A Nationals starter hasn’t thrown a good game yet during the NLDS, but they managed to jump out to a 2-1 series lead thanks in part to a dominant bullpen. Tonight, they looked human for the first time.
In Game 1, Max Scherzer let in four earned runs, but three scoreless innings from Sammy Solis and Mark Melancon kept the Nationals in it. Tanner Roark only lasted 4.1 innings in Game 2, but five different relievers held the Dodgers to a single hit for the rest of the game as the Nationals roared back and took the comeback win. Gio Gonzalez joined in the fun and also threw 4.1 before the bullpen shut down the game.
Game 4 started out the same way, with Joe Ross lasting just 2.2 innings. The Nationals once again recovered and their offense put up five runs, but the bullpen wasn’t lights out. Reynaldo Lopez let Joc Pederson smack a double to score Josh Reddick in the fifth, then Blake Treinen gave up the game-winning hit to Chase Utley in the eighth.
Two runs over 6.1 innings is not a bad outing for the bullpen at all, they simply regressed at the worst possible time. Washington’s bullpen was one of the best in the regular season this year, and they’re still the best unit in these playoffs. Max Scherzer is probably going to start Game 5, but should he falter again, he’ll need his bullpen behind him.
Most worryingly of all, the Nationals used an illegal Scrabble move to shout out Mark Rzepczynski for his strikeout. Hopefully this does not call down a curse upon the team.