NATIONALS (30-35) AT WHITE SOX (31-33)
8:10 p.m. ET; WGN, MASN, MLB.TV
The Washington Nationals continue to excel despite a leaky bullpen.
Boy, can the Chicago White Sox attest.
Bidding for a split of last week’s two-game interleague series at Nationals Park, Chicago rallied for three runs in the eighth inning of the Wednesday series finale to tie the game, only to see Washington’s Trea Turner hit a game-ending home run against Alex Colome one inning later to give the Nationals a 6-4 win.
As the teams prepare to renew acquaintances on Monday night in Chicago, the Nationals feel they’re on the verge of a breakthrough despite occasional shakiness. Mistakes are starting to dissipate, helping Washington earn victories in six of its past eight games. Now, the Nationals hope their sporadic relief woes can be solved, too.
“We’ve played good baseball all year,” Turner said. “We’ve just been on the losing side because of something stupid each game. Stupid mistakes are starting to go away, and we’re starting to play consistent and pitch when we need it, hit when we need it.”
Washington earned a split of its four-game weekend series in San Diego by winning the final two games against the Padres, including a 5-2 victory Sunday in the series finale. The relief corps wasn’t particularly overtaxed, as Nationals righty Stephen Strasburg pitched seven innings of one-run ball.
He was rewarded with the victory when the Nationals erupted for four runs in the top of the eighth.
Washington’s recent struggles came with setup man Trevor Rosenthal, a former closer with the St. Louis Cardinals, on the injured list due to a viral infection. Rosenthal struggled with his control in the first month of the season, posting a 36.00 ERA in his first seven appearances. He is eyeing improvement after being reinstated to the active roster on Saturday.
“I didn’t necessarily feel different, but the results weren’t happening the way I planned,” said Rosenthal, who hasn’t pitched since he was activated. “I’ve kind of taken a step back and approach it the same as my warmup pitches, with that same level of effort, and build off of that. That’s what’s been helping me most recently.”
Right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne is expected to get the starting nod for the White Sox, who took two of three from the Kansas City Royals over the weekend after losing both games to the Nationals. Chicago is set to promote Despaigne from Triple-A Charlotte before Monday’s game and make his season debut against the Nationals.
A 32-year-old journeyman from Cuba, Despaigne made 19 appearances — including five starts — between the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Angels in 2018, going 2-3 with a 6.69 ERA. He struck out 35 in 39 innings, and opponents batted .321 against him.
For his major league career, Despaigne is 13-24 with a 4.94 ERA in 106 games (47 starts) over parts of five seasons. This season, in combined 12 games (11 starts) for two Triple-A teams, he is 3-3 with a 3.34 ERA.
Washington’s Anibal Sanchez (1-6, 4.19 ERA) is slated to face the White Sox for a second successive start. The right-hander had a no-decision on Wednesday, allowing one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.
In his previous outing, Sanchez snapped a 10-start winless streak that dated back to his final appearance in 2018.
–Field Level Media