The grind of this season continues as St. Louis Cardinals get ready to take on the Washington Nationals in their first series after the All Star Break. From what I can tell, the Nationals have yet to name starters for this series, so this is going to be a short preview.
On offense the Nationals rank 22nd in the league per wRC+ at 94. Old friend Lane Thomas looks to be the team leader at the plate. In 383 plate appearances he is slashing .302/.347/.497 for a 126 wRC+. And yeah... that is sort of the only player of note I can really see? As Gabe wrote in his preview from a few weeks ago when these teams first played this season “The Cardinals have finally found a team with a worse record to face: the Washington Nationals. They’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games. They are 29th in baseball in homers and steals while being 24th in runs.”
Again, no starters have been announced, but if I had to guess, it seems like one of them might be MacKenzie Gore. The 24-year-old is pitching in his second season and while his results have been middling as far ERA a 4.42 ERA indicates, he is striking out a lot of batters at 27.8%. Of course, he is walking a lot and giving up too many homers, too, so the young pitcher still has a ways to go, but he is shaping up to be the Nationals’ best starter so far this season. This lefty throws a 4-seamer a majority of the time, but also mixes in a curveball and a slider with his slider being his most valuable pitch now, per Baseball Savant (note: Baseball Savant has changed how they display run value and now are using positive numbers to demonstrate better outcomes — almost tricked me at first!).
Per FIP the Nationals bullpen is the worst in league with a 5.13. Their best reliever has been Hunter Harvey. Harvey has a 3.20 ERA, which is one of the lowest among the relivers and has been striking out 28.2% of batters. He does have a tendency to give up the long ball though — his HR/9 is 1.14.
And that is really all I can say about the Nationals — I told ya this would be a short one. Even with their curse, in their last meeting the Cardinals took two of three games. Maybe this struggling Nationals team is just what they need to get the second half of the season started in a better direction?
Friday, July 14 at 7:15 pm CT: Miles Mikolas vs. TBD
Saturday, July 15 at 6:15 pm CT: Steven Matz vs. TBD
Sunday, July 16 at 1:15 pm CT: Jack Flaherty vs. TBD