Washington’s bats went silent as Max Scherzer left early with an injury. What stood out the most?
Juan Soto’s season debut ended in a loss due to the offense being shut down and Max Scherzer exiting the game after one inning of work. Here are three takeaways from last night’s loss.
Somethings wrong with Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle
Nationals fans were given a scare after ace Max Scherzer left the game after one inning due to tweaking his hamstring. He labored through the first inning, allowing one run and throwing 27 pitches. He also gave up a hit, walked one, and struck out one. Scherzer got J.D. Davis to hit a grounder. When the ace tried to step off the mound to cover first base, he landed funny which presumably led to his injury. Hopefully, the team’s ace can make his next scheduled start.
While Scherzer’s injury seems to be minor, something is off with Sean Doolittle. Last season, Dave Martinez overused Doolittle, which led to the later landing on the IL. He returned for the playoffs and helped the team win their first-ever World Series title. However, it seems that last year has taken its toll on the veteran reliever. During the exhibition games, the team’s closer’s velocity was way down from last year. This has continued over to the regular season and has negatively affected his performance. In three relief appearances this year, Doolittle is 0-1, with a `10.80 ERA and one strikeout. Tonight, Doolittle pitched the seventh and only recorded one out, while giving up a run.
Doolittle has been the team’s best reliever over the last few years and they cannot afford for him to fall apart now.
Juan Soto finally made his debut
Juan Soto was supposed to make his season debut on opening day, but instead, he has been out due to a positive COVID test. The 21-year-old was finally cleared and made his debut tonight, going 2-4, with an RBI, and two strikeouts. In his first at-bat, he lashed a two-out double into the left-field corner, to tie the game at one.
Then, in the top of the second, he showed why he was nominated for a Gold Glove in 2019.
The Nationals have surely missed his presence and once he gets up to speed, he should greatly impact the offense moving forward.
The bats went quiet but the bullpen picked up the slack.
Juan Soto was responsible for the teams only RBI, as the team went 1-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded three. The team just could not find an answer for Rick Porcello and Seth Lugo.
The offense squandered their biggest opportunity in the fourth. Soto was on first with one out, when Asdrubal Cabrera singled to right. Soto attempted to advance to third on the play, but overslid the bag and was tagged out. Eric Thames then crushed the ball, but right at J.D. Davis. Davis knocked it down and threw out the big man from his knees. Washington will eventually get some of these plays to go their way, but the question is when?
Due to Scherzer only lasting one inning, the bullpen had a busy night. Erick Fedde, Sam Freeman, Wander Suero, Sean Doolittle, Kyle Finnegan, and Javy Guerra combined to go eight innings, only allowing two runs, on six hits. They also walked six and struck out four. Freeman, Suero, Finnegan, and Guerra all showed improvement and looked like legitimate bullpen pieces, which is a huge upgrade from last season. Doolittle’s struggles are worrisome and thus the rest of the bullpen will need to step up. They did that in a huge way last night.