Nats turn to Scherzer to stem tide vs. Padres

Field Level Media

June 08, 2019 at 8:16 am.

The Washington Nationals will be leaning on their proven 1-2 pitching punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg over the weekend to get their recent mojo back.

The Nationals came to San Diego on a 9-2 run Thursday to open a four-game series with the Padres. But the Padres came from behind to win the first two games of the series, including scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth Friday night for a 5-4 walk-off win.

Meanwhile, the Padres have rebounded after dropping series to Miami and Philadelphia to open their season-long, 10-game homestand. Now they are 4-4 with two games to go … but again, there’s that Scherzer and Strasburg thing.

One thing to build on — Friday night’s comeback win was against Nationals left-handed closer Sean Doolittle. And the first two hits off Doolittle were by left-handed Padres hitters Eric Hosmer (triple) and pinch hitter Josh Naylor (game-tying single). The last time left-handed hitters got two hits off Doolittle in an inning was 2016.

“The last two games have been big wins for us,” said Padres manager Andy Green.

“We went into the bottom of the ninth feeling pretty good,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Friday night’s loss. “We battled back, took and the lead, played good baseball. And in the ninth it just got away.”

Now, can the Padres extend their run against Scherzer and Strasburg. In April, the Padres did win both games in Washington against Scherzer and Strasburg — although they did most of the damage against the Nationals’ bullpen in both contests.

Scherzer has a 3-2 career record against the Padres with a 2.37 ERA in 10 starts. Strasburg, a San Diego county native and a product of San Diego State University, is 7-2 against the Padres with 3.00 ERA in 10 starts.

First up Saturday night will be Scherzer (3-5, 3.06 ERA) who will be facing Padres left-hander Eric Lauer (5-4, 4.18 ERA). Both pitchers will be making their second outing of the season against the other team.

Scherzer held the Padres to two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts in Washington, D.C., back on April 26, in a game the Padres eventually won 4-3. The next day, Lauer held the Nationals to two runs on two hits and three walks with six strikeouts in a game the Padres won 8-3.

In fact, the Padres are 4-1 against the Nationals this season going into their final two meetings of 2019.

Over 64 2/3 innings in his 10 career starts against the Padres, Scherzer has allowed 17 runs on 41 hits and 18 walks with 95 strikeouts for a 0.912 WHIP to go with the 2.37 ERA. Scherzer has averaged 13 ¼ strikeouts per nine innings against the Padres.

Lauer has a 2.31 across two career starts, both no-decisions, against Washington. He has been credited with the win in each of his last three starts overall, and the Padres have won each of the past four times he has started.

Lauer, who will be starting on four days’ rest for only the second time this season, has allowed five runs (four earned) on 17 hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts over 24 innings in his last four starts — for an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 0.833.