|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, April 8, 2017
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Attendance: 37,241
Nationals eye better results from bullpen vs. Phillies
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PHILADELPHIA -- Four contests into Major League Baseball's 162-game season is far too early for any club to begin panicking about anything.
But the Washington Nationals need their bullpen to come around -- and soon, if they're going to keep up a solid start to the season. Washington will look to do precisely that on Saturday as it plays the second contest of its three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The Nationals (3-1) won Friday afternoon's opener against Philadelphia, getting 6 2/3 strong innings from 2016 National League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and home runs from Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth in a 7-6 win.
It shouldn't have been that close, however. Four relievers combined to give up four runs in 2 1/3 innings of work to allow Philadelphia to make what had been a 7-0 blowout a one-run affair by the end.
"How are you going to toss a red flag and play (four) games?" Nationals skipper Dusty Baker said. "We just try to figure out a way to fix the guys ... We've just got to keep scoring, our offense has to do it until our bullpen gets itself together."
Though he picked up his third save, Washington closer Blake Treinen gave up a two-run homer in the ninth inning and saw his ERA rise to 8.10 as he pitched for the third day in a row.
"Today it wasn't a question (of whether to let him pitch the ninth)," Baker said. "(Saturday) might be a question."
To try and even up the series as well as snap a three-game losing streak, the Phillies (1-3) will send out former first-round selection Aaron Nola. The 23-year old is in his third majo- league season, though just his second on the big-league roster to begin the year.
Last year, the right-hander went 6-9 with a 4.78 ERA, struggling mightily over his final eight starts (1-5, 9.82 ERA) before hitting the disabled list in early August with a right elbow strain.
"Being hurt on the DL last year in Florida, and not being able to throw, it really put things into perspective," Nola told Philly.com. "It's terrible not being able to do what you love and do what you have been doing since a little kid."
His struggles continued into the spring as Nola went 0-3 with an 8.38 ERA, giving up 18 runs (all earned) in 19 1/3 innings. In his last outing on March 28, Toronto got him for five runs on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings of work.
"What I am happy about was the velocity he showed during spring training, which shows, I hope, that he is healthy," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He didn't show his typical command of his fastball, but that is something that is going to come next."
The Nationals will counter with veteran Jeremy Guthrie, who will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse to make the spot start.
Guthrie, who turns 38 on Saturday, will be making his debut with his fifth MLB squad. He last pitched in 2015 with Kansas City, where he went 8-8 with a 5.95 ERA. Guthrie put up a 2.41 ERA in spring training to earn a chance this season.
"He threw the ball very good (this spring)," Baker told MASN earlier this week. "This is one reason why we kept him in the system as well. There's going to be times when we're going to need that spot start from certain people."
Updated April 8, 2017