WASHINGTON — The 2022 MLB season is nearly three weeks old, and no starting pitcher has been better than Pablo Lopez.

No Marlin has ever got off to a better start than he either.

With a 0.39 ERA, Lopez has the lowest ERA in four starts in franchise history, edging out Dontrelle Willis, who opened the 2004 MLB season with a 0.71 ERA in her four first outings.

On Wednesday, Lopez shot six shutout innings to lead the Miami Marlins to a 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals. He allowed just three hits and a walk, and struck out six while shuffling his entire arsenal. He only threw 84 pitches.

Three of Lopez’s strikeouts have come with the change — which forces hitters to swing and miss nearly 50% of the time this season. Two of his strikeouts came with his four-seam fastball, including one against star outfielder Juan Soto with two outs and a front-row runner late in the third inning. His final strikeout came with the cutter, forcing Nationals third baseman Maikel Franco to swing and miss late in the fifth.

The starting pitcher threw those three pitches at least 12 times and his accuracy made him particularly effective, getting 16 strikes called, including two for strikeouts.

Lopez has allowed two base runners only once in a single inning, allowed only one runner to reach second base and laid down the last seven batters he faced after the Washington outfielder Yadiel Hernandez gave him his biggest threat with a two-out brace late in the fourth.

The 26-year-old Venezuelan kept the sparse Nationals Park crowd of 13,356 almost entirely silent and helped Miami (9-8) win a game while scoring less than three points for the first time since April 9 – the Marlins’ first win of the season.

Miami’s victory gives the Marlins a winning record for the first time this year and they will look to complete a three-game sweep in Washington on Thursday when they face the last-place Nationals (6-14) again at 1:05 p.m.

© 2022 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Copyright 2022 Tribune Content Agency.

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