BREWERS (63-58) AT NATIONALS (65-55)
7:05 p.m. ET; MASN2, FSWI, MLB.TV
The streaking Washington Nationals are finding ways to win without ace Max Scherzer.
Currently holding the National League’s top wild-card spot, the Nationals are riding a four-game winning streak as they open a three-game series Friday night against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Scherzer (back muscle) has been on the injured list for the past five weeks and last pitched on July 10. The three-time Cy Young Award winner played catch at Nationals Park on Wednesday and tossed two innings in a simulated game Tuesday, declaring himself ready to pitch — in the majors, not the minors.
Washington has not confirmed the starters for Saturday and Sunday, and there’s a good chance that Scherzer could be on the hill over the weekend.
“I want to get in a game now. I’m ready to get in a game. I think I’m ready to pitch in the big leagues,” Scherzer said.
In his absence, the Nats’ bats have blasted away.
Washington has tallied 34 runs in its past four games, winning the final game in its series against the New York Mets on Sunday, then sweeping Cincinnati in three. Half of the runs plated came in Wednesday’s 17-7 victory over the Reds.
Patrick Corbin (9-5, 3.41) has been a force at home, where he possesses a 1.78 ERA in 11 starts — good enough for the second-best home ERA in the majors.
Corbin is making his first start this season against the Brewers. The lefty has appeared in eight career games versus Milwaukee (seven starts) and has been hit hard, giving up 49 hits in 40 innings on the way to a 2-5 record with a 5.18 ERA.
Despite being just 6-6 in August, the Brewers have played good baseball recently, winning six of their past eight as they chase the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
On Wednesday, Milwaukee called up hard-throwing reliever Ray Black, a trade deadline acquisition from San Francisco, and sent down right-hander Jake Faria.
Manager Craig Counsell will turn to Black and his upper 90s fastball to bolster the back end of the bullpen, which has struggled some with closer Josh Hader.
“It’s my bread and butter,” Black, 29, said of his fastball. “It’s my go-to pitch. If I get beat, I want to get beat with that.”
The lefty Hader has been bitten by the home run, yielding long balls in four of his last six outings and 13 in 55 2/3 innings this season.
Right-hander Adrian Houser (5-5, 4.00) will make his fourth start since returning to the rotation and 10th this season.
In his lone career appearance against the Nationals, a start on May 7 at home, he pitched two innings and allowed two hits and no runs in a game the Brewers won 6-0.
–Field Level Media