In a Major League season, winning streaks come and go. The Washington Nationals four game winning streak ended last night essentially at the point when the opposing pitcher turned a 2-0 deficit into a 6-0 hole with a grand slam on a grooved fastball by Tanner Rainey.
A potentially good start by Joe Ross that could have been a 1-0 game, was erased, when his one inherited runner scored, and the Braves turned it into a five run 6th inning which changed the entire game in an instant. While it was frustrating to watch, it had to be tougher for manager Dave Martinez to see his reliever fall apart on the mound again. The bullpen had been so good in the past two weeks until last night. Rainey exited with an ERA of 10.00. His slider was not working and his once electric fastball felt more like a flickering bulb.
When the Nats acquired Rainey in 2019, he looked like a future closer. He had a big fastball and a nasty slider. Contact was usually weak contact, and now his K rate has gone from 34.6% to 18.6% and the hard hit rate is at 55.2% with his grondball to flyball rate in 2019 at 2.27 to a poor 0.20. His WHIP is at 1.778, and of his ten appearances, only two have been clean and one was against the depleted Marlins over the weekend and the other against the Diamondbacks. This clearly is not a good situation. Velo is not everything, you have to be able to locate your fastballs, and have another ‘plus’ pitch that works.
When you have no slider and can’t locate your fastball, even the pitcher can hit this for a grand slam. Rainey to Ynoa. pic.twitter.com/xYGD23FLaT
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats) May 5, 2021
Baseball usually allows you to get right back at it the next day, and the Nats and Braves have another game today in this short three game series. The home team sends Erick Fedde to the mound, and the Braves will activate Max Fried from the 10-day IL. He has pitched in three games this season, but only 11.0 total innings.
With the lefty Fried on the mound, expect the Nats to load up with some more right-handed bats for this one to take advantage of any platoon splits.
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, BALLY Sports Southeast, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-ups subject to change without notice: