Nationals expect to have youthful look vs. Phillies

National Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies open a three-game series at the Washington Nationals Monday night looking to make up ground on the first-place Atlanta Braves.

The Nationals, meanwhile, will be providing their fans another glimpse of the future.

Keibert Ruiz, a 23-year-old catcher obtained with three other players from the Dodgers for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the trade deadline, will be promoted from Triple-A Rochester and make his Nationals debut.

In 72 Triple-A games this season, he hit .310 with 21 home runs and a .993 OPS.

“Obviously, he’s young (and) he’s going to get better,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We’re going to get him better. But his at-bats were really good, and I’m looking forward to watching him play up here in the big leagues.”

Ruiz made his major league debut for the Dodgers in 2020, appearing in two games. This season with the Dodgers, he played in six games, going 1-for-7 with a solo home run.

Ruiz draws a tough assignment in his debut as Zack Wheeler (10-9, 2.90 ERA) starts for the Phillies, though the right-hander has struggled of late. Wheeler is 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in his last three starts.

On Aug. 25, he had allowed just two earned runs on 93 pitches over eight innings before giving up a three-run homer in the ninth that turned a tie game into a 7-4 loss.

“We’ve seen him give us nine innings, and a strong nine innings,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I still liked his stuff, and his stuff is as good as anyone who we have. It didn’t work, but I still liked his stuff.”

Wheeler is 1-3 with a 4.11 ERA in five games against the Nationals this season and 7-14 with a 4.53 ERA in 25 career starts versus Washington, 18 as a New York Met.

Ruiz’s battery mate Monday night will be 23-year-old right-hander Josiah Gray (0-1, 3.75), who also came over in the Scherzer trade. Gray has worked at least five innings and allowed as many as three runs only once in five starts in the month of August.

Last time out, he gave up two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings against the Marlins. He struck out seven in a no-decision.

“He did a nice job with us,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Gray. “He kept us down. I couldn’t tell the difference in the breaking ball — it looked like a split almost to me, and he doesn’t really throw a split. I thought he was pretty good.”

The Phillies defeated the Diamondbacks 7-4 on Sunday for their third straight win. They won their first home series since sweeping the Mets Aug. 6-8 and remained 4 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta as September looms.

“We know what we have to do,” said Freddy Galvis, who drove in three runs. “We’re going to win some games and lose some games, but we’ve got to have short memories and turn the page to the next game.”

Bryce Harper had two hits to push his average to .301. The former National is 10-for-21 (.476) with two homers and seven RBIs over his past six games.

Washington comes home after dropping two of three in New York, including a 9-4 loss on Sunday in which they were held to three hits, including home runs by Josh Bell (his 22nd and 23rd of the season) and Juan Soto (his 22nd).

–Field Level Media

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