Nationals Arm Race

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

WS Game 2 Reaction and Weekend thoughts


HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Kurt Suzuki #28 of the Washington Nationals hits a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 23: Kurt Suzuki #28 of the Washington Nationals hits a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Well, I spent most of Wednesday night’s game on pins and needles, watching Stephen Strasburg wiggle out of one jam after another after an elating-then-deflating first inning, then cheering for the shock Kurt Suzuki  homer and then standing in awe as the game got away from Houston completely, resulting in a blow-out win.

(I even found myself making a “get off my lawn comment” when Martin Maldonado hit the 9th inning homer to “cut” the lead to 12-3 … and the Houston stadium dimmed the lights and blew the air horn and ran their stupid train as if it was the greatest home run ever hit in franchise history … um, guys?  Time and Place.  Your team was 5 minutes from getting embarassingly swept on home soil as more than a 2-1 WS favorite … maybe a good time to not strobe the damn stadium lights like you’re in a Vegas club).

Anyway.  I thought the Nats could get to Verlander in game 2 in my preview to get a split in Houston.  Never in my wildest dream would I think we’d sweep games on Houston’s soil to return home with a 2-0 lead.  Just amazing.

Davey Martinez was given a free pass to save his critical bullpen arms, get other guys work, get Tanner Rainey back on track, not burn any starter innings … i mean, you just couldn’t ask for a better game.

Now what?   Well, I initially thought the three games in DC would go like this:

  • Greinke beats Corbin
  • Sanchez beats bullpen
  • Scherzer beats Cole.

Because Patrick Corbin threw in game 1, Martinez swapped spots and put Anibal Sanchez out in game 3.  So what does this mean?  Well… I still think Sanchez can get the win here.  Check out his post-season stats for his career: with the exception of one bad beating in 2012, he’s been pretty darn good.  7 quality starts in 9 post-season starts, and of course he’s been basically unhittable in 2019.  Past performance is not an indicator of future performance … but what else can we go on?  I like Sanchez in this game, and I like Zack Greinke (10 runs allowed in 14 post season IP so far in 2019) to get hit.

Meanwhile; Its not like Houston is hitting badly … they’re slashing .257/.321/.432 for the first two games against two of the best starters in the game.  Five of their first Six hitters have OPS figures in the .900 to 1.000 range or higher so far for this series.  They’re just not quite putting the hits together in the right sequence, and the 7-8-9  hitters are basically automatic outs so far.  The middle of this order is daunting, really.

Can’t wait to see the energy in the stadium tonight.  Wish I could be there.  go nats!


Written by Todd Boss

October 25th, 2019 at 10:33 am

18 Responses to 'WS Game 2 Reaction and Weekend thoughts'

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  1. I haven’t been able to go to many games this year because of a bad wheel.
    Like winning a lottery ticket, I got hold of a ticket for tonight’s game. Can’t wait to feel the energy, certainly more than any game I’ve been to before at Nats Park.

    Mark L

    25 Oct 19 at 11:17 am

  2. Friday and Saturday turned the tide, now no Scherzer for Sunday night, and facing Cole. A true test of the resiliency of this team.

    Sigh. I’ve kept the faith all year, but this is pretty disheartening. Still, we have Stras for Gm 6, and possibly Max for Gm 7.


    27 Oct 19 at 7:37 pm

  3. . . . and then swept at home. Sigh. SO many opportunities, but the key hits for us just didn’t come. Ross gave them a chance in Gm 5 (and even more of a chance if Correa had been properly rung up before he homered), but no run support.

    Stras is a postseason stud, while Verlander isn’t, so that’s a favorable matchup in Gm 6. If they make it to Gm 7, there’s still a prayer that Max loosens up by then.

    But the hits have to come. Turner and Rendon in particular have to show up.

    They’ve already faced down elimination three times in this postseason, including having to win the last two against the 106-win Dodgers and Buehler. They’ve got it in them. But my hope is growing dimmer.


    28 Oct 19 at 7:58 am

  4. I did see that the Astros have the second-best team wRC+ in history, behind only the vaunted ’27 Yankees. Wow.


    28 Oct 19 at 7:59 am

  5. From Boz’s chat today:

    “This has been an amazing season, no matter how it ends. Someday, over the next many years, there will be other World Series teams from D.C. –but there may never be one that is significantly more memorable or attractive than this one.

    “Parra Shark. What a great team symbol. Stay in the Fight. What a great motto. Home run dance lines: What a great team image.”


    28 Oct 19 at 1:26 pm

  6. OK, all we’ve got to do is go 1-0 today in Gm 6. We’ve got one of the best postseason pitchers ever on the mound. Get it to a Gm 7 and it’s a tossup.


    29 Oct 19 at 12:30 pm

  7. KW, thanks for posting comments post-collapse. I didn’t want you to be alone on here. I’m a Nats fan living in Tampa for many years now, and I just don’t have anyone down here to vent to. My wife is from St. Pete and is an avid Rays fan, but she’s tuned out since they lost to Houston in the ALDS. I rarely post comments here because I’m nowhere near you guys in terms of knowledge of stats, but I’ve been reading posts here for years.

    So I’ve finally resigned myself to what seems like an inevitable outcome at this point. I’ll certainly be thrilled if we can actually start scoring runs again and win two in a row, but I’m not counting on it. I actually came into the Series with low expectations, only to have them go through the roof after the first two games. I remember the 1996 WS where the Braves won the first two, then lost four straight, but at least those four Braves losses were close games. We’re outscored 19-3 at home? Corbin being out-pitched by some reliever I never heard of? Urquidy supposed to go 2-3 innings, but managing to go 5 and get the win because we can’t hit him? I still can’t process any of these things. What are we now, 1-22 with RISP in Games 3-5? And the only hit didn’t even score a run? How is this the same team that beat LA? How is the team that won Game 2 by 12-3?

    I won’t give up on this Series until it’s over (and I won’t give up on this team ever), so here’s hoping Stras out-pitches Verlander and that his teammates actually give him some run support. Because if he pitches the way he has all postseason, 3 or 4 runs should be enough to get him the win. Then it will all come down to an all-hands-on-deck Game 7.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.


    29 Oct 19 at 2:17 pm

  8. Clark — My roller coaster ride has been similar. My expectations coming into the series weren’t that high. I hoped we could steal one of the first two in Houston, probably Stras’s start, and then win one or two at home to give ourselves a fighting chance. We’re in the same position we would have been if we had won one on the road and one at home, yet somehow, it’s hard to cling to much hope after getting crushed at home. (At least I didn’t have the extra pain of having spent big $$$$ to see it in person.)

    Stras for Gm 6 is what gives us hope, and potential life. If he can go 7+ giving up only one or two, it wouldn’t take that much of a resurrection at the plate to get us right back in it. If we somehow scrape into a Gm 7, that’s a crap-shoot, and I imagine the pressure would shift back to the Astros. Whether it’s Max or Anibal who answers the bell, the Nats would give it everything they have.

    Never count out a team that was down by three and facing Hader and down by two facing Kershaw, both in elimination games.

    Really, I’ve resigned myself to not getting too stressed about it. It’s been a great ride, one that has gone much farther than we had expectation to hope. This Nats team is one worthy of our praise, and everlasting fond memories (minus the bullpen heart palpitations!).


    29 Oct 19 at 3:08 pm

  9. 1996: Leyritz couldn’t get around on the Woehlers heater, but Woehlers finally went with a slider, hung it, and probably changed the trajectories of both franchises over the next few years.


    29 Oct 19 at 3:11 pm

  10. Agreed. I’ve also let go of the stress I was feeling surrounding games 3 and 4, and I’m mostly back where I started with this Series: I’m hopeful but also very realistic. As Boz pointed out in his chat this week, momentum shifts like this are not uncommon in the WS, but they don’t shift twice. He also walked through a bunch of old WS where one team’s offense just inexplicably folded like this. Interesting, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about what unfolded in Games 3-5. (Urquidy sounds like a word my 6 year-old would invent to win at Scrabble.) Honestly, if they could just score a few runs in the early innings, they might loosen up and play the way they’re capable of playing, but that’s a tall order against Verlander.


    29 Oct 19 at 3:43 pm

  11. Max says “I’m good.” That gives ME a boost, presumably does a lot for the outlook of his teammates as well. Gotta go 1-0 tonight!


    29 Oct 19 at 5:29 pm

  12. Happy Wednesday everybody! All we’ve got to do is go 1-0 again today!

    Wow, how the script can flip with one Stras start, and one game where Rendon really shows up. For those who have missed it, Stras is now the only pitcher ever to go 5-0 in one postseason. If Jack Morris can get into the HOF based in part on what he did in the postseason, don’t discount Stras’s chances.

    The 800-pound gorilla is now squarely on the back of the Astros. The Nats are back to playing with house money, they’ll be pumped to have Max on the mound, and they’ll be ready to run through brick walls for their fightin’ manager.

    Win or lose, it’s going to be hard for any group to top this one as my favorite Nats team of all time.


    30 Oct 19 at 7:50 am

  13. The Trea play: Pete Medhurst had the best explanation I’ve heard. He said that when he started officiating, one of his mentors told him, “Don’t go looking for trouble.” In other words, try not to inject yourself into a play. By definition, a “judgment call” is one at the discretion of the umpire to call or not call. In this case, the runner was going to be safe, he did not intentionally deviate from his path and go into the grass, and the pitcher made a bad throw. So basically, the umpire injected himself into a play where the runner was going to be safe and rewarded the team that made the bad throw.

    Holbrook wasn’t great with balls and strikes, either. MLB has a REAL problem with rewarding “seniority” over demonstrated quality among umps. This WS crew has not been good and has let ego get in the way of doing things right.


    30 Oct 19 at 7:58 am

  14. Yeah, so, to quote Michael Corleone, “Just when I thought I was out, THEY PULL ME BACK IN!” I knew if the lineup could just score a few runs, Stras would slam the door on Houston. What an amazing start! The worst call of the night, from my perspective, was Hale not letting Stras pitch a WS complete game. And Rendon calmly clubbing Astros pitching for 5 RBI, and Soto brilliantly trolling Bregman’s HR bat carry. This is legendary stuff. Even a loss tonight won’t undermine what this team has accomplished this season after starting 19-31, but a win will make them immortals. Hopefully, Max is fierce and in command, and Greinke is his usual, twitchy postseason self. A WS Game 7 is all any of us ever hope for, and I’m ecstatic we’re actually getting one, regardless of the outcome.


    30 Oct 19 at 9:53 am

  15. My best of the Trea play was just how angry he got. He’s such a chill guy that I loved seeing him that pissed off. And Dave Martinez was fantastic. I loved that, even after Rednon’s 2-run shot that saved the inning, Dave still went full Billy Martin on Holbrook got tossed BETWEEN INNINGS!

    KW, I agree with you 100%: the cardinal rule of playoff officiating in ANY sport is not to insert yourself into the game. Nevermind that the the call was wrong, it was also awful judgment to even make it.


    30 Oct 19 at 10:06 am

  16. Here’s a fun (and intelligent) take on the Trea play:


    30 Oct 19 at 10:57 am

  17. And from Boz: “On that controversial play, the Astros did everything wrong and were rewarded spectacularly. . . . The Houston press box was filled with scribes trying to remember whether a team had ever done so much incorrectly and been rewarded so richly.”–and-even-owe-a-thank-you-to-astros-alex-bregman/2019/10/30/62c820b6-fa81-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html


    30 Oct 19 at 10:59 am

  18. Good article. Thank the author!


    7 Nov 19 at 5:02 am

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