Observations from and analysis of the Nats’ series loss to the Dodgers
Game 1: 7-0 loss on Friday night (Sept. 15)
Game 2: 3-2 loss on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 16)
Game 3: 7-1 win on Sunday night (Sept. 17)
1. What an odd series this was. You had the top two teams in the National League meeting in a series that clearly wasn’t that important to either team. The Nats obviously don’t care about overtaking the Dodgers for one-seed in the NL, and that’s fine; they would be better off playing the Cubs instead of Arizona in an NLDS. But consider that the Nats did nothing to jigger their rotation so as to get more than one of their top three starters to start, including going with A.J. Cole on Saturday afternoon; he allowed three runs in five innings. Also, Dusty Baker didn’t use two members of the Law Firm, Sean Doolittle and Brandon Kintzler, in either of the first two games of the series.
2. Stephen Strasburg’s franchise-record scoreless streak ended at 35 innings on Sunday night, but he still had another good outing: one run in six innings on eight strikeouts versus three hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch. Strasburg now over six starts since returning from the right-elbow nerve impingement: three runs in 41 innings, 49 strikeouts versus seven walks. The Nats, incredibly, came out of this series with three of the top five pitchers in the majors in bWAR this season: Gio Gonzalez is no. 2 (6.55), Max Scherzer is no. 4 (6.35) and Strasburg is no. 5 (5.79).
3. Has the Edwin Jackson carriage turned back into a pumpkin? He on Friday night was bad for a third consecutive start, allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in what was easily his worst start as a Nat this season. Jackson gave up three homers, two doubles, a single and two walks on just 55 pitches. The homers: two-out full-count solo shot by Justin Turner in the top of the first and leadoff bomb by Yasiel Puig and a two-out first-pitch three-run blast by Corey Seager in a five-run second. Jackson now has allowed 16 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
4. The bullpen was excellent, providing 13 2/3 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts.
5. The Nats’ offense continued its post-Bryce-Harper-injury slump for most of this series, though they did have eight hits and five walks on Sunday night. Ryan Zimmerman had a three-run homer, a solo homer and a single in that game. Adam Lind had a pinch-two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the eighth. That was his fourth pinch homer of the season, a record for the Nats franchise since it moved to D.C.
6. The Nats reached the 90-win plateau with Sunday night’s victory, making Dusty Baker just the 12th manager in major-league history to win at least 90 games in each of at least 10 regular seasons. You don’t do something like that without being good at what you do. There are strategic things with Dusty that bother me, and his postseason track record certainly isn’t the greatest, but I will always give him respect for the amount of winning he has done.