The Nationals were given a gift by God (OK, maybe not God, but Mother Nature, at least) and are not planning to change a damn thing.
Tuesday's awkward NLDS Game 4 rainout shifts the series back a day, seemingly opening the door for Dusty Baker and Co. to roll with co-ace Stephen Strasburg on regular rest to help stave off elimination.
But the Nationals don't want to take the easy — and commonsensical — way out.
In a decision that shocked the baseball world — simultaneously making Cubs fans giggle with glee and Nats fans roll their eyes — Baker announced immediately after the game was called that Tanner Roark would still pitch as planned for Wednesday's make-up.
It's a curious decision, to be sure. And it's one that will reflect poorly on Baker (who already may be on the hot seat) if the results do not go his way.
But we also don't know what's truly going on in his own clubhouse and he does. For that and his probable Hall of Fame 22-year career as a manager, Baker deserves the benefit of the doubt that he's making the decision that is best for his team to win their first-ever postseason series (since moving from Montreal, at least).
But it's easy to see the outrage and hubbub. Strasburg is a legitimate Cy Young candidate and was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2017. He got 17 outs before giving up a hit in Game 1 against the Cubs last week and still wound up with 10 strikeouts, even though "Bryzzo" finally got to him to lift the Cubs to victory.
During the 2017 season, Strasburg was 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.015 WHIP and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Roark, meanwhile, was 13-11 with a 4.67 ERA, 1.335 WHIP and 8.2 K/9.
Baker reiterated several times in his post-rainout press conference Tuesday evening that he and the Nationals have plenty of confidence in Roark. The skipper claimed the Washington powers that be did not have a discussion about rolling with Strasburg Wednesday and Gio Gonzalez — another Cy Young candidate — in Game 5 should the series get that far.
There's also apparently no talk of Strasburg being available out of the bullpen.
"I don't know, man," Baker said. "I ain't even thinking about that, to tell you the truth. I'm thinking Tanner's going to do his thing."
The situation is even more convoluted because Strasburg first threw a bullpen Tuesday afternoon, before the game was rained out. Big-league pitchers are creatures of habit — as Baker acknowledged — and even if they aren't, it's not the best course of action, physically, for a pitcher to throw a bullpen one day and come back out and start a must-win game the next day. Pitchers typically throw a bullpen two or three days before their next start.
Another factor complicating things is Strasburg's health, which is not great. He's feeling under the weather, like most of the Nationals clubhouse, Baker said.
"A lot of my team is under the weather with the change of weather and the air conditioning in the hotel and the air conditioning here," Baker said. "It's just this time of the year for mold around Chicago — I think it's mold. I mean, I have it, too."
(OK we need to stop the post here a bit. That's absolutely hilarious that mold was a topic of conversation ahead of what could be the final game of the NLDS. Totally did not see that coming.)
Regardless of Baker's reasoning, it's clear Strasburg isn't 100 percent health-wise and maybe that was a reason he wasn't able to throw a bullpen until Wednesday.
The Nationals can line their pitching up whatever way they want, but this series ultimately boils down to the Washington hitters, who are on the verge of having the lowest batting average ever by a team in a postseason series.
Strasburg and Scherzer combined for 12 no-hit innings in Games 1 and 3, yet the Cubs came back to win both games, in huge part because the Nationals did not have an earned run in either game.
In fact, the Nationals have scored in just three innings out of 27 in the NLDS, with five of their seven runs coming on that blowout eighth inning in Game 2 Saturday.
"We've got to score more runs," said Daniel Murphy, who tipped his hat to a Cubs pitching staff that has held him to a 1-for-11 batting line in the NLDS with a walk. "The pitching has been unbelievable for us — staring and relieving.
"Offensively, we've got to score. That's where it starts and that doesn't fall on the manager. He's got us completely prepared for every ballgame. We have to go out there and see if we can put up some crooked numbers."
The rainout may have helped give the Nationals hitters one more day to refresh and reset, even if the pitching rotation doesn't change.
But it's also worth noting that Roark is no slouch. The University of Illinois product finished 10th in NL Cy Young voting in 2016 when he went 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in 210 innings. He's also 3-1 at Wrigley Field with a 3.24 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, often pitching in front of a large contingent of friends and family in the stands.
So it wouldn't be all that shocking to see Roark go out and pitch well enough to give his team a chance to keep the series alive for Strasburg in Game 5, especially if the Bryce Harper-led offense awakens from its slumber.
This is postseason baseball. Roark's numbers across six months hardly matter if he's locked in and on his game in the incredibly-small sample size of one afternoon at Wrigley Field. This isn't some Triple-A pitcher getting the ball for Washington.
Yes, you'd rather have a guy like Strasburg throwing than Roark in what is essentially a one-game playoff if you're the Nationals, but if Strasburg isn't fully healthy anyways, it may be something of a moot point.
Or this could be some misdirection on the part of Baker and the Nationals and maybe Roark is on a really short leash and Strasburg or Gonzalez appear out of the bullpen.
Either way, if the Cubs emerge the victors from this NLDS, it won't be because of Baker's starting pitching decision in Game 4. It'll be because the Nationals didn't hit enough to beat the Cubs pitching.