The Nats faced the Atlanta Braves exactly 7 years ago today, and the desperate Nats called up John Lannan for a spot start in his debut game of the season with the Nats as they were perilously hanging on in the standings. On that day. Lannan won the game for the Nats a day after a crushing loss. Joe Ross finds himself in a similar situation today getting his first start of the season for the Nats. Both pitchers thought they were going to factor into the team’s Opening Day rotation, and that was not reality in either case. The similarities and parallels are there for both of these pitchers who fell out of favor and now asked for a big performance as the underdog to help a season they might only be a role player in.
Baseball is certainly a game of redemption. The Nats are also set to add reliever Michael Blazek to their roster this week with his newly improved fastball. It was two years ago that Blazek played a big part in Nats history when he was a starter for the Brewers and was the pitcher who gave up the four consecutive home runs to Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Of the 19 home runs that Blazek had surrendered in his career, the Nats got him for 7 dingers and basically ended his MLB career as the Brewers sent him packing and he was out with an injury for all of 2018. Now Blazek needs to replicate what he has done for the Nats at Triple-A Fresno this month with no home runs given up and zero walks.
Blazek’s road to the Nationals came through his agent, Kevin Kohler, who previously brought Justin Miller to the Nats and handled the extension of All-Star Brandon Kintzler. Blazek had no MLB deals in the offseason and went the Independent Baseball route like Kintzler once did. Blazek signed with the Lincoln Saltdogs in Nebraska to show he could still pitch. His beginnings with the Nats Triple-A affiliate in Fresno was not too kind to him, but he learned to pitch what works in his outings and turned in a solid July giving up no walks and no home runs.
The Nationals will have to make a series of roster moves to include opening up a 40-man spot for Blazek which could be as simple as a 60-day IL move for Justin Miller or Austen Williams or even a roster clearing DFA.
The bullpen could be pieced together creatively today to close out this key four game series.
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves
Stadium: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
Trea Turner – SS
Adam Eaton – RF
Anthony Rendon – 3B
Juan Soto – LF
Ryan Zimmerman – 1B
Brian Dozier – 2B
Kurt Suzuki – C
Victor Robles – CF
Joe Ross – RHP