Washington Nationals vs Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview (4/15-4/17)
By Grant Thomas
Joe Ross (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 1.54 ERA)- 7:05 PM ET on MASN
For Jackie Robinson day, all players and coaches will be sporting the #42 jerseys in honor of Robinson with no names on the back of the jerseys.
Hellickson has looked good in his first two starts for the Phillies. In his last start against the Mets at Citi Field, he allowed just two runs on three hits in 5.2 innings. The Phillies signed Hellickson to a one-year, $7 million deal this winter to provide a veteran presence in an otherwise young rotation.
Hellickson spent five years in Tampa Bay and one in Arizona before coming to Philadelphia. He was fantastic in his first three years with the Rays. He won AL Rookie of the year in 2011 and had 3.17 combined ERA with 274 strikeouts. He has since fallen off, pitching to a 4.86 ERA from 2013-2015.
He’s not a hard-thrower when you consider he has an average fastball velocity of 89 miles per hour and an average slider velocity of 83 mph (according to Fangraphs). He hasn’t had much success against the Nationals in his career as a result (6.97 ERA in two starts). Bryce Harper is 2-for-3 against him with a double and three walks.
As for Ross, he had a strong first outing against the Marlins as he went seven innings, gave up one run on five hits, struck out five, and walked two on 97 pitches in the win despite a rocky first inning.
The Phillies offense has scored just 29 runs over the first 10 games of the 2016 season, an average of just under three runs per game. Ryan Howard, Franco, and Cesar Hernandez will need to provide some offense for Philly to have a chance in this game and this series.
It will be interesting to watch how the Phillies approach Ross when you consider that the Nats’ 22-year-old right-hander did not face them last season.
Prediction: Hellickson is unable to string together three great starts to begin this year. The Nats struggle to score early, but get runs in the mid-innings and force the Phillies’ mediocre bullpen to take over the game. Ross will dominate once again in a win.
Next: Saturday's Matchup