Voth vs Ross: Two of the contenders for the fifth spot in the Washington Nationals’ rotation were in action this afternoon, Austin Voth in Port St. Lucie, FL taking on the Mets, and Joe Ross home in West Palm Beach where the defending World Series champs took on the Fish.
Voth tossed two scoreless innings to start the day, on 33 pitches, working around a wind-aided double and a few hard-hit balls in the first two frames, and he stranded a two-out double by Brandon Nimmo in the third, completing his third scoreless frame at 47 pitches when he caught Robinson Cano looking with a 1-2 fastball outside that was called strike three.
Meanwhile, in the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Joe Ross worked around a single and a walk in the first, retired the Marlins in order in the second, completing his sixth and seventh scoreless innings to start the Spring, but finally gave up a run when the Fish got to the right-hander in the third, with Jonathan Villar walking to start the inning, stealing a bag, moving up on a Corey Dickerson single, and scoring on a two-run double by Jesús Aguilar that put Miami ahead, 2-1. That was it for Ross, who was up to 57 pitches when he was done for the day.
Castr0 for?: A swinging K in his first trip to the plate this afternoon left Nationals’ second baseman Starlin Castro 0 for 15 with 5 Ks early in Spring Training, which probably should not really be much of a concern, considering it’s only Grapefruit League action and he is now heading into his 10th MLB campaign, but a return to first-half-of-2019 Castro (which saw him put up a .245/.272/.336 line with 12 doubles and six home runs in 371 PAs vs his .302/.334/.558 line, 19 doubles and 16 HRs in 305 PAs in the second half) would make it harder to replace the offense the club lost when Anthony Rendon left via free agency...
Trea Turner and Victor Robles took back-to-back walks in front of Castro in the top of the fourth, but he K’d swinging against reliever Dellin Betances (0 for 16, 6 Ks). The Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the next at bat, however, when Ryan Zimmerman sent a chopper out to center for a two-run single (after both Turner/Robles advanced themselves with a double steal).
Zimmerman scored later in the inning, on a dribbler toward first by Carter Kieboom when Mets’ catcher Tomas Nido bounced the throw by first base, 3-0.
Castro snapped his 0-for streak with a single to center off Jeurys Familia in the fifth, after an Emilio Bonifacio home runs put the Nationals up 4-0.
Good Kieboom: Speaking of Carter Kieboom. There’s been plenty of critical talk (writing really) about Kieboom’s early Spring troubles, so we thought we’d share some Kieboom positivity after he made this leaping catch to rob Dominic Smith of a hit in the bottom of the second inning in Port St. Lucie:
Bullpen Action: Wil Crowe came on for the Nationals in the bottom of the fourth inning, with a 3-0 lead, and worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam, getting a fly to center for out No. 3 after a one-out walk, and two-out single and free pass.
Crowe tossed a scoreless bottom of the fifth and came back out for the sixth in Port St. Lucie, giving up a leadoff single and throwing a wild pitch before recording two outs in what ended up a 54-pitch effort by the pitching prospect.
Bryan Bonnell, in his second season in the organization after pitching at High-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg, and Triple-A Fresno last year, struck Eduardo Nuñez out to end the Mets’ half of the sixth. Still 4-0 Nationals.
Javy Guerra worked around a two-out walk, striking out two batters in a scoreless bottom of the seventh to keep it a 4-0 game.
Jacob Wilson tripled and scored on an RBI single by Jakson Reetz in the top of the eighth, 5-0.
Kevin Quackenbush struck out the side (two swinging and one looking) in a quick, 1-2-3 eighth. Still 5-0 Nationals.
Dakota Bacus came on in the ninth and worked around a one-out walk, getting an inning-ending double to play to end the game. Final Score: 5-0 Nationals.
Meanwhile, in West Palm Beach, the Nationals and Marlins settled for a 2-2 tie...