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Washington Nationals at Houston Astros: Grapefruit League GameThread

Washington’s Nationals and the Houston Astros face off in Grapefruit League action from their shared Spring Training home at 1:05 PM EDT.

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at Washington Nationals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hellickson talked after his second start of the Spring last week about working on a new pitch, a slider, that he said he hoped he could work into his repertoire this season.

Hellickson threw six different pitches in 2018, according to Fangraphs and PitchFx, mixing in a sinker (.310 BAA), changeup (.183), curve (.212), four-seamer (.237), cutter (.217), and a splitter (.000 on 20 splitters). So now he’s trying to add a seventh pitch?

“I just think nowadays a slider is a big strikeout pitch and I’ve just never had one,” Hellickson said, as quoted by MASN’s Pete Kerzel, after the right-hander gave up two hits and a run in a three-inning outing against the Miami Marlins last week.

“I have the cutter to lefties, but it’s more of a trying to get weak contact or something like that. The changeup is my strikeout pitch so it’s something different, a little harder going away to righties. It’s a tough pitch to throw, been trying to throw one forever.”

Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said he wasn’t that Hellickson was now trying to add a pitch, he told reporters it was just more of the same from the veteran right-hander.

“That’s Hellickson,” Martinez told reporters. “He’s a competitor and he’s going to try to do everything he can to get outs.”

Through two starts in Grapefruit League action, the 31-year-old, nine-year veteran has given up three hits, a walk, and one earned run in five innings, over which he has seven Ks, and a .167 BAA.

Hellickson makes his third start of the Spring this afternoon when the Nationals take on the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach, FL’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches at 1:05 PM EDT in a game that’s being broadcast on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. and on, though it’s the Astros’ feed.

Here’s the Nationals’ lineup for this afternoon’s Grapefruit League game: