The Nats took a trip to Arizona this weekend, where they managed to take two of three from the Diamondbacks, win their first series in their last four attempts, and improve to 16-20 on the season. The Nats won 17-2 on Friday night behind a massive run barrage and a 6-run first inning, lost Saturday in an 11-4 contest despite only having 2 less hits than Arizona, before taking the Sunday rubber match 3-0 thanks to some eighth inning magic.
Here’s how the weekend’s starters did:
Max Scherzer, 5/14:
W (3-2), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0 HR, 2.10 ERA
Joe Ross, 5/15:
L (2-3), 4.0+ IP, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR, 5.80 ERA
Erick Fedde, 5/16:
W (3-4), 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR, 4.35 ERA
The Bad News:
Max Scherzer did very well, and despite only pitching 5 innings, did so only because his pitch count was getting ridiculously high really fast (85 pitches in 5 innings is not very efficient). It doesn’t seem like it really would have mattered anyway, as the team scored a whopping 17 runs on 22 hits. What a night.
Erick Fedde pitched a gem on Sunday afternoon. Not really much to say about him in this section.
The bulk of the bad news for this weekend falls onto Joe Ross. Despite walking onto the mound with a 1-0 lead, Ross would immediately offer up a series of base hits, scoring three runs for the Diamondbacks early on. A homer in the bottom of the fourth by Eduardo Escobar would make the score 6-2 Arizona, and a wild pitch plus a single that would make the score 8-2 would tack on two runs that were credited to Ross instead of reliever Sam Clay.
Ross’ was last credited with a win on April 24th against the Mets, and since then has had three questionable starts, as his ERA has ballooned from 4.64 to 5.80. While he gave up only 2 earned runs each in losses to Atlanta on May 4th and the Yankees on May 9th, he only pitched around 5 innings each time, and looked increasingly rattled. His sinker has not at all been on, like it was during the dominant stretch he had earlier, and his confidence is down. With Strasburg finally nearing a return from the IL after a rehab start on Sunday in Rochester and Erick Fedde dominating, it’s possible that Ross may have to be the odd man out who leaves the rotation, especially after being charged with 8 runs on Saturday night.
The Good News:
Max Scherzer was dominant as usual. Not allowing a hit until the fourth inning and only leaving the game because of a high pitch count in a blowout win, it’s safe to say that it’s business as usual for Mr. Scherzer. Which is exactly how Nats fans want it to be. At his current pace, a 2.10 ERA would be the best in Scherzer’s career. Anyone who claimed this man was washed or getting old is eating their words.
Joe Ross? Well…yeah. Moving on.
Erick Fedde has blossomed this year from a possible DFA to a guy who has more than earned a continued spot in the rotation after Stephen Strasburg’s return. Looking absolutely dominant on Sunday afternoon, Fedde had his longest outing of the season, finally managing to overcome his inefficiency issues to toss 7 scoreless innings on 97 pitches. His improvement throughout the early season has been incredibly visible and easy to spot, especially as his confidence builds and his fastball continues to touch 96 miles per hour. Also, the 12 groundouts he forced today were kind of a big deal. The Diamondbacks had no idea what hit them yesterday, getting pulled into soft contact all afternoon. Safe to say, Fedde is hot. Keep the train rolling!
7 shutout innings on 12 ground-ball outs.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 16, 2021
The Nationals travel to Wrigley Field on Monday for a 4-game series with the Cubs, as Jon Lester will take the mound at 7:40 in his first game in Chicago since leaving the team this past offseason. Lester has looked pretty good in his first few starts this year, and there’s no reason to think that with the right run support, he can’t keep the momentum.
Patrick Corbin will take the Tuesday night spot, Max Scherzer will go again on Wednesday, and Joe Ross will get a shot at redemption on Thursday afternoon. Time to get a winning streak underway in Wrigley, all while hoping that we can see Stephen Strasburg again soon. Until then.