DJ Herz Makes MLB Debut With Nats in 6-3 Loss

Trevor Williams placed on 15-Day IL with right flexor muscle strain

DJ Herz made his MLB debut June 4, 2024. (Photo: John Canery/Coalmine Photography)

WASHINGTON, DC-Looking to turn the page from a heartbreaking loss the night before, the Nats introduced a new arm in the rotation. It’s safe to say that the date June 4, 2024 will always be significant to DJ Herz. The 23-year-old southpaw made his MLB debut last night against the Mets. Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2019, the Nats acquired Herz in the trade that sent Jemier Candelario to the Windy City a season ago. The rookie was called up for a spot start, taking the place of Trevor Williams, who was sent to the 15-Day IL with a right flexor muscle strain. Before the game, Davey Martinez said he will be out for two weeks.

Herz, wearing 74, took the mound at 6:45. Standing at home plate was the formidable Francisco Lindoor, who hit a double. Lindor, however, would be the only runner to reach in the inning. Thanks to a fastball that sits 93 to 94 with plenty of vertical movement, Herz was able to wiggle out of a jam with help from his defense.

The Fayettville, NC native didn’t have to wait long to follow up his 18-pitch first inning. He looked even more comfortable in the second with a three-up, three-down inning, pitching so the Nats defense could work behind him, catching a flyout, a foul ball to first, and a grounder to third.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the third. Keibert Ruiz paid a visit to the young lefty to steady him. The pitcher, a three-sport star in high school, responded to adversity by striking out DJ Martinez with a 95 mph fastball at the knees.

The Nats offense, for its part, was quiet until the bottom of the third. Jacob Young (returning from injury) walked, and CJ Abrams (returning from injury) followed up with a single to center. With two on and two out, Lane Thomas walked to the plate, back after a rehab assignment and hoping to add to his RBI total. But he hit a groundball to Lindor at shortstop. The offensive breakthrough would have to wait. In baseball it defies logic that you can score at will one night, and then the next, have trouble finding home. But sometimes that’s the way things happen.

Herz walked Starling Marte to begin the fourth – a test on holding runners. Marte took second on a wild pitch, but was unable to advance on another. Ruiz looked at his battery mate after catching the first out on a pop up, nodding his head, seeming to express confidence. Appearing a bit rattled though, Herz surrendered his first home run – a two-run shot by Harrison Bader.

Herz and Keibert Ruiz head to the dugout between innings. (Photo: John Canery/Coalmine Photography)

After 75 pitches, Davey Martinez made the call to the Nats bullpen. The team’s newest addition was greeted by teammates and walked to the dugout hearing cheers. With two runners on base, Derek Law entered the game. Those runs scored, and the Mets plated a third on a Mark Vientos sac fly.

“I thought he did really well. I wanted to keep him around 80 pitches the first time out there. But overall, I thought he threw the ball really well,” the manager said about his starter. “His fastball was good, his changeup was good. I can’t wait to see it again.”

Looking to solve Mets lefty David Peterson, the Nats’ bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Young singled to right, scoring Jesse Winker from second. By the end of the sixth, he had thrown only 64 pitches. Peterson continued into the seventh, in part because of his impressive  start and also because the Mets did not have a rested bullpen. The Nats took advantage of seeing the same pitcher. They notched four more hits and scored another run by the time Peterson was pulled. When Daniel Nuñez entered, the Nats had two on with two out. His first batter: Thomas, who could not come up with an answer for the pitcher’s fastball. He struck out swinging.

Pete Alonso hit a 446-foot home run late to seal the game for the Mets. (Photo: John Canery/Coalmine Photography)

Boos rained down when Pete Alonso crushed a ball 446 feet to left off Kyle Finnegan in the top of the ninth, moving the deficit to four. The Nats tried to make a comeback after Winkler walked against reliever Reed Garrett. Garrett struck out Ruiz and Joey Gallo, Still, the Nats refused to go down. Winker moved to second on defensive indifference, scoring when Young singled to right, making it a 6-3 game. The tying run came to the plate in the form of Thomas, following an Abrams walk. With a full count, he hit a flyout to Marte, making the home team wait another day for a possible win against their troubled rivals, who have made the news lately for things other than wins.

View the box score HERE.

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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