CHICAGO – It’s a beautiful day in the Windy City, with a nice breeze blowing in off Lake Michigan and barely a cloud in the sky. Maybe good weather will inspire the Nationals to play better and end their six-game losing streak.
OK, the weather probably has nothing to do with how they play tonight. What they really need is to score some runs, preferably early, and give their pitching staff a chance to pitch with a rare lead. Davey Martinez is trying a different look in his lineup, with Luis García batting leadoff, Luke Voit batting second and Nelson Cruz in the No. 3 spot. Victor Robles, who struggled Monday night, is out. So is Maikel Franco, who also struggled in the 6-3 loss.
Paolo Espino makes the start, still seeking his first win of the season. The veteran right-hander has got to keep the ball in the yard, and he’s got to find a way to get hitters out a second time through the lineup. As tempting as it might be for Martinez to go to his bullpen early, he really can’t afford to do it unless absolutely necessary, given how much that group has worked in recent weeks.
Speaking of the bullpen, the Nationals are going to have a new pitcher soon: Jake McGee. They claimed the veteran left-hander off waivers today from the Brewers, who designated him for assignment earlier in the week. McGee has had a rough season in San Francisco and Milwaukee, but he’s got a strong track record. And the Nats have been looking for a lefty reliever for some time, so once he arrives he could be a welcome addition.
To clear space on the organizational 40-man roster for McGee, the Nationals designated Triple-A outfielder Donovan Casey for assignment. Casey, you’ll remember, was one of the four players they acquired from the Dodgers last summer in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner blockbuster. He was far from the key prospect in the whole deal, but it’s still not a great look that he was DFA’d only one year in.