Breaking down the Nationals’ four-game stand at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Game 1: 6-5 loss on Thursday night (June 11)
Game 2: 8-4 loss on Friday night (June 12)
Game 3: 7-2 win on Saturday (June 13)
Game 4: 4-0 win on Sunday afternoon (June 14)
What I liked:
1. Max Scherzer’s start in Game 4 – Scherzer was outstanding, setting a franchise record with 16 strikeouts in tossing a one-hit shutout in which he also allowed just one walk. He also hit a single and appropriately was doused in chocolate syrup by Drew Storen after the game. Scherzer registered a 100 in Bill James’ Game Score metric, something that neither Stephen Strasburg’s 14-strikeout major-league debut (75; remember, he gave up a two-run homer in that game) in June 2010 or Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter (96) in Sept. 2014 did. In fact, the 100 score has only been reached 12 times, making it rarer than even a perfect game, which has been done 23 times.
2. Joe Ross’ start in Game 3 – Ross, in just his second major-league start, allowed two runs in eight innings, recording eight strikeouts versus seven hits and a walk.
3. Bryce Harper – Harper went 6-for-9 with three walks over Games 1-3, blasting a solo homer and an RBI single in Game 2 and providing two more RBI singles in reaching base five times in Game 3. But the last time he reached base in Game 3 was a hit-by-pitch on his left knee, and Harper did not play in Game 4.
4. Anthony Rendon – Rendon went 1-for-3 with a walk in each of the four games, belting a double in Game 2.
5. Denard Span – Span went 5-for-17 with two walks and went 2-for-2 on stolen bases.
6. Danny Espinosa’s versatility – Espinosa went just 2-for-15 in the series, but he started at shortstop in Game 1 and first base in Games 3 and 4. Espinosa now has played at first base, second base, shortstop, third base and left field this season.
7. Help for the bullpen – The Nats on Thursday acquired reliever David Carpenter from the Yankees for minor-league second baseman Tony Renda. Carpenter tossed a scoreless eighth in Game 2. He had struggled this season, posting a 4.82 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over 18 2/3 innings with the Yankees and getting designated for assignment last week. He was good for Atlanta over the previous two seasons, including recording 141 strikeouts over 126 2/3 innings.
Renda was a 2012 second-round pick. The Nats believe they have middle-infield depth with Yunel Escobar, Danny Espinosa and prospects Trea Turner and Wilmer Difo.
What I didn’t like:
1. Ryan Zimmerman being placed on the 15-day disabled list – The Nats on Thursday placed Zimmerman on the D.L. with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and recalled outfielder Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Syracuse.
Should Zimmerman have gone on the D.L. sooner? We know that he has been dealing with the foot issue for nearly two months. He is having a terrible season offensively, posting an on-base percentage of just .265 and currently mired in a 4-for-46 slump. Yes this is a total hindsight question to ask, but you have to wonder if the Nats waited too long on this one.
Another thought: here we go again. Zimmerman has been a stable, loyal and productive face-of-the-franchise-type player for the Nats for more than a decade. But his injury history is undeniable:
• 2014: Played in just 61 games…missed 44 games due to a right thumb fracture…then missed 55 games due to a right hamstring strain
• 2013: missed 14 games due to a left hamstring strain
• 2012: missed 13 games due to right shoulder inflammation
• 2011: missed 58 games with a left abdominal injury
• 2010: missed the final 10 games due to a rib injury
• 2008: missed 48 games due to a small labral tear in his left shoulder
2. Tanner Roark’s start in Game 1 – The Nats blew a 5-1 fourth-inning lead, and Roark played a big role in that, giving up two runs in the fourth, a run in the fifth and then a solo homer to Gerardo Parra in the seventh. The final line for Roark: five runs in 6 2/3 innings on nine hits and a walk.
3. Zimmermann’s start in Game 2 – Zimmermann allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings, giving up nine hits in what was his second straight bad start after nine consecutive quality starts.
4. More struggles for the bullpen – Aaron Barrett allowed the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth of Game 1, giving up an RBI single to Scooter Gennett after a throwing error by Rendon. Taylor Hill and Blake Treinen combined to allow two runs in 2 2/3 innings on six hits in Game 2.
5. Barrett being placed on the 15-day D.L. – Barrett’s ERA ballooned to 5.06 over 30 games off his Game 1 performance, and the Nats on Friday placed Barrett on the D.L. with a strained biceps.
6. Ian Desmond – Desmond had a pinch single in Game 1 but then went 0-for-12 with 10 strikeouts over the final three games of the series.