WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals were expected to be in the midst of a pennant race as August wound down. Instead it is the Milwaukee Brewers who are in the running for a playoff spot.More Brewers coverageBrewers Final Pitch: Chacin dominates mound in Game 3 of NLCSChacin Authentic Tre'Davious White Jersey
, Brewers blank Dodgers to take 2-1 lead in NLCSDespite struggles, No. 23 Badgers still have hope in Big TenStrong winds could be factor for Brewers, Dodgers in NLCS Game 3Photos of the Week: 10/7/18 – 10/13/18Milwaukee comes to Washington for three games beginning Friday after beating the Cincinnati Reds for the second straight day on Thursday.The Brewers (75-60) got a Lorenzo Cain homer in the 11th inning for a 2-1 win that left them a half-game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the top wild-card spot in the National League. Milwaukee is five games behind first-place Chicago in the National League Central.Thursday’s win followed Milwaukee’s 13-12 victory in a 10-inning slugfest on Wednesday night.“I think the offense looked tired,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told mlb.com after Thursday’s win, “but you grind through it and you play good defense. We made pitches and Lo Cain got the big hit.”Washington (67-67) begins a 10-game homestand against NL Central entries Milwaukee, St. Louis and Chicago while trying to remain in the playoff hunt coming off a 3-3 road trip. The Nationals are 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East and nearly as far back in the wild-card race with four teams ahead of them for the No. 2 spot.Brewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (13-5, 3.61 ERA) opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (8-13, 3.95) in Friday’s opener.Roark has been a different pitcher since the All-Star break, stepping up when the Nationals needed someone to back up ace Max Scherzer. Roark is 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his last seven starts. During that stretch, he has struck out 37 batters and walked five.“You really just feel unhittable,” a grinning Roark recently told the Washington Post. “You feel like each pitch that you’re about to throw is untouchable, and that’s what you want as a pitcher.”He started that streak in Milwaukee when he blanked the Brewers for eight innings in a July 25 win. Roark struck out 11 and walked only one.Last time out he was an unlucky loser against the Mets, allowing one run and four hits in six innings of a 3-0 Mets win.Roark entered the All-Star break 3-12 — winless since June 6 — with a 4.87 ERA.“It’s been awesome,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told the Post regarding Roark’s sharp turnaround. “Every time he goes out there we have a chance to win ballgames.”Roark is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) in his career versus the Brewers.Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich is 9-for-36 (.250) against Roark. Jonathan Schoop is 2-for-4 and both hits are homers.Chacin has also enjoyed a strong August. After allowing eight earned runs to the Dodgers on Aug. 2 Cheap Christian McCaffrey Jersey
, he has surrendered just six earned runs while going 3-1 over his last four starts.“We talked in spring training that once Yelich and Cain came aboard, we kind of forgot about Chac铆n, and how important he can be,” Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s ended up being really important.”The Brewers are 19-9 in games Chacin has started. He’s coming off a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he gave up three earned runs in six innings.Chacin beat the Nationals on July 23. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run and two hits while striking out nine without a walk. In his career, he’s 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA in nine starts against Washington.Anthony Rendon is 4-for-14 (.286) versus Chacin, and Adam Eaton is 3-or-11 (.273) and Bryce Harper 0-for-6. Now that the dust has settled after the trade deadline, here’s some quick trivia:Which team does Zach Duke pitch for?How about Darren O’Day? Or Seunghwan Oh?It seemed like every contender wanted to add another arm or two in the bullpen, making the hours and days leading up to last week’s non-waiver trade deadline feel like a giant game of musical chairs for relievers. The importance of relief pitching in the postseason has been obvious for a while now. Last year, the Yankees got just one out from their starting pitcher in the American League wild-card game against Minnesota, but four relievers went the rest of the way, and New York was able to advance.With so many off days built into the schedule in the playoffs, teams can push their top relievers more. Here are a few bullpens to watch down the stretch.(But first, the trivia answers: Duke was traded to Seattle Authentic Christian McCaffrey Jersey
, O’Day was dealt to Atlanta, and Oh is with Colorado now.)Chicago Cubs: If you made a list of the absolute top relievers in baseball, you probably wouldn’t include any of the Cubs, but manager Joe Maddon has a fair number of good options. Steve Cishek (1.93 ERA) is having a fine year, while Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson have been pretty reliable. Carl Edwards Jr. has 53 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.Closer Brandon Morrow has dealt with injury problems, but the Cubs have the NL’s best record anyway, and the bullpen is part of the reason.Cleveland Indians: The bullpen carried the Indians to the World Series two years ago, but it was a weak link earlier this season. With a sizable lead in the AL Central, Cleveland now has plenty of time to get its relief pitching in order. The Indians bolstered their depth by acquiring Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from San Diego, and now Andrew Miller is back from the disabled list. If Miller returns to form, Cleveland’s bullpen could become an asset again, but closer Cody Allen is a concern, with his 4.27 ERA.Houston Astros: Houston has the best bullpen ERA in baseball despite the struggles of Ken Giles, who was eventually sent down to the minors and then traded to Toronto. That deal was a controversial one Baker Mayfield Jersey Elite
, bringing Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Osuna was still serving a suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.The Astros obviously think Osuna can help them, but they’re in good shape regardless. Hector Rondon has shown he can close, and there are plenty of other solid arms contributing for the defending World Series champions. Will Harris has been better than his 4.24 ERA suggests, and Collin McHugh leads the team in relief innings while holding opponents to a .144 average. Left-hander Tony Sipp is having quite a season at age 35, posting a 1.63 ERA.Milwaukee Brewers: Milwaukee is one of the teams that apparently believes you can never have too many good relievers. With the trio of Corey Knebel, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress already having a huge season, the Brewers added Joakim Soria before the deadline. Jeffress is 6-1 with a 1.34 ERA, and Hader has 101 strikeouts, only 10 off starter Junior Guerra’s team-leading total.New York Yankees: The Yankees blew a three-run ninth-inning lead at Boston on Sunday night, proving that no bullpen is completely foolproof. Still, with Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson in the fold, the Yankees have a major league-best 504 strikeouts from relievers this year. (For context, Kansas City’s incredible 2015 bullpen had 502 strikeouts for the entire season.) New York recently acquired former Baltimore star Zach Britton http://www.billscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-tre_davious-white-jersey
, who isn’t that far removed from a 47-save season in 2016. Since the start of last season, Chad Green has 165 strikeouts in 121 innings and a 2.23 ERA. He’s practically an afterthought in this remarkable bullpen the Yankees have assembled.Other developments from around the majors:NO SUPPORTWhen Seattle’s Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award in 2010 with a 13-12 record, it was a sign that voters wouldn’t hold a mediocre record against an otherwise worthy pitcher. Jacob deGrom of the Mets can be thankful for that precedent. DeGrom (5-7) leads the major leagues with a 1.85 ERA. In his last seven starts, he’s 0-5 with a 2.82 ERA.HIGHLIGHTFranmil Reyes of the Padres hit a 477-foot home run in Sunday’s 10-6 win over the Cubs. It was the fifth-longest homer of the season, according to Statcast, and it was a particularly impressive one visually, bouncing off the green batter’s eye at Wrigley Field.LINES OF THE WEEKBoston won four straight over the Yankees to take a 9 1/2-game lead in the AL East. The sweep began with a 15-7 win Thursday, in which Steve Pearce of the Red Sox had three home runs and six RBIs . The next night, Rick Porcello pitched a one-hitter in a 4-1 victory.