The Washington Nationals send Max Scherzer out to the mound on Thursday in search of three out of four wins against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Nationals weren’t messing around last night, as they buried the Pirates early with a 6-run 3rd inning. Asdrubal Cabrera broke the inning open with a 3-run jack to deep center. The Nats had another outburst later in the game, as they tacked on more runs in the top of the 8th to make it a blowout.
Joe Musgrove stayed in the game and was ultimately chased out after 5 innings of work, having allowed 5 earned runs and 7 hits. On the opposite side, Patrick Corbin was on fire throughout the night. Paying Corbin to pitch in Washington has looked like a good move for the Nationals now. I don’t know if they’d be in a position to play in the postseason without Corbin.
The Nationals have a team that could be a sleeper contender in October. If they get to and win the Wild Card Game, I wouldn’t want to be playing them in the next round. They had issues with their bullpen earlier in the season, but they’ve been able to get better. The rotation shrinks in the postseason, so sending out starters to pitch an inning isn’t uncommon.
They have an outside chance of catching the Braves in the NL East, but as we draw closer to September, their odds continue to get slimmer. The Braves haven’t put on the brakes, which they are going to need to overcome six games. Trading wins and keeping pace isn’t good enough now.
Scherzer is expected to come off the IL against this Pirates in this one Thursday. The three-time Cy Young winner hasn’t pitched since July 25th against the Rockies. He was pitching well before having to exit this season. The Pirates are expected to counter with Steven Brault. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Pirates pick.
Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Pick:
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The injury slowed Scherzer down at a time in the season where he was feeling it. He was ahead of his overall production in his previous three outings before going out. Scherzer posted an ERA of 1.80 and 0.75 WHIP in those three games, while allowing just 4 runs in 20 innings. He was tagged for 3 earned runs in the game he was injured, so it could have been better. That was the first outing that Scherzer allowed more than 2 runs since May 17th against the Cubs. It made for nine straight games.
He also allowed 1 or no runs in eight of those starts. If it was any other season and Schezer didn’t have to contend with Ryu in Los Angeles, he’s likely winning the fourth Cy Young of his career. Ryu has a 1.64 ERA, so despite a solid year for Scherzer, he isn’t going to match that output. In any event, he is still on pace to break his career-high ERA and that is something worth gunning for. Scherzer should be able to return to more success in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Scherzer hasn’t been bothered by having to pitch on the road, either. He owns an ERA of 2.34 and 0.96 WHIP going into Thursday. Mad Max has suffered just one loss on the road in 2019, as he puts a record of 6-1 on the road tonight. His offense has been getting after lefties this season and should fare well against Brault in this one.
The Nats are hitting .274 against left-handed pitching this year. In their last ten games, they hit .327 against them. Brault has been respectable, with a 4.06 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He hopes to get his ERA below 4.00 for the first time in his four-year career. Don’t expect a matchup against the Nationals to help him out in that regard. Washington are a good candidate to win by 2 or more runs on Thursday.