It’s the conclusion of a marquee interleague set to open the season in the nation’s capital. The New York Yankees are on the road as they close out a three-game set with the defending champion Washington Nationals Sunday afternoon. In the season opener on Thursday night, it was the Yankees picking up a 4-1 victory in a game that was ended in the top of the sixth inning by rain. After an off-day on Friday, the teams were back at it with the middle game of the set Saturday. In that contest, James Paxton was slated to take the mound for the Yankees while Washington sent Stephen Strasburg to the mound. First pitch from Nationals Park was scheduled for 7:15 pm ET.
The Nats won the second game 9-2 with Erick Fedde getting the start for an injured Strasburg.
New York Yankees Look to Lock Down Series Win
New York flexed their muscle in the season opener and got a strong showing from their $324 million man that they acquired in the offseason to take the victory. The Yankees now look to try and ensure a series win regardless of what takes place on Saturday. In Thursday’s opener, Aaron Judge (run, RBI) and Giancarlo Stanton (run, three RBI) each had two hits in the game. Stanton gave the Yankees all the offense they would need in the first inning, cranking a two-run homer for his first long ball of the year. Gerrit Cole (1-0), making his debut in pinstripes, made that stand up as he threw a rain-shortened complete game as he threw five innings, allowing one run on one hit with a walk and five strikeout.
This would have been Masahiro Tanaka’s spot in the rotation but he’s on the injured list after being hit in the head with a line drive during summer camp. According to Aaron Boone, Tanaka is going to throw Sunday and could potentially get the start, though he could be held off until July 31 against Boston. Should it be Tanaka, he made 32 appearances, 31 starts, last season with the Yankees, going 11-9 with a 4.45 ERA, a 1.242 WHIP, 40 walks and 149 strikeouts over 182 innings of work. He went 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP, four walks and 12 strikeouts over 16 innings in three postseason starts last year. Tanaka is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP, no walks and eight strikeouts over 12 innings in his two career starts against the Nationals. He’s made just one career start at Nationals Park, which came back on May 15, 2018. Tanaka didn’t factor in the decision as he allowed three runs on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts in a 5-3 Yankees loss. That game was suspended on May 15 and wasn’t completed until June 18.
Washington Nationals Trying to Get Back on Track
Washington was completely stifled offensively in the opener as they seemed overmatched by Cole, who they had faced twice in the World Series last season. That Nationals’ lineup was different than the one that was on the field Thursday. Anthony Rendon left as a free agent, Ryan Zimmerman opted out for this season and Juan Soto was placed on the injured list after he tested positive for COVID-19 hours before first pitch. Washington finished the game with just one hit, a solo homer by Adam Eaton in the opening inning, and that was it. Max Scherzer (0-1) took the loss as he went the distance. He allowed four runs on six hits with four walks and 11 strikeouts over 5.1 innings of work.
Patrick Corbin takes the hill for his first start of the season for the Nationals in this contest. He made 33 starts for the Nationals in the regular season last year, going 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA, a 1.183 WHIP, 70 walks and 238 strikeouts over 202 innings. In the postseason, he made eight appearances, three starts, going 2-3 with a 5.79 ERA, a 1.414 WHIP, 12 walks and 36 strikeouts over 23.1 innings of work. Corbin didn’t factor in the decision in his lone career start against the Yankees, which came with the Diamondbacks on the road back on April 18, 2013. He threw seven innings, allowing a run on two hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in a 6-2 Arizona win that took 12 innings. Corbin is 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA, a 1.058 WHIP, 35 walks and 139 strikeouts over 120 innings in 19 career starts at Nationals Park.
While Washington’s lineup isn’t as good as it was last season without Rendon and with Soto missing at the moment, the fact remains that they are the defending champions. New York has a great lineup but their starting rotation is in flux right now, especially with Tanaka on the shelf. Corbin has pitched well in Washington and while his postseason numbers weren’t all that great, the fact remains that he won 14 games in the regular season last year. With the Yankees having a question mark on the mound, you have to fade them just enough to give the Nationals the upper hand.
TGR Prediction: Washington Nationals