In his fifth game of the season, Nationals' Trevor Rosenthal records his first out

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) delivers a pitch during an exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees, Monday, March 25, 2019, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Trevor Rosenthal's ERA is back in the realm of tangible numbers. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Down 15-0 in the top of the ninth inning, the Philadelphia Phillies turned to a position player to pitch. For the bottom, the Washington Nationals went with something even shakier.

Washington reliever Trevor Rosenthal made his fifth appearance of the season looking for something that had proven so painfully elusive: his first out. Despite appearing in five games and facing nine batters so far in 2019, Rosenthal still had not registered an out. His ERA entering Wednesday: infinity.

If Rosenthal was going to get a chance to right the ship in a no-stress situation, this was it. The game was so lopsided, Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr pitched his team’s final inning.

Finally, Rosenthal did it. He got all three outs for a full inning of work to close out a Nationals win. He walked three batters and allowed a run, but given how he had been pitching earlier, it might as well have been an immaculate inning.

Trevor Rosenthal gets an out, then two more

The inning started on a discouraging note for Rosenthal, an ominous five-pitch walk to Rhys Hoskins. That made it 10 batters Rosenthal had faced without an out to start the season.

Then, Rosenthal’s heat finally did what it was supposed to. Again Phillies backup catcher Andrew Knapp, Rosenthal jumped ahead 0-2, then eventually put the batter with the 100.3 mph gas the Nationals had in mind when they signed him to be their set-up man so long ago.

Rosenthal got back to his old ways by walking the next two batters. A grounder from Maikel Franco gave Rosenthal his second out, but broke the Nationals’ shut out by driving in Hoskins. That was enough to draw a sarcastic cheer from the few Phillies fans still remaining at Citizens Bank Park

Altherr finished the game by flying out to right, and just like that Rosenthal had posted a full inning of work.

Where Trevor Rosenthal’s stats now stand

His ERA is thankfully no longer infinite, but Rosenthal’s stats are still bad enough to draw laughter and pity from opposing fans and will likely stay that way for some time.

Even if he allows no earned runs going forward, Rosenthal will still need to pitch 6.1 innings before his ERA comes back to single digits. It currently stands at a gargantuan 72, and opponents still have an .800 on-base percentage against the reliever.

Of the 15 batters Rosenthal has faced this year, seven have walked, four have posted hits, one was hit by a pitch and three have been put out. Even that last out from Altherr was gashed, a 336-foot fly ball that Statcast gave a 54 percent chance of landing for a hit.

Clearly, Rosenthal, who returned this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has a long way to go before a team trusts him as a set-up man again. Wednesday was a much-delayed first step.

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