An easy night against the Philadelphia Phillies has reduced the Washington Nationals’ magic number down to three. There was no gloating for Bryce Harper, as his team sunk to 79-76 on the season. The Wild Card Game appears to be out of reach for the Phillies now. They’re heading into Tuesday down 6.5 games to the Brewers.
It’s not officially over the Phillies yet, but they are as good as done at this point. The fact that their postseason chances are coming to an end in Washington is the worst-case scenario for Bryce. While he is a guy to let the fans know how he feels, there really is no rebuttal for him now.
The Nationals are closing in on the postseason, while the Phillies are closing in on vacation plans. Now that they have a 6.5-game hole, the Phillies can start initiating those plans. A lot more pressure is going to be on the Phillies next season.
If they can’t do anything in his second season with the team, then heads are going to be rolling in Philadelphia. From the fans to the front office, the Harper deal is going to look like a colossal failure. In turn, the Nationals will look like they dodged a bullet.
The blame doesn’t fall squarely on Bryce Harper, though. Keep in mind that their pitching has not been effective. Washington opened the season with a disastrous bullpen. In fact, they are still dead last with an ERA of 5.87. That’s how bad things were. They have been better, though, and a real reason why the Nationals are close to clinching a wildcard spot in the postseason. Without the bullpen improving, the Nationals weren’t going to be going anywhere.
They were hovering around the 7.00 ERA mark, so 5.87 is an upgrade if you look at it like that. The Nats are scheduled to start Max Scherzer against Aaron Nola in this one. Nola failing to pitch like an All-Star consistently this season has hampered the Phillies’ efforts as well. Head below for our free Phillies vs. Nationals pick. Note that this is Game 2 of a doubleheader on Tuesday.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals Pick:
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Aaron Nola painted a pretty picture on the bump last season. He had a strong season with an ERA of 2.37, but has regressed to a 3.75 ERA in 2019. There is nothing wrong with that by Nola. However, the Phillies would be in a better position right now if he had been pitching like he was a season ago. In any event, Nola is hovering around his career average this year, so it isn’t like he’s been awful.
Down the stretch he’s been awfully inconsistent, though, and has been coming up short in big starts. The Phillies needed him to get hot down the stretch, though that hasn’t been the case. He’s coming off a poor showing against the Braves, as he allowed 5 earned runs in 5 innings of play. That also included 9 hits and 2 home runs yielded. Nola has been shaky, with at least 4 eared runs allowed in three of his past four outings. Note that in his last three starts, Nola has posted a 5.00 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.
The Nationals have been able to put plenty of runs up on the scoreboard against Nola. They have hit 8 home runs and 24 runs in 258 at-bats against him. Also, Nola has struggled on the road throughout 2019, with a 4.99 ERA and 1.32 WHIP as opposed to a 2.91 ERA in Philadelphia.
Conversely, Scherzer has a 2.97 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 88 innings at home. Ignoring all of that, the Nationals are going to certainly be the more motivated team here. That alone is likely going to propel the Nationals to a win here. Do the Phillies really want to be in Washington right now? Their postseason chances are dashed and the Nationals have their ace on the mound with a chance to get closer to the Wild Card Game, along with homefield advantage on that game. The Nats should have this one in the evening game of a doubleheader Tuesday.