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May
01

Sunday’s Series Finale Shows Positive Developments For Nationals

To say it’s been a bumpy stretch for the Washington Nationals might be a bit of an understatement.

Entering their Sunday matinee game against the San Francisco Giants, the Nats had lost nine of their previous 10 contests. Even in terms of individual player performances, not much had gone right for them.

But that all changed Sunday. The Nationals earned an 11-5 win, some of the bats in the middle of the order – namely Juan Soto – had productive days, and a young starting pitcher and two speedsters at the bottom of the lineup stole the show.

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Apr
25

Update on Brady House, Fred Nats, and Other Nationals Affiliates

This season has been a mixed bag for Washington’s minor league affiliates, and it’ll likely stay that way for the rest of the season. As discussed throughout local media, the farm system has improved in the last 12 months, but its depth from top to bottom is still somewhat subpar.

With that said, there are some major sources of excitement throughout the organization, not the least of which resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The Prized Possession At The Plate

I really try my best to not speak hyperbolically as a baseball viewer. When things are going great, there’s always a chance that they can get worse, and vice versa. And even in the moment, there’s typically more nuance than data or the eye test reveal.

Here’s the indisputable, cold-hard fact, though. Brady House has advanced, next-level baseball talent, especially in the batter’s box.

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Apr
24

The Starting Pitching Predicament The Nationals Are Facing...

For nearly the first two weeks of the season, everything stayed roughly on-script in Washington’s starting rotation.

Sure, Anibal Sanchez was sent to the Injured List before making his season debut, but inserting Josh Rogers into his place was an easy fix.

But that all came crashing down this week as things went haywire, shedding some light on the intentions of Dave Martinez and the front office with their young starting pitchers.

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Apr
17

Is It Time For The Nationals To Promote Luis Garcia?

Sending infielder Luis Garcia back down to Triple-A was one of the toughest decisions Dave Martinez had to make this spring.

His reasoning was simple: Garcia needed to improve his overall consistency in the field, and he felt that there was enough middle infield talent on the big league roster to allow Garcia’s development to come in Rochester instead of Washington.

Garcia’s a month shy of 22 years old, so it’s not as if keeping him in Triple-A is holding him back. But he certainly doesn’t have anything left to prove offensively, and he’s also trending favorably as a defender.

He’s Succeeding in Triple-A

Sure, Garcia hasn’t hit spectacularly in the major leagues yet, but in 49 games in Rochester across the last two seasons, he’s hitting .323 with a .986 OPS – which, if the minors tracked such metrics, would give him approximately a 180 OPS+, 80 percent better than league average.

This season, Garcia is batting .377 and leading the league-wide Triple-A level with 20 base hits.

Garcia hasn’t been bad defensively, either. He’s committed four errors in 12 games (10 at shortstop and two at second base), but they all came in his first five games of the season. Since then, he’s been much more steady.

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Apr
13

Sorry for Doubting You, Maikel Franco...

The Washington Nationals have now won three of their last four games, including two of three in Atlanta against the Braves – and the biggest reason is a torrential stretch at the plate from third baseman Maikel Franco.

Although he’s a former top 20 prospect in baseball (according to Baseball America), Franco has seen relatively limited success in the major leagues. Case in point: He stumbled to a wins above replacement (WAR) of -1.6 – yes, that’s a negative WAR – in 104 games in Baltimore last season.

Washington signed Franco to a minor league contract this offseason, with the intent to make him earn his way onto the Nationals roster. That all changed when Carter Kieboom suffered a flexor mass and UCL strain, but it didn’t suddenly make Franco a player – he was simply viewed as the only other option.

The Turnaround

Franco started the season 0-for-13 with four strikeouts and a double play, leading up to his final at bat against the Mets on Sunday.

Since that point, the 29-year-old has nine hits in his last 14 at bats, including a home run and seven RBIs, and his batting average has risen from goose eggs to .346.

It’s not as if his overall tendencies at the plate have changed. He’s still been extremely aggressive and pull-happy, but he’s also made hard contact at an elite rate, as shown below.

Franco and Dave Martinez have emphasized the need for Maikel to chase fewer pitches, particularly ones that are low and outside. He’s improved in that area to a degree, but he also simply isn’t swinging and missing (as illustrated by his “whiff rate” being significantly above average).

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Apr
10

Nelly, Lucius, Bullpen Save Nationals From An Ugly Opening Series

This wasn’t the way the Nationals wanted their season to start.

They hosted the Mets for four games and lost three of them. The two biggest themes? Starting pitchers not lasting long, and the bottom of the order offering no production.

The unlikely savior from what would’ve otherwise been a worst-case scenario start to the season was Lucius Fox, who was making his big league debut, aided by a three-RBI game from Nelson Cruz.

Pitching

Amazingly, rookie Joan Adon and veteran Erick Fedde were the only starting pitchers to record a single out in the fifth inning – and neither of them lasted beyond the fifth.

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Apr
05

There Will Be Good. There Will Be Bad. There Will Be Ugly...

Spring Training has come to an end, which means it’s officially time for the first “rebuilding” season the Washington Nationals have experienced in more than a decade.

Joan Adon

Some recognizable franchise fixtures are still on the team, and others have rejoined it, but even more are new and perhaps inexperienced at the game’s highest level. The combination of young blood and veterans on the back nine of their careers should serve as a sign of where expectations of fans and the organization should be, as the 2022 campaign will be a far cry from Washington’s glory years of consistently being championship contenders.

Still, there should be some hope of better days to come. From a short-term perspective - although the spring wasn’t very kind to the Nationals - the offense in particular finished on a high note, scoring at least seven runs in four of their final five games.

More importantly, there’s an abundance of talent on the cusp of the major leagues – and in some cases, just recently reaching the majors – for the first time in quite awhile.

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Mar
31

Fedde Injured, Robles Likely In CF, Tres Barrera Makes His Move...

As the regular season is drawing near, the Washington Nationals find themselves struggling on the field.

They narrowly avoided a sweep in their most recent set of four games and were outscored 43-17. Perhaps it’s not that important, but it could be a sign of what’s to come this season.

Still, we’re all learning what the roster will look like and gaining a feel for how prepared players are for the rapidly approaching regular season. Among the most recently discussed names in recent days are Erick Fedde, Victor Robles and Tres Barrera.

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Mar
26

Garcia Likely To AAA, Strange-Gordon, Cavalli May Stick Around

With less than two weeks remaining until the MLB regular season begins, it’s becoming clearer what and who we can expect to see on Opening Day. By the looks of it, the roster won’t look like we expected it would – and Dee Strange-Gordon and Cade Cavalli could be among the unplanned inclusions.

An Infield Without Luis Garcia

One unexpected change is that middle infielder Luis Garcia will likely start the season in Triple-A Rochester. As we recently discussed, manager Dave Martinez had expressed concern with Garcia’s consistency in the field. Defense was supposed to be his calling card, but there have been routine plays – in games, and presumably also in practice – that Garcia hasn’t made at the major league level.

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Mar
20

Franco, Cavalli, Fox Are Among Early Spring Training Winners

Admittedly, three games into Spring Training isn’t enough time from which to draw significant conclusions; players haven’t gotten more than a handful of innings or plate appearances, and there’s often a disparity in level of competition that they face.

With that said, there are players that have made bigger impressions than others – and perhaps enough to merit more attention than we thought as recently as a few days ago.

Infield Emergences

Thus far, Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia haven’t performed up to expectations – although for very different reasons. Kieboom suffered a flexor mass strain in his right forearm and is expected to be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks, while Garcia has effectively been benched over an inability to make routine plays defensively.

Their absences from the starting lineup have benefitted two players. Alcides Escobar has started at shortstop and batted second in both of the games he’s played so far this spring – which wasn’t expected, but is directly in line with his usage last season. Meanwhile, Maikel Franco has started two games and drawn the lion’s share of practice reps at third base.

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Mar
17

Washington Nationals Add To Roster Ahead Of Spring Training

Brace yourselves, Nationals fans! Spring Training begins Friday, and Washington’s roster is continuing to evolve.

No one expected the roster to remain as it was when the league first reached a labor agreement last week. In spite of that, the level of activity the Nationals have had seems surprisingly refreshing.

Over the past week, the Nationals have signed veteran pitchers Anibal Sanchez, Aaron Sanchez and Erasmo Ramirez, catcher Chris Herrmann and outfielder Gerardo Parra to minor league contracts and pitcher Sean Doolittle, infielder Ehire Adrianza and designated hitter Nelson Cruz to big league deals.

Certainly, they won’t all crack the Opening Day roster, but a few of them will, and one of them could have a substantial impact.

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