Rosenthal made his Nationals debut against the Mets on Saturday and allowed consecutive singles before issuing a walk to load the bases. Manager Dave Martinez pulled Rosenthal after he allowed a two-run single to J.D. Davis, who later came around to score in New York’s 11-8 win.
Martinez called Rosenthal’s number again in the eighth inning Sunday with runners on first and third and one out. After Mets shortstop Amed Rosario slapped Rosenthal’s first pitch into center field to score Robinson Cano, Martinez emerged from the dugout and summoned closer Sean Doolittle from the bullpen.
“I’m going to get the ball authenticated when I get my first out,” Rosenthal said with a grin after the Nationals came back to win the game on Trea Turner’s walk-off home run.
Rosenthal’s third appearance came Wednesday against the Phillies. He entered the game with one out, a runner on first base and the Nationals protecting a 6-4 lead in the eighth inning and promptly walked the first two batters he faced before Martinez decided he had seen enough. Both batters Rosenthal walked scored.
To recap, that’s four walks, three hits and seven earned runs allowed in three appearances this season, without recording an out. (For any mathematicians whose blood-pressure is rising faster than the Nationals’ bullpen ERA, Rosenthal’s ERA — [7 Earned Runs * 9] / [0.0 Innings Pitched] — might more accurately be described as “undefined” as a result of dividing by zero, but it’s conventional to refer to infinite ERAs when they occur in baseball. Besides, it just sounds cooler.)
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Rosenthal is the first pitcher in major league history to allow at least one run without recording an out in four consecutive appearances. The streak dates from Aug. 16, 2017, when Rosenthal allowed a home run and a walk in his final appearance before being diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. What’s more, all nine batters Rosenthal faced in that span, including the seven this season, went on to score.
Trevor Rosenthal just can't buy an out.@EliasSports tells us that Rosenthal is the first P in MLB history to allow at least one run without recording any outs in four straight appearances.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 3, 2019
He's faced 9 batters in that span. All 9 have scored. pic.twitter.com/m1j973yQkN
“I’ve looked at everything and talked to people,” Rosenthal told the Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli on Wednesday. “Mechanically, my stuff is fine. It’s just, I think building some confidence and continuing to get game reps. That’s going to continue to help me get in the groove. Once I get there, I’ll be in a good spot.”
According to FanGraphs, taking into account the number of outs and runners on base in his three appearances this season, Rosenthal has allowed five more runs than expected.
Trevor Rosenthal: 7 batters faced, 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 earned runs— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) April 3, 2019
Rosenthal joined Dodgers starter Rich Hill as the only pitchers who failed to record an out in their first three appearances of a season since 1920, according to ESPN Stats and Information. In 2014, while serving as a reliever for the Angels, Hill walked two batters and allowed a hit before being removed in the first game of a doubleheader. Hill walked the only batter he faced in the second game and was released 10 days later. Hill signed with the Yankees and was pulled after hitting the first batter he faced in his New York debut. He lowered his infinity ERA to a respectable 3.38 by the end of the season.
Rosenthal would need to pitch 21 consecutive scoreless innings to lower his ERA from infinity to 3.00. A more modest goal is two consecutive outs and a 94.50 ERA, which still would be unsightly but no longer the worst single-season ERA in Nationals history. That title belongs to Jeremy Guthrie, who was designated for assignment with a 135.00 ERA in 2017 after allowing 10 runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Phillies. It was Guthrie’s only appearance in a Nationals uniform and the final start of the 13-year veteran’s career.
The Nationals’ Trevor Rosenthal has faced seven batters over three appearances so far this season. This is how it has gone:— Matt Chrietzberg (@BravesMattC) April 3, 2019
0.0 IP, 4 H, 7 R/ER, 3 BB, 0 K
At this point, he’d have to pitch 21 consecutive scoreless innings just to get his ERA down to 3.00.
Trevor Rosenthal has made 4 consecutive appearances in which he did not get an out and allowed at least 1 run (active streak extended today).— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 3, 2019
That's the longest streak of outings allowing at least a run without recording an out since at least 1908.
Neil Greenberg contributed to this report.
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