Nationals Arm Race

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

WC Preview: Nats vs Brewers


Well, this is why he got $210M. Photo via

Well, this is why he got $210M. Photo via

Here it is.  Its Wild Card Tuesday.

The red-hot Brewers (winners of 22 of their last 30) couldn’t quite catch the Cardinals and thus travel to DC.  Meanwhile, the suddenly hot Nationals (winners of 9 of their last 10) finished the season in destruction mode and should be fired up for the game.

Pitching Match-upMax Scherzer; 11-7, 2.92 ERA vs Brandon Woodruff, 11-3, 3.62 ERA.

Season Series: 4-2 in favor of Milwaukee, but with a caveat.  The Nats got swept in Milwaukee in early May, when they were awful.  Woodruff pitched the series finale and dominated the Nats lineup of the day, throwing 6 innings of 4-hit, one-run, 9-K ball.  We threw Jeremy Hellickson, he got shelled, and a rare error from Anthony Rendon accounted for 3 unearned runs on the night.

When Milwaukee came to Washingotn, it was in mid August and they faced a different team: Washington took 2 of 3 at home, one game of which was the amazingly odd 15-14 game on August 17th where a tired Sean Doolittle blew a 3-run 9th inning lead and the beleagured bullpen forced the offense to extend the game three different times.  (Woodruff didn’t pitch in this series because he missed two months with an oblique injury starting in July 2019).

Scherzer hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since his return from the D/L: in his 5 starts in September his seasonal ERA has risen half a point.

Looking at the Brewer’s splits; they walk a lot (2nd most in league), but as a team don’t actually have that great of an wRC+ figure … and that’s playing most of the season with Christian Yelich.  They hit lefties and righties about the same, so no real advantage/disadvantage there.  Their bullpen is supposedly a strength, but their bullpen macro stats (ERA/FIP/fWAR) are all middle of the pack.

Prediction: two weeks ago I would have been more pessimistic about this team.  But with Yelich out and finishing as strong as they did and basically being at full strength, I like the Nats here.  I think they put a couple runs on Woodruff early, they let Max settle in and he goes 7 innings (he’s going to be fired up, lets be honest).  Then you go 8th/9th guys w/o screwing up the LAD rotation.  That’s the hope anyway.



Written by Todd Boss

September 30th, 2019 at 4:06 pm

14 Responses to 'WC Preview: Nats vs Brewers'

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  1. Pretty exciting time! Give credit to the Brewers, who are doing this with smoke and mirrors. The good news is the Nats are red-hot; raise your hand if you thought last week that club would close out with 8 straight.
    Didn’t think so.

    Mark L

    30 Sep 19 at 5:28 pm

  2. I think we need to spot the Brewers a five-run lead so they’ll bring in Gio during an elimination game at Nats Park. We know how those end!

    Yes, painful memories die hard, but we’re going to bury a few of them tonight. And forget “messing up” the rotation for the next series. This is an all-in game, and I’ll be surprised if Stras doesn’t pitch. Unless the Nats get out to an 8-2 lead, there are only five guys who should be anywhere near the mound tonight: Max, Stras, Corbin, Hudson, and Doo. My ideal would be Max for six innings and Stras for three. I’m not pushing Max beyond the 90-100 pitch level, though, and if that only gets him through five, so be it.

    One big thing Max hasn’t had for his last few starts, but will have tonight: Suzuki behind the plate. Max slash with Kurt: .204/.252/.326, ERA 2.08. Max slash with Gomes: .245/.284/.429, ERA 4.09. Any questions?

    Really, though, while there is so much focus on the Nat pitching, the key tonight may lie with the Nat bats. The Nats scored 104 more runs than the Brewers did this season. The Brewers also strike out a ton, almost a 25% K rate as a team. Anyway, the Nats need to get up on them early and not worry about having to try to come back against Hader the Hater in the last couple of innings.

    Things to watch: the leash on Max HAS to be short. He might be able to overcome one Brad Miller mistake, but not two, not in a playoff game. Also, how patient will the Nat hitters be with the spotlight on? Will Rendon and Soto reengage at just the right time after a couple of days of rest?

    There’s more grit and swagger in this Nat team than in any before it. No opponent is going to be making cracks about them like the Giants did in 2014. That guarantees nothing, but it’s time to slay some past demons and actually advance in the playoffs for once.


    1 Oct 19 at 8:12 am

  3. Agreed. I think/hope being the oldest team in baseball is a big plus.

    Mark L

    1 Oct 19 at 9:11 am

  4. My picks to click tonight are the older guys: Kendrick, Cabrera, and Suzuki. Soto does love the spotlight, but I fear he’ll be over-amped and trying to hit everything into the Anacostia.


    1 Oct 19 at 10:49 am


    Roster announced.
    SP: Scherzer, Stras, Corbin, Sanchez
    RP: Doolittle, Hudson, Rodney, Rainey, Strickland
    C: Suzuki, Gomes, Read
    INF: Rendon, Turner, Cabrera, Kendrick
    OF: Soto, Robles, Eaton
    bench: Adams, Parra, Zimmerman, Dozier, Taylor, Stevenson


    Todd Boss

    1 Oct 19 at 1:04 pm

  6. The only real head-scratcher is Strickland. Yes, he has postseason experience, but he wasn’t good. I’m not a huge Suero fan, but he has a 3.07 FIP for the season. If it were me, I would have just used that slot for Difo to pinch-run or something. If Strickland is on the mound tonight, the Nats are down by 10, up by 12, or it’s the 19th inning.

    I do like having Read as injury insurance for Suzuki so they can use Gomes’s recently hot bat to PH.

    None of the current Nats have ever hit particularly well in the playoffs . . . except Taylor in 2017. The only good playoff series Kendrick had was against the Nats in 2016.


    1 Oct 19 at 2:15 pm

  7. Let’s put the whole postseason out there:

    WC: Nats over Brewers, A’s over Rays

    LDS: Nats, Braves, Astros, NYY

    LCS: Nats, Astros

    WS: Astros in six over Nats

    I really think the Nats match up well with the Dodgers, and that a WC win would be a psychological hurdle for them. I heard Joe Giradi on Grant & Danny say that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Nats make the World Series, or if they lose tonight. They’re that kind of a team. Maybe I’m being optimist considering the bullpen woes, though. Martinez will have to be creative, perhaps using guys like Voth and Fedde out of the ‘pen if the Nats advance.


    1 Oct 19 at 2:32 pm



    1 Oct 19 at 11:06 pm

  9. Todd, you’ve got a new #1 all-time Nat game.


    1 Oct 19 at 11:07 pm

  10. And they did it off that @#%%@@@ Hader, after having to hear over and over and over how he’s the greatest reliever ever, or some such trash. Never mind that Stras was the pitching star.


    1 Oct 19 at 11:10 pm

  11. I cannot help but give due to Mike Rizzo for the position the Nats are in. To see Hudson as a closer that essentially stepped up when others could not, and given what the Nationals paid for him, shows that he has quite grown from the days of a flashy trade for a Melancon type that sent out Hearn (Kele) and Rivero or Luzardo on top of Neuse and Treinen.

    Not to be overlooked are the truly spectacular contributions of Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera, the prudent swapping of Roark for Sanchez (and Rainey), the quality of the Suzuki signing, and lesser profile moves like the promoting of Andrew Stevenson and even the Dozier signing. It’s easy to believe the Gomes trade will likewise prove to be worthwhile, though not quite the steal others believed. Even Eaton has been a key component of the Nationals run, even as Giolito became an ace but still begets the question of whether he will repeat his success.

    Criticisms here of Rizzo noted, and I certainly don’t appreciate his using leaks to the Amazon Washington Post to trash the Lerners, but the drafts have definitely yielded more in recent years and the international products are highly promising.

    This is a day to celebrate and give credit where due; to my eye, this crop of AFL players reflects patience in development (Reetz, Raquet) and a good talent eye (Lee, Bogan, Freeman) and wise international investment (Garcia). I am also thinking that with the team emerging from the penalty next year, the international class will reflect as well on management as Victor Robles has.

    No, not Soto. He is a generational talent who has performed the impossible — he has outpaced Harper when such a talent was not thought possible. Robles and Soto alone are reasons to love the Nats and there are many more abounding. Hopefully the magic continues. A great day for us all to feel great and to remember how it feels to be optimistic rather than insufferable. Especially for Expos fans like myself who never knew anything in the way of playoff wins.


    2 Oct 19 at 9:43 am

  12. New posted on the game. Forensicane; I dunno how much credit i give Rizzo here. Not to be a negative nancy, but lets take his off-season moves one by one:

    – Acquired Barraclough: fail
    – Signed Rosenthal: huge fail
    – Signed Suzuki; excellent
    – Signed Corbin; excellent (as it should have been for $140M)
    – Traded for gomes: fail
    – Traded for Rainey/signed Sanchez/got rid of Roark; worked out in the end.
    – re-signed Adams: fail
    – signed Dozier; fail
    – re-signed Hellickson: fail
    – signed Sipp: fail.

    I see a lot more fails than wins here.

    And then how many of his cattle call veteran MLFA deals worked out? Alvarez, Copeland, Nuno, Hoover, Ondrusek, Jennings, Kontos, Venters, rodney, Blazek, Guerra, Holland?

    Todd Boss

    2 Oct 19 at 11:29 am

  13. The big fail was Rosenthal because of the money. But I would argue that unless it ties up budget (Barraclough did not), if a non-functioning player is replaced before doing damage, who cares?

    As for the others, the cattle call strategy was necessary and altogether worked. Players who had nothing (Blazek, Jennings, Venters) came and went fast and Rizzo showed the willingness to cut bait and try others (Rodney, Guerra) who made important contributions that were serviceable if not showy.

    Gomes was an upgrade over Weiters, and until Johnson shows he is more than a 4th OF in the majors, I would not call the deal a fail.

    I forgot about Corbin!

    Hellickson was cheap, Sipp less so, but both moved out of the way as well.

    Dozier and Adams had some big hits. Adams’ decline coincided with big production from Kendrick and Zim’s return and so had fairly meaningless impact.

    Dozier had a number of big hits. His horrible start coincided with the Nats horrible start. So yes, that is noted. And the nationals would have been better served with Lemahieu, yes. But from May onward, he had respectable numbers – and they are only on the hook for him for a year.

    Parra was also a worthwhile pickup, numbers be damned.

    I’m not saying he’s perfect, but I do think that the Nationals are here because of him, not in spite of him.


    2 Oct 19 at 1:36 pm

  14. One more thing that is easy to forget:

    At this time last year, the Nationals had several 2B options in free agency – Lowrie, Lemahieu, Dozier, Murphy (who had played every day at 2B for the Cubs), Kinsler, Cabrera, and Harrison.

    If you look at that list, they could have done quite a bit worse. And they got, for nothing, 29 starts at 2B from Cabrera as well. And of course, Howie’s miraculous comeback.


    2 Oct 19 at 1:43 pm

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