press the right buttons for infinite scoreless innings by our pitching staff, it’s tough to win scoring at that rate.

    2. For the most part, I can’t fault Dusty for the decisions he made in the context in which he made them. Harper does a great job in the post outlining the moves, and why some were more or less optimal. Maybe I’d have gone another way for some, but they were coin flips and he had several in a row come up tails (I’m thinking the Solis/Almora vs. Schwarber/Knitzler decision, pitching to Rizzo, etc.). FWIW, I was ordering Dusty/Solis through my TV to issue the ol’ unintentional-intentional and let us get to Heyward, but you also don’t want to bounce one Wieters can’t block either and put the sac fly in order, so maybe it was just poor execution? Who knows.

    3. All that being said, I think that there is a GLARING error in Dusty’s decision-making, and that was allowing Max to hit for himself in the top of the 7th. I know why he did it – Max is a “gamer” or a “warhorse” or whatever exciting imagery you want to conjure. But it seems to me that Dusty got bullied by his own player. Max gets pissed off when he gets pulled when he doesn’t believe he should, and Dusty refused to do it. Unfortunately, it’s Dusty’s job to be the adult in the room and not let the inmates run the asylum.

    Here, as far as a I can tell, are all of the reasons to let Max take that AB in T7: A. Max wants to, B. you get no-hitter-stuff Max to continue pitching at ~90 pitches. That’s good! He’d been great all game (though things had started to look a little shaky there in the bottom of the 6th).

    However, here are the reasons to yank him for Lind (or any other professional baseball hitter): A. if you don’t pull him, you’re wasting an AB at a time when your offense desperately needs every productive plate appearance you can squeeze out of them. Maybe Lind hits a PH bomb (as he’s done this year) to add an insurance run? Who knows! B. It is physically impossible for Max to finish this no-hitter. You don’t have to play for the historical accomplishment here, because Max said before the game that he could only go 100 pitches. Again, I’m sure he told Dusty that he was good to go longer in the heat of the moment, but of course he’s going to say that. Dusty needs to tell him no. C. As I mentioned, Max had started to look a little wobbly in the bottom of the 6th (ball crushed that MAT managed to track down, followed by an immediate walk and a DP ball that would’ve been a hit without the shift). That, combined with the fact that he’s had a recent injury, should be enough to worry that a potential performance letdown was incoming and tilt the scales towards pinch hitting. D. You traded away some (valuable?) prospects midseason to get three bullpen guys, and then used them in the exact roles that this situation would dictate for the rest of the season. This isn’t the May bullpen, where you have to squeeze every possible out from your starter because your pen is guaranteed to hemorrhage runs. On a per-inning basis, these dudes are very good pitchers. Use them.

    That was the mistake in the game. That’s where things went down hill, imo, and that’s where I’d go back and fix history. Well before Zobrist’s hit and Rizzo demanded respect for his popup (which was suuuuper impressive and definitely placed there on purpose. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, buddy.). Phew. That was cathartic.

    Problem is, I don’t really have any answers for next game. What is Dusty supposed to say to the team? “Try harder to get hits, guys!” And as has been overly discussed (@Grant Paulsen) all season, lineup construction is barely relevant even over 162 games, much less one. So…. I guess let’s just hope that the Nats can make some good contact, some hits fall, and we can get it back to DC for another stroke-inducing Game 5 letdown!

    GTA

    10 Oct 17 at 11:37 am

  21. GTA good to have you along!

    Todd Boss

    10 Oct 17 at 11:56 am

  22. At just the right time too! Nothing bad is likely to happen any time soon to spoil my mood, right? Right??!

    GTA

    10 Oct 17 at 12:07 pm

  23. http://m.mlb.com/news/article/258081802/anthony-rizzo-makes-nats-pay-with-winning-hit/ has some Stat case data on the bloop: Both Werth and Taylor had to run basically 98-100 feet to get that ball, and their % were pretty slim to make that catch but not out of the realm of possible.

    Max batting for himself in 7th. Slightly defendable in that there were 2 outs and nobody on and he’s still throwing a no-hitter. Significantly LESS defendable if Baker’s sitting there letting Scherzer bat, knowing that he would be pulled if he gave up a single hit. This is a common managerial error in my opinion and it seems to happen all the time.

    Todd Boss

    10 Oct 17 at 12:09 pm

  24. It should also be pointed out that the Nats were leading in the top of the 7th, and their reigning Cy-guy was riding a no-hitter. If the Nats had been trailing, then certainly we would have seen Lind. If there were base-runners, even with a one-run lead, Dusty might have been tempted to PH even with the no-no. But if Max still seemed to have some juice, and with no guys on base, it’s hard to fault letting him hit for himself and stay in the game.

    The one time Arrieta faced the Nats this year, he gave up six hits, six walks (!), and six runs (five earned) in four innings. When he faced the Nats in 2016, he gave up six hits, four walks, and three runs. Keep the faith.

    KW

    10 Oct 17 at 2:18 pm

  25. If the Nats get rained out today, do you go with Stras on full rest in Game 4? I say a definite “yes.”

    KW

    10 Oct 17 at 3:13 pm

  26. I also was thinking to PH for Max in the 7th, and would have. Whether Lind or someone else (to hope for a higher leverage spot for Lind later), I am open minded about. But I consider it more of a minor decision rather than a major one. But still: Lind is one of the best righty mashers in the game, and he has had 1 AB so far.

    And today’s lineup is more of the same.

    wally

    10 Oct 17 at 3:19 pm

  27. Is that likely? If yes, then I agree. Go with your best on full rest, and worry about tomorrow when it comes.

    wally

    10 Oct 17 at 3:21 pm

  28. Rain out today? Absolutely skip Roark and go to Strasburg. No question.

    Todd Boss

    10 Oct 17 at 4:30 pm

  29. Official now. Game 4 at 4:08 EDT on Wednesday. Dusty said in his pregame presser that he’s open to moving Stras up, but he’d have to discuss it with Maddux and Stras. Maddon said he’s sticking with Arrieta. Frankly, the Nats have had better success with Arrieta than Hendricks.

    KW

    10 Oct 17 at 6:48 pm

  30. Apparently Dusty has now said that Stras threw a bullpen today plus isn’t feeling well, so he’s sticking with Roark. Gonna be another circus

    Wally

    10 Oct 17 at 7:47 pm

  31. Now lots of folks are blasting Stras. Not a great time for such a distraction.

    Roark was very shaky in his playoff start last season. He was terrific in the WBC semi this spring in a hostile environment, though.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 9:18 am

  32. Roark and Arrieta are apparently one in the same:

    https://cdn.fangraphs.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/arrieta-roark.png

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 10:13 am

  33. You know, if the Nats lose today and this “Stras is a baby” stuff roils through the media, I think I’m just going to swear off the media. I don’t think I could handle a winter of that

    wally

    11 Oct 17 at 11:23 am

  34. No matter who pitches, if the Nats bat .121 today or in game 5, they will lose.

    We can analyze this to death like we did the other disappointments, but it’s like reliving a sickening experience to see the Nats offensively turn into sheep, now with their third manager. What is the point of reliving a single play when the team can;t get a hit the whole damn game!

    On a team of leaders, there needs to be leadership by example.

    forensicane

    11 Oct 17 at 12:10 pm

  35. Fore: absolutely correct. If the Nats lose this series, it has infinitely more to do with the guys with the bats, the ones who let Stras down severely in Game 1. If they hadn’t wasted not one but two near-no-hitters, the series would already be over.

    Wally: I’m with you. I’m already sick of it. If he’s sick, he’s sick. Who cares? Just play the game.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 12:27 pm

  36. Not being discussed at all: the other pitcher. Arrieta only pitched 10.1 innings in Sept., during which he gave up nine runs. Is Lackey the long man if he falters? Do they bring in Lester for a few innings? Or Montgomery?

    This is indeed the chance for the Nat bats to “get healthy.” Folks are already jumping on Dusty for moving Werth up in the order, but there’s a method to the madness. They need to grind down Arrieta and get him out sooner rather than later. Let’s not only win the game but also burn through five Cub pitchers, with a quick turnaround tomorrow.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 1:26 pm

  37. And now Stras is apparently rising to the Game 4 occasion? I hope he’s truly feeling full speed and not just trying to prove something to the blithering masses.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 2:37 pm

  38. There’s a whole, whole, whole lot of anti-Stras crow to be eaten by both the national and local media. Several truckloads worth. Time to change to conversation to who is the best pitcher in baseball.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:04 pm

  39. Cmon Dusty, What’s it going to take to get Lind up,here in the 8th?

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 7:23 pm

  40. Difo is just a decoy. Keeping Lind dry in the dugout.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:26 pm

  41. I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about Taylor!!!!

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:29 pm

  42. :-)

    Happy – and I mean HAPPY – to be wrong. Way to go Mikey T.

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 7:29 pm

  43. And once again, I’m out all day (in the rain at my daughter’s soccer game) and get back for the 8th inning.

    If they hold on, I know the formula for tomorrow.

    And everyone can stick their Stras crap where the sun don’t shine.

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 7:31 pm

  44. And thank you Carl Edwards Jr. for loading ’em up. I told you guys he was their weak link.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:32 pm

  45. He’s still pretty good though. I don’t feel great when he comes in.

    Davis, on the other hand, doesn’t scare me at all.

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 7:34 pm

  46. Grand Slam!!

    Todd Boss

    11 Oct 17 at 7:34 pm

  47. So the result was great, but I still think it was a bad move not to PH Lind for Weiters and Taylor. Runner in scoring position and you need that run

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 7:35 pm

  48. Lester not available for Thursday and Davis and Edwards licking serious wounds.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:36 pm

  49. Hey don’t jinx us! Gotta get there before we talk about it

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 7:36 pm

  50. Interesting move going with Lester there honestly.

    Todd Boss

    11 Oct 17 at 7:39 pm

  51. Scherzer’s probably good for two or three innings on Thursday, might be available to start if rain pushes the game to Friday.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:40 pm

  52. They brought in Lester to go for the kill. But Stras was more MAN than Arrieta and Lester combined. (The Astros used Verlander in Game 4 trying to end that one as well.)

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 7:41 pm

  53. How about 7 shutout innings and 12 Ks in Chicago’s band box for an Eff You postseason performance?

    Todd Boss

    11 Oct 17 at 7:56 pm

  54. As I said above before things got crazy (in a good way!), there are truckloads of crow that the national and local media will have to eat about Stras. He just shoved it in everyone’s face.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 8:03 pm

  55. Madon didn’t give me warm and fuzzies. Let’s go Doo!

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 8:11 pm

  56. This has to go down as one of the great wins in Nat history, with the Stras-from-the-sick-bed performance and the Taylor grand slam. But the four-hour death march in the rain didn’t exactly leave it with the drama of Game 2.

    Darling just called the Stras performance one of the greatest postseason pitching performances he’s ever seen.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 8:17 pm

  57. Was it just me, or did the wind and rain seem to calm a bit while Davis was coming in, leaving Taylor with that one brief moment to get it through the wind?

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 8:20 pm

  58. Taylor has that late inning bop. Need more than 5 hits in game 5. But Gio gets a shot at redemption.

    forensicane

    11 Oct 17 at 8:22 pm

  59. All the Nat scoring in the 8th was with two outs. Serious clutch all around.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 8:25 pm

  60. It started in the 8th with two outs and no one on base.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 8:26 pm

  61. By the way, Todd, the answer to the question at the top of this post is “100 percent”!

    But c’mon, Nats, let’s finally win one of these clinchers.

    Amazing Nat trivia bit heard on the post-game: Stras becomes only the second Nat starter to earn a win in a postseason game. (Wow.) Who was the first?

    A: Doug Fister, who beat the unbeatable MadBum in SF in Game 3 in 2014.

    KW

    11 Oct 17 at 9:09 pm

  62. I thought Gio pitched ok in his first game.

    Man, what a finish and what a Stras performance. Hopefully this ends that crap once and for all (although of course it won’t because it isn’t in the media’s interest). But Svrluga should be banned from the clubhouse.

    I’m with Fore: let’s get some hits a helluva lot earlier. Bring it home, boys, I’ll start watching in the 8th again.

    Wally

    11 Oct 17 at 9:18 pm

  63. I think it has to be Gio. He was significantly better than Tanner across the season, one of the better pitchers in baseball by some measures. But can we start hitting before the 8th inning, PLEASE? (Wally, I think that means you need to start watching earlier.)

    I would think that all the arms except Stras and maybe Madson are available tonight. We know Max is going to want the ball if it’s close, or if things are close to going off the rails. It sure is tempting to hope that they’re in a position to save him for a Game 1 matchup with Kershaw, though. (Don’t look ahead, don’t look ahead, don’t look ahead . . .)

    C’mon, guys, it’s beyond time for the Nats to come up big in a deciding game and actually win one of these things.

    (Oh, and against a righty, with the season on the line, is it finally time to have the conversation of starting Lind over Werth in LF?)

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 5:25 am

  64. And wow, the Indians — the team nearly everyone was picking to win the WS, me included — are out. The Yanks just overpowered them.

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 5:28 am

  65. Shocked by Yankees over Indians.

    No probable yet. Gio on regular rest or Roark not having thrown a start since Sept 27th and not having thrown an inning since 10/1. I think you have to go Gio with apologies to your #4 starter, but this rainout was a gift and you have to make use of it. If we win the series, Roark will get two starts in the NLCS to make up for it.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 17 at 10:52 am

  66. It has to be Gio, doesn’t it? I think the Nats are just screwing with the media in response to the utter stupidity over Stras. Either that, or maybe Gio has been “sick.” They don’t have to explain anything to Tanner. He knows the score. Besides, if the Nats advance (which we can’t talk about), Roark likely would get two starts. Plus there’s nothing that says Roark won’t get innings tonight, particularly if Gio isn’t “on.”

    Also, if it happens to rain, then I think you start talking seriously about Scherzer on short rest if Game 5 is pushed to Friday.

    I don’t know how the Nats feel, but if it’s anything like I feel, the 800-pound gorilla has left our backs and jumped squarely onto those of the Cubbies. A little easing in tension might help loosen up the Nat bats!

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 11:39 am

  67. It’s officially Gio. Time for him to step up, have the game of his life, and bury memories of five years ago for good.

    I really feel like the pressure is on the Cubs.

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 2:58 pm

  68. Taylor again!!!

    OK Gio, get your act together and ride this lead.

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 9:16 pm

  69. Gio didn’t get his act together. Top of the 3rd was brutal. Time to get someone else in there, NOW.

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 9:31 pm

  70. Taylor for MVP!

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 17 at 9:39 pm

  71. Man, another palyoff game for Gio Gonzalez, another game where he couldn’t find the damn plate.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 17 at 9:57 pm

  72. Here comes Max. All the chips on the table . . . and still a LONG way to go.

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 10:03 pm

  73. What a nightmare. Still 15 outs left for the home team, though.

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 10:23 pm

  74. Not looking good.

    Todd Boss

    12 Oct 17 at 11:02 pm

  75. Back in it!

    KW

    12 Oct 17 at 11:16 pm

  76. This has turned into one of those old Ali-Frazier fights that’s going all 15 rounds. The expanded Metro hour isn’t going to be enough.

    KW

    13 Oct 17 at 12:10 am

  77. Lobaton pick-off in 8th a TOTAL BS call. The reply was inconclusive, and the call on the field was safe. You can’t overrule with no clear evidence. There was no way to see if Rizzo’s glove stayed on him. You literally could not see it.

    KW

    13 Oct 17 at 12:34 am

  78. Mudville. Another one-run heartbreak. Sure hope the Dodgers sweep those smug punks.

    KW

    13 Oct 17 at 12:56 am

  79. Big time players come up big in big time games. Thank you Michael Taylor, I sure hope you are here next year to take your game to the next level.

    All those guys LOB in a playoff game. And too many games with no hitting at all, up and down the lineup.

    Dusty? I just don’t know. Maybe he comes back, but it’s hard to reward a guy who can’t win a series.

    Bryce? Well, this series was his chance to make a statement going into the post season. Getting a loss off out the team’s biggest zillionaire (Max) does not help Harper’s contract case, either.

    Trea not getting a SB till today. Very disappointing.

    Goodbye Werth, it was fun, goodbye Lobi, it was not, goodbye Kintzler, it was still worth it.

    Rendon, Turner, Zimm, Murphy fails were stupefying. Like watching the 1919 Black Sox, although I’m not suggesting it. That pathetic, though.

    forensicane

    13 Oct 17 at 1:30 am

  80. The team lost the series in games 1 and 3 when it didn’t hit in support of two brilliant pitching performances. The Nats got three dominant starts in the series but only won one of those games.

    The big game 5 backfire was Max having a half-empty tank, but I still make that move 100 times out of 100.

    KW

    13 Oct 17 at 7:41 am

  81. It somehow seems appropriate that the nightmare game ended early on Friday the 13th.

    KW

    13 Oct 17 at 7:50 am

  82. Well, nuts.

    I don’t know, I don’t feel like rehashing it. To be honest, I turned it off and went to bed during Max’s fiasco. It just had the feeling of ‘here comes the choking again’, and I decided I wasn’t going to be a witness again. Makes me wonder if I am still even a fan.

    Typing this, it seems overly melodramatic, but I’m tired of all of these guys. I don’t want to hear Zim, Dusty, Werth etc explain what happened and why. I don’t want to watch them roll over a weak NL East again for 5 months next year. It might take a complete redo to keep me interested. My brain understands that the nats have been enormously successful over the last five years, and I should feel lucky to follow a team with that much success. But I don’t feel that way. I currently feel that, if I’m going to remain a follower, my emotions need to see playoff success if they are going to be this good, and isn’t satisfied with my brain talking about the randomness of playoff success and sample sizes. That just feels like an excuse to rationalize why it never goes the Nats way.

    The failure of this team especially brings this point home to me. Its great in almost all areas, yet they lose again to what feels to me a lesser team.

    wally

    13 Oct 17 at 8:26 am

  83. We’ll all be back, Wally.Welcome to being an Expos fan.

    forensicane

    13 Oct 17 at 10:48 am

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