With his team up 2-1 looking for a clinching victory in the NL Division Series, Nationals manager Dusty Baker wants to sleep on his decision of whom to start in Game 4 in Los Angeles. Baker told reporters following the Nats' Game 3 win that it's between right-handers Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez, but he wouldn't commit to either.
Either way, both could end up pitching in the game. Ross is still working his way back to full strength from right shoulder inflammation and Lopez is the Nationals' longman. If Ross starts, Lopez will waiting in the wings, ready to take over if he encounters trouble. If Lopez starts, Ross would then become the long reliever.
Both pitchers faced the Dodgers once this season. Lopez saw them on July 19 in his MLB debut and gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Ross held them to two runs through 6 1/3 innings on June 22, two starts before he suffered his shoulder injury.
With a 5.91 ERA through 44 total MLB innings, Lopez offers less of a sure thing than Ross, who boasts a 3.52 ERA in 181 2/3 career innings.
The question could come down to who they trust more to come in if the game gets out of hand. Do you roll with Ross, who is probably the safer bet, but then go with Lopez to clean up a mess if it happens? Or, do you go with Lopez and have Ross ready to take over if things get out of hand?
It's a tough call. On the face of it, Ross makes sense to start. But if he loses control, their best option to spell him will be a guy with little experience to pull from.
[RELATED: Nationals beat Dodgers to take 2-1 lead in NLDS]
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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.
RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT
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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