The questionable decision prompted anger and frustration from the fans. Their argument is valid: Play to win today, and every individual game against the Nationals matters a little more in a tight National League East race.
Snitker entered the day planning to rest both his righties. He wasn’t going to stray from that intention, even as the matinee dragged into the evening.
“I’m staying away from Viz and Wink all day today,” he said. “Just giving them a day. That’s looking ahead. That’s where they’d been warming up, was hot yesterday. Winkler had a tough inning the day before. We were going to stay away from both of them regardless today.”
Snitker’s thought process was logical, but could be fairly questioned.
Vizcaino hadn’t pitched since Thursday, when he threw 12 pitches and recorded the save. He’d pitched just three innings since May 22.
The tough inning Snitker referenced for Winkler came in Thursday’s eighth inning. He entered to face the heart of the Nationals’ order, striking out Trea Turner and Bryce Harper before inducing a lineout from Anthony Rendon. Winkler threw 22 pitches.
Snitker was between a rock and a hard place as far as Socolovich was concerned. He’d already used Sam Freeman, Shane Carle, A.J. Minter, Peter Moylan and Jesse Biddle.
He exhausted Biddle, getting three shutout innings with eight strikeouts.
The Braves were short on options partly due to Monday’s doubleheader. Luiz Gohara being on the bereavement list and Mike Soroka rehabbing from a shoulder strain didn’t help either.
They’d already used Matt Wisler, Max Fried and Lucas Sims lately, and they were ineligible to come back up since 10 days hadn’t passed since any were optioned back to Triple-A. If the team instead chose Josh Ravin, or the excelling Evan Phillips, it’d have needed to create a 40-man spot.
Enter Socolovich, whom the Braves promoted Wednesday when they sent Wisler back down. He last pitched that day, allowing a run to the Mets in one inning.
Since pitching a pair of shutout innings against the Phillies on March 31, Socolovich has allowed at least one run in his past three appearances.
The Nationals, including ace Max Scherzer, who collected a pinch-hit single to ignite the offense in the final inning, teed off on the 31-year-old after having just one hit since Juan Soto’s seventh-inning homer.
“I’m more of the mind to win games that are there to be won,” said starter Brandon McCarthy, who left after the sixth inning at 84 pitches, admitting he had some fatigue due to the humidity. “Win game 6 before game 7.
“But my job isn’t to look at the larger picture of this. I’ve been here with a history with those guys and knowing how to face them. So I’m looking at it with the amateur status. He’s sitting there, he sees all the data, he knows where guys are and what they’re doing. I trust his opinion on that over me just guessing.”