Roark vs Jose Fernandez? If the Nats are going to lose a game against the Marlins, that match-up is screaming "Pick Me!" The next three all favor the Nats : Strasburg vs Conley, Ross vs Chen, Scherzer vs Koehler. Conley and Chen are perfectly ok starters, but Stras and Ross are better. Worst case scenario where they lose those two? That Scherzer vs Koehler game should be a mismatch.
With a three game lead a loss tonight wouldn't matter much, but still it would have some psychological meaning. The Nats currently sit at 9-3, second best record in the majors. 9-4 shouldn't be much different, but there is the whole Braves subtext here. The Nats are 6-0 vs the Braves and currently 3-3 vs the Phillies and Marlins. While a win is a win in terms of standings, you'd like to see the Nats separate themselves from all these other teams. A win tonight and they don't have a losing record vs anyone. A loss tonight would put them under .500 outside of Braves games and honestly some doubt can creep in at that point. Was it just that the Braves (who just swept Miami mind you) were playing really badly? Or match-up poorly? Probably not, but it'd be nice to enter that killer road trip with nothing but positive feelings around this team.
The other thing last night was the question of how long the Nats can go with Danny Espinosa. The easy answer is - until they stop winning, or more realistically, until they stop winning AND they don't have a comfortable lead. The more truthful answer is the last one plus "after Trea has had enough service time in the minors to give the Nats another year of control". Can you justify it? Yeah probably. Danny was thought of as clearly better in the field. That may not be true but it's going to take more than a couple weeks to really see if Danny has lost that step and if Trea, who's a bit erratic, has gotten it together. Yes, Espy isn't hitting and Trea is hitting in the minors but the Chiefs have played even fewer games than the Nats. In the past two nights Trea's average dropped like 130 pts (from .500 to .368) thanks to a couple 0-5 outings. How about we don't declare a guy major league ready after 8 games?
Oh and as for Roark being replaced with Giolito? Not happening any time soon. For the first part they are still stretching out Lucas. He threw 4 innings in his first outing and less than 4 in his second. He still hasn't topped 75 pitches which won't fly in the majors. For the second part he hasn't been dominant. One good outing, maybe a tad wild. One poor outing, with 7 hits and 5R (though only 1 earned) in that 3 and 2/3rds. I'm not backing down from my claim that I would have liked to see him start the season in the rotation. But I never said I was sure he was ready to dominate. It was a gamble that he would do better than Roark. Looking at his first couple of starts, it's not clear he would have.