THE Washington nationals are about to visit Kansas City for the first time in seven years when they oppose the Royals in the opener of a three-game set on Friday
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Washington took two of the three from Kansas City in May 2016. The teams have met once since then, when the host Nationals claimed two of three in July 2019
Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (3-5, 4.47 ERA) will oppose Royals right-hander Jordan Lyles (0-8, 7.15) Friday
Corbin helped the Nationals to their victory in the 2019 series by pitching seven shutout innings, striking out 11 and walking none. He got a no-decision in a game Washington won 5-2
Corbin allowed no runs in 9 2/3 innings in two appearances against the Royals. Among current Kansas City batters, only Matt Duffy has hit safely against Corbin, going 3 for 12
In each of his seven starts since April 16, Corbin has thrown at least 5 1/3 innings while allowing no more than three earned runs. He has six quality starts this year, tied for fifth in the National League.
Corbin, who is coming off back-to-back wins, has not won three straight decisions since May 2021. His mastery of the strike zone has been particularly clear lately, as he has only allowed one walk on the over its last 25 innings.
THE Nationals arrive in Kansas City after losing an 8-6 decision to the San Diego Padres on Thursday afternoon to complete a 3-3 homestand
While Washington has lost six of its last nine games, its offense has been more productive recently, generating 52 points over the last 10 games.
Leading off batter Lane Thomas has a 10-game hitting streak in which he is batting .366 (15 for 41) with three homers.
Ildemaro Vargas has struck safely in six of eight games since returning May 3 from the 10-day disabled list, batting .440 (11 for 25). He had been out for nearly a month with a pulled left shoulder.
“I can’t say enough about what Vargas does”, Nationals said manager Dave Martinez. “He goes there and plays with a lot of fun, a lot of energy.
In his last 10 games, Washington’s Jeimer Candelario hit .436 (17 for 39) with eight overtime hits. Among Nationals batting, Candelario has the most experience against Lyles, with one hit for eight at bat
“When he’s setting up to hit the fastball, he’s really good and he’ll stay consistent,” Martinez said. “The biggest thing is to get out of his mind to try to hit home runs on every shot. He has enough power that when he hits the ball and puts it in the air, he hits home runs.”
Lyles is 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA in 12 previous games (four starts) against Washington. He faced Nationals most recently suffering a loss to the Baltimore Orioles on June 21, 2022, when he gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings
Lyles’ 7.15 ERA is the highest among major league starting pitchers, and his 14 homers allowed are tied for the most of the majors.
A consistent tee shot has been elusive for the Royalswho has had just one win by a starter since May 11. The club racked up 49 relief appearances while losing nine out of 13 games during that span.
Kansas City’s rotation is 8-26 with a 5.49 ERA.
THE Royals bolstered his heavily taxed bullpen this week by promoting right-hander Nick Wittgren from Triple-A Omaha, where he made five saves and a 1.25 ERA in 17 appearances. He struggled on his debut for Kansas City on Wednesday, allowing two runs in two innings
“It is still developing” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said of the eight-year veteran. “He used to change heavily. Now he’s developed a cutter/slider.
Wittgren said, “I changed my slider this offseason and it helped me a lot. I attack the area with all four pitches. It pays off pretty well.”