Nelson logs more zeros in second MLB start

D-backs' No. 8 prospect up to 13 scoreless innings to open Major League career

September 13th, 2022

PHOENIX -- Every time he takes the mound, says he feels a bit of nerves -- but you'd never know that by watching him.

The D-backs' rookie right-hander once again put up a string of zeros in his second big league outing on Monday night, though this time he didn't come away with a win as the Dodgers scored six times after he left to beat the D-backs, 6-0, at Chase Field.

In his sterling Major League debut one week before in San Diego, Nelson tossed seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over the Padres at Petco Park.

"Comfortable, for sure, with the day-to-day stuff and the environment," Nelson said of the difference between the two starts. "It kind of helps being here for a little bit and getting my feet wet on that part. More comfortable, but every time I go out there to pitch there’s always [those] butterflies in my stomach."

Against the formidable Dodgers lineup on the cusp of an NL West title, Nelson, the D-backs' No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings, once again showing an electric fastball that topped out at 96.8 mph and averaged 95.1 mph. Nelson also features a curve, slider and changeup, though he only threw four changeups all night.

"I think with the amount of carry and the amount of deception he has on his pitches, it plays," catcher Carson Kelly said. "This is the second time I’ve caught him. He’s got really good ride on his heater and it gets on me as a catcher, too. He’s got good life on that heater and good command of his offspeed pitches, which, as a hitter, makes it pretty difficult."

Trayce Thompson managed a single in the third and Trea Turner laced a two-out triple in the sixth, but that was all of the offense against Nelson, who escaped that mini-jam to conclude his night and begin his big league career with 13 scoreless innings.

"He's good," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Nelson. "I like his mound presence. Obviously, the first time we've seen this guy. There's life to the fastball. I thought the curveball was good. He was able to strike it, shorten it. He threw a couple changeups. But I thought he was good. He certainly kept us at bay through six innings."

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo faced a dilemma at the end of the sixth, with Nelson having thrown 81 pitches. According to the pitch limit the club was going to put on him, Nelson probably had another 12-14 pitches left. Lovullo debated sending him back out for the seventh, but the Dodgers had hit a couple of balls hard in the sixth and his velocity was a tick down.

After talking it over with pitching coach Brent Strom, Lovullo decided it was time to make a change.

"I think I definitely had a little bit left, but I understand the decision," Nelson said. "I kind of had a rocky sixth inning. It made sense to me, I understood it."

The Dodgers have a lot of veteran hitters in the lineup who have long track records of success. That's something that can be intimidating to young pitchers, but Nelson seemed to handle it well.

"I try to give myself the best chance I can to succeed," he said. "If you get wrapped up in that stuff, you’re not giving yourself the best chance. I try to take my breaths and focus as best I can. There’s a lot of really good hitters on that team. Guys who I’ve been watching play for a long time.

"I think it’s just getting a game plan and sticking to it and not letting who is in the box affect your mentality and attacking the zone like you know you can and giving yourself the best shot. That’s what I went out there and did."