Washington’s Nationals play both the Miami Marlins and the Houston Astros in split-squad Grapefruit League action tonight at 6:05 (vs HOU) in West Palm Beach, FL’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and 7:05 (vs MIA) in Jupiter, FL’s Roger Dean Stadium.
Both games are on a TV or computer screen near you. MASN and 106.7 the FAN in D.C. are broadcasting live in West Palm Beach where A.J. Cole and Gerrit Cole (no relation) meet up, and Miami’s feed is available via MLB.tv with Jeremy Hellickson making his Nats debut against Caleb Smith.
Hellickson, 30, posted a 5.43 ERA, 5.77 FIP, 47 walks (2.58 BB/9), 96 Ks (5.27 K/9), and a .250/.312/.497 line against over 30 starts and 164 IP in his eighth major league season in 2017. He signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals last week, telling reporters that Washington was a perfect fit.
“When [agent] Scott [Boras] told me the Nationals, I thought, ‘That’s a perfect situation,’” Hellickson said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes after he’d arrived at Spring Training.
“I really haven’t been on a team that’s been expected to win preseason in four or five years, so it’s exciting to get in here and see the guys in here and meet my teammates finally. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a fun year.”
Meanwhile, Cole, 26, who’s been in camp competing for the Nationals’ fifth starter’s spot (and appears to have claimed it for now after Erick Fedde — his chief competition — was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse this week), has given up nine hits, two walks, and four runs over nine innings thus far this Spring, striking out 13, while holding opposing hitters to a .265 AVG.
Last time out, Cole gave up two hits, a walk, and one earned run in four innings, striking out six batters.
“I’m going to do whatever they want me to do,” Cole told the WaPost’s Janes. “But I’m here for that fifth spot.”
While Hellickson debuts with the Nationals, Cole has another chance to state his case in tonight’s games.