Another Paolo Espino start. Another five scoreless innings. Another Washington Nationals victory. When Espino spun five innings of three hit ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in the year, skeptics said, “it’s just the Pirates, wait until he faces some real competition.”
The real competition, well, at least judging by a look at the standings, came in the form of the National League East leading New York Mets. Espino didn’t walk a hitter for the second straight start, scattered five hits, and left with his team leading 4-0.
Internally, maybe the Nationals knew they were going to go with Espino all along. Externally, fans were left wondering if the game was going to be handed over to the bullpen. Talk of an Anibal Sanchez reunion was on the horizon because the Nationals were lacking starting pitching depth (manager Davey Martinez did meet up with Sanchez while the team was in Miami playing the Marlins, though just a social call, not on business).
Nationals pitcher Paolo Espino has earned another opportunity to pitch out of the starting rotation.
With a brutal schedule on the horizon, one which sees the Nationals play thirteen straight days heading into the all star break (and against teams with winning records), Espino should be penciled into Erick Fedde’s spot, no questions asked.
An oblique injury has sidelined Fedde, and the Nationals can take his rehab slow after another strong performance from Espino.
We know. Two starts, ten innings, a terribly small sample size for a veteran minor leaguer who just recently earned his first Major League win.
Joe Ross went two starts to begin the year (11 IP) without allowing a run, before being blasted for ten earned in his next outing. Fedde had three straight starts (covering 17 IP) where he didn’t allow a run, then gave up five earned in four innings. Espino can’t keep up the scoreless streak forever. As stated by Martinez, all Espino does is pump strikes. He’s getting it done with the change of pace, heater.
Espino has a WHIP of under one and an ERA just over two. He has been one of the most reliable pitchers out of the bullpen and a great spot starter when called upon. Time to keep him in the rotation for the near future. There is no guarantee his hot streak continues. We said the same about Kyle Schwarber’s home run hitting exploits, and he now has 15 over the past 17 games.
The Nationals need to continue with the hot hand, the one attached to Espino’s right arm.