Joe Ross and Aaron Nola have birthdays two weeks apart, and there's been very little separating them on their respective mounds this season.
The youngsters have impressive ERAs and records that don't quite do them justice, something both the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies will try to do their parts in correcting Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Ross (4-4, 2.52 ERA), who turned 23 on May 21 and lost his fourth straight start, recovered with Thursday's 2-1 home win over St. Louis. The right-hander gave up a run and six hits in seven innings with the only damage coming on a home run.
Over those last five starts, he's been given seven runs of support in 31 innings, though he made two work against the Cardinals and said he could have gone deeper.
"I still felt good. I still had the good fastball with command," Ross told MLB's official website. "I tried to pitch my way into a double play to get out of that inning. The count got a little longer than I'd like. It was big for me to build that confidence late in the game, try to get out of there and give us a chance to win."
Ross' first career start against the Phillies came on April 15 in Philadelphia, and he was dominant with three hits allowed in 7 2/3 scoreless innings of a 9-1 win.
Nola (4-3, 2.86), who turns 23 on June 4, is also coming off a win. The right-hander gave up four runs – two earned – and six hits in Wednesday's 8-5 victory in Detroit. Even so, he came away critical of even what seemed to be his more impressive innings before giving up three in the fifth.
"I knew after I struck the side out there in the first, I had to bear down more, because I felt like I needed to make better pitches after that inning," Nola said. "After the first couple of innings, I felt like my ball was kind of leaking over the plate and I was kind of yanking my fastball away to righties."
Since giving up seven runs to Washington on April 16, Nola is 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in seven starts while allowing three earned runs once. He followed up that home embarrassment against the Nationals by turning in one of his best starts of the season against them 12 days later in Washington, giving up two hits in seven innings of a 3-0 win but being stuck with a no-decision.
That hasn't been the norm for him in the series though, going 0-1 with a 5.32 ERA in four career starts. All 13 of the runs he's allowed have come in his two home starts.
Bryce Harper has done the most damage by going 6 for 10 with two home runs, but the reigning NL MVP might not be healthy. Harper left in the seventh inning of Monday's 4-3 win after being hit by a pitch on the right knee.
The other key part of the Washington (31-21) lineup kept hitting. Daniel Murphy raised his average to .395 with three hits.
The Phillies (26-25) have lost four straight and are in danger of falling to .500 for the first time since being 10-10.