Found September 13, 2012 on

As September dwindles on and the playoff picture becomes clearer than ever before, it becomes blatantly obvious that the National League is a three team race.

The Nationals (89-54), Reds (87-57) and Giants (81-62) all lead their divisions by 8.5, 11.5, and 7.0 games, respectively and now seem to be fighting for the top seed in the National League.

The Nationals, at the beginning of the season, looked to be a better team on paper, after the acquisition Gio Gonzalez and the return of Stephen Strasburg. However, after Strasburg was shut down for the season after 159 1/3 innings pitched, manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg’s next pitch would come in 2013.

The transition from Strasburg to John Lannan went smoothly last night, with the Nationals beating the Mets 2-0. With a magic number of 11, all Lannan has to do for the Nationals is keep them in the game. However, in the playoffs, the Nationals plan to move Edwin Jackson up in the rotation instead of using Lannan. Ross Detwiler would become the fourth starter.

The Cincinatti Reds were at an advantage when Albert Pujols signed with the Angels this past offseason. Sure, the Cardinals signed Carlos Beltran to be a power hitter, but nobody can replace Albert Pujols. The return of Joey Votto to the Reds lineup has given them the push they needed this late in the game. The biggest asset Cincy has going into the playoffs is Aroldis Chapman, who has 35 saves in 40 opportunities this season to go along with a 1.60 ERA and 119 K’s over 67.2 innings pitched.

Due to shoulder fatigue, Chapman has been shut down for a few days, forcing the Reds to rely on a few other arms in their bullpen. It was J.J. Hoover who got the save for them yesterday, facing four batters and striking out Jose Tabata to end the game. Expect Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall to get more opportunities, especially if Chapman has gone more than a few days in a row.

The San Francisco Giants have been in a season-long battle with the Dodgers to see who would finish tops in the NL West. Despite the Dodgers acquiring Shane Victorino, Josh Beckett, and Joe Blanton, the Giants still sit seven games ahead of the Dodgers going into this weekend. The Giants also made a deal of their own at the trade deadine, acquiring Hunter Pence from the Phillies.

But pitching remains the story in San Francisco. Matt Cain’s perfect game earned him the start in this year’s All Star Game and he hasn’t slowed down since then, going 4-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 74 innings pitched. Tim Lincecum has also found his groove post-break, bouncing back from a pre-break 3-10 record and 6.42 ERA.

The Giants have a seven game cushion, but they shouldn’t take it for granted. The rest of their season is played within the division and next head to Arizona, the only other team in the West that has a winning team against the division. The Giants have one more meeting against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium to end their season. The Giants can be their own demise.

The National League playoff race may be cookie cut on the outside, but each of these teams may face challenges in the next two weeks that might cost them a World Series ring.



Doctor wasn’t aware of Nationals Plans for Strasburg

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Nationals Lose by Shutting down Strasburg

He may be shut down for the season, however, the Stephen Strasburg topic will not die. I know, I know, this has been beaten like a rented mule – but until now I haven’t been able to put my feelings down on paper. As the Nationals approach the postseason with one of the best records in the game, they’ll be second guessed time and again for their decision to cut off one of the...

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News came out today that Stephen Strasburg's doctors said that there was no definitive evidence that shutting him down would actually help him. Why do I have the feeling this story is just going to get weird for the sake of being weird?In an article from the LA Times, Strasburg's surgeon, Dr. Lewis Yocum, said he was not consulted about Strasburg's innings pitch limit...

Stephen Strasburg May Be Used as a Pinch-Hitter Down The Stretch


Who needs Strasburg?

"He pitched a superb ballgame." (Davey Johnson, via MASN postgame, 9/12/2012) Nationals 2, Mets 0: On the night Stephen Strasburg was supposed to make his final start of 2012, John Lannan stepped in and shut down the Mets. Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond provided the firepower. Lannan's line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 11-3 groundouts-flyouts. ...

Lannan fills in for Strasburg to help Nationals shut out Mets

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals didn't need Stephen Strasburg to subdue the stumbling New York Mets. John Lannan filled in for what was initially scheduled to be Strasburg's final start with 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday night, and four relievers finished off a 2-0 win for Washington. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond homered for the Nationals, who swept the three...

Nationals Report Card: September 7-12

  It’s been a while since I’ve posted this feature, so I apologize to those of you who have asked for it in the past. The last week has been filled with ups and downs for the Washington Nationals. Stephen Strasburg had his season end a start early as he had a terrible game on Friday against the Marlins, where he only lasted three innings and gave up five runs. ...

The Nationals Are Going To Win The NL East, And It May Be The First Of Many

Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg: The duo that should strike fear in the hearts of Mets fans I wrote the post, which you can read below, titled “Do We Need To Start Fearing The Nationals, Could They Win The NL East?”, at the beginning of Spring Training. At the time I wrote this article I was just speculating at the possibility that they could be really successful. The idea...

Nationals 2, Mets 0

John Lannan pitched 5 2-3 shutout innings in his first start since replacing Stephen Strasburg in Washington's starting rotation, and the Nationals lowered their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to six with a 2-0 win over the punchless New York Mets on Wednesday night. Ryan Zimmerman homered in the fourth off rookie Matt Harvey (3-5) and Ian Desmond connected off Jon...

First Pitch: A Few Cases of Increased Velocity, and the More Important Skill

Today I wrapped up the West Virginia Power 2012 season recap. The three lowest levels in the farm system are now complete, which covers a lot of the young pitchers in the system. It also covers a lot of the guys who fall under the “projectable frame” category. You might see that term used a lot. When a pitcher has a projectable frame, it usually means that the pitcher is tall...

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