29-year-old Jim Henderson, called up by the Brewers earlier in the day, made his major league debut Thursday night, retiring all three Nationals he faced in his inning of work.
Henderson was a 10-year minor league veteran, having been picked by Expos in the 26th round of the 2003 draft. After he failed as a starter in low-A ball in 2005, the Nationals shifted him to the bullpen, where he’s been ever since. His results have largely been mixed in stints in three different farm systems, but he broke through in Triple-A this year, amassing a 1.69 ERA and 15 saves as Nashville’s closer.
While Henderson had a 5.46 ERA in Double-A in 2010 and a 4.28 mark between Double- and Triple-A last year, his mid-90s fastball has kept him employed. He probably doesn’t have enough to go with it to contribute as more than a middle reliever, but it’d be a nice story if he happened to surprise.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.