Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
How it happened: With All-Star Wilson Ramos now out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs with a torn right ACL, the Nationals will need others to step up and compensate for his loss. On defense, it will be up to Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino. Ramos is an excellent defensive catcher, but his two backups are perfectly capable behind the dish.
On offense is where Ramos' absence will particularly hurt and that was noted by manager Dusty Baker on Tuesday after his diagnosis was revealed. Others in their lineup will have to raise their games to fill the void.
Time will tell how much Ramos is missed, but Tuesday was a good start. The Nationals saw several players contribute to a sixth inning rally that led them to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lobaton got them started with a single to right field, the first hit of the night against Arizona rookie Matt Koch, who was making his MLB debut. Stephen Drew later drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. And after that it was Anthony Rendon who gave the Nats the lead with a three-run homer to left field.
That gave the Nationals enough to hand Max Scherzer his 19th win of the season. Scherzer lasted six innings on 98 pitches before he was pulled for a pinch-hitter.
The Nationals bounced back from their blowout loss in the series opener on Monday night and have now won three of four.
What it means: The Nationals improved to 92-65 on the season with just five games remaining.
Scherzer overcomes rocky start: Scherzer was solid on Tuesday night with six innings and two runs allowed on six hits and two walks. But his night didn't start out too well, as Scherzer gave up a solo homer to Jean Segura on the first pitch of the game. He allowed another run on a Welington Castillo double in the top of the third. After that, though, Scherzer settled in to retired seven straight batters with six consecutive strikeouts.
Scherzer finished with 10 strikeouts on the night to reach double digits for the 13th time this season and the 49th time in his career. He also got to 277 strikeouts on the season to set a new Nationals record, breaking his previous mark of 276 set just last year. Scherzer is the only active pitcher with at least two seasons of 275 strikeouts or more.
Rendon hits No. 19: Rendon's homer was his 19th of the season, two away from the career-high of 21 he set in 2014. It was also the 500th hit of his career. Rendon hasn't had the greatest month when it comes to getting on base, but he's driven plenty of runs in. With his three RBI on Tuesday, Rendon now has 22 for September, a career-high for a single month. He has 51 RBI in 64 games since the All-Star break.
Lobaton, Severino make an impact: Lobaton's hit to lead off the sixth and start their four-run rally was just a single, but was a positive sign for the Nats, who will need him to step up with Ramos out. Lobaton was replaced by Severino as a pinch-runner and Severino then came around to score on Drew's sacrifice fly. That duo may need to split a lot of playing time over the next few weeks and with Lobaton's sore right ankle, Severino could be replacing him on the basepaths late in close games quite often moving forward.
Up next: The Nationals play another 7:05 p.m. start on Wednesday night with lefty Gio Gonzalez (11-10, 4.51) set to face former Braves starter Shelby Miller (2-12, 6.47).
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Three weeks of the NFL Fantasy Football season are in the books. The fourth comes with a twist: Here come the bye weeks. Now, here come the free agent options.
— Because Aaron Rodgers is on a bye or you don't love Eli Manning at the Vikings
1. Joe Flacco, Baltimore – No amazing street options this week, but Flacco has some hope with a home matchup against a Raiders defense allowing the fourth-most points to fantasy QBs. Maybe angry Steve Smith will show and carry the day.
2. Dak Prescott, Dallas – The Cowboys face a 49ers defense that allowed six touchdown passes over the last two weeks. Trusting a rookie to produce two weeks in a row is historically dicey, but maybe Prescott, who put up good points against Chicago in Week 3, can do just that.
3. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia – The impressive rookie cannot help owners in Week 3 with Philadelphia off, but Wentz looks more and more like a viable quarterback-by-committee option.
Others: Trevor Siemian (at Bucs), Brian Hoyer (vs. Lions)
— You can drop Tyrod Taylor - Until Sammy Watkins is active AND truly healthy, the Bills don't have enough weapons to make owners feel good using Taylor.
— Because Eddie Lacy and the Eagles options are off and Jeremy Langford's ankle situation has you spooked and somebody grabbed Cameron Artis-Payne already
1. Jordan Howard, Chicago – Faces a Lions defense that has allowed 115.5 rush yards over the last two games and does with Jeremy Langford expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Owners can spend at least 1/3 of their auction budget and more for those in RB hell. Good chance Howard, who had 92 total yards on 13 touches in Week 3, keeps the job if he produces.
2. Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore – This goes out for those seeking depth. Dixon is due back soon from a preseason injury. When he does, the rookie should move quickly into the mix and then some for a backfield not getting the job done. At all.
3. Dwayne Washington, Detroit – Chicago has allowed at least one rushing TD in every game this season. Washington received 10 carries in his expanded role last week.
Others for Week 4: Orleans Darkwa, NY Giants; Kenyan Drake, Miami; Jay Ajayi, Miami
Others for stashing purposes: Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia; Dion Lewis, New England
— Because no Jordy Nelson or Jordan Matthews this week and injuries to Sammy Watkins an Willie Snead are not cool, man
1. Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland – The new "Slash" and the Browns best weapon. Crazy to think the Redskins could consider having Josh Norman shadow shadow the QB-turned-WR around. That Pryor will be given a shot to make plays with hands, feet and arm is the real intrigue.
2. Michael Thomas, New Orleans – No Willie Snead, no problem for the Saints on Monday night. San Diego has allowed 410 yards to fantasy receivers the last two weeks.
3. Jamison Crowder, Washington – The Redskins have plenty of playmaking receivers and it's time to realize Crowder is one of them. Touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, Kirk Cousins trusts him an he leads Washington in receptions and targets.
Others: Cole Beasley, Dallas (PPR), Quincy Enuwna, NY Jets; Steve Smith, Baltimore; Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay; Chris Hogan, New England;
— Because you can't trust Rob Gronkowski will really play and Zach Ertz, Jared Cook are on a bye.
1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota – The connection with Sam Bradford looks legit. Went 7-70-1 against Carolina after finding the end zone the previous week.
2. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay – In the Bucs first game without Austin Seferian-Jenkins meant lots of work for Brate. Ten targets is something. Catching five of those throws for 46 yards and touchdown is something else.
Others: Zach Miller, Chicago; Hunter Henry, Tennessee
— Because you stream this position
Likely available options in Week 4 – Redskins (vs. Browns), Jets (vs. Seahawks)