Helped by huge inning, Herz extends positive trend for young Nats arms

June 9th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- A quartet of young Nationals starters took the mound against a veteran Braves lineup over the past four games at Nationals Park. The result: a 3-1 series win, lifting the Nats’ edge to 6-2 on the season against Atlanta and 9-4 since Sept. 24, 2023.

“I can’t say enough about them,” said manager Dave Martinez. “It’s a good hitting team over there. … They threw the ball really well. We’ve got a long way to go, but I love where we’re at right now, I love how they’re attacking hitters. So it’s fun watching.”

Including Sunday’s 8-5 victory, left-hander (rookie, 24 years old), right-hander (second season, 27), lefty (third season, 25) and southpaw (rookie, 23) combined for 22 1/3 innings with six runs, six walks and 18 strikeouts against Atlanta.

  • Parker, 5-2 loss: seven innings, three hits, two runs, two strikeouts
  • Irvin, 2-1 win: six innings, four hits, two walks, four strikeouts
  • Gore, 7-3 win: five innings, six hits, two runs, one walk, seven strikeouts
  • Herz: 4 1/3 innings, four hits, two runs, three walks, five strikeouts

“They’re all different, but they’re all very competitive in their own way. They really are,” said Martinez. “You see Parker, who is very poised, very calm, nothing seems to rattle him, but he’s very, very competitive. Herz has a little fire in him, I can see that already. Irvin, another guy that’s very quiet but he gets emotional at times, especially in the dugout. And then as we all know, Gore’s a different breed, he’s very emotional. But I love them all. They all compete, they all want to do well, they all want to help us win, so that’s awesome.”

Herz (the Nationals' No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline) concluded the series by making his second Major League start. He worked through a two-run second inning to receive seven runs of support from the Nats in the fourth frame.

Powered by Keibert Ruiz’s three-run homer off right-hander Hurston Waldrep, who made his big league debut, and a bases-clearing double by CJ Abrams off lefty reliever Aaron Bummer, the Nats plated their most runs in a single inning since May 26, 2023, at Kansas City.

“It was hype,” said Herz. “I was clapping my hands. I was screaming. I was like, ‘Let’s go do this. Next inning, you’ve just got to let it go. Just go out there, compete.’ … The runs were awesome. You saw the stadium -- it got crazy and it was a lot of fun to be a part of.”

The Nationals will turn to the same group for a three-game series in Detroit: Parker on Tuesday, Irvin on Wednesday and Gore on Thursday. The Nationals will push back the next start for veteran left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is 1-7 with a 6.15 ERA in 13 outings.

“Just to give him a little bit of a breather,” said Martinez. “We take care of all our young guys, but we need to take care of our veteran guys, too.”

The veteran Corbin has tallied the second-most innings on the team (71 2/3) after leading the club in total frames in each of the past three seasons.

“He’s been pitching quite a bit,” Martinez said. “He’s a guy that’s been going five, six, seven innings all the time for us, so I wanted to give him a little break.”

The young arms have given the Nationals a lift while playing without right-handers Trevor Williams, who went on the injured list June 4 (retroactive to June 1) because of a right flexor muscle strain, and Josiah Gray, who has been on the IL since April 9 (retroactive to April 6) because of a right elbow/forearm flexor strain. Gray made his first rehab appearance on Sunday with the Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals.

“I’d say we do a good job of just executing, but also not putting too much pressure on any of ourselves,” said Parker. “We’ve got a bunch of good guys in here, so trust that they’re going to do their job just as well as we’re going to do our job. Just a bunch of guys doing their job.”

Following their first off-day in 17 days, the Nationals will head to Detroit on a three-game winning streak, looking to improve to .500 on the road.

“It’s awesome,” said Herz. “It’s so cool to see these guys go out five, six innings every time. Everybody’s shoving. It’s awesome to be a part of. We can go on a good roll right now, and it’s really cool to see.”