Above, we see Jake Thompson in what has become his natural state: Overcome by glove-chewing frustration. The 22-year-old’s got four starts under his big league belt now, none of them lasting more than five innings, his best performance coming against Colorado, a start in which he allowed 3 ER and 2 H in 5 IP with 6 SO. Now, he will face the Nationals, a team that is good. Following that, Jerad Eickhoff will battle Max Scherzer before Adam Morgan makes another start on Wednesday. Then it will be September and we’ll be a month away from being rid of this insufferable sport.
The Nats are probably the least exciting good team in the league right now, with no challengers for the division and no need for the wild card. The best we can hope is that this series, should the Nationals continue to lose as they did vs. the Rockies, is for some reason the beginning of one of the worst finishes in sports history.
Danny Espinosa: This guy is heating up! Look out!
Danny Espinosa snapped a 38-game homerless streak, which was the 2nd-longest streak in his career (49 in 2014)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2016
Trea Turner: Turner is the surprise underdog prospect who is hitting well enough and not flipping his bat enough to inspire prose from our whitest, least interesting old men...
Bryce Harper: ...unlike that shifty Bryce Harper who, despite pulling out of a slump with three doubles, a triple, and a home run in the past week, is still getting thrown out of games for what is being characterized as a “tantrum.” You know, something a child throws.
Aaron Altherr: Altherr may have caught whatever base running bug has been eating Cesar Hernandez’s brain all year, but with five hits in his last five games, he is one of the Phillies hottest hitters. The Phillies have not been playing offense well, a theme that will continue into the next paragraph.
Maikel Franco: This is getting a liberal with the term “heavy hitters,” but even though Franco’s four hits in his last 21 AB are all singles, he’s still one of the team’s offensive leaders over the past week. None of his hits knocked any runs in and he only scored once himself.
Freddy Galvis: Freddy has entered one of his brief slugging periods, in which he slugs his little heart out until it explodes. He’s hacking and hacking up there, and has five home runs, six doubles, and 21 strikeouts over the last month to show for it.
Tanner Roark vs. Jake Thompson, 7:05 p.m.
Roark is the Trea Turner of the pitching staff, in that he gets to be one of those cliche surprises that make everybody all giddy. He’s achieved “dominance” with a two-seam fastball. He’s one of the NL’s “best” pitchers. He’s also the “most reliable and durable.” Blah, blah, blah. Let me know when he orders a flavor other than vanilla.
Meanwhile, in a Jake Thompson start, you never know what’s going to happen! I mean, you have a pretty good idea, but the specifics are always mysteries. How many runs will he give up? How quickly? Will he pitch under five innings, or only five? I’m not trying to be mean—I’m rooting for the kid and he’s having a pretty tough go here—but clearly the transition to the bigs has been challenging and a definite pattern has emerged. That pattern largely consists of the other team scoring.
Max Scherzer vs. Jerad Eickhoff, 7:05 p.m.
If there’s a name from the Phillies pitching staff you’d want to see next to Scherzer’s on the billing, it’s probably Eickhoff. Maybe Hellickson. But if not Hellickson, than I’ll take Eickhoff. Young Jerad threw six innings of two-run ball his last time out, allowing only four hits and no walks. That’s what I call a “chance to win,” and get this—the Phillies actually did. In fact, they’ve won his last four starts. Neat. In his only other start against the Nationals so far, Eickhoff went seven innings, let them score only twice, and struck out 10.
Gio Gonzalez vs. Adam Morgan, 7:05 p.m.
Where the hell’s Gio Gonzalez been? I haven’t heard his name in months. Prior to his last start on August 26, Gonzalez had thrown a total of 10.2 innings in his previous three starts combined. His walk numbers hadn’t spiked but he was throwing batting practice, getting lasered by the Indians especially on August 10 with seven hits in five innings. It’s understandable that he’d go a little mad.
And then, there’s Adam. Oh, Adam. I won’t say that I had such high hopes, but I was so deeply touched by that effective start against the Cardinals. That magical two-hour era of solid pitching has come to an end, sadly. Unlike Thompson, Morgan has faced these Nats before—twice, actually. And they’ve hung a 6.39 ERA on him with 14 hits and nine home runs. He does have 14 strikeouts against them, though. Try to miss the bats, Adam. Good luck.
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