Can we stop with the Leskanic Panic now? We are 130 games into the season. We know who these teams are. The Nats, when everyone is healthy, have a good offense. They have a very good starting pitching staff in which the top three are able to pitch gems without it being surprising. They have a bullpen full of talented arms. They have a great infield defense, a pretty good right fielder, and a center fielder with a fantastic arm. They have a manager, who has won before and who most people trust.
They are a team that is 5 games better than the Braves. They have (so far) no game-changing injury loss. The Braves have no game-changing acquistion. The smart money is on the Nats extending their lead a game or two before the end of the season.
So last night's game wasn't about a team meeting, or about a resiliant Nats team holding on, or about Bryce Harper breaking out of a slump (we already ran through this after a couple good games in the Mets series - let the kid hit in 4 or 5 games before you declare him "back"). It was about a good team playing like it can and getting the results that it should.
Last night is why you start Bryce over Roger. When Bryce is feeling it he can dominate a game. Now right now, it's true that he's rarely doing this and mostly against bad pitchers, but the hope is he can get back to doing it against all pitchers, and make that good offense very good. Plus he's got that arm. (Not that that what kept the Marlins from scoring in the 7th that was a bullet to the OF caught at mid-distance. With Stanton on deck I probably hold the runner against any decent arm)
Strasburg shutdown opponents might have taken a blow with Strasburg's terrible last start, but they should get in one of their own after last nights game. In 3 of the last 4 starts, against middling competition, Ross has seemed like a 4 inning pitcher. While pitchers tend to get hit harder as the game goes along, Detwiler sees a bigger jump the 2nd time around compared to all the other starters on the Nats staff.
OPS per time around
ZNN: .591 -> .659 -> .766
Gio: .508 -> .571 -> .786
Stras: .593 -> .629 -> .748
Detwiler : .563 -> .695 -> .739
(I left Jackson out because he's an exception. Getting killed early this year. .812 OPS first time around, then settles down for time #2 and 3)
Strasburg to Detwiler isn't a HUGE jump down, but in the playoffs, against the highest competition, huge jumps down aren't necessary to lose games.