A win. No games gained. Just keep trucking. 2 games left to win at least one and hope the Mets don't win 2. (I'm asking the minimum here - obviously winning both and Mets losing both would be the aim)
Shields was a little off last night. He's run hot and cold all year, but let's face it, recently running into the Nats was a guarantee of running hot. The Nats instead got to him pretty well, bunch of hits, bunch of walks and the fewest Ks he's gotten all year. Meanwhile Strasburg looked strong as he has since coming back and Blake Treinen continues his "as long as no one is noticing me, I'm fine" restoration of his season. We'll see what happens when he's noticed again.
We know what the Nats have to do. At this point, with Span back, the question is how best to do it. The Nats made a hard choice sitting Fister for Ross. Are they going to continue to make the hard choices?
Will the Nats keep Ross pitching until the season is decided or he looks decidely tired?
MW noted that Roark will get stretched out in Potomac to potentially take over for Ross as the 5th starter. Even though I'm a Ross doubter (I think he'll be a fine piece of the rotation in 2016 but nothing special) I can see he does do very well chewing up bad teams when he faces them. The Nats remainder of the season is mostly bad teams. He should pitch until it's clear he shouldn't.
Will the Nats continue to sit Trea Turner?
Yep sit. They shouldn't sit Yuney. He's been good at the plate all year. They shouldn't sit Ian. He's been arguably the best hitter on the Nats for over a month. They shouldn't sit Rendon. He's probably their 2nd most important bat and after fits and starts he may be finally heating up. They should use Espinosa when possible. He's a reliable source of power and a steady fielder. Where does that leave Turner? Exactly as described. Late inning D replacement and pinch runner. So why call him up? Because Uggla and Moore ain't giving you that and he can do more if needed and by now I hope you know all these guys could go down to injury in a heartbeat.
Will the Nats give Werth rest and work in Clint Robinson?
Werth talked his way into the lineup this weekend. That shouldn't happen. While Werth may also be heating up he isn't hitting for power (espeically vs RHP - .287 SLG this year. .287!), probably won't (nature of injury he had), and he's a statue in the field. Clint Robinson is a better choice to go up against RHP. He won't get every RHP or else Werth wouldn't get regular at bats, but every 4th or 5th day we should see Robinson in there. He's earned it and give the Nats the best chance.
Will Michael Taylor get starts versus LHP and be a constant late-inning D replacement for Werth/Robinson?
The latter question is a no-doubter. Every game that's close enough Taylor should be coming into the OF so the Nats can have the best D out there. The former point is about keeping Span fresh and Taylor involved. Like almost all lefties, Span doesn't hit LHP well. Taylor is no lefty-mashing beast so this is more about when to give Span time off, which he needs. Don't make the same "gotta play these guys everyday" mistake you just made with Werth & Rendon coming back.
Will the Nats keep Papelbon involved?
The whole season proved that Storen can close if needed. Hell, Janssen did it for like three years. So please pitch Papelbon more than the every 5th day thing you got going on now. It doesn't do him much good and keeps a good pitcher out of some close games for no good reason.
Will the Nats get back to using Storen more AND be ready to bury him?
Storen was awesome for most of the year. You brought Papelbon in to have a killer 8-9. Start using Storen to shut down things again. The last close game he was in was on August 12th. He's been buried since then. Everyone has a bad run. If you are thinking - why not stick with what's working, Well the Nats have had 5 close-ish games since Storen appeared in his last. Which relievers have given up a run or more in these games? That would be Rivero, Thornton, Papelbon, and Janssen. So yeah. It's not like you are looking at forcing Storen into the Nasty Boys.
That being said the Nats can't afford many more losses so let's say two more blown games and yeah, you have to stick him in blowout middle relief and work with the "hopefully fine" options you have left. This is the basic truth facing EVERY reliever in the pen right now. You don't have time to work out issues. If in September you aren't performing, you aren't pitching.
What do I think will be the answers to these questions? I think they'll sit Ross after first Mets series. I think they will sit Turner. I think Werth will force his way into the line-up more than he should be. I think Taylor will get to play for Span and as late inning D. I think Papelbon won't be used as much as he should be and I think Storen is already buried effectively making the trade moot.
Ok let's see what happens. Win tonight.