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World Series Game 4 Preview: Pressure back on Nationals, even up 2-1?

washington nationalsThe Washington Nationals are still up two games to one over the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series, but after losing Game 3 Friday night, it’s feeling like Game 4 is a must-win for the Nats.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch is going with a bullpen day for Game 4, doing everything but conceding the game to the Nats, so that he can get his aces – Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zach Greinke – lined up for the rest of the series.

Even if the Astros lose, the thinking goes, the Astros get to send their guys out on regular rest.

And, yes, none of their guys have a win yet in this series. Cole was touched up for five runs on eight hits in seven innings in a Game 1 loss. Verlander gave up four runs on seven hits in six-plus in a Game 2 setback.

And Greinke didn’t get out of the fifth inning for the second straight time in the 2019 postseason and needed the bullpen to do the heavy lifting in Friday’s 4-1 Game 3 win.

OK, but still, they’re Hinch’s guys, and even down 3-1, he has them back on regular rest, and he likes his team’s chances to win out if he has them lined up.

But at 2-2? He only needs two of the three to get back on their games to be able to bring home the Series.

Washington sends out Patrick Corbin, who has had an up-and-down postseason for the Nats, with a 1-2 record and 6.91 ERA, which is largely the result of a six-run outburst by the L.A. Dodgers in a relief appearance in the NLDS.

In Corbin’s two postseason starts to this point, in Game 1 of the NLDS, and the NLCS clincher, Game 4 against St. Louis, he has given up six runs, five earned, in 11 innings, which works out to a 4.09 ERA.

Most concerning, if you’re a Nats fan, is that he hasn’t been able to go deep into his starts really for quite a while.

The last time Corbin went past six innings was way back on Aug. 27, when he went seven in a 2-0 loss to Baltimore.

Corbin has only gone past the sixth twice since the All-Star break, struggling with his pitch counts.

Assuming that trend continues, and it’s a long-term trend, as noted here, Nats manager Davey Martinez is going to need to get some big-time innings from his bullpen.

It helps that Joe Ross, who hadn’t been used since Sept. 29, was able to come in Friday night and give Washington two shutdown innings to keep things close, giving up just one hit in two scoreless innings, allowing Martinez to keep the back end of his bullpen fresh for the weekend.

Martinez did get a scoreless sixth out of Fernando Rodney, who might need to be ready for another sixth- or seventh-inning situation tonight.

Tanner Rainey, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson should all be fresh and ready to do what is needed in the late innings.

Hinch is going to rookie Jose Urquidy as his putative starter for Game 4. Urquidy had seven starts in the 2019 regular season, most recently on Sept. 27, in a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels, in which he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits, striking out two and walking one.

His deepest start had him going seven innings back on July 20, in a 6-1 win over Texas, in which he gave up a run on two hits, striking out nine and walking none.

In that game, Urquidy faced one current Nat, Asdrubal Cabrera, who went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts.

There’s your Nats hitters vs. Urquidy report.

As for how Astros hitters have fared against Corbin:

  • George Springer: 4-for-6, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB
  • Jose Altuve: 2-for-9, 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 K
  • Michael Brantley: no career Abs
  • Alex Bregman: 0-for-4
  • Yuli Gurriel: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K
  • Carlos Correa: 1-for-1, 1 BB
  • Josh Reddick: no career Abs
  • Robinson Chirinos: 0-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 K

Story by Chris Graham


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