Nationals vs Red Sox pitching matchups: Is Brayan Bello set for weekend return?

Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox
Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox return home to face off against the 18-18 Washington Nationals in what intends to be a rather pivotal three-game series. The Sox, after all, are coming off a 1-4 road trip and two series losses to the likes of the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves.

Now is the time for them to get back on track at Fenway Park, where they went 4-2 during their last homestand.

"Good" teams have been Boston's Achilles heel. The Sox are 7-15 against teams currently above .500 while they've dominated teams that sit below .500 and hold a record of 12-3.

The Nats' record is an even 18-18. They're the first "middle-of-the-road" team the Red Sox will face this year. Let's delve into the pitching matchups and see if there's a path to a series victory this weekend.

Red Sox vs Nationals pitching matchups: Is Brayan Bello set for weekend return

Game 1: Patrick Corbin vs. Tanner Houck

Patrick Corbin takes a lot of heat around the baseball world for being one of the weaker starting pitchers in the game. The numbers would certainly give credence to that as he owns an 0-3 record, 6.45 ERA, and 4.41 FIP on the year. He's also striking out six and walking 3.6 batters per nine innings.

On the road, Corbin is 0-2 with an 8.85 ERA, allowing 20 earned runs in 20.1 innings of work.

It is worth noting that Corbin did beat Boston last season in Washington. The lefty went six innings, allowed one earned run, and fanned six batters.

Tanner Houck is 3-3 on the year with a 1.99 ERA, 2.08 FIP, 9.1 K/9, and 1.4 BB/9. Houck has been one of the big stories in baseball, and arguably the biggest out of the Red Sox, this year. He's striking out more guys than he has since 2021 and he's currently posting the best BB/9 of his entire career by a long shot.

Despite the fact that Corbin beat them last year and the bats have gone cold in the recent road trip, there is really no excuse for the Red Sox to lose this game.

Game 2: Jake Irvin vs. Cooper Criswell

This second matchup is an interesting one. Jake Irvin's got some game, similar to how Cooper Criswell does. Nobody expected much from either pitcher coming into this season outside of their respective teams, but both are proving they can throw quality innings at the big league level.

Irvin is 2-3 on the year with a 3.72 ERA and 3.24 FIP. He's also posted a 7.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. The right-hander tends to perform better on the road than he does at Nats Park — he's 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings outside of D.C.

The Nats have only won two starts of his this season, but Irvin has kept them in basically every game in which he's appeared. He is generally underrated with good success on the road.

Criswell has pitched to a 2-1 record, 1.79 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 7.0 K/9, and 1.7 BB/9 this season. At Fenway, he's 1-1 with three earned runs allowed in 11.1 innings of work.

Criswell has been sharp, efficient, and economical with his approach thus far and it's paid off to this point. This game could really go either way.

Game 3: MacKenzie Gore vs. TBD

The hurler for the third and final game of the series is still listed as "TBD" for the Red Sox, but it's widely believed that this spot will be given to Brayan Bello, if all goes well with the end of his recovery.

Bello is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 8.8 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9. At home, he's 1-1 with just three earned runs allowed in 10.2 innings of work.

Most encouragingly, Bello has beaten the vampire allegations this season. In his two-plus seasons in the majors, he's 5-8 with a 6.01 ERA in day games. He's turned things around in 2024, to the tune of a 1-1 record with three earned runs allowed in 10.2 innings — the same as his home numbers.

On the flip side, Boston has seen what MacKenzie Gore can do. The lefty threw 6.1 scoreless innings against the Red Sox and struck out seven batters.

In 2024, Gore is 2-3 with a 3.44 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 11.1 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9. On the road, he's gone 1-1 with two earned runs allowed in 10 innings. Despite the success Gore has had this year, he's always had trouble away from Nats Park while Bello has shined brighter at Fenway.

The getaway game might be the toughest matchup of the series for Boston. Game 2 could also give the Sox some trouble since they haven't faced Irvin yet and he thrives on the road.

Based on pitching matchups only, the Red Sox have a good shot to win two of their three games against the Nats. Hopefully, Boston can collect the series win before it faces Gore on Sunday.

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