After splitting a four-game set with the Rockies, the Washington Nationals will stay out west as they prepare to face-off with the Angels. The Nationals had a strong showing in Colorado, thanks to solid performances from Stone Garrett and Mackenzie Gore. While the team lost the game that Josiah Gray started by a final score of 1-0, that was on the offense and an unfortunate sun monster ball lost that ended up scoring as the only run of the game.
As of now, the Nationals sit at the bottom of the NL East with a 3-7 record heading into this series, but it’s worth noting the strength of the teams they’ve played. Although they have seven losses, the Rays look like the best team in baseball, and the Braves have notched six wins. The upcoming games against the Halos could give Nationals fans more of an idea about the direction the team is headed.
The biggest issue thus far has been the bullpen and the consistency of the offense. But let’s start with the bullpen which has already lost two games. The Nationals have had trouble getting quality innings out of relievers like Kyle Finnegan, Erasmo Ramírez, and Anthony Banda, and they have barely used Rule-5 draft pick Thaddeus Ward. As a result, the Nationals have had difficulty closing out games, which is expected given their below-par relievers so far. The Nats bullpen has a combined ERA of 5.45, 24th in the MLB. Meanwhile, they’ve given up six home runs, tied for third-worst.
The Nationals made a trip to Anaheim to play the Angels in a three-game series last season. The Angels won two-of-three last year and capitalized on fundamental mistakes from a poor Nationals squad. For the second consecutive season, the Angels have started strong, as they are one game above .500, sitting at 5-4. The Angels’ offense is putting up productive numbers, averaging 5.63 runs a game, the sixth-best in the league. Meanwhile, this will be the first time the Nationals will face Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher. Ohtani is expected to start on Tuesday as the starting pitcher, and also expected in the batting order tonight and Wednesday.
Let’s get into the matchup between the Nats and the Angels. As always, Go, Nats!
Tale of the Tape
Scouting the lineup:
|Projected starting lineup||AB||BA||H||HR||RBI||OPS||WAR|
|LF Taylor Ward||38||.289||11||2||6||.846||0.2|
|CF Mike Trout||31||.355||11||3||9||1.233||0.6|
|DH Shohei Ohtani||33||.333||11||3||8||1.103||0.3|
|3B Anthony Rendon||13||.231||3||0||4||.584||-0.1|
|RF Hunter Renfroe||36||.250||9||2||8||.797||0.0|
|1B Jake Lamb||22||.136||3||0||2||.390||-0.3|
|2B Luis Rengifo||29||.138||4||1||4||.547||0.1|
|SS Gio Urshela||33||.364||12||0||2||.934||0.4|
|C Logan O’Hoppe||25||.240||6||3||9||.926||0.2|
While the Nats have more hits on offense, the Angels have scored 16 more runs and have done that in one fewer game. You win games based on outscoring your opponent, and that tells most of the story even before we look at the pitching.
Looking at the lineup, two players catch my eye most obviously in the superstars of Mike Trout and Ohtani. They are arguably the two best players in baseball. Ohtani sets new records every start, as he’s among the most talented players the sport has ever seen. The two-way global icon had a monster statistical season last year, putting up career highs in hits (160) and at-bats (586). Mike Trout has also been a significant contributor to the Angels. Despite battling injuries last season, the thirty-one year old still hit 40 home runs.
Meanwhile, Anthony Rendon has been off to a rough start this season. After grabbing a fan’s jersey and throwing a punch at him that missed the target, MLB suspended him. When the Angels signed the third-basemen before the 2020 season, they were hoping for the All-Star player he once was in Washington. That hasn’t been the case thus far. On the other hand, Gio Urshela has been a surprise stand-out for the Angels. The middle infielder signed with the Angels after a three-season stint in Minnesota.
If the Nationals can find a way to limit Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, they have an excellent chance to keep the games competitive. However, there is no question that wil be easier said than done.
Probable Pitching Matchups
José Suarez gets the nod to start the series opener against the Nationals. Suarez has started one game this season for the Halos, allowing eight hits and six earned runs across 4.1 innings. Since the Angels have already had a day off, their pitching rotation is one starter behind the Nationals. Suarez is listed as the fifth starter on the Angels’ depth chart.
Patrick Corbin will start the first game of this series for the Nationals. After a dominant spring, the ace returned to his true self during his last two starts. Last season, he went 6-19 with a 4.85 FIP, 6.31 ERA, 49 walks against 128 strikeouts in 31 starts, and 152 2/3 innings pitched. The Nationals decided to name him the ace at the beginning of the season, and his performance has gone as many fans thought it would. Hitters are making hard contact against Corbin, as 51% of hits against the left are 95mph or harder. Corbin has allowed 17 hits, second most among all starters, and had a 2.22 whip. Furthermore, Corbin has a -0.3 WAR through nine innings. Time is ticking for the southpaw. Talk Nats writer Quinn Riley has a good explanation below, with Corbin’s percentiles.
Shohei Ohtani will face a Nationals batting order on Tuesday night for the first time in his career. Ohtani has continued his dominant performance on the mound. The 28-year-old started one game this year, pitching six innings while allowing only three hits and one run. The two-way star struck out eight Mariners in his 2023 debut. Ohtani is set to become the highest-paid North American professional athlete in history this offseason. In a recent report, the former MVP is projected to receive a contract worth up to $600 million.
Don’t sweat about Ohtani; Josiah Gray will take the mound for the Nationals. After a poor first start from Gray, he made some strides in his second outing. Gray allowed six runs on 15 hits with ten K’s and three BB’s across 11 innings this season.
Wed 4/12 – MacKenzie Gore (2-0) 5.40 ERA vs. TBD
The Angels have yet to name a starter for Wednesday’s game. This post will be updated when the Angels name the pitcher.
So far, MacKenzie Gore has been the Nationals’ most productive pitcher, winning both of his starts and consistently throwing strikes. Gore had another strong performance in his last outing, giving up five hits and two earned runs against the Rockies. Gore has allowed three runs on eight hits, striking out 12 over 11 1/3 innings through two starts.
Favorite: Angels (-216)
Undergog: Nationals (+100)
Television: All three games between the Nationals and Angels will be able to watch for Nats fans. All matchups will be available to watch on MASN2. In addition, the series’ final game will be nationally televised and can be seen on MLB Network. Bob Carpenter will handle play-by-play duties, with Kevin Frandsen as the color analyst. Dan Kolko will report from the field. MASN’s television territory covers all or parts of six states and the District of Columbia, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania., to Charlotte, N.C., including Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Local Radio: 106.7 is the flagship station of the Washington Nationals. Play-by-play broadcasters Dave Jageler and Charlie Slowes will call the action. All games will be available to listen to on the radio.
Nationals drop the first two of the set to the Angels, but Gore has another strong performance, and the Nationals win one of the three. Nationals will improve to 4-9 heading back to D.C.