Milton Bradley’s initial hearing is put off

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Milton Bradley is still charged with making felony threats, but there’s a chance that things are looking up.  As Geoff Baker reports, Bradley’s initial hearing has been postponed until March 9th in lieu of a hearing with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office.  It’s apparently a standard thing in domestic violence cases, done after the heat of the initial incident has died down.  At the hearing both Bradley and his alleged victim — his estranged wife — will be interviewed, and then officials will decide whether or not to proceed with the case.

As I noted when this all broke, the law Bradley is charged with violating carries a subjective element. Specifically, his wife had to have taken the threat seriously at the time and had to have been placed “in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety.”  It’s not like there can be hard physical evidence of such things. If so, it would be an assault case or something else.

So, while we have no idea about the facts of this case, we do know that because of the subjectivity of it the law is one that is way harder to charge and prosecute than many others, and may be one that with the passage of time, renders the complained-of behavior less stark than it seemed in the heat of the moment.

All of which is to say that the interview with the D.A. is no mere formality on the way to a prosecution.  The prosecution could very well proceed. Or it could, depending on what the prosecutors hear, end on March 9th.

Nationals’ starting pitching carrying them into World Series

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In my postseason preview at the end of September, I listed the Nationals’ starting rotation as a strength and their bullpen as a weakness. Anyone who had followed the club this season could have told you that. Even the Nats are aware of it as manager Dave Martinez has leaned on his rotation to hide his sometimes unreliable ‘pen.

In Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Martinez was burned by his bullpen as Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, and Hunter Strickland combined to allow six base runners and four runs. Martinez used ace Max Scherzer in relief in Game 2, sandwiched by Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. Starter Patrick Corbin pitched in relief in Game 3 and it backfired, but the bullpen after Corbin continued to allow more runs — three officially, but Wander Suero allowed two inherited runners to score on a three-run homer by Max Muncy. Martinez only had to rely on Doolittle and Hudson in Game 4 and he again went to Corbin in relief in Game 5.

The strategy was clear: use the actual bullpen as little as possible. If Martinez absolutely has to, Doolittle and Hudson get top priory by a country mile, followed by a starter, then the rest of the bullpen.

Thankfully for Martinez and the Nationals, the starting pitching has done yeoman’s work in the NLCS, jumping out to a three games to none series lead over the Cardinals. Aníbal Sánchez famously brought a no-hit bid into the eighth inning of Game 1, finally relenting a two-out single to José Martínez before his night was over. Doolittle got the final four outs in the 2-0 win. Max Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter in his Game 2 start as well, losing it when Paul Goldschmidt led off the seventh with a single. He was erased on an inning-ending double play. Doolittle, Corbin, and Hudson got the final six outs in the 3-1 victory.

It was more of the same in Game 3. While Stephen Strasburg didn’t flirt with a no-hitter, he was dominant over seven innings, yielding one unearned run on seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. The Nats’ offense woke up, amassing eight runs through seven innings which allowed Martinez to give his main relief guys a night off. Rodney and Rainey each pitched a perfect inning of relief with two strikeouts in low-leverage situations, their first appearances in the NLCS.

The Nationals starting pitching has been outstanding by itself, but it has also had the secondary effect of allowing Martinez to hide his team’s biggest weakness. Now Martinez just has to hope for more of the same for one more game, then at least four more in the World Series.