With one swing of the stick, the Washington Nationals may have received a deathblow on their season. Thanks to a dominant performance by Max Scherzer, the Nats were rolling along Sunday night. They brought a 3-0 lead going into the 9th inning, but came out of it with a 4-3 loss. It’s always a bad loss amid a postseason chase, but losing like that is demoralizing. Rookie David Bote who was called up due to the Kris Bryant injury, made his mark with a grand slam in walk-off fashion. Bote has made the most of his time up in the majors as he’s come through without Bryant in the lineup. Bryant could be back before the end of the season.
While the Cubs celebrated the walk-off last night, the Nationals were wondering what the heck just happened. It usually goes back to the bullpen, and last night it was the relievers that wasted a gem by Scherzer. It was all on Ryan Madson who delivered up the pitch to Bote. It was at that moment Madson wishes he was anywhere but at Wrigley Field. With the loss, the Nats remain 5.5 games back of 1st in the NL East. They’ve been stuck in the same position pretty well all season long.
The Braves got a big win at home against the Brewers on Sunday. It was a wild back-and-forth affair, with the Braves getting the last word in. An Ozzie Albies long ball in the bottom of the 7th was enough to power the Braves through the final two innings. The Nationals must find a way to forget about that loss on national television and focus on the Cardinals. The Cards are alive and well suddenly, down just 2.5 for the final wildcard in the National League. They’re 5.5 behind the Cubs in the NL Central. That looks like an unrealistic comeback, but the wildcard is right there for them. The Cards have won five in a row and seven of their last eight games. They have been looking good but can’t afford to slow down. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Cardinals pick.
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals Pick
Tommy Milone (1-1, 5.50 ERA) vs. Miles Mikolas (12-3, 2.74 ERA)
Tommy Milone is not in the Nationals’ rotation because they want him there. He is there out of circumstance because of the injuries and poor pitching that has inflicted the Nats. When you have to depend on Tommy Milone to plug the holes, it’s not the best thing in the world. The last season Milone enjoyed success was back in 2015 when he posted an ERA of 3.92 with the Twins.
He’s made only three starts with the Nationals after getting called up. In Triple-A ball, Milone had a 4.19 ERA in Syracuse. That’s not great either for a guy who is hoping to stick around in the big leagues. Milone enters with an ERA of 5.50 as a National. He just got demolished for 7 runs, which included 3 long balls vs the Braves. Milone looked good against the Mets before that dreadful outing, but that’s the Mets.
Mikolas has been able to reinvent himself in 2018. Milone on the other hand wishes he could follow in his footsteps. After getting drilled for a 6.44 ERA in ten starts a season ago, Mikolas went back to the drawing board and rectified what was affecting his pitching motion. Whatever he did has worked out well. Mikolas hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs in ten starts. And in those ten starts, he gave up more than 2 runs on only one occasion.
Note that Mikolas hasn’t lost since June 29th against the Marlins. He’s also been sharp at home with a 2.01 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. I don’t know how the Nationals are going to respond after losing like that last night, and then having to travel to St. Louis to play a Cardinals team with a ton of momentum on their side. I can’t see them reacting them positively. We’ll ride with the Cards to get it done at home on Monday.