Quick Links

Nats vs. Brewers series preview

827675.png

Nats vs. Brewers series preview

By Doug McKinney
CSNwashington.com

Nationals @ Brewers
58-39 1st in NL East 44-53 4th in NL Central

The Rundown
Thursday, July 26 - Sunday, July 29
Series 33
Season Series Record vs. Brewers: First meeting of 2012

Pitching Probables
denotes left handed pitcher

Thursday, July 26 8:10 pm
Edwin Jackson (5-6, 3.73 ERA) @ Yovani Gallardo (10-4, 2.66 ERA)

Friday, July 27 8:10 pm
Ross Detwiler(5-3, 3.01 ERA) @ Mike Fiers (3-4, 1.96 ERA)
Saturday, July 28 7:10 pm
Jordan Zimmermann (7-6,2.31 ERA) @ Randy Wolf (3-6, 5.46 ERA)

Sunday, July 29 2:10 pm
Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13) @ Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.44 ERA)

Whos Hot & Whos Not
Nationals
Hot: 2B Danny Espinosa .400 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI in last 10 games
Not: RP Henry Rodriguez 6.43 ERA, 6 BB in last 7 IP

Brewers
Hot: RF Corey Hart - .304 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI in month of July
Not: Closer John Axford 15 ER, 4 L since June

A Series Look
Winners of five straight, the Nationals should not have a problem against the faltering Brewers in this weekends four game series. The Brew Crew has lost six games in a row, including three heartbreaking losses in Philadelphia. Milwaukees pitching staff ranks 13th in ERA in NL. They have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball.

Thought to be a postseason contender by pundits and analysts in the preseason, the Brewers are 9.5 games out of the wild card and are deemed total sellers at the trade deadline. They feature one of the biggest trading chips in SP Zack Greinke (who may be of interest to the Nationals).

Ryan Braun is still Ryan Braun and is putting up his typical numbers (28 HR, 69 RBI). But outside of him and a few complementary pieces (Hart, Aramis Ramirez), the Brewers line-up is badly missing Prince Fielder.

While the Nationals are 6-18 all-time at Miller Park and have yet to win there since 2009, there is no excuse for Washington to go into Milwaukee and not take three out of four. At the very least, they should come away with a split which would make for a 5-2 road trip.

Prediction: Nationals win 3-1

News and Notes
>MASH update: OF Jayson Werth (wrist) could return to the big leagues on Tuesday when his former team, the Phillies, are in town for a 3-game series. Werth is currently rehabbing in AAASyracuse and last night he led off playing CF.

>Odds & Ends: GM Mike Rizzo continues to say the wild RP Henry Rodriguez is assured a roster spot, but the club will have some difficult decisions to make once Werth and Chad Tracy (groin) are back. Rodriguez, who has a great deal of potential, lacks confidence as well as control on the mound. At some point you just have to cut ties If OF Rick Ankiel, who was recently designated for assignment, doesnt get picked up by the Yankees, it wouldnt surprise me if the Nationals persuaded the former pitcher to play for AAASyracuse (with a chance for September call-up). The Nationals love his defense and clubhouse presence.

Down on the Farm

>AAASyracuse: Give credit to SP John Lannan for his victorious spot start on Saturday night against the Braves. In his 7 inning, 2-run performance, Lannan stopped the bleeding after the Nats blew a 9-0 lead the night before and dropped the first game of a day-night doubleheader. That performance went a long way with not just his teammates who remain very close with the two-time Opening Day starter but the Nationals front office. He should be back up on August 3 for the Nationals doubleheader with the Marlins.

>AAHarrisburg: OF Brian Goodwin has struggled to hit since being called up, but when he does make contact, they have usually gone for extra base hits. Goodwin has two homers in seven games Fellow OF prospect Destin Hoods bat has really come to life, hitting .353 in his last 10 games.

>A (Advanced)Potomac: 2011 1st round pick SP Alex Meyer has yet to give up an earned run in Class A Advanced. The 69 righty is 1-0 with 12 strikeouts.

>A (Short Season)Auburn: 2011 1st round pick 3B Anthony Rendon is playing 3B for Auburn tonight. Expect him to play there for up to a week and then be promoted to Potomac. Rendon hit two home runs for the GCL Nationals.

Quick Links

Nationals, without their big guns, fall to Mets

reyes_darnaud_mets_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Nationals, without their big guns, fall to Mets

NEW YORK -- Travis d'Arnaud hit two home runs and the New York Mets ended a three-game skid, rallying past a watered-down lineup of Washington Nationals 7-6 on Friday night.

Washington manager Dusty Baker said he needed to "give my big boys much needed rest" with the playoffs nearing, and not a single regular started for the NL East champions. Star Daniel Murphy pinch hit in the eighth and flied out.

MORE NATS: RATHER HAVE THE CUBS, BREWERS, OR CARDINALS IN NLDS?

The Nationals begin the Division Series in exactly two weeks. If the current standings hold, they would host the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to open the best-of-five matchup.

Adam Lind hit a three-run homer for Washington. It was the Nationals' 203rd home run this season, matching the franchise record dating to 1969 when they were the Montreal Expos.

Howie Kendrick had an RBI double and prized prospect Victor Robles lined a two-run triple in the fifth that put Washington ahead 6-1.

Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley exited in the eighth inning because of an apparent injury. He' has struggled this season and missed more than two months because of back problems.

Nori Aoki had three hits for the Mets, including a go-ahead double in the sixth inning off Joe Blanton (2-4).

Chasen Bradford (2-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

Jeurys Familia, the Mets' third pitcher in the ninth inning, came on to strike out Robles with runners on first and third for his fourth save -- his first since May 5. Familia, who missed three months after surgery to repair a blood clot, entered as part of a double switch, with Kevin Plawecki taking over at catcher for d'Arnaud.

D'Arnaud hit a solo homer in the second and connected for a tying, three-run drive in the fifth that finished starter Edwin Jackson. That gave d'Arnaud a career-best 15 homers and marked his second multihomer game, the other coming in April against Washington.

MORE MLB: POSTSEASON BRACKET PROJECTION (THURSDAY)

Mets starter Robert Gsellman allowed six runs in five innings. He moved up a day to pitch in place of ace Jacob deGrom, who was moved back in the rotation until Sunday because of a stomach illness this week.

Quick Links

Cubs, Brewers, or Cardinals: potential postseason opponents for the Washington Nationals

cubs_brewers_cardinals.jpg
USA Today Sports

Cubs, Brewers, or Cardinals: potential postseason opponents for the Washington Nationals

The regular season is winding down and there is no drama in the nation’s capital.

With a stranglehold on the National League East for the entire season, the Washington Nationals were the first team in baseball to earn a playoff spot and their division. Since June, the Nationals’ lead has been hovering around 20 games. Their record against the division is 44-26 with three NL East series forthcoming.

Beyond that, positioning has not been a factor in the National League either. It was a near forgone conclusion that the Nationals were going to earn the No. 2 seed in the NL side of the postseason. There was a slight chance last week that Washington could pass the Los Angeles Dodgers with them losing 16 of 17 games. Alas, the Dodgers took two out of three in their series, solidifying their No. 1 seed hopes.

RELATED: MLB'S HUNT FOR OCTOBER

Dusty Baker then basically threw in the towel for that race. He spread out his rotation to six pitchers and gave his players consistent rest. Focusing on the postseason more than the playoff race, he does not appear to care about their positioning.

With that, the Nationals are all but guaranteed to finish second behind the Dodgers. Floating between four and six games back, there is no sense of urgency.

There is no worry about the team in third either. The Chicago Cubs, as of September 22, sit seven games behind the Nationals and are in the thick of a Divisional race.

Either way, even if the Nationals were to collapse and the winner of the National League Central was to rocket up to second, the Nationals will play against whoever wins the division in the No. 2 vs. No. 3 match-up.

The Central has actually been the Nationals Achilles heel this year. They finished with a 17-13 record vs. NL Central teams. It is not the whole division the Nationals have to worry about though, just the one that comes out.

Entering Friday’s action the Cubs are well on their way to winning the division, according to fangraphs.com. Below are the current odds to win the division:

Chicago Cubs                     97.8%
Milwaukee Brewers          0.9%
St. Louis Cardinals            1.3%

This is slightly misleading though, because the Central could completely flip before the postseason. The lead is 4.5 over the Milwaukee Brewers and 5.0 over the St. Louis Cardinals. However of their final 10 games, three are against the Brewers, four against the Cardinals, all seven on the road.

RELATED: UPDATED MLB WILD CARD RACE

In the five-game NLDS the Nationals will face one of these teams. Even if it is the defending World Series Champions, you have to like the Nationals’ odds.

CHICAGO CUBS PREVIEW

Current record: 85-67
2017 Record vs. Washington: 2-4
Last head-to-head postseason series: Never
Starting pitchers: Jon Lester (11-8), Jake Arrieta (14-9), John Lackey (11-11), Kyle Hendricks (7-5), Jose Quintana (6-3)
Top position players: Kris Bryant (.292 BA, 28 HRs, 69 RBIs), Anthony Rizzo (.278 BA, 32 HRs, 107 RBIs)

If these two teams were to meet up, it would be easily the best starting pitching match-up in the National League. Likely the Cubs would only go to four guys, maybe three if they get desperate. With Jake Arrieta on the mind, that would be a dicey move to start the postseason. They have not played to the level that the 2016 did a year ago, but a majority of the position players are still in place and can still put together a run.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS PREVIEW

Current record: 81-72
2017 Record vs. Washington: 3-4
Last head-to-head postseason series: Never
Starting pitchers: Zach Davies (17-9), Chase Anderson (11-3), Brandon Woodruff (2-2), Brent Suter (3-2)
Top position players: Domingo Santana (.281 BA, 28 HRs, 80 RBIs), Travis Shaw (.274 BA, 30 HRs, 96 RBIs)

As one of the hottest teams in the first half of the season, the Brewers are only relying on their early success. Their team has quickly cooled off and their number two starter Jimmy Nelson is out the remainder of the season. The rest of the roster is shaky at best as they are trying to stay relevant in the postseason chase. If the Nationals are fully prepared for the playoffs there should be no worries if Milwaukee represents the Central.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS PREVIEW

Current record: 80-72
2017 Record vs. Washington: 3-3
Last head-to-head postseason series: 2012; Cardinals won 3-2 in NLDS
Starting pitchers: Adam Wainwright (12-5), Carlos Martinez (12-11), Lance Lynn (11-7), Michael Wacha (12-8), Luke Weaver (7-1),
Top position players: Yadier Molina (.276 BA, 18 HRs, 82 RBIs), Tommy Pham (.311 BA, 21 HRs, 168 RBIs)

With both the Brewers and Cubs you know what you are getting, with the Cardinals it could be anything. The starting pitchers have a history of success, just not in 2017. Also how Wainwright comes back will be a huge factor in how the Central race will play out and how their odds in the postseason increase. With a mix of a young and aging line-up, the Cardinals can both win with the long ball and piece runs together by playing small ball. St. Louis is easily the most interesting team of the three and could be the scariest if the Wainwright comes back at 100%.

Both the Brewers and the Cardinals have to rely on each other to win the NL Central. They cannot do it on their individual series's alone.