One of the big stories of the offseason was that Nick Pivetta was poised to have a breakout season. While his 2018 numbers didn’t look great on the surface, there were indicators that much of that was due to bad luck. Combined with a strong showing in Spring Training, many people believed a big year was ahead.
Perhaps his 2019 season will ultimately turn out to be a success. But it sure as heck isn’t off to a good start. Following two lackluster outings in which he couldn’t make it past the fifth inning, Pivetta was hammered by the Nationals on Wednesday night.
The first four National batters reached base in the first inning, although Pivetta was able to limit the damage to just three runs thanks to two strikeouts. When he held the Nats scoreless in the second and third innings, there was hope that he could still provide a quality start. That hope disappeared in the fourth. He loaded the bases for Anthony Rendon, which isn’t the best idea if you want to win baseball games.
Anthony Rendon's last 10 G:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 11, 2019
March 30 - 1B, 2B
March 31 - 2 1B
April 2 - 1B, HR
April 3 - 1B, 2B, HR
April 4 - 2B
April 6 - 2B, HR
April 7 - HR
April 8 - 2B
April 9 - 1B, 2B
April 10 - 1B, 2B pic.twitter.com/2vBVQx9XMi
Rendon unloaded the bases with a three-run double. When Pivetta walked the next batter, his evening was over. He was followed by Juan Nicasio and Edubray Ramos, neither of whom were much better.
Pivetta’s struggles against the Nationals are nothing new. It’s possible that when he was coming up in their minor league system, they planted some sort of hypnotic command in his head, causing him to fall apart when he faces them.
Nick Pivetta, once a Nationals prospect, lasted just 3.2 innings tonight and allowed seven earned runs. He now has a 10.94 career ERA against Washington.— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) April 11, 2019
As disappointing as Pivetta’s night was, the performance of the Phillies’ offense may have been worse. Matched against mediocre former Phillie Jeremy Hellickson, the Phillies hitters went down meekly. They didn’t mount many serious scoring threats, and two of the base runners they did manage were erased by a double play.
The lone highlight for the Phillies came in the top of the ninth when outfielder Aaron Altherr came in to pitch, and managed to strike out two batters.
Easy cheese.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 11, 2019
Altherr dials up a 90 mph fastball and strikes out the first batter he faces. pic.twitter.com/Xb2pN7q2Ck
Adding insult to injury, they managed to prolong the game for as long as possible in the ninth inning when anyone with any sense just wanted this game to be over. Then again, much of the blame for that falls upon Nats reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who walked three batters. However, he was able to record his first three outs of the season, so his ERA is no longer infinite. Hooray for him.
The good news for Pivetta is that he likely won’t have to face the Nationals again for a while. The bad news is that his next start is scheduled to come against the Mets, and his numbers against them aren’t that much better.