Rockies left-hander Tyler Matzek hasn't been able to find that winning magic since his Major League debut, in which he struck out seven and gave up two runs in seven innings. But in his last start, he was hitting his spots with his fastball and gave up one run in six frames, taking a no-decision.
"I just went with more fastball command," said Matzek of his outing against the Brewers last Friday. "I just focused on getting the fastball down. That was the most important thing. Once I got that, I knew the other stuff would come into play, and it was there."
Matzek has struggled with efficiency since his June 11 debut. Before rediscovering his command in his last outing, Matzek had allowed 17 hits and six walks over 10 1/3 innings spanning two starts. Matzek has also only struck out five in his three starts since his debut.
The Nationals' Doug Fister, who will oppose Matzek as the Nationals go for the series sweep on Wednesday, gave up three runs in six innings against the Cubs last week.
"Felt like I was executing, but at the same time, the pitches need to be a little bit better," said Fister. "I need to make sure they're in or out a little bit more, down more. ... A lot of 'shoulda-woulda-couldas,' it's just a matter of going out there and getting it done."
Fister surrendered a total of nine runs over 34 innings in June, but seven of those runs were in two of his last three starts. Fister has provided distance for the Nationals since his return from elbow inflammation and a strained lat muscle, though, having gone at least six innings in eight of his 10 starts.
Rockies: Depth shuffling with Minor League veterans
The Rockies have experimented with five different players at third base since Nolan Arenado broke his left middle finger on May 23.
Despite their lack of success at finding consistent production, the Rox haven't provided Paul Janish with a chance to make his mark. And on Tuesday, Janish, 31, elected to become a free agent, opting out of his Minor League contract with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
After signing a Minor League contract but not making the roster out of Spring Training, Janish hit .234/.284/.301 in 67 games with the Sky Sox. The six-year veteran appeared in the Majors with the Braves last season, hitting .171 (7-for-41) in 52 games.
Outfielder Jason Pridie was faced with the same choice, but decided not to exercise his opt-out clause Tuesday. Instead, Pridie pushed back that option to Aug. 15, and he returned to the Colorado Springs lineup Tuesday after missing a few weeks with a right ankle sprain.
Pridie has only played in 13 Major League games since 2012. In 61 games with the Sky Sox, Pridie has hit .288 with eight home runs and 37 runs scored.
Nationals: Williams supports Harper following lineup comments
Before Bryce Harper played in his first game since April 25 Monday, he said that Anthony Rendon should be at third base, keeping Ryan Zimmerman at left field, where he's expressed a greater comfort, and allowing Danny Espinosa to stay in the lineup at second. In this scenario, Harper would presumably be in center field.
Before Tuesday's game, manager Matt Williams made it clear that he supported his young outfielder.
"I've got to let you guys know something: I've got Bryce's back in every way," Williams said. "That will not change. I want him play every day, and I want him to play the way Bryce knows how to play. And he's going to hit in different spots in the lineup, and he's okay with that. And he's going to play in different spots in the outfield, and he's okay with that, too. ... He and I are good. There's no rift."
• Rockies starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin had an MRI on his right shoulder on Monday, the day Colorado placed him on the DL with shoulder inflammation. Results are expected Wednesday.
• Since moving back to third base, Zimmerman has gone 5-for-7 with two RBIs and two doubles and made a handful of dazzling defensive plays in two games.