Washington’s once-vaunted rotation was once again outdueled.
Milwaukee arrived in D.C. on Friday for a three-game series, with the matchup lining up to be a battle of starting rotations. A reasonable expectation after seeing who was projected to be on the mound.
For the Brew Crew, Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes were the projected starters. However, game one was postponed due to rain, leading to Brett Anderson getting the nod for game two and pushing Burnes out of the series.
Peralta, Woodruff, and Burnes all entered the league as top pitching prospects and have lived up to the hype. Woodruff and Burnes are the clear aces of the rotation, while Peralta is experiencing a breakout year.
For Washington, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer all got the nod. The trio are all accomplished veterans but are on the backend of their careers. Corbin’s contract, which he signed before the start of the 2019 season, continues to look worse and worse. Lester is a shell of his former self, more known for his name at this stage of his career. Scherzer is still competing at a high level, which is no surprise for the future Hall of Famer.
Entering the series, Milwaukee’s rotation was 10th in ERA (3.81), 11th in FIP (3.87), second in K/9 (10.36), and eighth in fWAR (5.9). Washington on the other hand was 17th in ERA (4.15), 27th in FIP (4.53), 18th in K/9 (8.90), and 28th in fWAR (2.0).
Game one of the doubleheader saw Peralta continue his dominance, only allowing one run across seven innings while striking out seven. This was the first complete game of Peralta’s career. Instead of a pitcher’s duel, it was a one-sided affair, with Corbin’s woes carrying over. The lefty only lasted five innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked two, with his ERA ballooning to 6.23.
Game two was one of Lester’s best outings as a Nationals. The three-time champ only allowed one run across four innings, while striking out four and walking none. His pitch count kept him from staying in longer, but Lester put the Nationals in solid position to pick up the win.
His opponent, Anderson was knocked out of the game early, leaving with one out in the fourth. It wasn’t his strongest performance, allowing two runs, while striking out three, and walking three. However, Milwaukee’s offense bailed him out, leading to a 6-2 victory.
Sunday’s matchup lived up to its billing of a pitcher duel, with both Woodruff and Scherzer striking out 10. Sadly for Scherzer and the Nats, one bad pitch in the first inning gave the Brew Crew a two-run lead. Scherzer left a heater over the plate and Avisail Garcia took It for a ride. It was his second two-run homer of the series. Washington’s offense was held in check all afternoon, falling 3-0.
Scherzer picked up the loss, allowing two runs across six innings, while Woodruff threw seven shutout innings. This was Woodruff’s second straight outing of not allowing a run. After years of dominating the NL, Washington’s rotation was once again outmatched, leading the Nationals down an unfamiliar road.