The Nationals slogged to a 6-0 loss Friday night, halting their winning streak at six games, but the night was not a total loss. Minutes before first pitch, the Brewers completed a trade that sent ace right-hander Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels for three prospects. All the ripples from the trade regarding the Nationals were positive for them.
Most urgently, the Nationals will not have to face Greinke this weekend in Milwaukee. He had been slated to pitch Sunday against Gio Gonzalez, a coincidental matchup — if Greinke had accepted a proposed trade to the Nationals and an ensuing $100 million contract extension back in December 2010, the Nationals would not have had the need — or the money — to trade for Gonzalez and sign him to an extension.
But no one expected Greinke to pitch Sunday, anyway. Davey Johnson said he wasn’t planning for Greinke to face them. The Brewers would have been mad to let Greinke take the mound the day before the deadline and risk injury.
The real upside for the Nationals came in where they traded him. The Braves, the Nationals’ primary competition in the National League East, had reportedly been in the running for Greinke. Now Greinke is not even in the Nationals’ league, let alone their division. And with the Angels making a big move, the Rangers may be motivated to respond by trading for another big-name pitcher — thereby removing another option for the Braves.
With Greinke out of Milwaukee, the Brewers called up Mark Rogers, the fourth overall pick in 2004, from Class AAA Nashville. He appears to be the likeliest choice to take Greinke’s place in the rotation Sunday, although old friend Livan Hernandez is a candidate, too.
>>> Craig Stammen let the game get away from the Nationals when he relieved Ross Detwiler in the fifth and allowed two runs to go with letting in an inherited runner. He actually pitched pretty well, save the hanging slider Aramis Ramirez belted over the left field fence.
What stood out was the way the Brewers made him into a turnstile. Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun each stole bases off him, which did come as a surprise. Stammen has now allowed 10 steals in 10 attempts. He takes about 1.6 seconds to deliver the ball from the stretch, which makes it just about impossible for the catcher. The Nationals’ bullpen is rough all around at holding on runners, and Stammen is a prime culprit.
“I’m trying to get quicker, but I’ve got to get the out first,” Stammen said. “It’s always been something I’ve had to deal with my whole career. I got to fix that. I’ve got to get better at that. I’m trying.”
>>> Drew Storen pitched a scoreless seventh inning, a full three outs following two appearances in which he retired David Wright and then exited. Storen’s stuff and command were both closer to 100 percent than at any previous point in his comeback from elbow surgery. He threw his sinker and 95 and 96 miles per hour, and his slider had the bit that made it his best pitch.
“I felt really good,” Storen said. “I had good command of all the pitchers. It’s not really a strength thing as much of an explosion thing. It’s something that you just keep building on. I was happy to see where it was velocity-wise. But hopefully I can keep climbing a little bit.
“It’s learning to pitch in that sixth gear that you don’t get anywhere else. As much as you want to work on things in the bullpen, the only way you get the feel for that, and get the slider that made me effective last year, is to do that. I’ve seen improvement the last two times out there, and I expect to do the same next time out.”