Oct 10, 2012, 4:56 PM EDT
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The Nationals had the best record in baseball and the best rotation heading into the postseason. But now, after consecutive awful outings by the pitching staff, the Cards lead the Nats 2-1 in this best of five series. They lost 8-0 today.
Edwin Jackson was shaky out of the chute, and gave up four runs on eight hits. He settled down a bit, but as he made way for the bullpen, the fire began to rage again, and before it was all done the Cards had hung eight on the Nats. Pete Kozma‘s three-run homer in the second was the big blow, but the Cardinals ended up needing only one run to secure the win.
The hittability of Nats pitchers led broadcasters Bob Costas and Jim Kaat to note the absence of Stephen Strasburg. And to note that his absence will turn into serious heat on Mike Rizzo and the Nats brass should Washington go on to lose this series. I think they’re right about that. And indeed, anyone who has read this blog over the past few months knows that I disagreed with the Nats shutting down Strasburg too. But let me say this: the way the Nats are losing this series shouldn’t bring any more heat on Rizzo for the Strasburg shutdown than he’s otherwise getting.
The Nats won Game 1 with Gio Gonzalez. They lost Games 2 and 3 due to poor outings from Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson. Guess what: barring a sweep, all three of those pitchers would have gotten starts in the NLDS. They needed Jackson and Zimmermann to pitch well even if Strasburg was there. They didn’t. The biggest difference will be seen in Game 4 when Ross Detwiler gets the nod, but his presence has yet to damage Washington’s chances.
Beyond the poor outings from Zimmermann and Jackson, the real culprit here has been the Nationals’ somnambulistic offense. Washington was shut out today, leaving scads of runners on base — I counted 11. On Monday they were down 7-1 before the bats woke up. Even in the win on Saturday they scored only three. You can’t give up 22 runs in three games and expect good things, but you gotta score some runs yourself too, you know.
So no, I’m not changing my mind about the Stephen Strasburg shutdown. I still think it’s a bad call to willingly deprive yourself of your best pitcher entering a playoff series. And if the difference in this series ends up being one solid pitching performance, I’ll be willing to entertain the notion that Strasburg was as critical as people will soon be saying. But, as it is right now, let’s not pretend that Stephen Strasburg’s absence is the difference here. The Nats are in serious trouble, and it is because of a total team failure, not because of some front office decision.
Oh, it also has a lot to do with the fact that the Cardinals — who just so happen to be the defending World Series champions — are a good baseball team who have gotten strong performances from just about everyone. Let us not lose sight of that when everyone rushes to blame the outcome of this series on the absence of Stephen Strasburg.
Sep 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
You know Kershaw is the Cy Young. Is he the MVP, too?
Sep 30, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Davis isn’t a big name, but he stepped in as the primary center fielder when the Tigers traded Austin Jackson to the Mariners in the three-team swap that netted them David Price from the Rays.
Sep 30, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT
I’d say “act like you been there before,” but I’m guessing this guy has never, ever been there before.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
And the odds-makers expect a low-scoring game, too.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
You cool with this, Yankees fans? Not sure I’d be cool with this.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
Rick Porcello is in line to start Game 4, with Anibal Sanchez in the bullpen.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Wild Card games are basically coin tosses, but someone’s gotta have an edge, right?
Sep 30, 2014, 12:40 PM EDT
Nate Silver — a guy who has literally made a living poking holes in people’s dubious analysis — traffics in some of his own.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT
At the absolute latest, Davis could be eligible for Game 1 of a theoretical Orioles World Series. But maybe as soon as the ALCS.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Starring Ron Darlin, Cal Ripken, Gary Sheffield and Pedro Martinez.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT
Tempest Meet Teapot.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT
But Cespedes is not yet sure if he wants to test the market next year.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:54 AM EDT
Not the sort of thing you typically hear in these situations. Not that this situation has happened in this exact way very often.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:05 AM EDT
Looking ahead to the first action of the 2014 Postseason: The American League Wild Card Game.
Sep 29, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
Rodriguez had to settle for a one-year, $3.25 million contract before the beginning of spring training and began the season in a set-up role, but he ended up with a 3.04 ERA with 73/18 K/BB ratio over 68 innings while going 44-for-49 in save chances.
Sep 29, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
After being limited to 16 starts last season, Buchholz managed to make 28 starts this year, but he saw his ERA jump from 1.74 to 5.34 in the process.
Sep 29, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT
Castillo landed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Boston in August and batted .333 (12-for-36) with two home runs, one double, and three stolen bases during his first taste of the majors earlier this month.
Sep 29, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT
Roark has a 2.57 ERA in 252 innings as a big leaguer.
Sep 29, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
The Mariners gave Hart a one-year, $6 million deal last winter in hopes that he would be able to get his career back on track after multiple knee surgeries cost him the entire 2013 season, but he batted just .203 with six home runs and a .590 OPS over 68 games this season.
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