Gio Gonzalez is starting Game 4 for the Nationals tonight, but manager Matt Williams says Game 1 starter Stephen Strasburg will be available out of the bullpen.
Strasburg has never pitched in relief, in the minors or the majors, but it’d be interesting to see how much harder he could throw in a one-inning stint after averaging 94.8 miles per hour as a starter this season.
Williams has not yet announced who would start Game 5 for the Nationals, but Strasburg is available tonight whereas the other candidate, Jordan Zimmermann, would only pitch in an “extreme emergency.”
Here are the lineups for Game 4 of the Nationals-Giants series in San Francisco:
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
SP Gio Gonzalez
Matt Williams sticks with the same lineup, which means Ryan Zimmerman remains on the bench.
CF Gregor Blanco
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Brandon Belt
SS Brandon Crawford
LF Juan Perez
SP Ryan Vogelsong
With a left-hander on the mound Bruce Bochy makes two changes after Game 3. Juan Perez gets the start in left field over Travis Ishikawa and Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval flip-flop in the 4-5 spots.
The Giants and Dodgers let games get away from them yesterday with bad decisions and bad bullpens, respectively. The Giants can still put Washington away today. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have the Dodgers’ backs against the wall. But while both L.A. and the Nats face elimination, each have hope based on the starting pitching matchups. The Dodgers because they have Clayton Kershaw going. The Nats because the Giants have pretty much the polar opposite of Clayton Kershaw going. Both series could end tonight or everyone could live on to play another day. I feel like we’re going to be playing another day in both cases.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, National League Division Series Game 4
The Time: 5:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Clayton Kershaw vs. Shelby Miller
The Upshot: The decision to pitch Clayton Kershaw on short rest seems like and even better one now than it did yesterday. Sure, he may not have his usual amount of stamina, but there is no better way for Don Mattingly to avoid his bullpen than to get a lot of innings from the best pitcher in baseball. Of course, last time out Kershaw tuckered out, abandoned his curve and melted down. Either way, the Dodgers would probably rather take their chances with his arm than with the guys down in that pen. For what it’s worth, Kershaw is 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in three career starts on three-days rest. The Cardinals, meanwhile, counter with Shelby Miller, who is working on two-weeks’ rest. It’s his first career playoff start.
The Game: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants, National League Division Series Game 4
The Time: 9:07 PM Eastern
The Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Gio Gonzalez vs. Ryan Vogelsong
The Upshot: Runs continue to come at a premium this series, with the Nationals’ breakthrough yesterday coming as a result of Madison Bumgarner’s curious decision to throw to third rather than first on a Wilson Ramos bunt, leading to all the runs the Nats would eventually need. In Gonzalez, the Nats have a guy going who was pretty hot down the stretch, putting up a 4-1 record with a 2.36 ERA in his last seven starts of the year. Such is not the case for the shaky Ryan Vogelsong. One gets the sense that the Giants have ridden him too long based on his nice run in 2011-12. On paper anyway, he may be the worst starter we’ve seen in the postseason thus far. The Nats, particularly, have feasted on him. He’s 1-2 with a 7.94 ERA in five career starts versus Washington. This year against the Nats he’s allowed nine runs and 13 hits over 11 and a third innings across two outings.
The Nationals’ season will live to see at least one more day.
Thanks to a big outing from Doug Fister and a big mistake by Madison Bumgarner, the Nationals defeated the Giants 4-1 in Game 3 of the NLDS today at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
With his team facing elimination, Fister tossed seven scoreless innings en route to the victory. He held the Giants to just four hits (all of them singles) and three walks while striking out three. The biggest threat came in the second inning, but Fister struck out Bumgarner with the bases loaded to keep the Giants off the board.
Bumgarner matched Fister until the top of the seventh. After Ian Desmond singled and Bryce Harper drew a walk to begin the inning, Wilson Ramos dropped down a sacrifice bunt. However, instead of throwing to first base for the easy out, Bumgarner decided (at the advice of Buster Posey) to go after the lead runner at third base. It backfired in a big way, as his throw eluded Pablo Sandoval and bounced along the left field line. It would have been late even if the throw was on the money. Two runs ended up scoring on the play. The very next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, singled to left to bring home the third run of the inning.
Tyler Clippard followed Fister with a scoreless eighth before Harper hit a long solo home run in the top of the ninth to provide some extra insurance. After blowing the lead in Game 2 on Saturday, Drew Storen came on to protect the lead in the bottom of the ninth. It looked pretty dicey at first, as he gave up a single to Sandoval and a double to Hunter Pence to begin the inning. However, he struck out Brandon Belt looking before getting Brandon Crawford out on a sacrifice fly and Travis Ishiwaka to ground out to end it. It’s safe to exhale, Nationals fans.
With the Giants now up 2-1 in the series, Game 4 of the NLDS will take place tomorrow night at AT&T Park. Ryan Vogelsong will start for San Francisco while Washington will counter with Gio Gonzalez.