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Crunch time

Sep 18, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

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Davey Johnson's Nationals lead the Braves by 5 games with 16 to play.

Ryan Zimmerman probably put it best late Sunday night, after the Nationals had been swept by the Braves to see their once-commanding lead in the NL East suddenly appear in jeopardy.

"There's two weeks left of playing baseball," Zimmerman said. "Everything's right in front of us."

Indeed, despite the frustrating weekend in Atlanta, the Nationals still control their own destiny. The task, really, is simple: Keep playing respectable baseball and the division title will be theirs.

Though the lead over the Braves may look tenuous — it's now down to 5 games after the Braves won in Miami last night — it's still a sizableRead more »

126 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Thanks, Mark. I feel better now. :-)

  2. Constant Reader - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    My 'magic' number since the beginning of the month has always been 95. If the Nats get to 95 wins and the Braves get to 96, tip your cap to them.

  3. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    I guess it's true: wins in April really DO count just as much. Who knew?

  4. MurrayTheRed - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Oh thank you Mark. Like what natsfan1a said, I feel much better now!

  5. DaveB - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    A couple of comments to balance on the negative side here:1. Just glanced at the Dodgers lineup and it looks absolutely murderous on paper. If all the new pickups weren't underperforming (hence the trades I guess), they would be a really scary team going into the playoffs.2. Why is it that fairly mediocre pitchers on the other side always seem to be peaking just in time for the Nats game (e.g., Harang hasn't given up more than 3 runs for 7 straight games, despite an overall ERA close to 4).

  6. baseballswami - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    DaveB – I know it's my imagination, but I feel like every pitcher and every slumping hitter and every team peaks just when they play the Nats. Paranoid? Maybe, maybe not. I am pulling for the boys and hope they have enough left in the tank.

  7. Gonat - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    The Nats still play in 5 series against teams that all want to be the Wild Card.Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals and 2 series with the Phillies.

  8. blovy8 - Sep 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Only saving grace may be that last series won't matter to the Phillies.

  9. Doc - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Thanks Dr. Mark. As with others, your words of Nats' encouragement have given me the strength to continue to believe.But I need The Beast and Espi in the lineup to reaffirm my belief.

  10. Kiterp - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    There's a force in the universe that makes things happen; all you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking…let things happen…and be…the ball.

  11. DaveB - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    swami – I'm with you, it definitely feels that way. Boswell made some comments in his last chat about how every fan always feels the pain on their own team much more acutely than they see for the other teams, and I guess that is true. Despite how LA looks on paper, I'd sure rather be a Nats fan than to be rooting for the Dodgers, having just spent all that money on other teams' problem players, and still be a long shot to even make the playoffs. GYFNG!

  12. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I know it's my imagination, but I feel like every pitcher and every slumping hitter and every team peaks just when they play the Nats.A little more cognitive therapy, then. Think of it this way: Suppose that is literally true, every player in the league plays their best games of the year against the Nats, and will continue to do so.The Nationals have the best record in the league–in either league, actually. So if your imagination is right, they have achieved that under the most difficult circumstances possible, while every other team in baseball has won fewer games against lesser competition. Says a lot for the team. (Doesn't say much for the Cubs, though.) Great reason to be optimistic.Now, if they had the best record, but other teams tanked and choked when facing them, we would have a reason to worry that their luck would run out.

  13. SCNatsFan - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    You know at the start of the season we'd be so happy taking a 5 game lead with two weeks to play… so lets enjoy it and have fun watching it play out.

  14. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Also on the plus side, the Nats play 10 of their remaining games at home, and the secret weapon walk-off wild pitch is in their back pockets, as always. ;-)

  15. whatsanattau - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Everything is going to be fine. The National's are going to win the East. The Braves are going to face the Cardinals in the wildcard and lose. The Giants will defeat the Reds. The Nationals will then defeat the Giants before defeating the Oakland Athletics in 6 games in which the final will be a 1-0 victory for Gio over Tom Milone. (you read it here first).

  16. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Put it another way: Facts have greater predictive value than speculation or prejudice.The fact is, they have the best record in baseball, with one of the youngest rosters. They have a great headstart, and no extraordinary Yankee-like pressure to win.

  17. MicheleS - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    So LA is in town and it's going to Rain -hard. Unlike last year- this game matters, I am guessing they get this game in Wednesday or Thursday.

  18. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    With the understanding that there's a reason they play the games, I offer this: LAD on the road, 36-36. MIL on the road, 28-43. Oh, and Nats at home, 44-27. Go, NATS!!

  19. JamesFan - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Nats players wanted to play meaningful games in September. Here they are. Let's see what they do with them. How tough are they?

  20. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    They're so tough, they once challenged Cole Hamels to a fight. A real fight, not a fake one.

  21. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    They're so tough, you need to dunk them in coffee before taking a bite, or they'll shatter your teeth!

  22. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    They're so tough, they can start a jukebox just by snapping their fingers.Or was that Fonzie?

  23. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Remember the fiasco w/ Dodgers and the rain from last September; waited around for three hours after Game One before the night-cap game was called. A serious PR snafu. But I won't be there tonight. Sixteen games left, so that means three more starts by Jackson . . . best possible record, therefore, is 13-3. That should do it.

  24. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    They're so tough, they cut tags off mattresses right there in the store, and hang the consequences.

  25. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    They're so tough, they can say things like "hang the consequences," and nobody dares to even smirk.

  26. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Okay, I'm freaking myself out a little bit. Y'all have a nice day.

  27. bowdenball - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    No offense, Mark, but I don't understand why you and many other people keep posting hypothetical records for the Braves to leapfrog the Nats. The assumption is that the Nats and their fans would be fine if the Braves and Nats were tied after 162 games. I think most fans- and I'm guessing most of the team- would consider a tiebreaker game for the NL East a total disaster. Not only would it mean a 50% chance that we'd be stuck in the Wild Card, but it would also mean we'd have to burn at least one and possibly two of the guys at the top of our rotation before even reaching the NLDS.I know it's a small difference, but it does change the outlook. For example, if the Nats fall apart and go 4-12, the Braves need only go 8-6 to force a tiebreaker. If the Braves get really hot and go 11-3 in their final 14, the Nats would need to go 7-9 to stay out of the tiebreaker.It still seems unlikely, yes, but a little less so. Not that I'm panicking, I just think we should be using the numbers that people care about- what will it take to lock up the NL East and give ourselves an automatic spot in a division series.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Ryan Zimmerman has everything he ever asked more "meaningful games in September".He needs to personally step it up. The error on Sunday and the O-fer on Friday and Saturday.

  29. hiramhover - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    bowdenballThe Nats own the season series vs ATL, 10-8, and so if they end with identical records overall, the Nats are the division champs, no? Or am I missing something?

  30. hiramhover - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    To answer my own question–yes, I missed that head to head record was the old method, but that changed this year.

  31. Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Yeah you right, hh — what the head-to-head advantage would do is place the potential one game tiebreaker at Nats Park. Which considering the feel of the last weekend in Atlanta vs. the last home series against the Braves, would be a good thing if we should unfortunately get into that position.

  32. SCNatsFan - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    And lets hope for good news about Espi this afternoon

  33. Laddie Blah Blah - Sep 18, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    The Nats are hungrier, the Braves more experienced. The Nats have the tougher schedule. They will have to earn it the old fashioned way. That's the way it should be.

  34. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Interesting article about stolen bases. One of the commenters makes the point that the value/risk of SB's varies wildly by situation. An extreme example: with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and trailing by one run, the break-even point for attempting to steal second is something like 35%.Nats have been bit by this way too many times! The article does not consider "defensive indifference."nerves-of-stealhttp://www.highheatstats.com/2012/09/nerves-of-steal/#more-6248

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Michael Morse has to get healthy soon. Having opposing teams seeing Werth, Harper, Zim, LaRoche, MORSE, Desmond, Lombo, Suzuki is a lot of HR power in the 2-6 spots in the lineup.Having Desi in the 5 and Espi in the 6 just was weak.This is what Rizzo has to see for next year also.

  36. MicheleS - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Ghost.. has there been any news on Morse? Haven't seen anything lately. And Agree.. Need that bat in the heart of the order.

  37. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    For Scooter: some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Washington Nationals pajamas. :-)

  38. Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    MicheleS — only thing I've seen re Morse is that (1) only remedy for his condition is rest, an undetermined amount of it, (2) until he is able to take BP successfully, which he hadn't even tried to do yet as of Sunday night. So it looks like we'll know when we know. When he feels OK to try BP and it goes OK, he's back; if he doesn't feel up to it, or tries BP and it doesn't go well, he's not.Clear as mud, until it clears.

  39. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Attagirl, 1a.

  40. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Any news on Danny's MRI?

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    MicheleS, On Michael Morse it is day by day to see how he wakes up and feels. As much as you want him in there to get his bat I still think you wait until he is 100% as you need him more for the playoffs. On the other hand, the longer he is out he will lose that timing.

  42. peric - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Nats have the best record in baseball. Of course they are going to throw their best game at them!! Its not the pathetic Nats of well just last year at the beginning anymore and the players have known that longer.And these teams are among the best in the NL. Its going to be really tough the rest of the way. The real potential negative?Good News: Perfect playoff tuneup none better.Bad News: Perfect playoff tuneup and they know it. If they lose they lose confidence going into the playoffs. They will after all be the youngest team.

  43. peric - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    This is what Rizzo has to see for next year also.That and his reasonable defensive flexibility is why Morse stays. Starter or bench still a very viable option they can call on when needed.

  44. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    That weather is not moving west to east (if it were, you could hope for it to clear out in eight or nine hours). It's moving south to north.From WaPo:Severe weather is expected today as a strong early autumn cold front sweeps through the area. A tornado watch is in effect for the entire region through 7 p.m. Damaging winds, torrential rain and tornadoes are possible in thunderstorms that develop along and ahead of the front. Showers and storms are possible throughout the day, but the most likely time for severe weather arrives this afternoon and evening.

  45. peric - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    The 6 games on the road against the Phillies and Cardinals will be key.

  46. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    The 6 games on the road against the Phillies and Cardinals will be key.True, but as a fan, I hope not. I'd like to take 2/3 from LA and 3/4 from the Brewers and just feel safe no matter what the Barfs do…

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    peric said… That and his reasonable defensive flexibility is why Morse stays. Starter or bench still a very viable option they can call on when needed. September 18, 2012 11:09 AM Morse is a starter. The team is 58-30 when he starts this year. The team is 21-8 in games where Morse has a RBI.Clearly a healthy Michael Morse is needed and Morse in the lineup gives this team a better chance to win.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Those other teams (Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals, Phillies) are all thinking, OH S–T, we have to play those Nationals!

  49. MicheleS - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    @Nationals: Fans, we are monitoring the weather and will have updates for you about tonight's game as soon as they become availableBLAH!!!!

  50. Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Looking at the two home series immediately ahead, there's reason to be cautiously optimistic.Dodgers: their current run of bad play began after a mid-August road trip where they went 7-3, winning series against the Marlins, Bucs, and Braves. Would not have wanted to play them then, but since:Dodgers @ Home — 7-10, winning vs Marlins, splitting with the Cards, Dbax, losing to the Pads (!), and being swept by the Giants.Dodgers away — 2-6 (small sample size, but consistent with trend at home), losing series to the Rockies (1-2), Dbax (0-2), and Giants (1-2). Last time we faced Kershaw, Billingsley, and Capuano; this time it'll be Harang, Beckett, and Capuano. Given those pitchers and that record, it's reasonable to hope for a 2-1 series win. (Not saying we will lose only to Capuano — you can't predict baseball like that.)Brewers: their current run of good play began after an early-August road trip where they were swept by the Rockies and lost to the Astros(!).Brewers @ Home — 13-3 (swept the Cubs, the fading Bucs, and the Braves most recently; split with the Phils, beat the Mets). Home play is clearly at the core of their recent strength.Brewers Away — 9-5 (beat fading Bucs 2-1, Cubs 3-1. split with Marlins, beat Cards 2-1). Certainly did well but did not exactly beat powerhouses — the best was the Cards who, since mid-August have gone 4-5 at home against real teams (leaving out a sweep of the Stros and a 2-1 series win over the Mets).We won't see Fiers, who beat us 6-0 last time, as he's pitching against the Bucs on Thursday. We'll probably see Marcum, Peralta (new callup), Estrada, and Galliardo; between them and their bullpen (except for new callups, all with ERAs in the high 3s and up), hard to see us doing worse than a split. So I hope on this homestand, we can take at least 4 off the magic number, and it's reasonable to think the Braves should lose two of their next 5 games against the Marlins and Phillies. Barring a total and unexpected collapse (especially against the starters we'll be facing), it's a fair bet of a magic number of 5, and no worse than 6, entering the last 9 games of the season for us and the Braves. Our fate would still be entirely in our own hands. Just playing out some more specifics in the round number scenarios Mark laid out.

  51. Joe Seamhead - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Well, the Dodgers don't come back this year, this game is very important to the pennant races and wild card races for several teams. This game must be played, but with the dire weather forecast for this evening, and the lovely weather predicted for tomorrow, would it not make sense to just go ahead now and schedule a double header for tomorrow, or for Thursday? From a pitching staff perspective, tomorrow makes more sense. We have a 60 mile round trip, in rush hour getting there. I sure wish the Nats would just do the right thing and make the postponement call earlier, rather then later.

  52. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Very nice analysis Steady. I agree with you that we have every reason to expect a significant shaving of the Magic No. over this homestand. Another thing to remember is that the last time the Nats came home for a long homestand after a difficult road trip that included a demoralizing sweep by a tough divisional opponent (remember the pasting the Phillies gave us in late August?), they went 8-3. Perhaps the most impressive thing looking at the standings is that notwithstanding being swept in Atlanta, this team still has the best record in baseball.

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    MLB confirmed that the teams in the Wild Card game can change their roster for the Division Series. That is big as you could leave 3 starters you weren't planning on using off the Wild Card roster and bolster up the bench and bullpen then go to a more traditional 4 starter 8 bullpen 5 man bench roster for the Division series.

  54. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Ghost, yes. This has led to several analysts (Rany and Joe; Dave Cameron) suggesting a "bullpen" type game for the WC if your Ace is not Justin Verlander.

  55. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    NatsLady, I must be out of touch. I have never heard of Rany, Joe or Dave Cameron.I just saw it scroll on MLB Network.

  56. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    For weather updates, call the Nats at 675-6287, then press 5 for the inclement weather information line. The Nats don't have a good history of postponing games well in advance. But then again, if they postponed every game at noon (or even 3 pm) when the weather for the evening looked bad they would have played a whole lot of doubleheaders this year.

  57. feelanau - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Hanley was a Nats-killer as a Marlin; will that remain true as a Dodger? That's my biggest concern these next three games.I also have tix for tonight. Please, please Nats, make the decision for a Wednesday or Thursday doubleheader sooner rather than later!

  58. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Good stuff, Steady Eddie. Thanks!I've also been wondering what Hanley will do against our boys with his new team.

  59. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    OK, Ghost, here are some links. Here is Cameron on fangraphs.play-in-game-strategy-skip-the-starterhttp://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/play-in-game-strategy-skip-the-starter/Rany and Joe have a podcast, and I don't remember which episode they made the suggestion, but here is the link to their site. They are excellent but can get very talky. baseball-show-rany-joehttp://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/baseball-show-rany-joe/id423737550Rany posted a long article on the Grantland site about the Stras Shutdown (he's agin' it) which was promptly refuted on Bullpen Banter.rebuking-ranys-rebuke-of-the-nationalshttp://bullpenbanter.com/rebuking-ranys-rebuke-of-the-nationals/

  60. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    I take everything these analysts say–especially about the Nats–with a salt truck, but I have a long commute to work and it passes the time.

  61. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Thanks NatsLady. Yep, I read Dave Cameron. Just didn't ring a bell.

  62. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    From Calcaterra of HBT (an Atlanta fan), who does not approve:Just more distortion from a setup that already distorts all that is important in baseball: depth, stamina and the ability to win a majority of games as opposed to EVERY GAME MATTERING like it does in other sports.It’s quite possible that we’ll have a wild card games with starters going three innings, followed by seven relievers used over the course of the next six innings with every quasi-critical situation leading to some matchup-optimizing pitching change. All of the anti-excitement of an All-Star Game except the outcome matters way more.Why on earth are the rules this way? If the wild card game is the playoffs, why aren’t teams required to use their postseason rosters? This makes zero sense to me and just underscores how contrived the play-in game is.

  63. Feel Wood - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Why on earth are the rules this way? If the wild card game is the playoffs, why aren’t teams required to use their postseason rosters? This makes zero sense to me and just underscores how contrived the play-in game is.If you stop thinking about the wild card game as "the playoffs" it makes a lot more sense. The wild card game is not a playoff game, it's a play-in game. It's no different than a tiebreaker game in that regard. Win the game and you are in the playoffs, lose the game and you're not. And given that, the roster decision makes sense too. Basically it allows the teams in the play-in game to operate under the expanded roster rules followed in the last month of the regular season, with the only difference being that both teams are capped at the same number of players.

  64. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I have no objection to the WC/playin game rules, actually. Just stating what others have said. With our bullpen, if we had to play it, it would greatly favor us. But I'd still rather not play it!!!! Really rather not!

  65. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Calcaterra assumes the Wild Card teams have 7 great pitchers in their bullpens.

  66. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    NatsLady, Wild Card gets games One and Two at home.A big difference this year.

  67. phil dunton - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    With the bullpen totally burned out and with the latest injuries, the Nats are in a very prcarious position.

  68. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    I like that there's only one game for the wild card teams; it makes division championships more important. But I do hope they'll consider requiring the same roster be used for the ensuing division series.A small quibble, to be sure.

  69. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Ghost, exactly! And if you look at our BP, don't you see the seven? Or eight if Burnett is ok? And that's without using Lannan in the bullpen.

  70. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Ghost, true on the WC starting at home (which will be rectified next season, giving even more advantage to winning the division.) However, the Nats do pretty well on the road, though I have a headache still from that chop.

  71. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    Thanks for posting the link to Cameron's article. It's an interesting idea, and the comments add some interesting proposals/twists, and some good responses. One of my favorites, though, started with this: "If this is a video game, it might make sense. In reality, it’s very risky."Most people, and perhaps even Cameron, seem to agree it will never happen. And that's probably a good thing. If the Nats were in that situation (and I sure hope they won't be), and want to save Gio or JZnn for games 1 and 2 of the NLDS, I'd much rather see E-Jax or Det start the game on regular rest, with Davey wielding a quick hook if necessary. While Clipp, Storen, Stammen, and Burnett (pre-injury) might have better numbers than our starters, I'm not inclined to entrust a do or die game to Gorzo, Gonzales, Mattheus or Burnett (post injury) unless I absolutely have to.I also think that the idea of pinch hitting for the pitcher every time around is dangerous. You run the risk of not having PHs that you can match up in crucial late game situations. That takes one of Davey's best weapons out of his hands.

  72. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    There was also a suggestion of carrying extra catchers, so you could pinch hit for them. I don't see the Nats doing that, though.

  73. MicheleS - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Since we are all bored. Go Vote for Ryan as the Roberto Clemente Winner. You have to put up the Chevy commercial crap, but I figure MLB already has my email for all the other spam/advertising they send to me.Roberto Clemente Award

  74. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    NatsLady said… There was also a suggestion of carrying extra catchers, so you could pinch hit for them. I don't see the Nats doing that, though.The rules allow in the post-season that if there was an injury you could replace the player such as a catcher the following game.Davey will boost the bullpen I would think when he goes to Gio-JZim-Det-EJax as his post-season starters. Christian Garcia should be the 8th man in the 'pen.

  75. JaneB - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Not that it matters, but I'm also rooting for a postponement, if one is going to happen, sooner than later. I bet they'll try to get it in, even if it starts at 10:00 or something. WHich will cause more Metro debate.I'm checking everywhere for Danny news, and wondering why there isn't any. They must know something by now. WHich makes me think they are trying to figure out how to package what they know. Go away, rain. Stop soon. It's a long drive to the stadium!I'll confine the rest of my whining to myself. AT least for a while.

  76. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Ghost, I think you're probably right, but is there a chance that Davey would prefer having Sandy Leon as an additional switch-hitting bench bat/catcher insurance to having an 8th reliever in a 5 games over 6 days series? And if Davey concludes Burnett is not able to pitch effectively, who is the 8th reliever? Lannan?

  77. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    Other than Burnett, I don't see where the bullpen is "burned out" or even showing particular signs of wear. Bear in mind that Aroldis Chapman has been shutdown for a week now, and who knows when he'll be back, so every contender is in a similar situation to the Nats.Clippard – has been heavily used for three years, including the first half of the season and as "closer." However, recently, there have been a couple of 5-day stretches where he hasn't pitched. I would not say he's burned out, but there is reason for caution.Storen – Davey's been really careful about bringing back, so careful some fans have been impatient.Stammen – comes close to being overused, but hasn't shown any ill-effects.Mattheus – maybe he has been overused, seems prone to one or two bad meltdowns and then a streak of excellence. Remember he had a period on the DL, but since then he hasn't gotten many long breaks. Again, you hope Davey is careful, but I don't see that he's burned out.Garcia – not overused, is in "testing" mode.Duke – not overused. Gorzelanny – not overused. M. Gonzalez – not overused, and certainly an asset to the bullpen.Chien-Ming Wang – hasn't been used at all. Not clear if he will be used unless it is a blowout or the Nats have clinched. Burnett – was probably overused and injured.Assuming a double-header tomorrow, it will be necessary for Davey to manage ALL of the pitching staff carefully for the next two weeks. No more off-days until October 4.

  78. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Note to Nats players:DON'T DO STUPID STUFF. Especially don't throw equipment if opposing players trash talk you or paint slogans in Spanish on your eye-black. Just don't do it. That is all.

  79. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    The Wild Card game also depends on the schedule of the rotation. Wild Card game is Friday October 5th with Division winners playing Saturday October 6th and Best Record team plays the Wild Card team at the Wild Card stadium on Sunday October 7th.If Nats have the 2nd best record, it sets up for Edwin Jackson starting or best record Ross Detwiler. Of course much easier if Nats wrap up the Division and Davey can set up for playoffs.Nats have no more day offs the remainder of the season:Tuesday Sept 18 Dodgers Jordan ZimmermannWednesd Sept 19 Dodgers John LannanThursda Sept 20 Dodgers Edwin JacksonFriday Sept 21 Brewers Ross DetwilerSaturda Sept 22 Brewers Gio GonzalezSunday Sept 23 Brewers Jordan ZimmermannMonday Sept 24 Brewers John LannanTuesda Sept 25@Phillie Edwin JacksonWednesd Sept 26@Phillie Ross DetwilerThursda Sept 27@Phillie Gio GonzalezFriday Sept 28@StLouis Jordan ZimmermannSaturda Sept 29@StLouis John LannanSunday Sept 30@StLouis Edwin JacksonMonday Oct. 1 Phillie Ross DetwilerTuesda Oct. 2 Phillie Gio GonzalezWednesd Oct. 3 Phillie Jordan ZimmermannFriday Oct. 5 WILD CARD TBDSaturd Oct. 6 3rd Div winner play @ 2nd Div WinnerSunday Oct. 7 Best record team plays @ Wild Card

  80. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Sect 222, Davey likes a bigger bullpen over a bigger bench as he has said before, but with Davey he could have a different idea on a short series.

  81. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    For all those worried about Lannan pitching against the Phillies, hard to believe the schedule currently has him not appearing in those games. That would change if Davey changes up the rotation. Hard to do with no days rest the remainder of the season unless he puts Duke or Wang into the rotation to give some rest.

  82. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Nats Lady — good lay-out of the problem. Without taking the time to sort through a bunch of web sites, I've got to believe that Stammen, Mattheus, Burnett, Clippard and Gorzelanny are in the top ten in the NL in either innings or appearances for relief pitchers, or both. And M. Gonzalez has been in 42 games and he wasn't here for the first quarter of the season. Not counting all the times they warmed up and weren't used. (Tho Johnson is pretty good about not wasting warm-ups.) Burnett, I'm afraid, is shot/close to shot and if I were Johnson I wouldn't make plans for the post-season built around him playing a significant (or any) role. Going into the Braves series I said I'd take the Nats bullpen over theirs at the end of the game — and I turned out to be wrong, twice.I don't see how they can go into the WS (which right now isn't something I'm counting on) with an 8-man bullpen and a need to deploy a DH. So, Rizzo/Johnson will have to make some tough choices then (IF they get that far), if not sooner.

  83. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Actually, Gio could pitch October 6th on regular rest if nothing changes and October 7th with an extra games rest.

  84. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    paint slogans in Spanish on your eye-black¿Qué the heck?

  85. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Theo, in the WS you don't have to pinch-hit for your pitcher so no need to change. Morse is your RH for DH and Chad Tracy is your LH for DH.

  86. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Scooter, the shortstop in Toronto put a gay slur on his eye black written in Spanish.

  87. MicheleS - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Scooter.. Idiot guy on the jays did this.Escober And in the tonight's news segment. This is for you that have Pepco.@capitalweather: Given potential for power outages, suggest charging phones, etc. NOW if you haven't already

  88. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    On another note:Curses! If only there were more time — two weeks ought to be enough, though I'd rather have two and a half — for us to see which players are healthy/effective/available for the postseason rosters!

  89. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Scooter–BIG Controversy. Not-Strasburg-Related, so I understand not paying attention.escobar-the-victim-of-a-prank-possible-but-unlikelyhttp://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/09/18/escobar-the-victim-of-a-prank-possible-but-unlikely/

  90. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Ghost, if the Nats have the best record, the rotation you outline sets up Gio to go in Game 1 on regular rest, followed by JZnn, even if they have to pitch the last two games of the season. (So maybe if we've clinched by then, they each go 3 innings to stay fresh.) But if we have to play on Oct. 6, then E-Jax or Det would have to pitch that game, followed by Gio. I don't see Davey sticking with the rotation and pitching Det or E-Jax in Game 1 if Gio is available on regular rest.

  91. Scooter - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    I like that: a "gay slur." Would it be better if the slur were heterosexual? What if it were exceptionally tall, or had blue eyes?Yes, yes, I know what they meant. I'm done now.

  92. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Ghost — If Tracy is your DH, you probably pinch hit for him against a LHRP. If Morse doesn't heal up, you probably PH for him, too, against a RH — or at least a hard-throwing RH. And if Morse DHs, the LF candidates aren't locks to be swinging against both RHs and LHs. What's more, the DH is going to be used in only three games, max, so you need the full complement of position players/bats off the bench to play the four other games.

  93. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    If Morse is in the game, there is no way Davey pinch hits for him. Thinking of him as a platoon player went out with ol' Jim Riggleman.

  94. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Sect 222, I would have no problem with Det on 6 days rest as he has been great but I'm sure Davey wants to start with Gio to JZim to Det to EJax

  95. Feel Wood - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Nats have no more day offs the remainder of the season:Tuesday Sept 18 Dodgers Jordan ZimmermannWednesd Sept 19 Dodgers John LannanThursda Sept 20 Dodgers Edwin JacksonFriday Sept 21 Brewers Ross DetwilerSaturda Sept 22 Brewers Gio GonzalezSunday Sept 23 Brewers Jordan ZimmermannMonday Sept 24 Brewers John LannanTuesda Sept 25@Phillie Edwin JacksonWednesd Sept 26@Phillie Ross DetwilerThursda Sept 27@Phillie Gio GonzalezFriday Sept 28@StLouis Jordan ZimmermannSaturda Sept 29@StLouis John LannanSunday Sept 30@StLouis Edwin JacksonMonday Oct. 1 Phillie Ross DetwilerTuesda Oct. 2 Phillie Gio GonzalezWednesd Oct. 3 Phillie Jordan ZimmermannAll it takes is a rainout followed by a makeup doubleheader to screw that up. Spot start needed by someone like Duke to push everyone back a day so that the guy whose game got rained out doesn't end up pitching on short resr. Could happen as early as tonight. That's why they won't make a decision on tonight's game until as late as they possibly can. It's not about the convenience of the fans, it's about winning this game and the ones that follow.

  96. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Theo, remember there is only a maximum of 3 World Series games with a DH this year. Odds are only 2 of those will have a RH pitcher giving Tracy 2 starts at DH. Davey may also start Lombo in those 2 games to have Espi off the bench as a pinch-hitter from the right-side if needed to replace Tracy.I think an 8 man bullpen gives Davey more flexibility to pitch to situations.

  97. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Feel Wood, no doubt. That schedule could change quickly if there is a rainout. Best to also keep Lannan not facing the Phillies.

  98. bowdenball - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Good news on Espinosa. Injury is minor, will must just a day or two most likely.

  99. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    If there's a doubleheader tomorrow, try this:Wednesd Sept 19 Dodgers JZim/John LannanThursda Sept 20 Dodgers Edwin JacksonFriday Sept 21 Brewers Ross DetwilerSaturda Sept 22 Brewers Gio GonzalezSunday Sept 23 Brewers Zach DukeMonday Sept 24 Brewers John LannanTuesda Sept 25@Phillie Jordan ZimmermannWednesd Sept 26@Phillie Edwin JacksonThursda Sept 27@Phillie Ross DetwilerFriday Sept 28@StLouis Gio GonzalezSaturda Sept 29@StLouis John LannanSunday Sept 30@StLouis Jordan ZimmermannMonday Oct. 1 Phillie Edwin JacksonTuesda Oct. 2 Phillie Ross DetwilerWednesd Oct. 3 Phillie Zach Duke

  100. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Very good point Feel. Zach Duke, your moment in in the sun (or under gray skies as the case may be) may be coming soon.

  101. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Ghost, you've got four lefties in a row there, against the Brewers and Ryan Braun. Doesn't seem likely. I would think that since he hasn't been used in a while, Duke could get the spot start in the 1st game, with JZnn going in the nightcap and everyone else moving back a day. I know you don't want to send Lannan out against the Phillies. I guess the question is whether that is more important than alternating the LH and RH starters.

  102. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Got ticket for tonights game but not thrilled about traveling during storms and a tornado watch. I wish they would postpone until tomorrow.Crunch time is really here and boy do I feel the pressure. I really appreciate you providing prospective, Mark.

  103. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Isn't JZ already pitching on an extra days' rest? If I recall, that doesn't work so well for him. I foresee a long rain delay, like the Cubs did yesterday.

  104. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    bowdenball said… Good news on Espinosa. Injury is minor, will must just a day or two most likely. September 18, 2012 2:26 PM I was skeptical when I wrote about "what injury" and didn't expect a MRI would show anything.Danny just went back in a funk started by going back to his long looping swing. That has to frustrate Davey who has staked a lot on fixing Danny after his horrific Mendoza line stats from the left-side for over 2 months to start the season.Until Morse comes back, TyMo needs to be the 6 hitter and Lombo the 7 hitter.

  105. bowdenball - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    I hear ya, Sonny. But as others have pointed out, postponing the game hurts the Nats from a competitive standpoint. They don't have any days off in the near future, so a doubleheader tomorrow or Thursday means they have to find a #6 starter to pitch against the Brewers at some point during the wraparound series. And unlike their previous doubleheader makeup games, the Brewers will not have to do the same. It puts the team in a tough spot.

  106. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Sect 222, right now Ryan Braun is bashing everyone and it doesn't matter lefty or righty. This is now a very lefty rotation.

  107. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Man, its raining cats and dogs here in Reston. Lot of wind also. Com'on Nats, postpone please.

  108. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    SonnyG, it could be fun. I hear at the Cubs game last night, at the part where you guess the attendance, they had to guess the fans' names, as well as the number. The Pirates brought the Cubs a ball and asked them to have the fans sign it.

  109. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    If they don't start the game until 11 p.m. I can go!

  110. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Posted before I read your comment, bowdenball. Good point you make. Therefore, I take back my request to postpone. I do not want to do anything that harms my Nats chances. Might just eat my ticket though.

  111. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    bowdenball said…Good news on Espinosa. Injury is minor, will must just a day or two most likely.B-ball, where did you see that? Good news.

  112. nationals7 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Dodgers game… From weather channel.. kinda,looks like dc is surrrounded but the storm mostly west & east throughout the evening.

  113. MicheleS - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Just started pooring in Tysons…

  114. bowdenball - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    The Espinosa news was from Craig Heist of WTOP via twitter. Haven't seen anyone else report it yet.

  115. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Heading out to Burke now. Good luck, people and stay safe. GO NATS!!!!!

  116. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Downpour is over in Reston. Just a light sprinkle now. I just don't know what to do. I depend on the subway and it quits running early, so I can't stay late anyway.

  117. NatsLady - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    OK, didn't make it out the door yet, buckets and cats and dogs in Foggy Bottom. Kitty is watching but since no thunder or lightning (so far) she's not under the bed.

  118. Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Looking at the weather map, looks like the heavy stuff clears out by 6 or 6:30, so the question is, what's in its wake? Projected map shows no thunderstorms but on and off rains in a thick band trailing behind the t-storms. But I've looked at those projected maps for past games, and they tend to be based on the same probabilities as the %s (surprise!) — that is, they show the rains covering all the areas with a 40% or 50% chance. But when you look at the map for the past few hours, it shows much tighter fronts and much smaller areas covered by rain than the projected maps for the same areas.So no one knows until the weather gets here. I'm going to stay hopeful that they get it in tonight. But am taking my umbrella and seat rag. If it's not postponed before I leave.

  119. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Danny listed day to day, ladson reports.

  120. SCNatsFan - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Faraz aren't we all day to day?

  121. Feel Wood - Sep 18, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    Aren't we all, Vin Scully retorts.

  122. natsfan1a - Sep 18, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    In other news, just noticed this on Mark's Tweeter update thingy. (IOW, a round of cortisone for all my friends. :-))Mark Zuckerman ‏@MarkZuckermanEspinosa has bone bruise in left shoulder capsule. Got cortisone shot yesterday, may be able to play tomorrow.

  123. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Morse in tonight's lineup.

  124. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    Just got text msg from MASN that tonight's game is postponed

  125. SonnyG10 - Sep 18, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Straight double header tomorrow at 4 pm.

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