NATIONALS (41-40) AT TIGERS (26-51)
4:10 p.m. ET; FS-D, FS1, MASN, MLB.TV
The Tigers carry an eight-game losing streak into their Saturday game against the Washington Nationals in Detroit. The fact that they needed to recall Gregory Soto from the minors on to start the game shows how desperate things have become for the downtrodden organization.
Soto has made five spot starts for the Tigers this season, posting an 0-2 record and 8.66 ERA. He hasn’t gone longer than four innings in any of those outings, but the Tigers don’t have many options. Injuries have shredded the starting staff.
“It’s not an easy thing,” manager Ron Gardenhire of his rotation, according to the Detroit News. “We’re just looking for healthy arms right now. We’ve taxed this organization as much as you can tax it.”
Washington has won nine of its past 11 games, including the first game of the series, 3-1 on Friday. The Tigers have lost 21 of their past 23 games at Comerica Park.
Austin Voth will make his fourth career start and second this season for the Nationals. He made his season debut on Sunday and held Atlanta to two runs on four hits in six innings while striking out seven.
The 27-year-old right-hander started 12 games for Triple-A Fresno before his call-up and went 3-5 with a 4.40 ERA. He’ll get his first look at the Tigers.
“I really liked what I saw. I really did,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Everything was good. We’ll see where he fits in, but I was very impressed. Especially in the sixth inning, still throwing 94 miles an hour. And (he) looked very poised. It was awesome.”
Washington’s offense has been flexing its muscles of late, as well. The Nationals have homered in 13 consecutive games, including a long blast by Juan Soto on Friday.
“We’re staying on the ball and we’re getting pitches in the strike zone to hit,” Martinez said. “The key is to hit strikes. Don’t chase, work ahead in the counts. They’ve been doing that.”
Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was activated from the 10-day injured list on Friday after recovering from plantar fasciitis. However, his playing time will be reduced from previous seasons. Matt Adams and Howie Kendrick have batted well in his absence.
“I’ve talked to (Zimmerman) about it,” Martinez said. “He’s not going to come here and play every day nine innings. And he understands that Howie and Matt are both doing well, so they’re going to get some playing time as well.”
Zimmerman served as the designated hitter in his return Friday. He went 1-for-3 with a walk.
The Nationals might have found another arm for the back end of their bullpen. Fernando Rodney, rescued from the scrap heap after being designated for assignment by the Oakland A’s, notched his first save this season with a clean ninth inning Friday.
“He’s an amazing human being, probably a better person than he is a pitcher and he’s a damn good pitcher,” Gardenhire said of the 42-year-old right-hander. “Seeing him out there still is a testament to how hard he’s worked and how he’s kept himself in good shape at his age. And he’s still got a good arm.”
–Field Level Media