Nationals leave door open for starter vs. Padres

MLB

The Washington Nationals have yet to announce a starting pitcher for Tuesday night’s game against the Padres in San Diego.

But it could be more of an either/or situation.

The Nationals could be see the return of right-hander Erick Fedde from the injured list. He missed his past two starts with an oblique strain and was penciled in to return this week. Fedde threw in the bullpen before Monday’s game.

If Fedde doesn’t get the nod Tuesday, right-hander Paolo Espino could make his third straight start in his absence.

One thing is certain. Rookie left-hander Ryan Weathers (3-2, 2.63 ERA) will start for San Diego against either Fedde (4-4, 3.90) or Espino (2-2, 2.48 ERA) as the Padres seek to avenge Monday night’s 7-5 loss to the Nationals.

Although they lost only their second game in their past 11 home starts Monday night, the Padres are 31-15 at home this season.

“The reason we’ve played so well at home is the energy from the fans in the stadium and knowing the ballpark,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “Our hitters see the ball well here and our pitchers like the mound. I just think we are very comfortable here at Petco Park. Certainly, over the last two home stands, we’ve played very well.

“Over the last year, we have played well at home. We know the ballpark, the mound, the background, the walls and how all those things play.”

Weathers will be making his second start since returning from a two-week detour to Triple-A El Paso. The 21-year-old has limited the opposition to a .217 batting average over 51 1/3 innings this season in 15 appearances (nine starts).

Weathers allowed two runs on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts in four innings of a no-decision at Cincinnati on Thursday.

Weathers, of course, has yet to face the Nationals.

Fedde, however, is 0-1 with a 3.45 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) versus the Padres.

Espino has yet to face San Diego in his career.

Trea Turner homered among his two hits on Monday in his return from a four-game absence due to a jammed left middle finger. Turner admitted his finger was still a bit sore after the contest.

Former Padres All-Star closer Brad Hand picked up his 19th save as Washington snapped a four-game losing skid.

Capped by a perfect ninth by Hand, Nationals relievers retired the final 14 Padres they faced and held San Diego scoreless over the final 5 1/3 innings.

“That was the key to this game,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who used Hand as early as the seventh inning this past weekend in attempts to head off rallies by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Playing some of these really good teams with some of these really good hitters, we’re going to have to be a little bit more creative,” Martinez said. “We talked about that with the relievers and those guys are on board.”

–Field Level Media

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