Dusty Baker is still undecided on which of his starting pitchers will take the mound in Game 4 of the Nationals' division series against the Dodgers.
The Nats' skipper told reporters Sunday morning that who he taps is entirely dependent on the results of Game 2 and Game 3. Though it appears right hander Joe Ross is likely get the nod, Baker isn’t making any promises.
“I'd like to give you the starter, but I can't,” he said. “Because of injuries, we're kind of upside-down in our pitching. After Gio [Gonzalez], then until we get to game No. 5, we really don't know. Do we go to a combination of guys? Ross is coming off an injury himself. So depends on how far he can go.”
Ross, who missed most of the second half with right shoulder inflammation, hasn’t pitched more than five innings in a start since July 2. In his three appearances since his return from injury, he was able to make it to the 90-pitch plateau just once.
If Ross starts and only throws a few innings Tuesday, it’s likely he’d be relieved by rookie long man Reynaldo Lopez. The 23-year-old impressed since his move to the bullpen, so much so that he was added to the playoff roster over veteran reliever Yusmeiro Petit.
“We're just mixing and matching and trying to piece this thing together,” Baker said “And if I could give you a definitive answer, I'd love to. I'd love to give it to myself.”
Of course, the Nats must find a way to win either Game 2 or Game 3 before worrying about what happens on Tuesday. They hope Tanner Roark can help them even the series before they board their flight to L.A.
The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018.
Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.
Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.
The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.
Only the Marlins have had as many.
"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."
"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand."
The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.
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While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report.
Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:
"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."
"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.
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