No, your eyes aren't deceiving you, the Washington Nationals were finally able to get a three-game win streak. Admittedly, they were the final team in the majors to do so, but progress none the less!
It may have only been the Marlins, so it doesn't really signal a turning point, but the Marlins weren’t coming into the series as a pushover. They were coming off six straight wins against the New York Mets and Detroit Tigers but the Nats were able to capitalize.
Here are the main takeaways from the Memorial Day weekend set...
Patrick continues to be a saint
Patrick Corbin is already looking like he might be one of the best free agent signings of the offseason, The left-hander put in his best performance of the season on Saturday.
The left-hander delivered a five-hit shutout against the Marlins with only one runner reaching scoring position all game. It gave the bullpen a much-needed rest and let the team win a relatively stress-free game for a change.
For most of this season, Corbin has utilized the strikeout to great effect, but in this one, he consistently generated soft contact. The Marlins were only able to put four balls in play over 100mph as he got nine of his outs via the ground ball.
Corbin even got some impressive defense behind him, with three double plays and a nice jumping grab by Brian Dozier to highlight the nice work in the field.
He now owns a stellar 2.85 ERA, good for fifth in the National League among qualifiers. Right now, Corbin has got to be in serious All-Star consideration, which would be more than the Nats could’ve hoped for, cementing a truly dominant big three in the rotation.
Offense on the right track
Yes, many Nats fans will still have the bitter taste of another Max Scherzer start that lacked run support, but on the whole, the bats were able to feast on Marlins pitching.
In the first three games of the series against the Fish, the Nationals pounded out 26 runs on 36 hits, giving their pitchers plenty of run support. That included going 12-for-33 (.364) with runners in scoring position in that span, an area they had notably struggled in lately.
Every single position player that received a plate appearance in the series recorded a hit, with 10 posting multiple hits. Juan Soto at the heart of everything as the outfielder went a ridiculous 7-for-15 over the four games, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
José Ureña, who dominates the Nats for some reason, was able to quiet the Nats bats in the finale. Though the disappearance of offense highlighted the consistent inconsistency, it was good to see the lineup take a step in the right direction in this series.
Fedde may be winning rotation spot
Erick Fedde is finally starting to live up to the top prospect billing he received after the Nationals drafted him in the first round in 2014. The right-hander is temporarily in the rotation due to injuries, but he now has a convincing case to stick there.
The right-hander made his second start this season on Sunday and delivered a strong outing. He went five scoreless innings allowing just four hits and three walks, striking out four while successfully working out of a couple of tricky jams.
As it was only his second start since coming out of the bullpen, Fedde only got up to 83 pitches, but that’s right on schedule. Should he stay in the rotation, he could easily work up to 90-100 pitches in his next outing.
That’s now two straight five-inning outings with just the one run allowed between the two as he has seized the opportunity to impress.
Both Jeremy Hellickson and Aníbal Sánchez have underwhelmed in 2019, with the former only on a one-year deal. Perhaps the Nats, who have given Hellickson a strange IL stint, could bump him from the rotation in favor of Fedde soon. He definitely deserves it.
Early nerves for Bourque
With a third win seemingly in hand on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals gave the ball to James Bourque in the ninth for his major league debut. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go to plan for the young right-hander.
Bourque pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up four earned runs on three hits and two walks. He struggled to find the zone during the outing, throwing just 12 of his 29 pitches for strikes before being relieved by Wander Suero.
It was pretty clear there were some early nerves for Bourque who was understandably both amped-up and nervous to take a big league mound for the first time. His stuff was all there, with his fastball and curveball looking nasty, just inaccurate.
Hopefully, now that he’s got his debut under his belt, Bourque will be able to settle down and hone in his command in his next appearance. He has all the talent to be a success as a reliever at the highest level, this was just a rough first step.
Ross demoted after failed experiment
It looks as though the Joe Ross as a reliever experiment is over for now. He had yet another poor outing out of the bullpen in the series opener on Friday allowing three runs on two hits, a walk and a hit by pitch.
The next morning, Ross was optioned back to Triple-A Fresno with the hope of being stretched out to transition back to a starter.
“I think this gives him an opportunity to get comfortable, stretch him out, and hone in,” Martinez told Sam Fortier of The Washington Post. “Out of necessity, we used him in the bullpen. I still believe, somewhere down the road, he will get an opportunity to start again.”
Though Ross’s arsenal seemed indicative to a successful transition given his primary two-pitch mix, it didn’t go well in his first try as a reliever. In 16 appearances as a reliever, Ross posted an ugly 9.22 ERA and 1.83 WHIP, striking out just 12 and walking eight.
With the Nats’ starting pitching depth being tested due to the Jeremy Hellickson and Aníbal Sánchez injuries, getting Ross stretched out should help if more injuries strike. We’ve seen Ross excel as a starter before, so hopefully, he can get back to that level this time around.
Next up: The Nationals now face the Atlanta Braves for the first time in 2019, making the trip down to Georgia for two games. Stephen Strasburg will get the ball in the opener before the Nats decide whether to go with Kyle McGowin or Aníbal Sánchez in the finale.