Close to losing yet another elimination game at home, Juan Soto saved the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning of the National League Wild Card Game with base hit to right field that scored three runs and served as the difference against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Although Soto benefitted from Trent Grisham’s error, the single was another highlight in what’s been an impressive start to his career. Along with Anthony Rendon, Soto is one of the more dangerous batters in the Nationals’ lineup.
They both were neutralized by the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, combining to go 1-for-7 with a walk and four strikeouts. Soto had the lone hit — a leadoff single off Walker Buehler in the second inning.
Buehler made NL history by getting through six shutout innings with just the one hit allowed. Despite his stellar performance, Soto largely came away unimpressed by the right-hander, according to Arash Markazi of the L.A. Times:
“For me, it’s the same Buehler I’ve been seeing this season. It’s nothing special. He’s really good but he don’t have anything different for me.”
Including the postseason, Soto is a career 1-for-7 with one walk against Buehler. Though he had a quiet performance in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Dodgers surely remain well aware of the potential Soto has to make an impact despite his overall struggles against them this season.
“I don’t necessarily think he’s a better hitter,” manager Dave Roberts said of Soto’s recent surge in 2019. “I think that we pitched him well, but far as looking over baseball, staying in the strike zone, he’s top few in the game and it’s amazing his age, given his age, the ability to look over the baseball, to slug to all fields, hit lefties, righties, cover the ball at the top of the zone.
“Yeah, you got to be very smart because if you make a mistake he can really hurt you. And you’ve obviously got Rendon behind him, so, yeah, that’s a tough three, four to navigate, it really is. But they’re one through four, five are as good as anybody in all of baseball. But, again, for a young player to have the plate discipline that he has, it’s very rare.”