Nick Pivetta makes his third start of the season Wednesday night as the Phillies wrap things up with the Nationals.
The Phils face each division opponent 19 times this season, and 12 of their head-to-head matchups with the Nats come in their first 75 games.
When: 7:05 p.m. ET — Pregame Live starts at 6:30
Where: NBC Sports Philadelphia+ and streaming live on NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
Big start for Pivetta
There was plenty of hype surrounding Pivetta heading into the season. He had strong peripheral numbers last season and an even stronger showing in spring training. There were a couple starts in Clearwater when Pivetta's fastball touched 98 and 99 mph.
Well, the spring radar guns may have been juiced. Pivetta's fastball averaged 95.4 mph in his first start but was down to 93.8 in his last start Friday against the Twins.
Pivetta has allowed 17 hits in 9⅔ innings. The Phillies scored 18 runs to win both games but they won't be able to do that consistently. There will be more than a few starts from Pivetta this season when the Phillies need him to deliver a quality start to have a good chance to win. Tonight, they could really use at least six innings from him.
Pivetta has just been missing spots. He's thrown 20 pitches middle-middle, middle-high or middle-low compared to just 10 from Zach Eflin. Few pitchers in the era of velocity can get away with a poorly located heater, especially when the pitcher's fastball speed is in the 93 mph range.
This Nationals team has hit Pivetta around in the past. Anthony Rendon is 6 for 12 with three homers and a double. Ryan Zimmerman is 5 for 9 with a homer and a double. Juan Soto is 3 for 7 with a homer and a walk.
Soto ... such a pain
Rendon and Soto are a nightmare for opposing pitchers. Rendon covers so much of the plate, possessing the ability to hit for a high average, hit 30 homers and uses both gaps. Soto is an incredibly disciplined hitter, not just for a 20-year-old but for a major-leaguer, period.
Aaron Nola has had problems getting through the 3-4 spots in the Nats' order. He won't be the only pitcher to experience those pains this season.
Then there's Victor Robles, who is certainly too talented to stay in the nine-hole for much longer. With his hot bat there, it gives a team one more thing to worry about at the bottom of the order.
Realmuto heating up
J.T. Realmuto singled three times on Tuesday night to raise his batting line to .257/.357/.371. The power hasn't yet surfaced but the Phillies are confident it will. The hope is that Realmuto heats up while Rhys Hoskins is still seeing the ball as well as he is right now, giving the Phillies an even more potent 1 through 5.
In his customary eight-spot, Maikel Franco had another strong night at the plate Tuesday, going 2 for 5 with a 426-foot home run and a laced single up the middle off Stephen Strasburg, then a 395-foot flyout to the center field wall a few innings later. Good to see him have a quality night at the plate after going 0 for 4 with a few weak at-bats the previous night.
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