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Wire Taps: Would Max Scherzer start Wild Card?; Nationals’ loss to Cardinals feels familiar; Chip Hale brings energy to fill-in job

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news and enjoy your off day before the Nats play the Marlins tomorrow...

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Looking at these Nationals—unable to push runs across the plate against strong teams—it just feels unlikely that even if they made it to the Wild Card game, they’d be able to get it done. The momentum that once was there seems to have disappeared.

Anyway, here are the even-less optimistic Wire Taps!

Think Max Scherzer is a lock to start the wild-card game if the Nats make it? Maybe not (ESPN)
Though Scherzer looked strong yesterday in St. Louis, the Nats will need to know that Max looks like himself before they hand him the ball in a winner-take-all game. Then again: can you really justify not handing him the ball, even for Stephen Strasburg or Patrick Corbin?

Agonizing loss to Cards has familiar feel for Nats (MASN)
It was the greatest hits, all lined up in 2 hours and 55 minutes. The Nats lost fly balls in the sun, were owned by a utility player, were thrown out by miles at the plate, done in by manufactured runs. Sound anything like, say, the years 2012-2018 to you?

Juan Soto loses a flyball, and the Nationals lose a game and a series to the Cardinals (WaPo)
One fly ball was the difference between a dominant stat line for Max Scherzer and an afternoon spoiled by, of all players, Matt Wieters. The pressure is undeniably mounting on this team to get it together — and fast.

Filling in for Dave Martinez, Chip Hale brings energy to Nationals (WaPo)
Chip Hale is in constant motion — he always has been — but he knows this is Davey Martinez's team and just wants to let it do its own thing. That said, he's excited by the challenge.

Max Scherzer, Nationals undone by little things in St. Louis (NBCSW)
"Scherzer threw a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball Wednesday. He was loose and sharp. His outing also probably handed the Cy Young Award to New York’s Jacob deGrom."

Arms race: Breaking down the Cy Young battles (The Score)
"Scherzer is deGrom's chief rival, and if it all came down to wins above replacement the award would belong to Mad Max despite pitching in 30 fewer innings. Scherzer leads NL pitchers with 6.4 WAR."

Nats prospects start play tonight in Arizona Fall League (MASN)
“Sterling Sharp is looking to make up for some lost time, unfortunately, due to an injury,” Scialabba said. “He looked very sharp in his rehab innings as the regular season ended. Nick Raquet, Jacob Condra-Bogan and Andrew Lee all had solid years and will provide a few different looks from the ‘pen. It will be a nice opportunity for them to showcase their stuff against some of the best prospects in the game this Fall.”

No rest for veterans, plus a rotation tweak (MASN)
The Nats need the foot to the pedal the rest of the way, so they started their veterans — but they also are planning ahead, mapping out a route for either Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg to get the ball in a hypothetical NL Wild Card game.

Dexter Fowler jumps, stretches out, robs Nationals of three runs (NBCSW)
The Nats almost had it within one yesterday. Almost.