|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, September 23, 2019
Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia Attendance: 19,788
Nats-Phils to play 5; wild-card fates at stake
Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
- The Nationals and Phillies are set to play the majors' first five-game series of the season. Washington is 9-5 against Philadelphia this year, averaging 5.57 runs per game, the franchise's most in a single season against the Phillies since Montreal averaged 5.92 runs in 1999.
- Juan Soto is slashing .324/.415/.657 with nine homers, 26 RBI and 26 runs in his 27 games against the Phillies since the start of last season, while Anthony Rendon has a .369/.446/.739 slash line with nine home runs, 14 doubles, 24 RBI and 28 runs. Rendon's doubles and runs are the most by any player against Philadelphia since the start of last season.
- Patrick Corbin takes the ball on five days' rest in the opener after giving up two unearned runs over six innings in a win at St. Louis on Tuesday. He has gone 3-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 outings with five days' between starts compared to going 8-3 with a 2.41 ERA in 13 starts on four days' rest.
- Zach Eflin, the Phillies' scheduled starter for the opener, allowed an unearned run over seven innings to beat the Braves his last time out. Eflin is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA and .577 opponents' OPS over his last five starts after going 0-4 with an 11.64 ERA and 1.127 opponents' OPS in his previous five starts.
- J.T. Realmuto is batting .194 with three extra-base hits in his last eight games after hitting .414 with seven extra-base hits in his prior seven. Since August 1, Realmuto is batting .186 with a .665 OPS in 15 games vs. NL East clubs, compared to hitting .339 with a 1.084 OPS in 29 games against all other teams.
- Rhys Hoskins is mired in an 0-for-18 slump -- the second-longest hitless stretch of his career. He has just two hits in 20 at-bats in the nation's capital this season, and is slashing just .155/.294/.352 with 23 strikeouts in 18 career games at Washington.
- MLB widens investigation of Astros
- Grandal, ChiSox reach 4-year, $73M deal
- Sherman approved as Royals' new owner
- Exec Rosenbaum leaves Astros to join O's
- Phillies hire Dillon as hitting coach
The Washington Nationals return home to close out the regular season with a stretch of eight games in seven days that will essentially determine whether they host the National League wild card game or travel to it.
After Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins, the Nationals (85-69) find themselves one percentage point ahead of the streaking Milwaukee Brewers (86-70) for the top wild-card spot.
Milwaukee has won 15 of its last 17 games and would host the wild-card game if the teams end up tied based on winning the season series from Washington 4-2.
The fading Cubs are four games back, and the Mets are 4 1/2 games behind, meaning Washington needs to go 4-4 this week to ensure a berth in the wild-card game even if the Cubs win out.
The Phillies (79-75), who open a five-game series in Washington on Monday night, are six games out with eight games remaining after being routed by the Cleveland Indians 10-1 Sunday night.
The Nationals' bullpen blew a late two-run lead against the Marlins on Sunday as Hunter Strickland, Wander Suero and Tanner Rainey combined to give up four runs and send Washington to just its fourth loss in 19 games versus Miami this season.
"There's no turning back now," Strickland told MASN.com. "This is it, and this is critical. Every game's critical. This one was. It's a tough loss, for sure. As a reliever mindset in general, you have to forget and figure out what to get better on. Have to move forward and get ready for tomorrow. There's no more off-days. We've got to be ready to go."
Washington left-hander Patrick Corbin (13-7, 3.10 ERA) pitches the series opener against right-hander Zack Eflin (9-12, 4.00).
Corbin has won three of his last four outings. In his last start, he allowed two unearned runs on five hits over six innings of a win against the Cardinals, striking out 11 and walking four.
"I felt really good all night. I had good fastball command on both sides of the plate, and my slider was really good," Corbin told reporters. "They came out and they're pretty aggressive, so I was able to use that pitch a little bit more."
Corbin is 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season, and the Nationals have won all three games. In eight career starts against the Phillies, he is 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA.
Eflin is 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts since rejoining the Phillies' rotation. Last time out, he allowed an unearned run in seven innings of a win against the Braves.
Eflin came into that game 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in three previous starts against Atlanta this season and watched his defense commit three errors in his first six batters, but persevered.
"That was the toughest from a mental standpoint start from a pitcher that we've gotten all season long," manager Gabe Kapler told MLB.com. "Quite simply, we didn't make plays behind him early on. He continued to get ground ball after ground ball. Calls were not going his way. ... He just kind of had a resiliency about him throughout this game."
Eflin is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts against the Nationals this season. In six career starts against them, he is 3-2 with a 3.41 ERA.
Philadelphia's playoff hopes took a hit in Sunday night's loss. The Indians broke open a close game with a six-run seventh inning to take two of three from the Phillies.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 23, 2019