Nats promote Call from Rochester, option Palacios

call guardians

The Nationals called up another recent addition to the organization this morning, promoting Alex Call from Triple-A Rochester and throwing him right into the lineup as their leadoff hitter and starting left fielder for their series finale against the Padres.

Fellow outfielder Josh Palacios was optioned back to Rochester to clear a roster spot.

Call, 27, has only been in the Nationals organization one week. After making his major league debut for the Guardians last month, he was sent down to Triple-A Columbus, then designated for assignment. The Nats swooped in and claimed him off waivers, assigning him to Rochester, where he didn’t stay long.

In five games with the Red Wings, Call went 8-for-18 with two doubles, two homers, six RBIs, two walks and three stolen bases. The next thing he knew, he was on a 6:40 a.m. flight from Rochester to Reagan National Airport and came straight to Nationals Park for today’s 12:05 p.m. game.

“Honestly, anytime you’re in the big leagues, it’s pretty special,” he said. “I just think about all the work that’s gone in, all the people that have helped me get here. Ultimately, I’m just trying to stick with my routines and help this team win.”

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Game 116 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

meneses debut hr white

The Nationals have played two really long games the last two nights against the Padres. Now they’ve got a quick turnaround to this afternoon’s series finale. And it’s barely an afternoon game, with a 12:05 p.m. start thanks to the good folks at Peacock who are televising the contest.

After an emotionally uplifting victory Saturday night, the Nats will once again try to win the rubber game of a series, something they’ve struggled to do all season. They’ll need to keep it going offensively, this time against left-hander Blake Snell, who will try to keep Joey Meneses in the yard. (Which, as we’ve seen, is proving far more difficult than anyone could’ve ever imagined.)

There's a new name in the lineup: Alex Call. The 27-year-old outfielder was called up from Triple-A Rochester, where he had only been for five games after getting claimed off waivers from the Guardians. And the Nats are wasting no time throwing him into the fire: Call is leading off and starting in left field. (Josh Palacios was optioned to Rochester to make room on the roster.)

Paolo Espino gets the start for the Nationals, who used up four key relievers (Steve Cishek, Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Carl Edwards Jr.) to pull off Saturday’s win. Davey Martinez might need to push Espino to go a bit deeper than he normally would in an attempt to save some bullpen arms.

Nationals Park

Gametime: 12:05 p.m. EDT
TV: Peacock,
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, wind 9 mph out to left field

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Robles' clutch hit, controversial call, give Nats a win (updated)

cesar hernandez slide gray

The throw from Juan Soto was perfect, probably the best he’s made all year, no matter which uniform he was wearing. The catch and tag by Austin Nola was on point as well, nabbing a late-sliding César Hernández, whose front foot crossed above the plate without touching it. And as Paul Emmel made the out signal, the crowd of 33,661 at Nationals Park groaned in agony, believing their former favorite player had just prevented his old team from taking a lead in the bottom of the seventh.

Davey Martinez, though, immediately yelled out to Emmel from the first base dugout. He wanted the play reviewed, not to see if Hernández had slid under the tag, but to see if Nola had violated Major League Baseball’s controversial rule preventing catchers from blocking the plate before they’re in possession of the ball.

"I always get up to the top (step of the dugout) to look," Martinez said. "And right away, I told (bench coach Tim Bogar): Check that, because I think he blocked the plate for sure."

And after an agonizing wait, Martinez and the Nationals caught a rare break. Officials in New York deemed Nola had indeed impeded Hernández’s path to the plate, so the run counted and the Nats had themselves a 4-3 lead they would hold onto en route to a wild victory over the Padres.

That victory also included dramatic, back-to-back homers by Yadiel Hernandez and Joey Meneses in the bottom of the sixth, plus the 2,000th hit of Nelson Cruz’s career. (He’s the first player ever to reach that milestone while wearing a Nationals uniform.)

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García day-to-day with groin strain, Cruz returns from dizzy spell

nelson cruz white

Though he’s not in tonight’s lineup, Luis García said he’s fine after suffering a minor groin strain during Friday night’s game against the Padres.

The young Nationals shortstop had an MRI this morning to determine the extent of the injury, which he suffered while running out a groundball in the sixth inning of a 10-5 loss. Manager Davey Martinez referred to the ailment as “a little bit of a strain in his left groin,” and said García will be day-to-day until it heals.

“I want him to get treatment today,” Martinez said. “Hopefully later on he’s available to pinch-hit. We’ll see how it goes.”

The groin injury came only two days after Garcia had to leave a game in Chicago with a sore knee, creating at least some concern about the state of the 22-year-old’s legs, and raising the question of whether the organization might be on the verge of promoting recently acquired shortstop C.J. Abrams.

Had García gone on the injured list, it’s possible the Nationals would’ve replaced him on the roster with Abrams, one of the key prospects they got last week from San Diego for Juan Soto and Josh Bell. The 21-year-old shortstop entered the day batting .296 (8-for-27) with two doubles, two RBIs, four stolen bases and a .725 OPS in seven games for Triple-A Rochester.

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Game 115 lineups: Nats vs. Padres

anibal sanchez pitches red

The hubbub of Friday night should have dissipated now, so tonight’s game between the Nationals and Padres should feel a bit more normal. That is, as normal as it could feel with Juan Soto and Josh Bell playing for the opposition. Both former Nats should continue to receive nice ovations when they step to the plate tonight, but I wouldn’t expect nearly as much emotion or any formal acknowledgment of them in this one.

The Nationals were beaten around by San Diego’s lineup in the series opener, and that’s even with Soto and Bell playing only a minimal role in the proceedings. That’s an awfully tough lineup to contend with, and so the challenge tonight for Aníbal Sánchez is significant. The 38-year-old right-hander is still seeking his first win (or even his first no-decision) in his sixth big league start of the season. He was better in his last outing at the Cubs earlier this week, but he was done in by a pair of third-inning home runs, which continues to be his primary issue.

The Nats lineup faces a significant challenge itself in Padres starter Yu Darvish, who over his last 11 starts is 6-2 with a 2.68 ERA and 0.919 WHIP. It’s only the third time the veteran right-hander has ever faced Washington; he dominated here in D.C. way back in 2014 with the Rangers but was hit hard last summer at Petco Park in a game that became better known as the one when Max Scherzer gave up a grand slam to a relief pitcher.

Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, wind 5 mph out to left field

CF Victor Robles
1B Luke Voit
DH Nelson Cruz
LF Yadiel Hernandez
RF Joey Meneses
C Keibert Ruiz
2B César Hernández
3B Maikel Franco
SS Ildemaro Vargas

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Nats salute Soto and Bell, then get trounced by Padres (updated)

soto padres hi five

First came the video tribute, with plenty of highlights of Juan Soto and Josh Bell in Nationals uniforms, plus a taped message from Soto himself to D.C. fans, prompting a big round of applause. Then came the announcement of the Padres’ starting lineup, featuring Soto batting second and Bell batting fourth, each of them receiving more applause.

Then came the top of the first, with Soto stepping to the plate to a standing ovation, taking off his helmet and saluting the crowd. Two batters later, Bell got the same treatment and responded in kind.

It all made for a heartfelt reunion of former players returning to South Capitol Street, even if they were traded away only 10 days ago. And then ultimately yet another frustrating night of baseball for the Nationals and their fans, who watched as Soto, Bell and the Padres beat them 10-5 in a game that only looked somewhat close because of a bottom-of-the-ninth rally.

"You never realize it until you're there," Soto said of the emotions he felt throughout the game. "When I stepped to the plate and saw all my teammates and everybody's clapping, it was a pretty cool moment."

Emotional as they both were to leave the Nats at the trade deadline, the two sluggers were equally excited to join a San Diego club in the thick of a pennant race. Soto went so far as to verbalize that before the game, saying: “When you’re on a winning team, the level of your game just goes higher and higher.”

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Soto, Bell ready for emotional return to Nationals Park

juan soto josh padres

Juan Soto was here in April 2019 when Bryce Harper returned to Nationals Park for the first time as a Phillie. He was here this April when Max Scherzer returned to Nationals Park for the first time as a Met. He was here this May when Trea Turner returned to Nationals Park for the first time as a Dodger.

It was strange seeing former teammates, superstars who made their names here in D.C. and in some cases won their first championships with him, come back wearing different uniforms, eliciting different reactions from fans that loved them when they played here and now had to get used to the idea of them playing for someone else.

Could Soto have imagined he’d find himself in that exact position so soon, as he will be tonight when the 23-year-old star takes the field on South Capitol Street not as a member of the Nationals but instead the Padres?

“At that moment, I never think about it,” he said today before a throng of reporters packed into the visitors’ dugout prior to batting practice. “As soon as I get traded, I really think about it, and how cool the fans were with them and how much they enjoyed it. And I’m just going to try to do the same thing.”

The scene tonight should be overwhelmingly positive, with Nationals fans showering Soto – and former and current teammate Josh Bell – with love in his return. That will help make it a little easier for them. But that doesn’t mean it will feel normal, not while the emotions are still so fresh from a trade that happened only 10 days ago.

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"Weird" scene awaits as Soto, Bell come to D.C. as Padres


On the afternoon of Aug. 2, only hours after the Nationals had finalized a deal to send Juan Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego for six players, Davey Martinez was informed the Padres were scheduled to come to D.C. in a mere 10 days.

“Thanks,” the manager said in a wry, sarcastic tone as he contemplated what that would entail. “We gotta to get him out. We’ve got 10 days to think about that.”

Martinez had far more pressing matters to contend with over the last week and a half, namely how to put together a lineup capable of giving his worst-in-baseball club at least a chance of winning some games. The Nats have gone 2-7 since the trade deadline, underscoring just how daunting that challenge has been.

And now comes maybe the most difficult challenge yet: Facing Soto and Bell so soon after trading them. The three-game series that begins tonight at Nationals Park will be filled with emotion, not all of it positive as the scars of that franchise-altering transaction still burn.

It was an odd fate of scheduling that created this scenario. The Padres come to Washington only once per season. That trip just so happened to come right now. On top of that, the Nats make their lone trip of the year to San Diego next week, cramming their only seven head-to-head games into a 10-day window.

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Nats now putting all their faith in restocked farm system


Jump back in time all of one month and make a mental list of the Nationals’ top prospects.

You’d start with Cade Cavalli, include Brady House and then try to come up with the names of other kids who may or may not develop into major leaguers some day in the short or long term.

Now consider what that list looks like in the wake of a dramatic (and, yes, controversial) overhaul of the organization that culminated with last week’s trade of Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres.

Cavalli and House remain on the list, but not in the top two spots. Those now belong to the likes of C.J. Abrams and Robert Hassell III, two of the six players acquired from San Diego in the blockbuster deal. Right behind them are Elijah Green and Cristhian Vaquero, teenage sensations who were the organization’s top amateur draft and international signing additions of 2022. Also include James Wood and Jarlin Susana, two more younger prospects who came over in the trade with the Padres. And then don’t forget to keep Cavalli and House, the 2020 and 2021 first-round picks, in the mix as well.

What you now see is a farm system that no longer is dependent on the rise of one or two blue-chip prospects, but has enough depth to account for the inevitable injuries and/or struggles that are bound to occur when trying to turn players right out of high school and college into big league stars.

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Robles' latest blunder looms large in loss to Cubs (updated)

josiah gray cubs

CHICAGO – The point has been made, repeatedly, since the day Victor Robles first arrived in the big leagues nearly five years ago. Multiple Nationals managers and countless other coaches have pleaded with the talented-but-reckless outfielder not to attempt to make a throw that has little chance of success.

Five years later, Robles still does it. And on a cloudless August afternoon at Wrigley Field, he played a significant role in costing his team a ballgame.

There were other reasons the Nationals dropped their series finale to the Cubs, 4-2, given that all four runs scored in the bottom of the seventh off Josiah Gray, Steve Cishek and Víctor Arano. But Robles’ inexplicable throw from center field to the backstop arguably had more impact than anything else.

"As we all know, he can be electric out there," manager Davey Martinez said of the 25-year-old. "But once again, it's those little things. Understanding the game, and being in a position where in a situation like that, he knows what he needs to do before it happens. That's the biggest thing: Think before the ball's hit to you, and understand what you need to do if the ball's hit to you."

The situation: With the Nats leading by a run and one out in the inning, runners on first and second, Nick Madrigal singled up the middle. The lead runner, Patrick Wisdom, scored easily from second, but that didn’t stop Robles from unleashing a throw all the way to the bricks behind the plate. Which, in turn, allowed trailing runner P.J. Higgins to advance to third and Madrigal to advance to second.

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Cruz sitting, Fedde progressing, Clippard close to returning

nelson cruz gray

CHICAGO – Nelson Cruz is out of the Nationals lineup for today’s series finale against the Cubs, less than 24 hours after the veteran designated hitter had to come out of a game with a sore right shoulder.

Cruz took only two at-bats during Tuesday night’s 6-5 win over the Cubs, flying out to left in the top of the first and then striking out in the top of the fourth. As he watched those at-bats, manager Davey Martinez noticed the 42-year-old didn’t look comfortable swinging, so when his turn to bat came up again in the fifth, Maikel Franco pinch-hit for him.

Martinez described the soreness as emanating from the back of Cruz’s shoulder. He figured all along he’d sit Cruz for this afternoon’s series finale, though he got encouraging news this morning to suggest he could be able to pinch-hit at some point during the game.

“Especially with the quick turnaround,” Martinez said of the decision not to start Cruz today. “We played last night, and he had to come out of the game. I thought regardless of how he felt, maybe to give him a day (off) today would be good. I talked to him this morning and he said: ‘Let me get loose, let me get ready and I’ll be available to pinch-hit later.’ ”

Cruz had been hitting the ball a bit better of late, going 8-for-29 with two RBIs and three walks during an eight-game stretch prior to Tuesday. He continues not to hit for power, though, having produced a scant .225 slugging percentage over his last 31 games, with three doubles and zero homers since June 25.

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Game 113 lineups: Nats at Cubs (García scratched)

robles thomas meneses

CHICAGO – It’s another beautiful day at the Friendly Confines, where the Nationals woke up feeling good about themselves following a dramatic, 6-5 win over the Cubs on Tuesday night. Now they’ve got a shot at a series victory and some positive vibes before they head home to face Juan Soto, Josh Bell and the Padres this weekend. (And yeah, that’s not going to sound right for a long time.)

Davey Martinez’s lineup is kind of piecemeal because Nelson Cruz remains out with a sore right shoulder and Keibert Ruiz (who was fantastic Tuesday night) gets the day game off. So it’s Lane Thomas leading off, with rookie sensation Joey Meneses batting cleanup and a less-than-fearsome power duo of César Hernández and Victor Robles batting sixth and seventh, respectively.

Suffice it to say, the Nationals need a decent start out of Josiah Gray. The right-hander has been in a rut, going 1-4 with a 7.63 ERA over his last six starts, having served up a whopping 13 home runs during that time. The good news: The wind still isn’t blowing out at Wrigley Field, though it is the warmest day we’ve had this week, so Gray does need to keep the ball down and keep it in the yard.

UPDATE: Luis García was a late scratch for unspecified reasons. César Hernández will now bat second, with Ildemaro Vargas shifting to shortstop and Maikel Franco taking over at third base.

Wrigley Field
Gametime: 2:20 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees, wind 5 mph in from right field

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Ruiz finally shows off power stroke with big night


CHICAGO – Ask the Nationals coaching staff about Keibert Ruiz’s offensive skills, and they’ll immediately rave about his bat-to-ball skills, his ability to make contact anywhere in the strike zone and frequently out of the strike zone.

But they’ll also point out that Ruiz sometimes is too good at getting the bat on the ball for his own good. Sometimes he’ll be so focused on just making contact, he’ll forget that it’s OK to swing for the fences from time to time, as well. If the pitch is in the right spot, particularly on the inner half of the plate, Ruiz has the ability to turn on it and hit it a long way.

Which made the young catcher’s performance during Tuesday night’s 6-5 victory over the Cubs so encouraging to those who have been watching him all season and waiting for something like this. In each of his first two at-bats, Ruiz turned on an inside pitch and wound up homering to right field.

“Tonight, it paid off,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He hit two balls that were in, where he’s struggled getting to, and he smoked them. It was a good sign of things to come.”

Through his first 326 plate appearances this season, Ruiz hit only three home runs. His 18 doubles helped allow him to remain productive, but the Nationals knew there was more power in his swing. It was a matter of recognizing which pitches he can try to drive to right field, and which ones to be content to simply hit the other way for singles and doubles.

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Late heroics propel Nats to streak-ending win (updated)

ruiz trots home gray

CHICAGO – Even in this most miserable week of a most miserable summer of a most miserable baseball season, there can be individual ballgames that feature enough back-and-forth drama to remind you why you love this silly game in the first place.

There was nothing of consequence at stake tonight when the Nationals and Cubs met in the middle game of their three-game series. But try telling any of the 37,193 who packed themselves into Wrigley Field on a spectacular, 68-degree summer evening, or anyone wearing either team’s uniform, that this meant nothing.

No, this game between fellow last-place clubs turned into a real barnburner, the Nats taking an early lead, then giving it back, then taking it back before finally hanging on for a well-earned, 6-5 victory to snap a six-game losing streak.

"That's what we need," said Carl Edwards Jr., the former Cub who wound up closing tonight's game with a four-out save. "We need that to show we can come back fighting and close out a game like this, where we had a home run to put us over the edge. Going on the rest of the year, I think this will be a highlight. I think this might start something."

There were several heroes, but the biggest one was a guy who wasn’t even here a week ago. Joey Meneses, the 30-year-old career minor leaguer who finally got his first promotion seven days ago after the Nationals traded Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres, launched his third big league homer, a two-run shot to left in the top of the eighth to flip the Cubs’ one-run lead into a one-run lead for the Nationals.

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Nats to skip Corbin's next start, claim McGee off waivers

corbin sad blue

CHICAGO – The Nationals will skip over Patrick Corbin’s next turn through the rotation but do plan to continue starting the struggling left-hander once he has a chance to work on a few things over the weekend.

Manager Davey Martinez said the club will use the off-day between this road series against the Cubs and the upcoming home series against the Padres to bypass Corbin’s turn in the rotation. He would then return to start Tuesday against the Cubs in D.C.

“For me, it is a tough decision, because he’s very competitive,” Martinez said. “And he takes the ball every five days. He’s trying to sort some things out, and some days he looks really, really good. And the last few outings, he couldn’t get out of the first inning.”

Three consecutive seasons of declining performance reached a low point Saturday in Philadelphia, when Corbin failed to record three outs for the second time in three starts. He currently owns a 4-16 record and 7.02 ERA, both the loss total and ERA figure worst in the majors.

Since earning Cy Young Award votes and helping the Nationals win the World Series in the first year of his six-year, $140 million contract, the lefty has gone 15-39 with a 5.98 ERA and 1.599 WHIP, making him statistically the worst starting pitcher in the big leagues over a three-year span.

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Game 112 lineups: Nats at Cubs

hernandez cesar bunt @ TEX blue

CHICAGO – It’s a beautiful day in the Windy City, with a nice breeze blowing in off Lake Michigan and barely a cloud in the sky. Maybe good weather will inspire the Nationals to play better and end their six-game losing streak.

OK, the weather probably has nothing to do with how they play tonight. What they really need is to score some runs, preferably early, and give their pitching staff a chance to pitch with a rare lead. Davey Martinez is trying a different look in his lineup, with Luis García batting leadoff, Luke Voit batting second and Nelson Cruz in the No. 3 spot. Victor Robles, who struggled Monday night, is out. So is Maikel Franco, who also struggled in the 6-3 loss.

Paolo Espino makes the start, still seeking his first win of the season. The veteran right-hander has got to keep the ball in the yard, and he’s got to find a way to get hitters out a second time through the lineup. As tempting as it might be for Martinez to go to his bullpen early, he really can’t afford to do it unless absolutely necessary, given how much that group has worked in recent weeks.

Speaking of the bullpen, the Nationals are going to have a new pitcher soon: Jake McGee. They claimed the veteran left-hander off waivers today from the Brewers, who designated him for assignment earlier in the week. McGee has had a rough season in San Francisco and Milwaukee, but he’s got a strong track record. And the Nats have been looking for a lefty reliever for some time, so once he arrives he could be a welcome addition.

To clear space on the organizational 40-man roster for McGee, the Nationals designated Triple-A outfielder Donovan Casey for assignment. Casey, you’ll remember, was one of the four players they acquired from the Dodgers last summer in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner blockbuster. He was far from the key prospect in the whole deal, but it’s still not a great look that he was DFA’d only one year in.

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Nats may need to make decisions on struggling vets

victor robles hi five blue

CHICAGO – Maybe it’s a fruitless exercise to break down specific at-bats in the 111th game of a season that has long since lost its significance. But there was one particular sequence during the Nationals’ 6-3 loss to the Cubs on Monday night that underscored much of what is wrong with this lineup.

Trailing 3-0 in the top of the fifth, the Nats gave themselves a chance to do something with two on and nobody out. And then proceeded to squander it before anyone had the opportunity to hope it might turn into something big.

It began with Maikel Franco getting a 3-2 fastball from Cubs starter Keegan Thompson on the inner half of the plate, thigh-high, and grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. And it ended immediately with a three-pitch strikeout by Victor Robles, who saw only one pitch in the at-bat that might have been called a strike had he taken it.

“We chased,” manager Davey Martinez lamented. “We chased a few times with guys on base. Franco’s got to get the ball up in certain situations, try to keep the ball off the ground there. … With guys on base, we’ve got to do a better job trying to get the ball in the strike zone, get the ball up and try to drive the ball.”

This, of course, was nothing new. It’s been a recurring theme all season for a Nationals lineup that leads the majors with 106 double plays grounded into while ranking 25th out of 30 teams with a .676 OPS with runners in scoring position.

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Slight pitching improvement, but still no win for Nats (updated)

sanchez gray

CHICAGO – At this point, the Nationals will gladly take the bare minimum that could be considered a decent performance from a member of their rotation: five innings and a chance at a win. They hadn’t come close to getting such an outing over the last five days, and they’ve barely received any that meet that low standard over the last month.

So when Aníbal Sánchez managed tonight to not only complete five innings allowing only three runs, but then take the mound for the sixth as well, it felt like something of a step in the right direction for the Nats.

Not a step in a winning direction, mind you. But at least a step forward instead of backward.

It made no difference in the end, because Sánchez was charged with another run in the sixth, the bullpen gave up two more in the seventh and the lineup managed nothing but Luke Voit’s solo homer in the sixth and Joey Meneses’ two-run homer in the eighth during a 6-3 loss to the Cubs that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests.

Thus did the Nationals drop their sixth straight, falling to a major-league-worst 36-75. With the season more than two-thirds complete, they’re now on pace to lose 110 games.

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Starters' woes leave Nats facing some big questions

davey red dugout

CHICAGO – There’s plenty for Davey Martinez to be concerned about these days, amid a five-game losing streak that has seen his Nationals get blown out multiple times, all while fielding a roster that looks nothing like the one he was used to only a year ago.

But nothing stands out more to Martinez right now, and rightfully so, than a rotation that hasn’t come close to holding its own during this stretch.

Entering tonight’s series opener against the Cubs, Nationals starters have averaged a scant 3.3 innings over the last five games. They haven’t had anybody complete five innings since Cory Abbott tossed five scoreless frames Aug. 2 against the Mets, hours after Juan Soto and Josh Bell were traded to the Padres.

The domino effect on the bullpen has been dramatic, with several relievers unavailable on a given night because they pitched too much the previous one.

“It’s been tough,” Martinez said. “Trying to space these guys out, trying not to use them too much. Keeping guys fresh as much as we can. Hopefully today, Aníbal’s pitching and he can give us a good 5-6 innings and then we can go from there.”

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Game 111 lineups: Nats at Cubs

sanchez blue

CHICAGO – There’s no kind way to put this: The Nationals are in an awful state right now. This season already was bad before the trade deadline, and it’s only gotten worse since (which, considering who they dealt away, isn’t shocking at all). There was that one inspiring win over the Mets on deadline day, but there have been five straight losses since. In four of those games, they’ve trailed by at least six runs at some point. In three of those, they’ve trailed by at least nine runs at some point.

There’s not a whole lot of reason to be optimistic about what’s still to come over the season’s final 52 games, but maybe the Nats are due to catch a little bit of a break the next three weeks when they face a Cubs team that owns the second-worst record in the National League. If the Nationals can’t give themselves a chance to win two of three here at Wrigley Field, what hope is there?

It’s going to have to start with starting pitching, because the current rotation keeps digging this team into holes it can’t climb out of. And Aníbal Sánchez has been as guilty of that as anybody. The 38-year-old has made four starts to date and is 0-4 with a 7.65 ERA. He’s reached the sixth inning only once, and in that game he still gave up six runs. The home run has been a real problem for Sánchez (six allowed in only 20 innings), but with the wind blowing in from left field tonight, maybe that helps him a bit.

The Nationals lineup faces right-hander Keegan Thompson in the series opener, and he’s been something of a bright spot for the Cubs, entering with an 8-5 record and 3.48 ERA. He has been roughed up in two of his last three starts, though.

Wrigley Field
Gametime: 8:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Cloudy, 71 degrees, wind 16 mph in from left field

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