The Nationals' managerial candidates

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Buried in Rosenthal’s latest notes column is some dish on who the Nationals may be looking at as their next manager.  Quick: which of these names is not like the others: Chip Hale, Bob Melvin, Jim Riggleman, Bobby Valentine.

The answer, of course, is Valentine, who casual fans in Washington have actually heard of and who may spur some excitement in a fanbase that desperately needs some.

Not that this makes him the best candidate. Indeed, Hale may actually be the most attractive candidate of them all. He is a former PCL manager of the year and won the league championship in 2002.  In fact, he’s won as a manager at every level in the minor leagues.  He also has the benefit of being 14 years younger than Valentine. You can’t simply assume that this makes it easier for him to relate to young guys than would Valentine, nor can you simply  assume that he’d have more energy and all of that, because (a) Valentine is a different kind of guy than your average 60 year-old manager; and (b) well, you know what happens when we assume.  But it does suggest those things, doesn’t it? At least to the point where the Nats should be very, very careful to test those kinds of things before entrusting their very young club to Valentine. 

I feel more comfortable dismissing Riggleman and Melvin.  Neither of them bring anything to the table that your average veteran, retread manager does not.  Nice guys, I’m sure, but the Nats need something more than that.  They need life and breath and excitement, and neither Riggleman nor Melvin have ever shown the ability to supply that.  Valentine — because of his history, his time in Japan, and the fact that he’s just kind of a neat guy — and Hale — because he fits the profile of a young, accomplished manager ready to finally take over the reins of Major League team — each seem better positioned to do so. 

Upshot: I don’t know enough about the merits of either Valentine or Hale to definitively say that one is superior to the other, but of the names mentioned thus far, they’d be my front runners.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.