Opener in New York postponed, doubleheader Tuesday (updated)

NEW YORK – The rain that made a mess of the Nationals’ entire final home series over the weekend is making a mess of their final road series of the season as well.

With what's left of Hurricane Ian slowly making its way up the East Coast, tonight's game against the Mets has been postponed. The two teams will attempt to play a straight doubleheader Tuesday at 4:10 p.m., with Cory Abbott starting the first game and Paolo Espino starting the nightcap.

Tuesday's forecast, though, calls for rain all night and all day, and it perhaps could even extend into early Wednesday, when the regular season is supposed to come to an end with a 4:10 p.m. first pitch at Citi Field.

All the Nationals can do at this point is wait, and potentially play at some point in less-than-ideal conditions, just as they did all weekend against the Phillies in D.C.

“You can’t control Mother Nature,” manager Davey Martinez said earlier in the afternoon, prior to the postponement announcement. “We’ll see what happens. It’s looking pretty nasty right now. We’ll see if this thing goes away and lets us play a nice, cold day.”

The fact the Mets are still mathematically alive for the National League East title complicates matters. They entered the day two games back of the surging Braves with three to play. Their only hope of winning the division title is to sweep the Nats and hope the Braves get swept by the Marlins. It’s a longshot, but as long as it remains possible, Major League Baseball will insist on the full series being played.

If two games can't be completed Tuesday, that could mean another scheduled doubleheader Wednesday. And if three games can't be completed by then, and the race somehow still isn't decided, that could mean the Nationals have to stay in New York another night and finish the season Thursday.

* The bad weather probably played some role in what wound up being a sloppy weekend in the field for the Nationals. After a nice stretch of improved defensive play that coincided with the team’s improved game results, they didn’t play clean baseball while losing three of four to the Phillies.

“It could be, but the other team’s got to play in it, too," Martinez said. "We’ve got to go out there and catch the ball, throw the ball, continue to play the way we’re playing. We played well over the past couple weeks. We have to get back to that, do the little things and see what happens.”

Among the most notable culprits was CJ Abrams, who was charged with three errors in those four games, reversing a recent positive trend. The rookie shortstop had committed only two errors during a 23-game stretch to begin September.

“He’s dropping his arm a little bit when he throws the ball,” Martinez said. “He’s got to get ready a little earlier. The weather hasn’t been great; the field’s been a little muddy, so that’s a bit of a concern. But in the course of a year, you’re going to have to learn how to play in these kind of conditions, especially in April, when it’s like this almost every day. It’s something he has to get used to.”

Abrams, who turns 22 today, has minus-3 Defensive Runs Saved in 42 games since joining the Nationals.

* Reed Garrett is with the team for this final series, with the Nationals taking advantage of the league-allowed taxi squad for the first time all year. Since the pandemic season of 2020, Major League Baseball has allowed up to five players not on the active roster to travel with clubs in case they’re needed due to injury or COVID-related issues.

The Nats haven’t felt the need to utilize the taxi squad this year, calling players up from Triple-A Rochester and getting them to the ballpark in time whenever needed. In this case, because the Triple-A season is already over, they decided to bring Garrett to New York in the event they could use a fresh relief arm before this series is over.

The 29-year-old right-hander appeared in six games earlier this summer, allowing seven earned runs and 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings before landing on the injured list with biceps inflammation. Once he recovered, he was optioned back to Rochester, where he finished with a 3.04 ERA and 1.225 WHIP in 42 games this season.

Would Abbott and Espino pitch well in tandem?
Game 160 lineups: Nats at Mets

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