WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals recalled rookie Reynaldo Lopez from the minors in order to give ace Max Scherzer an extra day’s rest. This wasn’t the start that anyone envisioned.
Lopez was wild out of the gate, walking New York Mets leadoff man Jose Reyes on five pitches. After allowing a single Asdrubal Cabrera, Lopez threw his first wild pitch to Yoenis Cespedes, allowing Reyes and Cabrera to advance to second and third base.
The next at-bat, Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Reyes. Because the ball was hit to left field, if Reyes had not already been on third, it is unlikely he would have been able to advance to third on the sacrifice fly. Instead, he had an easy trot home for the score.
With Wilmer Flores batting, Lopez threw his second errant pitch of the inning, advancing Cabrera to third base. Fortunately for the Nationals, Flores flew out to right field, allowing Lopez to escape with limited damage.
Lopez was far more accurate in the second inning, but also benefited from stellar defense. On a play in which Jay Bruce, who singled to start the inning, tried to advance from first to third base, Nats centerfielder Trea Turner showed why he has the full package in centerfield.
Fielding the ball on a hop, Turner fired a one-hop strike to Anthony Rendon at third base, who tagged Bruce’s foot inches before it hit the bag.’
After that, things started to unravel again in the third inning. After getting two outs, Lopez serve up a bloop single to Cespedes, then a blast to Granderson, scoring two.
Still with two outs, Lopez gave up a line drive double to Flores, prompting a visit to the mound from pitching coach Mike Maddux. Lopez responded by throwing his third wild pitch of the evening, to Bruce, allowing Flores to advance to third. Once again, fortune smiled on Lopez, as Bruce flew out to Werth for the third out of the inning.
Lopez would last just one more inning, finally setting the Mets down in order and turning over the lineup. He would not hang around to qualify for a win or quality start, however, as he was lifted after the inning.
His final pitching line: 4 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, 3 wild pitches and a walk.
While control has been an issue for Lopez in the past, this performance certainly elevated that concern. To put it in perspective, Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross have each faced at least 400 batters this season, throwing just two wild pitches a piece.
Lopez had three in four innings, quadrupling his season number between the minors and major leagues.
The Nationals have the benefit of expanded rosters for September but don’t expect Lopez to remain a part of the rotation if he pitches like this.
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