Washington Nationals Series Preview: Crucial Road Trip Continues Against Philadelphia Phillies
Overall, a split streak for the Washington Nationals against the Atlanta Braves was not that great.
The problem is, with the hole they’re in at just over a third of the 2021 season, they can’t really settle for too many ‘bad’ series.
They need to start getting more series wins, especially against teams in their division.
Fortunately, they have another such streak coming up this weekend against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Since securing two of three wins over the Nationals in early May, things haven’t gone well for the Phillies.
They haven’t won any of their six series since and have recorded a dismal 6-11 during that time.
Much like the Nationals, the Phillies have struggled offensively lately. In May, the 89 wRC + Philadelphia ranked only 23rd in major tournaments over that period, near Washington, of which the 95 wRC + ranked 17th for the month.
Here’s the information from Citizens Bank Park ahead of the three-game series …
- Game 1: Friday, June 4, 7:05 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Second match: Saturday, June 5, 4:05 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Third game: Sunday, June 6, 1:05 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Game 1: Max Scherzer (4-4, 2.34 ERA) vs. Zack Wheeler (4-2, 2.52 ERA)
- Second match: Joe Ross (2-5, 5.40 ERA) vs. Zach Eflin (2-5, 4.10 ERA)
- Third game: TBD (0-0, -.– ERA) v Vince Velasquez (2-1, 4.08 ERA)
Paulo Espino: Pop quiz, apart from emergency relief superstar pitcher Hernán Pérez, who has the lowest ERA among National relievers this season? Yes, that would be Espino.
In nine appearances out of the bullpen, the right-handed journeyman posted a 1.42 ERA and 1.95 FIP as an innings eater, typically pitching with the team behind or well ahead in any given game. .
There’s at least a chance Espino will heed the squad’s plans for Sunday’s game, either as a starter there or as a person to eat innings in the bullpen.
That might not be too durable for a soft-throw pitcher who has a ground ball rate of just 30.3% and a strikeout rate of 17.1%, both well below the league average. . But for now, Espino is doing his job out of the pen and deserves a little love for what he’s done.
Rhys Hoskins: With much of the Phillies’ offense in Wars lately, including Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto spending time on the casualty list, it’s up to Hoskins to carry the roster in the meantime. He certainly answered the bell.
As of May 14, Hoskins reduced a dominant .356 / .458 / .627 with four homers and 14 RBIs while sporting a 193 wRC + during that time frame. He also currently has a 10-game hitting streak where he rose to 12-for-35 before that three-game set with the Nationals.
For an offense that has been largely disappointing lately, aside from that 17-point barrage against the Reds on Tuesday, Hoskins’ recent raise has been huge for the Phillies.
Who is not ?
Andrew Stevenson: With his performance in 2020 both starting the casual game in the outfield and his impressive handling of a frequent batting role, Stevenson looked like a solid fourth outfielder in the making who could handle all three outfield points.
It started 2021 in much the same way, but recently fell into a cold spell in the plate, because as of May 15 Stevenson has reduced only 0.219 / 0.286 / 0.219.
It is not difficult to find the root cause because at this time Stevenson has a pretty lackluster walk rate of 5.4% and an alarming shrinkage rate of 35.1%, while his average egress speed doesn’t is only 85.7 mph. So he doesn’t make a lot of contact and when he does, it’s still quite docile.
With Kyle Schwarber potentially needing to sit another game or two with a sore knee after injuring himself while diving for a ball on Wednesday, Stevenson’s recent performance may mean he’s moved on to left field starts. in the meantime.
Brandon Kintzler: Honestly, I don’t take it out on former nationals. Kintzler has struggled mightily this season and has been roughed up more than a few times recently for the Phillies.
Over the course of the year, Kintzler holds a 7.27 ERA and 6.13 FIP in 19 appearances, striking out 14 on strikes and walking two. However, his main problem is that he allowed five homers, which he was very successful in preventing when he succeeded with the Nationals and Minnesota Twins.
Kintzler has given up on three of those home runs since early May and has a 9.35 ERA at that time. Due to the difficulties, he appears to have lost the confidence of manager Joe Girardi for the time being as he has not entered the game with a lead since May 11.
From the opposing canoe
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One more thing to watch
While the main topic of discussion, and rightly so, for the Nationals has been the consistently inconsistent offense, they also need their starters to step up and start pitching like they’re paid.
As a group, National starters average just over five innings per start with an ERA of 4.45 and PIF of 4.71. This combination of lack of length in starts and overall inefficiency gives them 2.1 fWAR over the season, the sixth lowest for the majors this season.
It was meant to be one of the strengths of the team, instead, it holds them back.
“I sat down with Hickey and said, ‘Hey look, some of these guys have to pitch now,’ I mean we have to let them out, ‘Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters ahead of the match. series finale in Atlanta. .
“We did a good job trying to maintain their pitching count during games, but now it’s June.”
“Like I always say, we’re in the National League so there’s an opportunity where we can score points or if the game is close you have to do something, and the pinch is important.
“The other problem with that is we go out and score first and score a bunch of points so the pitchers can go a little bit longer. There are two sides. Do I want the pitchers to give me 105 shots and make seven? Absolutely. But it all depends on how the game plays out.
It might not be something Nationals need to worry about when the series opens with Max Scherzer on the mound, which continues to be the vintage Max Scherzer this season.
However, for their other starters, they need them to start playing and deepen the games both to ease the pressure on their struggling attack and also to keep their pen from being overused.
Martinez has given the rallying cry, now is the time to see if the rotation can answer the call.