Washington Nationals vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Dates: Thursday, August 31, 2017 – Monday, September 3, 2017
Location: Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI
Heading into Wednesday, the Nationals were 15-7 in their previous 22 games, winning despite a collection of injuries. The starting rotation is starting to get healthy again and the bullpen has been great since the non-waiver trade deadline. As for the offense, Jayson Werth is back now. He certainly helps to provide depth to the order. Overall, the team is in the middle of the pack in August based on runs scored. That’s down from being the best offensive team in the NL, but with the improved pitching it’s been enough to keep the wins coming. Few teams outside of Los Angeles can match up with the Nationals in every facet of the game.
Milwaukee continues to hang in there in the NL Central and NL Wild Card races. The Brewers are still looking up at the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Rockies, but they’re not going away. A powerful offense carried the team early, but with the offense drying up in August, the team is still holding on. We can attribute their 9-5 record in the last couple weeks to the pitching staff. On the mound, this team is surprisingly consistent. Corey Knebel is the best closer nobody is talking about. A healthy Chase Anderson improves a rotation that already includes a 15-winner in Zach Davies.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Thursday, August 31, 2017, 2:10 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Gio Gonzalez ( Nationals ) vs. Zach Davies ( Brewers )
On a team with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and Stephen Strasburg, it’s Gio Gonzalez who is second on the Nationals in rWAR at 6.5, behind only Max Scherzer. The veteran southpaw has long been the other guy in the Washington rotation since his top-3 Cy Young season when he went 21-8 in 2012. This has been his best season since then. He’s 13-5 with a 2.40 ERA though his FIP is 3.86 due primarily to a higher walk rate. Despite the free passes, he’s kept runners from scoring. He’s been nearly unhittable against lefties, holding them to a .164 average and .440 OPS. With Eric Thames and Travis Shaw both swinging from the left side, that’s a nice advantage.
Davies is a 15-game winner with a 3.91 ERA and a FIP of 4.25. Those numbers aren’t remarkable and he’s only striking out six per nine innings, but he’s getting the job done and the Brew Crew are winning his games. Solid overall numbers notwithstanding, Davies has had a bizarre year. He’s got some of the most extreme reverse splits in the game. He’s 8-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 14 road starts, but just 7-6 with a 5.97 ERA in 13 games at home. His last home outing was good, but he’s far less dependable at Miller Park.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Friday, September 1, 2017, 8:10 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Tanner Roark ( Nationals ) vs. Jimmy Nelson ( Brewers )
Tanner Roark is having a far different season than the 16-win, 2.83 ERA year in 2016. He’s 11-8 with a 4.63 ERA and 1.343 WHIP. In the second half, Roark has been pitching much better. He’s 5-2 with a 3.31 ERA since the All-Star brak and is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in August. His August ERA is the lowest of any month. He’s also coming off his first walk-free game since early July. He’s allowed one walk in the last two games and hasn’t given up more than three runs in a game in August.
Jimmy Nelson has been a beast for Milwaukee. He leads the team in innings and is 10-6 with a 3.75 ERA. His FIP is 3.10. He’s striking out 10 per nine innings, has a 4.21 strikeout to walk ratio, and has surrendered less than a home run per nine innings. Over his career, the current Nationals have combined to hit just .215 against him with three extra base hits in 65 at-bats. Bryce Harper is the one that contributed most of the success, too, and he’s still on the shelf.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Saturday, September 2, 2017, 7:10 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Erick Fedde ( Nationals ) vs. Brandon Woodruff ( Brewers )
The Nats’ starter is not officially announced, but all signs point to the Fedde who pitched as the 26th man in Sunday’s doubleheader so he’d be eligible to come back up on Saturday and would be plenty rested. Washington’s top pitching prospect, Fedde’s getting his first extended taste of the upper-minors this year and has been pushed into duty a few times in The Show. So far, he’s looked a bit over matched. He’s made three starts and has only thrown 15.1 innings, allowing 16 runs. He’s walked eight and given up five homers. His stuff is great, but is command is still rough.
Brandon Woodruff gets the promotion to make his fourth start. The Brew Crew is 2-1 in his first three starts and he’s more than held his own despite shorter outings. He’s allowed only three runs in 16.2 innings. He has had trouble with the strike zone at times, however. He walked six in his debut and walked four over 4.2 frames against Colorado before getting sent back to Triple-A. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors or Minors in more than a week now. He should be rested so his stuff could play up, but his command—which is already an issue—could be rusty.
Game 4 Probable Pitchers – Sunday, September 3, 2017, 2:10 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Max Scherzer ( Nationals ) vs. Matt Garza ( Brewers )
Max Scherzer is the definition of an ace. Outside of maybe Clayton Kershaw, he’s the best pitcher in the league. He’s 13-5 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.855 WHIP. His 2.85 FIP and 12.4 strikeout per nine inning ratio are the best in the league. While Scherzer has been dealing with neck issues lately, those issues have impacted his ability to get on the mound, but not what he’s been able to do when he’s there. Since being pulled after an inning on August 1, he’s thrown seven innings in his next three starts, combining to allowed five runs on 15 hits. He did, however, allow a homer in all three games. The long ball is his Achilles Heel. Fortunately for him with such a low WHIP, most of those homers are solo shots.
The Brewers have some questions to answer in the rotation. The return of Chase Anderson allows the team some flexibility and Matt Garza is really scuffling. After a nice start to the year, the numbers have gone downhill. There’s talk he may move out of the rotation, but for now, he’s slated to start on Sunday. The month of August has been miserable for the righty. He’s not able to command the strike zone at all. He’s issuing tons of free passes, throwing way too many deep counts and leaving the ball flat in the middle of the zone. He’s allowed 28 runs in his last six starts and managed just 27 innings. He’s walked 18 and allowed 35 hits.