Washington Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin's season has been a nightmare thus far and the team is hoping a brief rest will lead to a turnaround against the visiting Chicago Cubs.
Corbin is 4-16 with a 7.02 ERA over 23 starts and has two years left on a six-year, $140 million contract. He is 15-39 with a 5.98 ERA since earning the win in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series against the Houston Astros, a series in which he was a key contributor.
The left-hander has struggled mightily as of late. Over his last three starts, he has a 25.41 ERA and has been chased in the first inning twice. The Nationals skipped Corbin's start the last time through the rotation.
"The numbers are up there," manager Dave Martinez said. "But with that being said, we've really got to forget about the numbers and start fresh. For me, it's about his next start and what he can do in his next start, and go from there. I don't want him to regress and go back the other way."
The good news is that Corbin is 5-2 with a 3.97 ERA in nine career appearances (eight starts) versus the Cubs.
Chicago counters with left-hander Justin Steele (4-7, 3.63 ERA), who recorded 19 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts, both no-decisions. Against the Nationals on Aug. 10, he allowed two runs on eight hits over six innings.
"He's been on a roll his last couple of starts," Cubs manager David Ross said after that game. "He did a nice job of finishing his outing."
Washington shortstop prospect CJ Abrams, recalled before Monday's game, went 0-for-4 with a throwing error in his Nationals debut. Abrams, 21, was one of five prospects obtained from the San Diego Padres in the Juan Soto-Josh Bell trade.
"He was good. His angles (in the field) were really, really good," Martinez said. "He had some good swings up at the plate. With him and the other kid, (outfielder) Alex Call, they need some time. Everything's brand new to them."
The Nationals celebrated a rare win Monday night as Nelson Cruz hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the eighth inning of a 5-4 win. It was his ninth homer of the season and first since June 25. The homer followed a two-run double in the fifth that had given Washington a 4-3 lead.
Cruz has hits in three of his last four games, over which he is batting .417 (5-for-12).
Washington rookie Joey Meneses was held to one hit in four trips, but the 30-year-old has hit safely in 10 of his first 11 major league games.
Ian Happ hit two solo homers for the Cubs, including a blast into the second deck at Nationals Park. He has three homers in his past three games and has hit safely in seven straight, going 11-for-29 (.379) with three doubles, three home runs, eight RBIs and three runs scored.
"Felt like the last week or so I've been having some good swings, some good misses and then able to catch a few today," Happ said. "I've hit a lot of balls low and on the ground and to be able to get some of those in the air and seeing them leave the yard is big."
--Field Level Media