The Washington Nationals played an extra-innings game last night, and it could not have come at a worse time for the ballclub.
The Washington Nationals rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled through a 14-inning affair last night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Eric Thames gave spectators mercy by hitting his 17th home run of the season in the top of the 14th to put the Brewers in the lead for good.
In the loss, the Nationals used every single relief pitcher in their bullpen. From Sean Doolittle to the recently DFA and recalled Javy Guerra, each guy saw action. Tanner Rainey and Guerra even batted for themselves in the extra innings because the Nats had no remaining bench players.
Despite the loss tacked on to the team’s record in disappointing fashion, the worst might still be ahead.
Last Thursday, the Nationals passed their last off day until August 26. After today, the Nats will go on the road to face two more National League Central teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates (for four games) and the Chicago Cubs (for three games).
With eight more games to go before their next respite, the bullpen is going to be running on fumes shortly.
The Nationals bullpen isn’t even average when fully rested, and imagining what they are like when more fatigued than usual can’t be an enjoyable use of one’s time.
Even with the Nationals starting rotation as good as they are, pitching well and going deep into games, it is still in a weakened state at the moment.
Today and Monday, Erick Fedde and Joe Ross are projected to make starts. Fedde’s baseline pitch count is in the mid-upper 80’s, and Ross’ is in the high 80’s to low 90’s. The point is, both pitchers will need to be extremely efficient to get past the six-inning benchmark.
In a less than ideal scenario, and Fedde and Ross struggle to pitch five innings, the Nationals bullpen will truly be running on empty heading into the middle of the week. And with Max Scherzer’s status still uncertain, Ross and Fedde might need to make two starts each before August 26.
However, if the Nats can brave this stretch of time, there is a bright light at the end of the month. After the off day, the Nats will play two home games against the Baltimore Orioles. Then they will have another off day on Thursday the 29th before hosting the Miami Marlins for a three-game series.