5 shutout innings against the Mets. Shelled against the Phillies. Cory Abbott has been all over the place through his first four starts with the Washington Nationals.
In baseball, it’s tough to tell when a player is either a flash in the pan or a future contributor. Sometimes fans and teams are blinded by the onfield success and ignore the advanced metrics that might not match up with the performance. Josh Rogers is the latest example for the Washington Nationals.
Claimed off of waivers last season, Rogers made six starts for the Nats down the stretch — going 2-2, with a 3.28 ERA, 22 strikeouts, and a 5.83 FIP in 35 2/3 innings. As his FIP indicated, Rogers was being balled out by his defense and opposing batters hitting into bad luck. Yet, he showed enough to win a spot in this year’s rotation, but only made three starts allowing eight runs, and was consequently moved to the bullpen.
A shoulder injury and struggles in the minors led to Rogers being DFAed in July. He then elected free agency before signing a minor league deal with Miami. In 16 appearances this year with the Nats, he went 2-2, with a 5.13 ERA, 12 strikeouts, and a 6.42 FIP.
Cory Abbott is Washington’s latest waiver claim to show similar promise. Called up in June, the 26-year-old made three relief appearances for the Nats before being thrust into the starting rotation due to injuries. Against the red-hot New York Mets, Abbott defied expectations, throwing five shutout innings, allowing two hits, while striking out three and walking two.
His dominance led to him being awarded another start, this time against the Phillies. He only lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits, including four homers, while striking out two and walking five. Command was an issue, continuously hanging pitches up in the zone.
Due to Erick Fedde being on the IL, Abbott was awarded a third straight start, holding the Padres to three runs across four innings. He struck out five, but walked three in an eventual 10-5 loss.
In his most recent start, Abbott held a sneaky Cubs lineup in check, allowing two runs across six innings, while striking out five and walking one. Keeping the ball in the zone (season-best 1 walk) allowed him to throw a season-high in innings, a reoccurring issue during his previous three starts.
On the season he’s 0-2, with a 5.16 ERA, 21 strikeouts, and a 6.56 FIP. His numbers are inflated due to his terrible start against the Phillies, but has allowed plenty of loud contact, and has struggled to keep the ball in the yard (6 homers allowed).
With Erick Fedde set to return soon, it is expected that Abbott will be shifted back to the bullpen where he may be better off. While he was serviceable as a spot starter over the lat four weeks, it is unlikely he wins a rotation spot in 2023.