Washington Nationals series preview: Nine-game road trip begins against New York Mets
The Washington Nationals have finally won a series again! The Colorado Rockies now account for 22% of Nationals wins this season, read it how you like.
It was the first time the Nats managed to win a series since taking two of three from the San Francisco Giants in a set that straddled April and May, so it will be the only series they win in May that was entirely this month. Suboptimal.
Either way, for the Nationals, the key to the series win was scoring 28 runs on 40 hits over the four games, ultimately managing to give their inconsistent rotation some running support, by especially Patrick Corbin who finally recorded his first victory of the season on the mound.
Up next for the Nationals is their first trip to Citi Field of the season where they will face the New York Mets.
The last time these two teams met, the Mets took two of Washington’s three at Nationals Park. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the Nationals scored eight points in one game and then three combined in the other two games. A familiar story, indeed.
You may also remember the last time the Nationals played at Citi Field, it was when their hosts were full Mets with another controversy.
Mets players were spotted booing their home crowd as they exited the race, before missing the playoffs.
There’s only one thing we’re rooting for. If the Nationals win Game 1 of the series, they will go 19-31 and we can all look back with nostalgia on the 2019 run.
Here are the details from Citi Field ahead of the three-game series…
- First game: Monday, May 30, 7:10 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out of market only), Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Second game: Tuesday, May 31, 7:10 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Third game: Wednesday, June 1, 1:10 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out of market only), Radio: 106.7 The fan
- First game: Erick Fedde (3-3, 3.55 ERA) vs. David Peterson (2-0, 2.16 ERA)
- Second game: Patrick Corbin (1-7, 6.30 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (0-3, 4.37 ERA)
- Third game: TBD (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. Carlos Carrasco (5-1, 3.98 ERA)
Nelson Cruz: I’ve been late putting Cruz on here lately because every time he had a big game he seemed to find a way to go 0 for the very next game and hold back.
Now, though, he’s starting to string together stronger performances and looks like the hitter the Nats were hoping for when they handed him a guaranteed $15 million this offseason.
So far in May, Cruz has batted a solid .321/.376/.464 with a pair of home runs, six doubles and 16 RBIs. Five of those doubles have come in his last seven games, in which he has a dominant slash of .423/.483/.615.
Cruz finally seems to be turning the tide at the plate, and the offense has exploded as a result.
Luis Guillorme: As regular readers of this section know, I like to make sure to weigh entire slash lines when selecting players, not just focus on batting average. In Guillorme’s case though, there’s no starting point other than his recent absurd batting average.
In his last 11 appearances, the utility man has a frankly ridiculous .517 batting average, going 15-29 in that streak — although it’s not a hitting streak because of a striking appearance on Tuesday where he sank into a choice defender.
To put it into perspective, Guillorme went 2 for 5 on Sunday Night Baseball against the Philadelphia Phillies, and his batting average since May 17 has gone down.
The only catch was that Guillorme only walked three times when only one of those hits was for extra bases. So he’s just racking up singles, but it’s still amazing what the veteran has been able to do, and he’s pushing his way into more playing time.
Who is not ?
Austin Voth: Not so long ago, Voth was about to appear in the section above. That was until he gave up a pair of runs against Houston, and it’s only gotten worse since.
The right-handed reliever has allowed multiple runs in each of his last four appearances, combining for a slightly unbelievable 29.45 ERA during that stretch, bumping his ERA on the season to 9.35, more than any other pitcher who pitched at least that many innings. like him (17.1).
Even on his recent cleanup duties, Voth has let games get away from him and could fall victim to a potential roster crunch if he needed space to call another pitcher.
Patrick Mazeika: While the former Sean Doolittle lookalike has had a few hits during his time with the Mets lately, his line resembles that of a major league reserve receiver.
Since hitting a game-winning home run on his season debut against the Seattle Mariners, Mazeika has reduced just .172 / .172 / .276 in 30 plate appearances, notching three doubles and three RBIs in that span, but not making not much else. on the plate.
With James McCann still weeks away from returning, Mazeika seems locked in as a second-string receiver behind Tomás Nido for now at least.
From the opposing canoe
Check out some of the best Mets storylines from our friends at Amazin’ Avenue…
One more thing to watch
After his short outing in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Rockies, the Nationals decided to designate Aaron Sanchez for an assignment.
Through seven starts with the team, Sanchez posted an 8.33 ERA and 1.76 WHIP, both career highs. He wasn’t short enough at bats, with just 16 strikeouts in 31.1 innings, and allowed plenty of hard contacts, including six homers in those seven starts.
Unfortunately for the right-hander, he was able to rediscover the form he briefly showed with the San Francisco Giants last season where he held a 3.06 ERA in nine appearances, seven of which were starts, and shoved his way out of a rotation. with the Nationals.
That now leaves the Nationals needing a new starting pitcher in their rotation at some point in this series with the Mets, which manager Dave Martinez hinted would be on Wednesday.
“We’re going to need a spot here next week,” Martinez said of the situation on Sunday. “We thought it was a good time to start thinking about what we were going to do for Wednesday. Right now I can tell you that we have a lot of different options and different things that we are thinking about, we won’t have a decision until probably Tuesday.
After suffering a setback on his first start to rehab, Joe Ross has been arrested yet again, so he’s not in contention for the start. Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, after making his second rehab start on Sunday, likely needs one or two more rehab starts before he’s ready to join the rotation.
However, the Nationals’ other options currently on the 40-man roster are limited.
They could stretch Paolo Espino or Josh Rogers, who are currently in the bullpen and started for the team last year. They could also call up Evan Lee, who currently has a 3.60 in seven starts for Double-A Harrisburg, or Cory Abbott, who started for Rochester Wednesday for the first time but might not be completely exhausted.
So could they look at someone else from the 40-man roster to start with?
“That starter could be from the 40-Man, yes,” Martinez explained. “We are weighing all our different options, but we won’t make that decision until Tuesday.”
Those hoping for Cade Cavalli will want to temper expectations.
The right-hander, who still has a lot to do at Triple-A, started on Saturday, so he wouldn’t be able to start Wednesday’s game of this series on complete rest.
Perhaps the most likely option not on the 40-man roster right now is Jackson Tetreault, who started on Friday so would be fully rested. The right-hander made 10 Triple-A starts and impressed to the tune of a 3.35 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 21 walks in 48.1 innings.
With Sanchez DFA’d, the Nationals have a 40-man berth open if they want to call anyone. But for now, the team will play things close to the chest when it comes to their starter for this series finale…
Trivial question from the last series: This series will likely see Charlie Blackmon become the leader of the Rockies against the Nationals since the franchise moved to the nation’s capital. But which player will he overtake? This player also leads the Rockies in home runs and RBIs against the Nats.
Answer: Carlos Gonzalez
Here’s our trivial question for this series with the Mets, and with the Nationals one win away from their infamous 19-31, we look back on that 2019 series that sent them to this mark…
In that 2019 series against the Mets that dropped the Nationals to 19-31, can you name the three Nats pitchers who recorded missed saves in the last three games of the four-game series?