One consequence of MLBâ€™s new playoff format is the difference in schedule between the top seed and the wild card. The Nationals had a day off and then practiced twice. The Cardinals took one day off, played a game, and then worked out today.
The three-day break could be taken one of two ways. The Nationals, especially their pitchers, received a chance to rest upÂ after a 162-game meat-grinder of a season. Or, they gathered rust while their opponent stayed fresh.
Within the Nationals clubhouse, two veterans took different stances. Ryan Zimmerman, set to begin the first postseason of his seven-year career, thought the rest would help.
â€śI think itâ€™s a great thing,â€ť Zimmerman, beaming at the very thought. â€śAfter going through the season, everyone has their bumps and bruises. Thereâ€™s no one in Major League Baseball thatâ€™s played 150 or however many games doesnâ€™t have something.
â€śIt gives you a chance to kind of heal up a little bit, but itâ€™s not too long to where you kind of get out of game mode. Being able to work out two out of three days is good, too. Itâ€™s nice. You get to relax, kind of settle down, realize what you have to do, then regroup and get ready to go.â€ť
In other corner stood Adam LaRoche. He believed the three days without facing a live pitcher would pose a challenge.
â€śI donâ€™t like it,â€ť LaRoche said. â€śYou come in, you get some BP. But not seeing live pitching for a few days, itâ€™s obviously the way it has to be with the schedule. But I would prefer one off day, and go get it.â€ť
As the opinions of Zimmerman and LaRoche show, the three-day break may affect individual players differently. How the Nationals come out of the blocks â€“ slugging or firing on all cylinders â€“ may be because of how well they handle the time off.