Nationals counting on Max Scherzer to relieve bullpen vs. D-backs

MLB Baseball

Right-hander Max Scherzer will look to provide some relief for the Washington Nationals bullpen Friday in what has been a hectic week.

Scherzer (0-1, 3.75) opposes Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Taylor Widener (1-0, 2.45) in second of a four-game series in Washington, D.C.

The Nationals bullpen has been forced to cover 14 innings over the past three games. Washington starters Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin were chased early in 14-3 and 11-6 losses to the St. Louis Cardinals and Diamondbacks, respectively, sandwiched around a solid six-inning effort by Joe Ross in a win.

Scherzer dueled with Clayton Kershaw in his last start and took the loss despite allowing one run on three hits over six innings in the 3-0 defeat on Sunday. He struck out five with a walk and the only blemish was an RBI double by Zach McKinstry that center fielder Victor Robles lost in the sun near the wall in the second inning.

“Unfortunately, this was one pitch where the ball was able to get down for a double and the run was scored,” Scherzer said. “A lot of times that doesn’t necessarily beat you, but today it did.”

Scherzer began his career with the Diamondbacks (2008-09). Since leaving, he’s 7-0 against them with a 2.85 earned run average in nine starts. David Peralta is 5-for-16 (.313) with two homers versus Scherzer, while Eduardo Escobar is 2-for-16 (.125).

Widener (1-0, 2.45) gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits in five innings of a no-decision against the Reds last Friday. Cincinnati won 6-5 in 10 innings.

“They were pretty aggressive at times,” Widener said. “Overall, just got to make better pitches. I wasn’t landing some of the pitches I was last week. … It’s just a good hitting team and capitalized on some mistakes I made.”

In his first start, Widener, who has never faced the Nationals, pitched six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres on April 4.

Arizona scored 10 runs (nine earned) on six hits, four walks and two hit batters off Nationals starter Corbin, also a former member of the Diamondbacks, on Thursday. On Tuesday, Strasburg gave up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits and five walks over four innings of the loss to the Cardinals.

“As long as these guys are healthy, these are two guys that we lean on and we count on,” manager Dave Martinez said. “And I think it’s just a matter of time. We’ve been slowed by a lot of different things. One is Strasburg missed a lot of time (last season). He’s got to come back. And Corbin started out on the COVID IL, so we’ve got to get him back. I truly believe these guys will get back to their form here shortly, and we’ll get them rolling again.”

Starlin Castro and Josh Harrison homered Thursday for the Nationals. Juan Soto had two hits, raising his average to .378.

One game after blowing an early 5-0 lead and losing to the Athletics, Arizona hung on against Washington, hitting four home runs. Andrew Young had a grand slam and Carson Kelly, Eduardo Escobar and Pavin Smith homered as the Diamondbacks opened a 10-game road trip with a win.

“We were really selective,” Kelly said. “I think we stuck to a game plan there and made (Corbin) throw a of pitches and get into good counts. We didn’t miss when we got those pitches. We did a good job by sticking to that game plan.”

–Field Level Media

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