The Washington Nationals came close, but ultimately came up short in 10 innings against the Cubs yesterday. It was an exciting game that looked like October baseball, besides the fact that the Nationals aren’t going to the postseason. With the win, the Cubs moved away from the Brewers by 1.5 games in the NL Central. Joe Maddon is fortunate to get that win or a lot of blame would have gone in his direction. Instead of going with a pinch-hitter, Maddon left Pedro Strop in the ball game to bat with the bases loaded and 1 out.
Strop bounced into a double play to end the inning, and even worse, he came up gimpy holding his hamstring after trying to beat out the play to 1st base. In the process, they lose their closer and didn’t get insurance runs. Inexcusable. Nevertheless, the Nationals weren’t able to take advantage in the bottom of the 10th and the Cubs edged out the Nats, 4-3.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Nationals yesterday. Joe Ross pitched a nice game, as he kept the Nats in the contest all game long. He’s just making his return after going out with a shoulder injury in July of 2017. Ross looked sharp and didn’t show an ill-effect from Tommy John surgery.
Max Scherzer hasn’t gotten much help from the rest of the rotation this season. Scherzer, Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez figured to be a heck of a combo this season, but Strasburg has battled injuries and Gio didn’t live up to expectations. He was recently traded to the Brewers. So, while there is blame to go around with the offense, Scherzer has been the only reliable member of the rotation. Max gets the nod tonight, while the Braves will counter with Kevin Gausman. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Braves pick below.
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves Pick
Max Scherzer (17-6, 2.31 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (4-2, 2.32 ERA)
The narrative in Washington is beginning to shift to whether Bryce Harper will be with the Nationals next season. He’s not staying for a hometown discount, so the Nationals would have to shell out some serious dough. The current rumor is that the Phillies are going to make a push to attract Harper to Philadelphia. I think I heard the same thing with Lebron going to the 76ers for months, so we’ll leave it at that.
Scherzer has been gunning for a Cy Young this season, but he’s likely to come up short behind Nola and deGrom. Nonetheless, he’s been a quality arm for the Nationals in 2018. Scherzer enters with an ERA of 2.31 on the season and a 2.04 ERA on the road. He hasn’t given much on the road, which also includes a WHIP of 0.89 and .242 OBA. Note that he hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs in a start since July 7th. The Braves have hit .234 against Scherzer in 303 at-bats.
Kevin Gausman has seen a drastic shift in production after jumping from the American League with the Orioles to the National League in Atlanta. He left Baltimore with an ERA of 4.43, and then in seven starts as a Brave, he’s posted an ERA of 2.32. In 20 innings pitching at SunTrust Park, he’s been sharp as ever with an ERA of 1.80 and 0.85 WHIP across 20 innings. In five out of six starts as a Brave, Gausman has allowed 2 or less runs. In four out of six, he’s allowed 1 or no runs. Everyone in the pitching staff has been helping out recently for the Braves. They’ve allowed just 1 run in each of their last three contests. This game should result in a nice battle between Scherzer and Gausman, with a final score falling UNDER the total.