The Nationals could bench Bryce Harper for tonight’s game

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The Nationals have scored three runs in two games and 27 innings and tonight they face one of the toughest lefties in baseball in Madison Bumgarner. Between the bad offense and the possibility of playing a better matchup by starting right hander Ryan Zimmerman, someone — probably a lefty — has gotta be benched. The candidates are Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Adam LaRoche.

Zimmerman will not play third base, Adam Kilgore reports. Mostly because of his arm but also because, dudes, Anthony Rendon is the only Nat who has been hitting. That means he either plays left field with Harper moving to center and Span sitting, left field with Harper sitting or first base with LaRoche sitting.  Looks like Harper could be the odd man out:

The Nationals’ other, more remote option includes benching Span, playing Harper in center field and Zimmerman in left. Williams seemed to suggest Span would play, saying facing Bumgarner may actually help break his slump.

“Sometimes lefty-lefty matchups get guys back on line a little bit,” Williams said. “So we’ll see how the lineup shakes out and if he’s in there, hopefully that can get him back on line, and we hope ready for Game 4 and beyond.”

Which, whatever dude. Small sample size matchups don’t mean a ton, but Harper is 3 for 9 with a homer off Bumgarner. More importantly, he’s the better hitter overall and I’m not sure why you’d use a playoff elimination game to jump-start Span. That’s what you do in July, not October. If Span plays and Zimmerman handles first, well, you’re sitting LaRoche. He’s obviously not great against lefties, but he has pop which is more than you say for Span. A final consideration: Doug Fister is on the mound. He’s a ground ball pitcher, making outfield defense way less important. If Harper has to track down crap in the gaps in center, well, you got other problems.

Lineups will be out in a couple of hours, I presume. One hopes that a team struggling to score runs puts forth a lineup with its best hitters in it. But Matt Williams hasn’t made all the moves people would hope he’d make this series, so who knows?

Nationals’ Strasburg ejected for arguing from the stands

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — A pitcher getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes – on his day off? And, from the stands?

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg earned one of baseball’s most unique ejections – probably ever – in the third inning of Washington’s game against the New York Mets on Thursday.

Strasburg was sitting in Section 121 at Citi Field in this socially distant season because he’s scheduled to start Friday against Baltimore Orioles. He was apparently unhappy with the strike zone of plate umpire Carlos Torres after Austin Voth‘s 2-2 pitch to Pete Alonso on the outside corner was ruled a ball.

Moments later, Torres ejected last year’s World Series MVP, though it took a few seconds to realize who had been tossed.

Someone was heard yelling: “You’re (expletive) brutal” shortly before television cameras captured Strasburg doffing his cap as he walked up the staircase on his way out of the park.

“Sorry, folks – sorry, FCC,” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said on SNY.

The usually stoic Strasburg appeared to be grinning underneath his blue mask as he made his exit.