Series preview: Nationals vs. Guardians

Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats

The Washington Nationals will host the Cleveland Guardians for a three-game set this weekend, the first meeting between the two since 2019 … when the Nats clinched the Wild Card against the team known as the Cleveland Indians.

It was a rough three-game stretch for the Nationals in Anaheim; the Angels won two-out-of-three, winning the series’ last two games. Over the series, the Nationals were inconsistent at the plate, which led to low-scoring contests. The Nationals only scored four combined runs during the last two games. 

Currently, the Nationals sit at the bottom of the NL East with a 4-9 record heading into this homestand, however, with a nice winning streak could jump right into third place and leapfrog the Phillies and Marlins. The Guardians are second in the AL Central with a 7-6 record but have a 5-2 record on the road. Both teams have a negative run differential, with both squads struggling to hit home runs.

As for Cleveland, they’re coming off a 2-4 homestand, losing three one-run games. Myles Straw, Mike Zunino, and Andres Gimenez are the top performers for the Guardians so far, all hitting .308, respectively.

Let’s get into the matchup between the Nats and the Guardians. As always, Go, Nats!

Tale of the Tape

Divisional Standings5th2nd
All-Time Matchup Record11-88-11
Team Average.253 (12).235 (23)
Runs48 (25)58 (15)
Hits110 (10)106 (12)
Home Runs5 (30)6 (29)
K%17.8% (1)19.2 (4)
OBP.324 (16).327 (13)
ERA4.94 (22)4.14 (12)
WHIP1.42 (20)1.18 (5)
K’s90 (27)112 (9)
Run Differential-18 (27)-4 (20)
Errors8 (5)7 (T9)

Quick Hits

The Nationals are averaging 3.7 runs a game, 26th in the league.

Washington ranks dead last in the MLB with five homers as a team.

Trevor Williams will look to extend a three-game streak of going five or more innings.

The Nationals’ .336 slugging percentage is the 3rd lowest percentage in baseball.

The Nationals are having trouble striking opposing hitters out, as Nats pitchers are only averaging 6.7 Ks per game, 29th in the league.

Victor Robles leads the Nationals in many statistical categories, including batting average, posting a .359 mark through the first two weeks.

Alex Call leads the Nationals with seven RBIs.

Scouting the lineup

Projected starting lineupABBAHHRRBIOPSWAR
LF Steven Kwan53.2831508.733-0.1
SS Amed Rosario54.2041114.532-0.2
3B Jose Ramirez51.2941506.8440.5
DH Josh Naylor43.209929.629-0.4
2B Andres Gimenez52.3081615.8300.7
1B Josh Bell46.109504.380-0.7
LF Will Brennan24.250605.6550.2
C Mike Zunino28.3088141.053-0.1
RF Myles Straw39.3081204.8080.5

The Guardians haven’t been productive at the plate this season, and the stats confirm it. The top of the lineup is struggling to get on base, and former Nationals first-basemen Josh Bell doesn’t have a home run yet. On the other hand, Steven Kwan, the left fielder, is a strong lead-off hitter, often working counts and waiting to get a good pitch. Meanwhile, Myles Straw joined the Guardians in 2021, but it’s safe to say he’s a better fielder than a hitter. The former gold glover winner is a highly-ranked outfielder; however, he lacks power.

The Guardians have Mike Zunino behind the plate, joining the team after last season’s All-Star break. He played 36 games during his 2022 campaign, tallying five home runs while hitting 148/.195/.304. Zunino is a veteran catcher and is one of the team’s strongest leaders. Some say the Guardians’ infield is the most vital aspect of their team, with veteran Josh Bell and Jose Ramirez leading the way. Second basemen Andrés Giménez has proven he can be an above-average middle infielder. Amed Rosario starts at shortstop but had trouble last year with errors. He led the team with 14, but his bat gives him enough to stay in the lineup. Finally, the corner infielder Jose Ramirez signed a seven-year $141 million extension last season.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Fri 4/14 – Cal Quantrill (0-1) 6.52 ERA vs. Trevor Williams; (1-1) 4.35 ERA

Game time – 7:05

Cal Quantrill struggled in his last start; he pitched 5.0 innings allowing seven hits, three earned runs, one walk, and three strikeouts. Quantrill had quite the streak going as he pitched 206.0 innings at home without recording a loss. However, that streak came to an end on Saturday. Quantrill hopes to rebound against the Nationals and will start the series’ first game on Friday night.

Trevor Williams has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals this season. He hasn’t been great, but Williams has been able to get the job done. Williams constantly finds the strike zone and works quickly to get batters out. The veteran used to pitch for the Nationals’ rival, the Mets, until he signed a one-year deal with the Nationals last offseason. Williams’s previous start came against the Rockies, where he pitched Pitched 5.1 innings, allowing five hits two runs, and striking out four.

Sat 4/15 – Zach Plesac (0-0) 9.00 ERA vs. Chad Kuhl (0-0) 8.10 ERA

Game time – 4:05

Zach Plesac has never faced the Nationals before. The right-hander finished his 2022 season with a 4.31 ERA in 24 starts. He only won three games last year while giving up 136 hits, 74 runs, and 38 walks. Plesac already has a high ERA this season, and the Nationals should be able to get some hits and maybe a homer or two off Plesac.

Chad Kuhl has been the only Nationals pitcher who hasn’t improved since the start. Kuhl is having trouble pitching 5+ innings. His last start only lasted three innings. Kuhl gave up five runs on six hits and four walks over five innings against the Rockies. Let’s see if right-hander can have a productive start against a mediocre Guardians lineup.

Sun 4/16 – Shane Bieber (1-0) 2.37 ERA vs. Patrick Corbin (1-2) 7.71 ERA

Shane Bieber has started his 2023 season on a high note, coming off his best start, where he yielded two runs on five hits in seven innings for his first win. Bieber has been a constant through the Guardians organization since 2018 and is a spectacular pitcher. Bieber posted a career-low 2.88 ERA last year. However, the Nationals will have a tough time against the veteran pitcher.

Meanwhile, Nationals “former” ace Patrick Corbin will get the nod to start the series finale against the Guardians. After a rocky two starts, Corbin earned his first win against the Angels because he got some great run support. However, Corbin has been rapidly declining since 2019 World Series season with the Nats, and he still doesn’t look like the pitcher who made two all-star games with the Diamondbacks.

Betting Nuggets

Favorite: Guardians (-135)

Underdog: Nationals (+115)

Over/Under: -1.5

Total: 9 runs

Broadcast Information

Television: Nationals fans will be able to watch all three games against the Guardians on MASN/MASN2. 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. Find all listings here. 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 will win the home set against the Guardians, defeating Cleveland two times. As a result, they will improve to 6-10 and jump into fourth place in the NL East.

This entry was posted in Analysis, SeriesPreview. Bookmark the permalink.