Mike Rizzo: Nats are 'just getting this thing rolling'

Ben Krimmel
October 02, 2019 - 2:07 pm

In the early innings, it looked like the same old playoff Washington Nationals. 

Max Scherzer, the NL Cy Young winner and ace of the pitching staff, was roughed up for a pair of home runs early. The Nationals bats were dormant. Things were not looking good.

But, things changed in the late innings against the dominant Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. 

“We finally got a ball to bounce our way," Nats GM Mike Rizzo said during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance, 'In The Clubhouse With Mike Rizzo,' brought to you by Burke & Herbert Bank.

"You know, you’re down quick, 3-0, but that’s the way we’ve been, that’s the way this team has been this year. In the past we've been up 6-0, 4-0 and that type of thing," Rizzo said making reference to past postseason heartbreaks. “(But) this group is used to grinding from behind and battling from behind.”

“To cobble together that inning against one of the best closers in the game is remarkable. It’s a testament to those guys. It was great," Rizzo said about the 8th.

And the Nats GM said the Nationals manager deserves a lot of credit.

"I thought Davey (Martinez) was magnificent the way he handled that baseball game," Rizzo told The Junks. "He managed it perfectly. Just as we scripted it out during the advanced meetings, it went true to form."

"That Juan Soto kid is pretty special," he added. "Let's not forget the Michael Taylor at-bat and (Ryan Zimmerman) at-bat to get us rolling and then the big hit. It was a beautiful night."

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There was also praise for the crowd at Nationals Park.

"It was an unbelievable turnout. This narrative that Nats fans don't care, it's not a baseball town is garbage," Rizzo said on The Fan. "The people who are there night in and night out they're as passionate and rabid as baseball fans as anybody around. We love the fans and they've supported us since we've gotten here. And I think that (narrative has) been overblown.

"I loved the energy in the ballpark yesterday. It was amazing, it was as loud as I've heard it," he added. "They were on fire last night."

Looking ahead to the NLDS against the defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Rizzo said his ballclub has no plans on cooling down.

"It's gonna be a challenge but this team hasn't backed off a challenge all season," Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan. “And, I'll tell ya what, I wouldn’t want to play the Nats right now if I were the Dodgers. So I feel good about it."

When asked who will start Game 2 after Patrick Corbin starts Game 1 Thursday night, Rizzo said, "Not sure yet. We need to settle in and put together our battle plan against the Dodgers."

"If we have to give the ball to Aníbal Sánchez I couldn't be happier and more comfortable with that," Rizzo said on 106.7 The Fan. "If it's something else, if it's (Strasburg) on short rest, we're not sure yet. We have to see how Stras feels."

Rizzo said while Martinez has the "final say, he makes the lineup" the decision to start Scherzer in the Wild Card Game over Strasburg was a group decision and was a unanimous decision. "It was something that we didn't have to think too much about it," he said.

When asked about the report of a substantial contract offer to Anthony Rendon, Rizzo said, "Well, we don't talk about negotiations."

"We made a clear and concise effort to keep Anthony in the organization for the long term. We'll continue to do so because we want him here and we think he wants to be here," Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan. "We feel good about our chances that he'll be a Nat. And I'll bet he is."

But the Nats' focus for the short term seems to be the Dodgers. When asked how he ranks the win last night vs. the Jayson Werth walk-off homer, Rizzo was quick to answer: “I’m gonna say the one that’s coming up is the biggest moment because we’re just getting this thing rolling."

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