With his team up 2-1 looking for a clinching victory in the NL Division Series, Nationals manager Dusty Baker wants to sleep on his decision of whom to start in Game 4 in Los Angeles. Baker told reporters following the Nats' Game 3 win that it's between right-handers Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez, but he wouldn't commit to either.
Either way, both could end up pitching in the game. Ross is still working his way back to full strength from right shoulder inflammation and Lopez is the Nationals' longman. If Ross starts, Lopez will waiting in the wings, ready to take over if he encounters trouble. If Lopez starts, Ross would then become the long reliever.
Both pitchers faced the Dodgers once this season. Lopez saw them on July 19 in his MLB debut and gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Ross held them to two runs through 6 1/3 innings on June 22, two starts before he suffered his shoulder injury.
With a 5.91 ERA through 44 total MLB innings, Lopez offers less of a sure thing than Ross, who boasts a 3.52 ERA in 181 2/3 career innings.
The question could come down to who they trust more to come in if the game gets out of hand. Do you roll with Ross, who is probably the safer bet, but then go with Lopez to clean up a mess if it happens? Or, do you go with Lopez and have Ross ready to take over if things get out of hand?
It's a tough call. On the face of it, Ross makes sense to start. But if he loses control, their best option to spell him will be a guy with little experience to pull from.
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