Nationals

Quick Links

Brewers beat Nationals 4-1 behind Chacin, 3 homers

usatsi_11165213.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Brewers beat Nationals 4-1 behind Chacin, 3 homers

Jhoulys Chacin pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 on Friday night.

During the game, the teams reportedly worked out a trade that will send pitcher Gio Gonzalez from the Nationals to the Brewers. The left-handed starter, who has struggled in 2018, will be a free agent in the offseason.

The Brewers also got home runs from Jesus Aguilar, his 31st, and Erik Kratz in winning their third straight game. Milwaukee holds the second NL wild-card spot.

Chacin (14-5) allowed a run on six hits while striking out six and walking two in 6 1/3 innings.

Jeremy Jeffress pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 13 opportunities. With a hard rain falling, the Nationals loaded the bases with one out, but Jeffress struck out Bryce Harper and got Anthony Rendon on a fielder's choice.

Trea Turner had three hits for Washington, which went 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

Tanner Roark (8-14) allowed four runs on six hits over six innings. Roark came in 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his past seven starts, but the Brewers homered in each of the first three innings against him.

Shaw connected for a two-run shot with two outs in the first, Kratz hit a solo home run in the second and Aguilar connected with nobody on in the third.

Nationals catcher Matt Wieters was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

MORE MOVES

Brewers: Acquired LHP Xavier Cedeno from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for OF Bryan Connell and RHP Johan Dominguez, two minor leaguers. Cedeno is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 33 relief appearances this season.

Nationals: Sent RHP Ryan Madson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Andrew Istler. Madson was 5-5 with five saves and a 4.08 ERA in 69 games for Washington. Istler went 4-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 41 games (one start) between three levels of Los Angeles' minor league system.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) threw a simulated game Friday and is slated for another one Sunday or Monday. "I was a little bit inconsistent with my execution, but I was very happy with how the foot felt," he said. ... Manager Dave Martinez said Harper is still battling a cough, but the former MVP was back in the lineup after pinch-hitting on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (9-7, 4.04) makes his second career appearance against Washington, the first being a 2014 loss while with Arizona.

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.14) makes his first start against Milwaukee since 2014. He's 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in three games vs. the Brewers.

MORE NATIONALS' NEWS:

Quick Links

Tanner Roark is out, who could be in?

natsdeal.png
USA TODAY Sports Images

Tanner Roark is out, who could be in?

LAS VEGAS -- Let’s strip the name and take a blank taste test. Wednesday, the Nationals sent an average of 197 innings out the door. That’s 591 outs. It’s not something to shrug off.

Trading Tanner Roark for a reliever, a minor-league one at that, extracts a path to almost 600 outs. The Nationals need to find a new one. Choices to do so aren’t very enticing.

They are back in the starting pitching market because of Roark’s regression the last two seasons coupling with an increase in pay. He’s expected to earn around $10 million out of salary arbitration. The Nationals are gambling they can find equal effectiveness through another starter -- or two.

There’s money to allocate now. It’s not much for the remaining upper tier of free agents. It’s sufficient to bring in someone on a one- or two-year deal and perhaps apply to a more versatile bench piece than a straight backup at first base.

Washington made Patrick Corbin the highest-paid pitcher this offseason. He was priority one. In a vacuum, he may not be worth six years and $140 million. But not all players carry the same value with every franchise. The Nationals had a clear need for another potent starter, and preferably a left-handed one at that. They received the combination with Corbin.

The challenge for the Nationals is handling this market after Charlie Morton and Lance Lynn complicated it. Morton signed a two-year, $30 million deal with Tampa Bay. Lynn received a three-year, $30 million contract from the Texas Rangers. If the Nationals didn’t want to pay Roark $10 million, they surely don’t want to pay another pitcher something near what Morton and Lynn received, even if it allows more control. Roark was entering the last year of his contract.

Dallas Keuchel remains atop the available starters. By WAR, the next-best available pitcher is 34-year-old Anibal Sanchez. He put together what appears to be an outlier season in 2018 following three consecutive years of significant regression. Sanchez’s ERA-plus went 80, 73, 70 before spiking to 143 last season, the third-best mark of his 13-year career. Sanchez has also averaged just 138 innings pitched on average the last four years. That’s a lot of outs between the workload Roark handled and Sanchez has as he heads into his age-35 season.

Next on the list by WAR? Gio Gonzalez. Moving on.

After that? Not much inspiration. Left-hander Wade Miley pitched well in just 16 starts last season. He has a carer 4.26 ERA. Miley has not put together a strong full season since 2013.

Matt Harvey? Trevor Cahill? Clay Buchholz?

Brett Anderson? James Shields? Jason Hammel?

These are not exactly places to hang your hat.

However, the Nationals have little choice. Their solution to replace Roark’s outs will come from outside the organization. Depth at Triple-A Fresno is negligible. Options in Double-A to help the rotation now are non-existent.

They have one intriguing pitcher lurking: Henderson Alvarez. The Nationals signed him to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

“Chance to make the team, if not, to pitch in Triple A for us,” Mike Rizzo said of his outlook on Alvarez.

Alvarez threw a no-hitter in 2013. He was an All-Star in 2014. Shoulder surgery was followed by shoulder discomfort, then another shoulder surgery. Alvarez didn’t pitch in 2016. He started three games for Philadelphia in 2017. He then pitched in the Mexican League in 2018, where he finished with 4.60 ERA in nine starts. The wildest of wild cards here.

Washington has also kept an eye on Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who is available through posting system.

Somewhere, they need to find another 180 innings.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Five things to know about new Nationals prospect Tanner Rainey

tanner-rainey-cincinnati-reds-usat.jpg
USA TODAYSports Images

Five things to know about new Nationals prospect Tanner Rainey

In what may be a Major League Baseball first, two players named Tanner R. were traded for each other Wednesday at the Winter Meetings.

It’s a fun (unconfirmed) fact, but what really makes it interesting for Nationals fans is the fact that one of the Tanners’ last name is Roark, which means Washington now has a hole to fill in their rotation. They’ve already added Patrick Corbin, but expect the team to search for other options now.

Roark had been a staple in the Nats rotation for the last few years, and often provided a steadying presence at the back end of the rotation. He was never as talented or awe-inspiring as Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg, but he never needed to be.

Let’s focus on the newest addition to the organization though: the one named Rainey.

Here are five things to know about Tanner Rainey.

1. He went to two small schools, but still has pedigree

Rainey was born in Louisiana, and played collegiate ball at Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of West Alabama.

He was both a first baseman and a pitcher, but was drafted as a pitcher in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.

2.  His career got off on the wrong foot

Rainey made his Major League debut in April 2018, and it could have gone better. He allowed a grand slam to Scott Kingery of the Phillies, and he finished the season with a 24.43 ERA.

Of course, the caveat is sample size. He pitched just seven innings at the big league level in 2018, and while he struck out an impressive seven batters in those innings, his WAR was -1.0.

3. He was born on Christmas Day

This, of course, allows for many fun puns, especially considering he once played for the Reds. Rudolph The Red(s)-Nosed Rainey-deer? Okay, we’ll try to come up with something better.

The Christmas Day he was born on was in 1992, so he’ll be 26 in a few weeks. It’s a little old for someone without much Major League experience, but he’s got some arm talent, and relievers regularly develop into reliable options later in their careers.

4. He has an electric arm

Rainey may struggle with command at this point in his career, but he can really whip a fastball.

While we live in the era of velocity and relievers boasting ridiculous radar gun totals seemingly every day, it’s interesting to note that 100 mph is still an impressive mark to reach. As Simon mentions, only 36 pitchers hit triple digits in 2018, and Rainey was one of them. That’s something any bullpen can use.

When taking a chance on unproven minor leaguers, you might as well take a chance on somebody with a very valuable, very elite skill.

5. He may never end up working out, but that doesn't mean it was a bad trade if he doesn't

Most minor leaguers don’t pan out. The fact that Rainey has thrown a pitch in the Majors makes his career more impressive than millions of players before him. He was ranked in the top 30 (no. 23 to be exact) of the Reds’ prospects according to MLB Pipeline, so he’s clearly talented enough for the Nats to think they can tap into his potential.

If it doesn't happen, however, losing Roark won’t be the difference for this roster in competing or not. With the rotation they have, even as top-heavy as it looks, they can certainly still compete in the division, and if it works out, they’ve acquired a dynamic piece for the back end of the bullpen.

You have to give up something to get something, and this trade could end up looking good for both teams down the road. If the Nats were set on moving Roark, which it appears they were, they could have done worse than a hard-throwing reliever in an era when hard-throwing relievers are more coveted than ever before.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: