When the Nationals finally started the 2021 season, They knew the first two series of the year would be challenging. Missing 11 players, including four line-up regulars and two starters, against a pair of division winners from 2020 made those two series seem like an uphill battle. Taking this into account, it seems understandable that the team is 1-5 heading into St. Louis today. There have been some positives and strong individual performances and four of the losses were reasonably close, but the team needs to start turning things around. This is especially true for the offense, which is second to last in baseball with 17 runs scored and has been shut out in three of six games. On Sunday, Davey Martinez said that he expects news about his final quarantined players soon and that we might see them this series. It is very early in the season, but this is an important series for this team to show some signs of life and possibly begin to string some wins together. Let’s take a look at the projected pitching matchups as the Nats try to right the ship against the Cardinals.
Monday, April 12, RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 27.00 ERA) vs. RHP John Gant (0-0, 0.00 ERA) First Pitch 7:45 pm EST
The Nationals will head to St. Louis for the first time since the 2019 NLCS. Needless to say things are a lot different this time around. The Nationals are now without a top 3 third baseman in baseball, while the Cardinals added one of their own in Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals also have a top outfield prospect in Dylan Carlson, who leads the team with three home runs, and former MVP Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Beyond that there are still some similarities as both teams expect to compete for a spot in the postseason.
Monday’s pitching matchup is the complete opposite of Sunday’s matchup. Instead of two future, Hall-Of-Fame pitchers, we are getting two pitchers that barely have a rotation spot. Erick Fedde will be making his second appearance of the season after surrendering six runs on six hits and three walks in only 1 ⅔ innings against the Atlanta Braves last Wednesday. This is a crucial start for Fedde, who will be returned to the bullpen or potentially designated for assignment once LHP Jon Lester returns.
For the Cardinals, 28-year-old John Gant will be making his second start. Gant is in a similar boat, as injuries have forced him into the rotation after Spring Training, where he had an ERA over 4 in 14 1/3 innings. In his first start, Gant surrendered an unearned run on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts in four innings. This matchup may not be the most exciting one, but hopefully Fedde is on his game and Gant does his part in waking up our bats.
The game can be seen on MASN and heard on 106.7, the Fan.
Tuesday, April 13, RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Jack Flaherty (1-0, 5.23 ERA) l First Pitch 7:05 pm EST
Tuesday’s matchup is a little more exciting with a battle of two of the best pitchers in baseball. Against the Braves last Wednesday, Strasburg seemed to return to 2019 form with 8 strikeouts in six shutout innings. Strasburg has held the Cardinals to a .223 average over his career. St. Louis’s dynamic duo of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have been a mixed bag against Strasburg in the past. Arenado has an OPS of .961 against our big righty, while Goldschmidt has amassed just a .718 OPS, which is much lower than his career numbers.
For St. Louis, Jack Flaherty will get the start Tuesday night. The 25-year-old has already pitched twice this season with a 5.23 ERA in 10 ⅓ innings. The Nationals two-headed monster of Juan Soto and Trea Turner have limited experience vs Flaherty, but Soto has two walks and Turner has a homer in three at bats. While Starlin Castro has hit .333 with a home run against Flaherty, the two Nationals with the most experience against him are two of the team’s newest additions. Both Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber have plenty of at-bats against Flaherty, but neither of them have much success. On paper, this game looks to be completely different from Monday’s game.
Wednesday, April 14, RHP Joe Ross (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (0-1, 8.22 ERA)l First Pitch 1:15 pm EST
The series finale on Wednesday will be a matinee matchup between two very interesting pitchers. After opting out of the 2020 season, Joe Ross made his first start of the season last Friday, allowing a pair of hits and tossing 67 pitches in five shutout innings against the Dodgers.
In his career, Ross has pitched five times against the Cardinals with a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings. However, with the addition of Arenado and Carson, this is a different lineup than Ross has seen in their previous matchups.
St. Louis veteran Adam Wainwright looks to be on the back end of his 15-plus year career as he makes his third start of the season. The 39-year-old Wainwright has an 8.22 ERA this season, but is still more than capable of pitching a gem. In his career vs. the Nationals, Wainwright is 10-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 98 ⅔ innings. By this time, the Nationals are hoping to have their lineup back to full strength, although their effectiveness after the time off remains to be seen.
Series Notes Washington Nationals
- The Nationals have lost five straight after an Opening Day victory against the Braves.
- Manager Davey Martinez indicated the team should be adding some of their remaining quarantine players back to the roster during the series. This will lead to some difficult roster decisions.
- The Nationals have been shut out in three of their last four games and are only ahead of the Mets for fewest runs scored this season.
- As expected, Juan Soto and Trea Turner lead the Nationals with two home runs and four RBI apiece, while batting .300 and .304, respectively.
Series Notes St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cardinals are currently 5-4 with 3 of their wins coming against the Marlins
- The batting leader for St. Louis is Yadier Molina, hitting .367. LF Dylan Carlson leads the team in home runs with 3
- In their 5 wins, the Cardinals have scored 4 or more runs 4 times but have given up 9 or more in each of their 4 losses
- Newcomer Nolan Arenado has hit .307 with 10 home runs against the Nationals in his career
Edited by: Jonathan Mailloux