After being one of the stories early on in the season for the Washington Nationals, Justin Miler has looked extremely hittable and blew the lead Thursday.
He didn’t give up an earned run in his first eight appearances, striking out an incredible 21 over 10.2 innings. At that time, it looked like a slight mechanical change he made in his delivery was the key to long-term success.
However, after that start, he gave up runs in his next five appearances and has recorded a 5.11 ERA since those first eight games. The magic finally seems to have worn off for the lanky right-hander.
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While Miller still doesn’t have a blown save so far this year, he briefly had the closer’s role before now seemingly being supplanted by Greg Holland. Now, you wonder if his high-leverage role is now in jeopardy with the team wanting to look at a whole variety of arms down the stretch.
While Austen Williams and Kyle McGowin have both given up homers in their limited time, it might be worth giving them the opportunity to impress. Either way, it looks like Justin Miller is heading back to the pitcher he was prior to 2018, leaving the Nationals bullpen even more stretched.
Kieboom has the best day of his young career
A performance that shouldn’t get lost in the Nationals defeat, is that of Spencer Kieboom. Inconsistent playing time behind Pedro Severino and Matt Wieters has left him struggling at the plate, but he broke out on Thursday.
Kieboom went 3 for 3 with all of his hits going for singles and he raised his batting average to .206 in 2018. It was the backstop’s first career three-hit game as he makes a case to be the backup catcher next season and beyond.
It could be a straight competition between Severino and Kieboom for that role. While the latter has arguably been the better all-round catcher, the former will be out of options, perhaps forcing the team’s hand. But at the very least, Kieboom has left a solid impression on the team in backup duty, punctuated by the three-hit night.
Soto doing Soto things yet again
We can never get enough Juan Soto updates this season, as he chases the National League Rookie of the Year. In this game, he tacked on another couple of hit in a 2 for 5 effort.
In the eighth inning with the game tied at 4-4 he ripped a clutch double down the right field line. It looked as though the team had a great chance to score having runners on second and third with one out. They did not.
Back to Soto. His average is back up to a nice round .300 figure and has upped his OPS to a .929 figure. Now it will be interesting to see if he gets a day off with three consecutive lefties set to take the hill for the Cubs. Boy, does he need one.
Joe Ross makes his return to the Washington Nationals on Friday night for the first time since July 9th last year. Regardless of the result, it’ll be great to see the young righty back on a big league mound.