Kurt Suzuki has been questionable since a fastball from Walker Buehler glanced off his arm and into his forehead, prompting an early exit from game five of the NLDS. Still, Suzuki is ready to return for game two, and he’ll be behind the dish to catch Max Scherzer in St. Louis this afternoon, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. The Nationals are up 1-0 in the NLCS, but they’re not without questions heading into game two…
- Yan Gomes started more games during the regular season than Suzuki, and he only caught Anibal Sanchez twice during the first 162, but he put together a stellar game in Suzuki’s stead last night. Not only did Gomes guide Sanchez and Sean Doolittle in their one-hit effort, but he also reached base three times and knocked in the game’s first run. The Nationals will have a decision to make on Gomes in the offseason regarding a $9MM club option. Gomes was one of the NL’s worst offensive performers for an uncomfortably large chunk of the season, but he hit his stride late in September when an injury to Suzuki forced Gomes to be an every-down bellcow. Suzuki will return at age-37 to play a part in the Nats’ 2020 catching picture, but after 70 starts this season, it’s likely the Nats will again need someone to carry the brunt of the catching burden. Gomes clocked out with a .223/.316/.389 batting line with 12 home runs, but he better controls the run game than Suzuki and had better marks as a receiver overall. The Nats will have upwards of $100MM to play with this winter, so unless they have a clear upgrade in mind, there’s a decent chance they pick up that option heading into the offseason.
- Anibal Sanchez put his stamp on the NLCS in a big way last night, providing 7 ⅔ huge innings of one-hit ball for the Nationals. Cardinals hitters managed an average exit velocity of just 83.1 mph off of Sanchez on the night. The length provided by Sanchez was all the more crucial on a night when they were without their most integral reliever. That Daniel Hudson is a lynchpin reliever in the championship series is amazing in and of itself, but there was near panic in DC when it was announced he was to miss game one for the birth of his third child. It all worked out for the best – healthy baby girl, game one victory – and Hudson will be in St. Louis tonight to relieve his 9th-inning tag-team partner in Doolittle, who closed yesterday’s game with a four-out save. Crazy as this sounds, all but 2 of the 118 outs recorded in wins by the Nationals this postseason have come from Hudson, Doolittle, or the the Nats four-piece rotation, tweets Dougherty.
- Victor Robles may return to the lineup soon, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and Anne Rogers. He will not, however, be in the starting lineup for game two, tweets MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. Michael A. Taylor has been a surprisingly able replacement, though he did finally snap an 8-game postseason hitting streak with an 0-4 night in game one. Robles certainly provides more upside, and he’s arguably the best defensive centerfielder in baseball, but with so much of his game speed-dependent, there’s little reason to rush him back until his hamstring is healthy enough to be at full speed.