FanPost

Armchair Analysis: A Quiet Series Win (4/21/21 vs Cardinals)

Scherzer's 9 K's, Avila RBI double lift Nats past Cards 1-0 – WFTV

Image: https://tinyurl.com/2wnpkr9c

Game 3 of 3 vs Cardinals
Box Score

St. Louis (8-10) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Washington (7-9) 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 x -- 1

Game 1: St. Louis 12, Washington 5
Game 2: Washington 3, St. Louis 2
Game 3: Washington 1, St. Louis 0

Achievements
Shutout Win (3rd this Season)
Series Win (2nd)
Series Break* (1st)
*-Series break: winning a series after losing the first game. Similar to a series split break, in which a team splits a 4 game series after losing the first two.

The Bad
Hitting (besides Alex Avila)
In a day that featured almost no offense from either team, none of the Nationals' hitters particularly stood out in terms of poor performance. Normally I single out a player or two for this section but this time around it seems more sensible to simply cover the unit as a whole. The Nationals only recorded 4 hits, two of which being Alex Avila doubles. It was an extremely lackluster performance, particularly considering who they were facing--a washed-up Carlos Martinez who entered the game with an ERA over 7.

The Good
Alex Avila
I will be the first to admit, I was dubious about the Avila signing. The veteran catcher had not hit well in years. Prior to Wednesday's game, he was 0-for-6 on the season. He came through, going 2-for-3 with 2 doubles, one of which drove in the game's lone run (a game winning double in the second inning!). There is another factor that further adds to Avila's value, and that is his chemistry with Scherzer. The two played together for 4 seasons in Detroit, and Avila is, to this day, the battery mate to whom Max Scherzer has thrown the most pitches in his career. When you stop to consider the turnover in National's catchers since Scherzer's arrival in 2015, that comes as no surprise, but still an interesting tidbit. Avila seems to have a positive effect on the Scherzer's performance--the 3x Cy Young Award winner has not allowed a run in two games with Avila behind the plate. My conclusion is that if Avila can hit .200 and help Scherzer pitch his best, he is a net plus for this team.

Max Scherzer
Not to forget the other half of the Nats' battery, "Mad Max" escaped some early trouble to toss 6 shutout innings, striking out 9 and passing Mike Mussina for 21st on the all-time strikeout leaderboard. He has 18 K's to go before passing Mickey Lolich, who holds the #20 spot on the leaderboard with 2,832 career strikeouts.

The Question Mark
Daniel Hudson
Leading 1-0, the Nationals called upon Daniel Hudson to pitch the 8th inning. The man who closed out the 2019 World Series swiftly recorded the first two outs before running into trouble. After issuing a walk to Nolan Arenado, he allowed Paul DeJong to single and then issued a free pass to Dylan Carlson, loading the bases. On his 31st pitch of the inning, Hudson got the once-mighty Matt Carpenter to fly out. This was a rough outing. Hudson's command appeared lost, as he threw more balls than strikes. Not a good look for the Nats' designated 8th inning setup man, but he did get the job done and had been sharp to that point.

Player of the Game: Alex Avila (2 doubles, 1 RBI)

Other Thoughts
1-0 win
Since Davey Martinez first became the Nationals' manager in 2018, they had not won a single game by a score of 1-0 until last Friday. They have since done so twice. I don't think that carries much significance, but it is an interesting fact.

Beating a Competitive Team
One of the most common methods fans have for measuring the strength of their team is to examine how they perform against teams that are known to be contenders, particularly in close games. The Nationals passed that test this series. After a bad start by Joe Ross derailed the first game, they were able to come out in front in games 2 and 3, both of which came down to the wire. The Cardinals are a good team, and holding on for two close wins is an excellent sign for a team that still has many question marks.

What's Next
The Nationals take on the official Most Annoying Team in Baseball (formerly known as the Mets prior to practicing a World Series celebration in Spring Training) on Friday. Erick Fedde will take the mound to counter Jacob deGrom. Yikes. But then again, the Mets never score runs with deGrom pitching, so perhaps Fedde is in for a solid game.

About This Series: My name is Cole Bromfield. Anyone close to me will tell you how opinionated I am when it comes to the world of sports. I've even been called an "armchair manager", "armchair GM", etc by some. So I've decided to embrace that label and share my thoughts on my favorite sports teams. After every Nationals game, I will discuss one negative from the game, one positive, one question mark, any other thoughts I have on the game, and what's next. These entries also available on armchairanalysisnats.weebly.com

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