With an extra day after tonight’s postponement, the Washington Nationals could have gone with right-hander Stephen Strasburg on regular rest in tomorrow’s rescheduled 4:08 PM EDT game, but according to what Dusty Baker told reporters today, the Nats stick with Tanner Roark, who was originally scheduled to start this afternoon before rain postponed Game 4 of the NLDS.
Baker said he has full confidence in Roark.
Strasburg held the Cubs hitless through five innings in Game 1 of the NLDS, but ended up giving up three hits and two unearned runs, striking out 10 of 26 batters he faced in what ended up a 3-0 Nationals’ loss.
Baker explained the team’s thinking in sticking with Roark, who struggled at the start of the 2017 campaign, but improved in the second half of the regular season.
To clarify: Nats face elimination. They employ a pitcher who's throwing as well as anyone in the game. He's on regular rest. He won't pitch.— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) October 10, 2017
“Well, we decided to stay with Tanner because, number one, you know, he was slated,” Baker said.
“Didn't work out for Stras for his bullpen day, and we're all creatures of habit, and plus, we've got full confidence in Tanner. And Stras, it would have been better, because he's feeling under the weather, like a lot of my team is.”
Strasburg, who is reportedly genuinely sick, is, however, still slated to go in a potential Game 5 if the Nationals can keep the season alive with a win tomorrow afternoon.
The Nationals, meanwhile, say Dusty misspoke and that Strasburg threw a bullpen yesterday instead. Have heard he threw today.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) October 10, 2017
By the way, this is not a Dusty decision. These are everyone (Riz, Maddux, Dusty, etc) decisions— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) October 10, 2017
As for Strasburg being “under the weather”, Baker had a slightly odd explanation for that part.
“A lot of my team is under the weather with the change of weather and the air conditioning in the hotel and the air conditioning here,” Baker said.
“It's just this time of the year for mold around Chicago -- I think it's mold. I mean, I have it, too.”
Asked if they would have gone with Strasburg if he was 100%, Baker said he wasn’t sure.
“I don't know,” he said. “We didn't think about that.”
According to a report by USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale, the Nationals, “were all set to pitch [Strasburg] on Wednesday... only for Strasburg to decline.”:
“He told them he’s under the weather.
“He informed the Nationals’ staff that he ran a half-mile Tuesday afternoon, and was wheezing during his run, and simply isn’t prepared to start Wednesday, even though he’d be on regular rest.”
[ed. note - “Yeah, Nats fans will officially never hear the end of this one.”]
Strasburg is under the weather, and since he didn't get his usual prep work, the #Nats are going with Tanner Roark— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 10, 2017
Before the decision to go with Roark was announced, Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon said his club would be prepared either way.
“You know, how many times -- I've talked about you have beat the best to be the best,” Maddon explained. “Whatever they choose to do we have to be ready for it. You don't run away from anything, so however it plays out, it's going to play out that way. I don't want to try to over-dissect anything. It's just the way the weather showed up today. Nobody's fault. It's raining and then you move on from there.”
nats should have waited until game was official tonight to have strasburg warm up, so he could have started rain-delayed game 4. mistake.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 10, 2017