Rey of hope: Lopez states case for rotation spot

Rookie right-hander allows one run over seven innings for 1st MLB win

August 14th, 2016

WASHINGTON -- It's safe to say right-hander will be a part of the Nationals' rotation for a while. He earned it in a 7-6 victory over the Braves at Nationals Park on Saturday night.
Lopez, the Nationals' No. 3 prospect according to, pitched seven solid innings, allowing one run on five hits and striking out two. He got off to a slow start by allowing a homer to in the first inning, but then shut the Braves down the rest of the way. Not bad, considering it was 96 degrees at first pitch.
"That was not the easiest conditions, as we saw last night with [Stephen] Strasburg. To give up the homer in the first and then go seven in those conditions was impressive," first baseman said about Lopez. "What a great start by him."
Lopez even showed how tough he was in the fifth. The Braves had runners on first and second with one out, but hit into a force play and grounded out to end the threat.
The outing was the antithesis of his previous two big leagues starts in which he allowed a combined nine runs in 8 2/3 innings.
"He was consistent today, he was working down the zone. That's why he did a great job today," catcher said. "The pitch that was working for him was the fastball down in the zone. The changeup was great today. He made all the pitches down in the zone."

Asked if Lopez earned another start, which would be Thursday against the Braves in Atlanta, manager Dusty Baker hesitated and said, "probably." The Nationals have been looking for a fifth starter since right-hander went on the disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation on July 3. For a while, the Nationals have been going with Lopez and -- the Nats' top-rated prospect. Now it looks like Lopez will be the fifth starter until Ross is activated from the DL. Baker was raving about Lopez's performance.
"It's a great performance," Baker said. "He was mixing his breaking ball, changeup. He was locating his fastball. Sevy [Severino] called a great game for him. [Pitching coach] Mike Maddux gave him an outstanding game plan and Lopez executed the plan. It was a real fine performance."
After Lopez was able to get to hit into a double play to end the seventh, Murphy gave Lopez the game ball.
"He shook my hand, gave me the ball, and he said, 'Take the ball, you won the game today.' And that was a great feeling," Lopez said.