Nats mixing rotation to give Parker extra rest

After the Nationals finished their three-game series against the Twins on Wednesday, their presumed starting pitchers for this weekend’s three-game series against the Mariners were MacKenzie Gore, Trevor Williams and Mitchell Parker.

But Thursday’s off-day gave manager Davey Martinez a chance to switch things up and give one of his young starters some extra rest before his next start.

Patrick Corbin will now start Sunday’s finale against Seattle on normal rest, with Parker starting the opener in Atlanta on Memorial Day.

“I just wanted to give Parker an extra day,” Martinez said before Friday’s 6-1 win. “You know, he hasn't done this (starting in the major leagues). So I thought it'd be nice to give him an extra day.”

Parker made his last start on Monday (six innings, seven hits, three runs, one walk and seven strikeouts in a win over the Twins), so he’ll actually get two extra days of rest before retaking the hill Monday.

The young left-hander has been impressive to start his major league career, going 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 7.6 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate and a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first seven starts.

He threw a season-high 94 pitches in that start against the Twins, another reason Martinez wanted to give him more rest before his next outing. Parker threw a career-high 124 innings in 28 games (26 starts) between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester last year. If he makes 26 starts this year, he’s on pace to throw more than 141 innings.

“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Martinez said when asked if Parker’s high pitch count this week was a reason for bumping him back in the rotation. “But he's been pitching. He's been on every five days, going deep in the game. So to give him extra days would definitely help him.”

The Nationals gave their young starters as much rest as they could last year, even moving to a six-man rotation for the last two months of the season. And it worked to great effect: They used only eight starting pitchers last year, the second-lowest total in the majors.

And reinforcements are on their way, with Josiah Gray and Cade Cavalli expected to rejoin the rotation at some point in June.

This week’s decision may also have been in part to have Corbin avoid Atlanta. Although the veteran left-hander has been better so far this season (his last start aside), he is 6-12 with a 4.55 ERA and 1.526 WHIP in 23 games (21 starts) against the Braves, and 0-7 with a 6.32 ERA and 1.766 WHIP in 10 starts at Truist Park. Meanwhile, he's 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 0.769 WHIP in two starts against the Mariners.

Now the probable starters for the four games in Atlanta are Parker, Jake Irvin (also on extra rest), Gore and Williams.

Friday started a stretch of 17 scheduled games in 17 days for the Nationals, so any rest they can give their starters now is very much welcomed.

Game 52 lineups: Nats at Braves
Big blasts and Gore's gem lead Nats to win over Ma...

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