Well, that was a weird evening. On the bright side, it was the good kind of weird—Stephen Strasburg busting a move—and not the bad kind of weird, which we now officially define as losing to the Orioles by more than three runs.
Here’s what’s going on in Georgia:
Washington's Yan Gomes Acquisition Isn't Working Out (MLBTR)
Matt Wieters and Pedro Severino hit the road this winter, in favor of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. While Suzuki was expected to be serviceable, Gomes was the real prize. Now tell that to his -0.2 fWAR, .202 average and three home runs, a stark downfall from his 2018 All-Star campaign.
Nationals revive season with miracle run. How did it happen? (Sports Illustrated)
Six weeks ago, SI described the Nats' 2019 campaign as a "plane nose-diving into a nuclear power plant." Now, the same writer is going back to what he wrote and revising and updating his previous observations, which didn't value health, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Anibal Sánchez and mean regression enough, apparently. (Knock on wood about eighty times now, everyone.)
Max Scherzer uncertain for Sunday start (MLB.com)
“The biggest thing with me is to make sure that he’s 100 percent,” Martinez said. “That’s something we talked about today. I talked with him, he’s got to feel 100 percent before he goes back out there. He feels good, and he says he’s close, but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Still not 100 percent, Scherzer still up in air for weekend (MASN)
Scherzer is going to have to work hard to convince the Nats he's ready to go, seeing as he's not yet ready to pitch off a mound and was wincing through his flat ground throws today. Then again, it is Max Scherzer.
Stephen Strasburg gets the Nats dancing with a three-run homer in a 13-4 blitzing of the Braves (WaPo)
Strasburg was obligated to run through the dance tunnel (and he may have liked it, too?) after hitting a 420-foot bomb. But the real significance of the game—another jump up in the standings—shouldn't be lost among what feels like Strasmas 3.0.
Tight NL East race may impact Deadline deals (MLB.com)
"The surging Nationals have played themselves solidly into a Wild Card spot, and it’s not ridiculous to think they could at least put some pressure on Atlanta with a strong showing starting this weekend. Most likely, they’ll look to add relief help... But if things turn south, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them change course and look to bolster what should be another strong core in 2020."
Nats romp on Strasburg's historic night ... at the plate (MLB.com)
"The Nationals had plenty to celebrate. Their victory pulled Washington closer to first-place Atlanta in the National League East, trimming the deficit between the two teams to 5 1/2 games. And a historic night from Strasburg, at the plate, was a major reason why."
Stephen Strasburg's Mighty Batsmanship Overwhelms The Braves (Deadspin)
"Meh, you are saying, like a wised-up jerk. Pitchers sock dingers all the time. First of all, no the hell they do not! Second of all, as we shall soon see, pitchers do not often collect two hits in a single inning. Third of all, who said Strasburg was done? You just assumed, because he’s a goofy pitcher, that he couldn’t possibly have more batting highlights in store. How wrong you are!"
Strasburg's bat carries Nats to blowout win over Braves (MASN)
Fangraphs doesn't do fWAR on a game-by-game basis (though they did say that Strasburg had a .34 WPA on Thursday night), but one would have to imagine his night, which a pitcher hasn't had since 2007 and before that 1973, was fairly valuable for the team.
Nationals hope to make up ground in important four-game series against Braves (WaPo)
“Big series coming up, we got to wash [this loss],” outfielder Adam Eaton said on Wednesday night. “[These are] four games that are really important to us. We have to put a good foot forward. This isn’t going to make or break our season by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s going to be a good test.”