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New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals: Carlos Rodón vs. Josiah Gray

What eight-game losing streak? The prospects are here!

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MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are in the midst of an eight-game slide after an embarrassing sweep at home against the rival Red Sox, but the good news is that the front office has seemingly finally conceded there won’t be playoff baseball in the Bronx this year. How is that good news? Well, for a directionless team, it’s refreshing to see some definitive movement one way or another.

Today, that movement takes the form of Everson Pereira’s long-awaited MLB debut, as he gets the call at the expense of since-DFA’d veteran Greg Allen, who held little long-term value. The 22-year-old Pereira, whom the Yankees signed out of Venezuela during the 2017-18 international amateur signing period for $1.5 million, has honed his craft across five MiLB seasons and is now in The Show.

Despite their obvious struggles to find a permanent left fielder this year, the Yanks routinely passed Pereira over, and in return, he demonstrated that he had little left to prove in the minors. Across Double- and Triple-A this season, he’s mashed 18 homers and 17 doubles in 343 plate appearances, good for a .300/.378/.548 slash and a 138 wRC+. Those numbers were enough to move him up to no. 51 overall in Keith Law’s midseason prospect rankings, and tonight, they’ve earned him a spot in the starting lineup. He’ll hit seventh and play left.

The Bombers also recalled Oswald Peraza, who’s past due for an extended run of everyday playing time in the majors. The glove-first infielder has slashed .263/.341/.461 across 729 Triple-A plate appearances since the start of last year, more than adequate given his sterling defense at premium positions. He’ll take Billy McKinney’s roster spot, as the left fielder heads to the IL with back spasms.

Peraza’s batting eighth and manning the hot corner tonight, pushing Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the bench and DJ LeMahieu over to first. The two veterans have unclear roles on this team going forward; it’s up to them to prove they belong while we still have baseball left this year. Meanwhile, another veteran in Carlos Rodón will look to restart his journey back into fans’ good graces as his activation from the IL represents a third roster move in advance of tonight’s contest.

Rodón, taking Greg Weissert’s place on the pitching staff, returns after a hamstring issue kept him out just over two weeks. To say his Yankees tenure has gotten off to an inauspicious start would be an understatement: between injuries, he’s pitched to 7.33/7.38 ERA/FIP in just 27 innings across six starts. Perhaps this latest layoff will be the one he needs to reset, and a matchup with the lowly Nationals should provide a soft landing.

The Nats’ offense, without arguably its best hitter in Jeimer Candelario after he was dealt at the deadline, has slumped to an 18th-place, 98 wRC+ mark in the second half. But that’s still better than the Yankees’ 92 wRC+ during that span, and the Nats have easily outplayed them to the tune of a 21-14 record in the second half.

That’s thanks in part to some of their own interesting youngsters — namely CJ Abrams, who’ll be leading off and manning short. He’s managed a 102 wRC+ in the second half to go along with stellar defense as the infield captain. Aside from Abrams, the Nats will stack their lineup with righties — including former top prospect Carter Kieboom, making his 2023 debut — to counter the southpaw Rodón. But if the veteran is in vintage form, it shouldn’t matter; in his career, he’s held righties to a below-average .305 wOBA.

Meanwhile, Josiah Gray, the Nats’ lone All-Star representative, will take the hill. While a 3.41 first-half ERA earned him the Midsummer Classic nod, he’s pitched to a 5.83 ERA and 4.94 FIP since. The FIP is actually only 17 points worse than his first-half mark, so it’s possible his solid early-season numbers were luck-driven and a bounceback isn’t in store. That would be welcome news for a struggling Yankees lineup that, even outside of a pair of rookies, could use a confidence boost.

How to watch

Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

TV broadcast: YES, MASN

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280

Online stream: (out of tri-state area)

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