So I was hurricane'd this weekend. Nothing serious but power, internet, cable issues that kept me from getting some posts up or live-tweeting. I'll be around today though.
As for the weekend, it went about as I expected. If you asked me to suss out the favorites for each game in the series before it started I would have said : G1 Dodgers slight favorite, G2 Nats solid favorite, G3 Nats slight favorite, G4 Dodgers solid favorite. (Game 5? Well that depends on who goes and how they pitched earlier in the series. Right now, assuming Max v Kershaw Part 2 in DC, I'd make the Nats a slight favorite.) The Dodgers needed Game 1 because they could very easily lose the next two. They got it. After losing the first game though, the Nats really needed the next two, because they could very easily lose Game 4. They've gotten one, let's get the next one.
Why are the Nats slight favorites in my mind today? Well the Dodgers can't hit lefties. They just can't. We've gone over that. However, they are at home and Gio is capable of losing a game by himself so I can't give the Nats the win straight up. Also I've liked Maeda all year and think he's capable of throwing a 7 inning shutout type game. The end of the season makes me back off a little bit, but that feeling is still there. So Nats are favored by me but not by much.
My biggest issue yesterday was seeing Dusty, for the second day have a LHRP face the three righties on the Dodgers you don't want him to face (Puig, Grandal, and Kendrick*). This should be difficult to do. Grandal has started both games so simply by avoiding using a lefty only around his time up would be enough to do it. Yet there we were on Friday watching Solis face Grandal (single), Kendrick (GB out) and Puig (IBB) in successsion and Rep on Sunday facing Puig (BB) Grandal (K) and Kendrick (LD out right at Werth) back to back to back as well. Dusty has been very good pulling the strings beside these moments but I just don't see how it happened once, let alone twice. Eventually this is going to bite the Nats if it keeps happening.
I think the best observation about these two games is that the Nats' offense looks like... well the Nats offense. There could easily have been some drop off but there doesn't seem to be. Murphy looks like Murphy. Turner is handling himself. Lobaton/Severino are not being outmatched. Only Espinosa seems to be problematic with his 5 Ks in two games but if that's the only real problem, and it seems to be, the Nats are in great shape at the plate. Yes, these things can be like a faucet but as we say - rather be hot than cold.
The starting pitching oddly has been the real issue. Max made an unusually high number of mistake pitches in Game 1 and when Max makes a mistake, because of his approach, those are HR balls. But otherwise he looked like Max, and I like Max to get back to regular form if he's out there in Game 5. This is big because Kershaw looked terrible in G1, and while he might also get back into form, it's a lot harder for me to buy into that happening. Max just needs to cut down on his mistake pitches. Kershaw needs to regain the feel of all his pitches because he had nothing Saturday. The script flipped in G2, as I felt Roark wasn't as good as Hill, but Hill made the big mistake in that game. Roark... I didn't like his control. Maybe it was the wind? I don't know but he was way too hittable and three walks in 4 1/3rd? I'm not sure we'll see Tanner again this series and I don't think that's a bad thing. April through August he never walked more than 3 in a game and a vast chunk of those were 7 IP+ games. In September he did it three times and he would have gotten there if he was left in this game.
Ok so what about today? As long as Gio got his curveball going the Nats should cruise. Grandal doesn't hit the curveball well. Puig can be a chaser. Kendrick is old. All the other guys just can't handle lefties at all. If Gio doesn't have a feel for the curve and has to rely on the fastball for strikes things get a lot more dicey because he is prone to mistakes (hello Puig HR) and Grandal feasts on fastballs. If their teammates can work their way on base in between (they still can't hit lefties) then you're looking at a typical drive yourself crazy Gio outing. Honestly I think it's an either or day - like a 7+IP 1run affair, or less than 5IP, 4+runs. Maeda I think, will fit inbetween these two. While I do still think he can throw a gem, even his gems are 6IP 1 run games because he doesn't go deep. Twist my arm and I'll guess 6IP, 3R. So this game is Gio's game to win or lose in my head.
Of course games aren't played in my head. OK see you at 4:00!
*argue Chooch Ruiz if you want, I ain't listening. And Turner has always hit righties better than lefties for whatever reason.