Game 4 of the NLDS between the Nationals and the Cubs is scheduled for 5:30 Eastern time. It was originally scheduled for later in the evening, but a rainy forecast caused Major League Baseball to move it up. That forecast, however, isn’t getting much better. At the moment there appears to be a nearly 100% chance of rain throughout the entire evening.
Joe Torre is in Chicago and, up until game time, it will be his call as to whether or not the ballgame gets underway. We all want a game played in dry conditions, but if it is postponed, it may be bad news for the Cubs and good news for the Nationals: if the game is played tomorrow instead of today, Dusty Baker can go to Stephen Strasburg rather than Tanner Roark as the starter, as Strasburg will be back on full rest as of tomorrow. Not that he’s admitting it yet:
Strasburg may not have won Game 1, but he allowed only two runs on three hits in seven innings in that game, and stands as a clear improvement over Roark. In an elimination game you have to assume Baker will call on his best available pitcher.
For his part, Joe Maddon says he’s sticking with Jake Arrieta whether or not the game is today or tomorrow, even though Game 1 starter Kyle Hendricks will likewise be on full rest by then. Hendricks, of course, was better than Strasburg in Game 1, but if Maddon does not use him in a theoretical Wednesday Game 4, he’d be available for a deciding Game 5 or Game 1 of the NLDS, whichever came next.
So, in the next hour or two we’ll be watching the skies. And watching for Joe Torre’s decision whether this game will be played.
Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been diagnosed with a fractured left hand, per a report from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, adds The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, and is expected miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks in recovery before he’s cleared to throw again. In a best-case scenario, the lefty will be ready to pitch again before the All-Star break, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.
The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. The Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.
This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”