Nationals-Rockies preview

BY foxsports • August 27, 2016

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have dipped into their minor league system this year for starting pitchers when veteran hurlers have gone on the disabled list.

Earlier this summer, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez -- a pair of promising right-handers -- made their major league debuts.

But another young hurler who was lost in the shuffle is A.J. Cole, who makes his second start in a week on Saturday at home against the Colorado Rockies.

"They can score in a hurry," Washington manager Dusty Baker said of the Rockies. "They can score a bunch in a hurry."

Cole, a right-hander, pitched in three games last year for the Nationals and made his first big league start in April 2015 at Atlanta. It did not go well, and Cole did not get another shot at starting for Washington until Monday night in Baltimore.

That is when he made the start after veteran right-hander Stephen Strasburg went on the disabled list.

Cole responded with an admirable effort as he went seven innings against the power-hitting Orioles, while giving up four runs and two homers.

That helped save the Nationals bullpen, which got another break Thursday when Max Scherzer went eight innings in a 4-0 victory over Baltimore.

Cole, from Florida, was drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round out of high school in 2010 and turned down a scholarship to the University of Miami to play pro ball.

He was 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA in three games last year with the Nationals, and one start. He was 5-6, 3.15 in 21 games (19 starts) last season for Triple-A Syracuse. Cole was with Syracuse this year before he was called up Monday to start for Washington.

Cole was 8-8, 4.26 in 22 starts for the Chiefs this year.

The Nationals began the series against the Rockies on Friday with a win and it began a stretch of a soft schedule down the stretch.

Washington faces teams from the weak National League East, along with home series against the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cole will be opposed Saturday afternoon by Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 5.07 ERA), who is 5-2 with a 3.92 ERA in 11 starts versus Washington.

The Nationals continue to be energized by center fielder Trea Turner, who had two hits Friday and has 12 in the last four games.

"The kid's really fast," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Guys like that they cause some problems when they get on base. Even on the contact play, the groundball to first. Most guys don't score on that."

Baker agreed.

"That's that old expression, speed kills," Baker said. "When you can run, you make people rush. And if people rush in this game most of the time they're not themselves and most of the time they're going to make mistakes.

"And that's what Trea does, any ball that he hits, you got to field it cleanly and throw it correctly. So there's no substitute for speed, you know how I like speed. I like speed even when i was young and got a lot of tickets. I love speed."

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