Nats Tossed Away the Tension, Early Game 3 Lineup Rumors, and Other Bullets

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Nats Tossed Away the Tension, Early Game 3 Lineup Rumors, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Hey, for those of you who can’t get enough of my words/face, I’m going to be the CLTV Sports Feed tonight, so tune in at 6pm for my deep and prophetic thoughts about the Cubs, and a dress shirt that is almost certainly too tight on my neck.

  • Speaking of tight: the Nationals admit that the “tension” was building up before the 8th inning last night, given their inability to do anything offensively in the series to that point (ESPN). Because playing “tight” is an actual thing for many players, the idea that the “momentum” shifted with Bryce Harper’s homer is also likely an actual thing going forward – many of the Nationals hitters who were feeling that “tension,” and perhaps letting it impact them at the plate, will now feel a whole lot less than they would have if this series were 0-2, and headed to Chicago.
  • As it stands, the Cubs split in Washington. We all said it to ourselves going into this series: a split to open things up is not a bad outcome on the road. Then you get a chance to win the series without even having to head back to D.C. It’s just that, well, the way the Cubs split stings, given that they were just a handful of outs away from taking both games on the road.
  • Also: I did lots of ruminating on the bullpen decisions earlier today, so I won’t rehash it all here.
  • We’ve all got 24 hours to settle into a moderately happy place, though, and it looks like the Cubs are doing it by way of some good food and fun at Wrigley today:

  • And the John Lackey-themed shirts the players are wearing today:

  • Jon Lester looked pretty darn good last night, as the Nationals seemed to make it a priority to go for early contact against him, and they were not really squaring him up. He got 10 whiffs in the game, he was sitting at 92 mph and touching 94, and generally looked like he was able to do what he wanted throughout the start. It’s a shame it didn’t translate to a win, but it was definitely very nice to see.
  • Among many other things, Sahadev Sharma gets into the decision to stick with Ben Zobrist – both in the lineup, and then late in the game on defense last night – here at The Athletic. I would very much have wanted to see a defense-first lineup there in the outfield come the 8th inning, though I’m not going to say that Jon Jay or Leonys Martin or whoever else may have been out there would have been able to leap and catch Ryan Zimmerman’s ball. (They probably would have made a little better go of it than Zobrist did, though.)
  • This is certainly interesting:

  • Getting La Stella’s bat in there against Max Scherzer (who has been hilariously dominant against righties this year, but downright hittable against lefties) is a fantastic move, in my view. The tough part is figuring out just how you want to work it defensively. Second base is La Stella’s natural position, but are you willing to sit Javy Baez? Maybe so – you lose the incredible glove, but you also lose a righty-righty match-up against Scherzer that sure feels like a really bad one for Baez. The alternative is playing La Stella at third base and sliding Kris Bryant out to right field (with Jason Heyward manning center and Kyle Schwarber in left), but I have never really loved what I’ve seen from La Stella at third base.
  • You could also move Baez to third base if you like him better there than Bryant (and Bryant better in right than Ben Zobrist or Ian Happ (and/or Jon Jay in center, if Jason Heyward stays in right (stuff gets complicated, eh?))).
  • In the end, we’ll see if La Stella actually gets in there. His presence will require someone else you’d also like to see in there to sit (i.e., Jon Jay or Ian Happ or Javy Baez or Kyle Schwarber). Such is life with a very good bench.
  • I am very angry at myself for how much I loved Bryce Harper’s matter-of-fact bat toss after destroying the game-tying homer last night:

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
  • An unnamed Cubs scout is selling his/her World Series ring, which is a notable development because the Cubs went to some length to try to make sure that didn’t happen. I’ll be curious to see how this develops – if the Cubs will give their blessing (the ring is an incredible thing, but scouts don’t necessarily make a ton of money, so I’m not going to throw stones), or if they will try to block the sale. Also: how much will it go for? How much would you pay to have an actual Cubs World Series ring?
  • With a Cubs fan getting some attention for catching Anthony Rizzo’s homer, Jon Lester took the opportunity to set the record straight on his position on famous Cardinals fan, Nacho Man (NBC): “I need to clarify something about old Nacho Man here. I wasn’t saying nothing about him personally. I was saying the fact that people were asking for his autograph and taking pictures and him doing interviews …. I have no quarrel with Nacho Man.”
  • After the loss last night, tickets for the Cubs’ home NLDS games took a turn downward on StubHub:

  • The non-playing lineup for Monday’s game:

  • Everyone else good with this rule change:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.