Washington Nationals: Juan Soto arrives with a bang
By Blake Finney
On Monday, Juan Soto was awarded his first start for the Washington Nationals and then smacked a home run into left field as the Nats beat the Padres 10-2.
It’s officially Juan Soto SZN folks. The 19 year old hit his first major league home run, in his first at bat as a starter, for the Washington Nationals. That long-ball was just the first of four on the night for Nats as the offense guided them to a 10-2 win. Relive the big moment again:
Hit all of 422 feet, Juan Soto becomes the first player to hit a major league homer as a teenager since Bryce Harper did it in 2012. Harper himself also hit a homer of his own Monday, on the way to a 2 for 4 night. Funny how things work out isn’t it.
Before the game Davey Martinez seemed to be taking it game-by-game with Soto against lefties. Only putting him in tonight as starter Robbie Erlin has reverse splits. But after a full debut to remember, those plans may change in a hurry, and it would be shocking if he wasn’t starting tomorrow.
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He should receive regular playing time while in the majors and may even hit in the heart of the lineup. With the power he showed in the minors it makes sense to utilize this nin a prime spot.
A career .362 batting average, .609 slugging and 1.043 OPS in the minors, he has the profile of a cleanup hitter. So we’ll see if Martinez moves him up if he keeps producing for a week or two.
Gio Gonzalez twirls a gem
Staked to a five run lead early on, Gio Gonzalez restricted the Padres offensive output to just a two-run bomb in the fourth inning.
The Franmil Reyes long-ball was one of only two hits given up by the Nationals leftie. We’ve seen Gonzalez give up minimal runs while allowing lots of base-runners, but he flipped the script in this one. He also went seven innings for just the second time this season.
And they needed length out of him with Jeremy Hellickson going tomorrow, and his well known short outings. But this was a step in the right direction for Gonzalez who’s scheduled to face his hometown Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Tim Collins makes Nats debut
Although Soto stole the show, quietly the Nationals had another big debut on Monday. Left-handed reliever Tim Collins was selected from the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs before the game.
Called up to replace the injured Ryan Madson, he fired an impressive scoreless inning, striking out two Padres. Sitting at around 93mph, he was able to locate his fastball with precision in a perfect 1-2-3 inning.
It was an ideal situation for Davey Martinez, as he was able to put Collins in a low pressure spot. But if he can string a few outings like this in a row, then he may be able to work his way into some tied games and narrow deficits. That’s a role the Nationals have been missing consistency in all season.
The leftie has a career 3.54 ERA in parts of four years with the Kansas City Royals, so there is somewhat of a track record. And with Sammy Solis seemingly working every other day, having another southpaw in the bullpen is invaluable right now.
Next: Injuries mounting up for Nats
Next up, the Washington Nationals face rookie Eric Lauer on Tuesday at 7:05pm. They send Hellickson the mound as they hope to secure the series win early.