Series preview: Nationals vs. Orioles

It’s time for the Beltway series to get underway as the Baltimore Orioles prepare to play the Washington Nationals. Led by manager Brandon Hyde, the O’s are off to a decent start in 2023, posting a 9-7 record. The Orioles are on pace to win 87 games this season, and the Nats are on a 50 win pace. Lots of things can and will change in this season as we have barely left the starting gate in a marathon of a season.

The Nationals just finished a three-game set with the Cleveland Guardians, dropping two out of three. A couple of Nationals had outstanding performances over the weekend, including infielders Luis García and Jeimer Candelario. García had two homers with three RBIs, and Candelario had seven hits with one bomb and two doubles. The series finale was arguably the best team game for the Nationals this season. Corbin bounced back, and maybe his final line isn’t ace material, but he gave his team a chance — it was his defense letting him down once again. Fortunately, that defense stepped up in the ninth inning to turn two Web Gems.

Currently, the Nationals sit at the bottom of the NL East with a 5-11 record heading into the Beltway series. However, the Phillies are only one game ahead of the Nationals, and the Marlins are two wins ahead. It’s not likely the Nationals will leapfrog both teams as the Phillies will be playing the White Sox, and the Marlins will head to San Francisco to play the Giants. Meanwhile, the Orioles are fourth in a strong AL East with a 9-7 record and are 6-4 in their last ten contests. 

MASN update… (not really)

When you think of the Orioles, you probably think of the MASN debacle. The conflict started in 2005 when the Expos moved into “Orioles territory” according to their owner, Peter Angelos. But the fact is, the Senators had the territory much longer and let the St. Louis Browns relocate to Baltimore for no compensation.

Let’s briefly go back in time and see how the teams got intertwined. After the Nationals moved to D.C., Angelos owned 90% of the Nationals games on the network. They created an agreement allowing the Nationals to gain a bit more percentage each year; however, under the initial agreement, the Nationals’ ownership of MASN wouldn’t get higher than 33%, and the Nats currently own 24% of the network with not enough ownership to make any decisions. The two sides have spent nearly a decade in the courts trying to resolve annual TV rights fees. The acrimony is thick and most reports, with news broken from TalkNats, is that the sale of the team fell apart largely because of the uncertainty of the MASN revenue stream. If you want to read more about the MASN debate, Talk Nats writer, Power Boater, recapped the most recent developments.

Tale of the Tape

Divisional Standings5th4th
All-Time Matchup Record39-5151-39
Team Average.259 (10).260 (9)
Runs62 (26)94 (2)
Hits141 (7)140 (12)
Home Runs5 (30)22 (6)
K%16.9% (1)23.1% (16)
OBP.326 (16).357 (1)
ERA4.82 (21)5.27 (26)
WHIP1.42 (23)1.37 (17)
K’s105 (29)137 (18)
Run Differential-20 (24)12 (+7)
Errors12 (T-1)10 (T-3)

Quick Hits

The Orioles lead the Beltway Series in series wins, 10–2–6, and overall wins, 51 wins to 39.

Opposing hitters against Josiah Gray have a .297 batting average. Gray is averaging 7.0 strikeouts per nine innings.

Although Gray has three losses, he has collected one quality start this season.

Washington has the third-lowest slugging percentage. (.355)

Wednesday starter MacKenzie Gore hasn’t recorded a loss this season. Gore has started in three games this season.

The Orioles and the Nationals have never agreed to a trade.

50% of Nationals games have gone over the run total.

Scouting the lineup

Projected starting lineupABBAHHRRBIOPSWAR
CF Cedric Mullins60.25015215.7920.4
C Adley Rutschman61.344214131.0540.9
1B Ryan Mountcastle69.21715620.7790.4
DH Anthony Santander57.1931116.581-0.5
2B Adam Frazier48.2501215.7080.4
LF Austin Hays60.35021361.0240.2
3B Gunnar Henderson45.178812.6620
SS Jorge Mateo43.372163121.0831.2
RF Terrin Vavra20.200400.504-0.1

Just under a year ago, Vegas projected the Orioles to be the worst team in baseball in 2022. That wasn’t the case, and instead, they won 20 games over their expected total. Baltimore started roughly last year, but everything changed when they promoted top prospect catcher Adley Rutschman. The backstop fell short of AL ROY voting, but his production and numbers were significantly high for a rookie. The catcher quickly became a fan favorite, tallying 13 homers and 35 doubles while posting .254/.362/.445/.806. This season Rutschman is at the top of the league, recording 16 walks in 77 plate appearances while tallying 21 hits and four homers through 16 games. The O’s would go 67-54 after his debut in May and continue to have meaningful games throughout the season.

After being called up late last year, Gunnar Henderson is a player to watch in the infield for the O’s. In 34 games last year, Henderson hit four homers and 30 hits while slashing .257/.335./.440. The infielder mainly played shortstop last season but has shifted to third for his 2023 campaign. With Jorge Mateo playing top-tier defense, he earned the starting shortstop role. Meanwhile, another exciting player for the Orioles organization is Ryan Mountcastle, a former first-round pick in 2015. The stats have looked pretty identical in the last two seasons for the former Orioles draftee. Mountcastle played 145 games last year and 144 games during the 2021 season. Last season he hit .250/.305/.423/.729, while hitting 139 hits in 609 plate appearances. His 2021 looked vaguely similar, but the first baseman seems to make even more significant strides during his 2023 campaign. Finally, after joining the Orioles during the offseason, Adam Frazier has been a veteran presence to a young infield. In addition, Frazier offers an upgrade from the previous Baltimore second-basemen, Rougned Odor.

The Orioles have Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, and Anthony Santander in the outfield. Cedric Mullins is the name that pops out, and rightfully so; he got nominated to represent the USA in the World Baseball Classic before the season started. Cedric Mullins is the batting leadoff for the Orioles and is a threat at the plate and on the bases. Mullins is at the top of the league with eight stolen bases and has exceptional speed. The center fielder has tailed 15 hits and 15 RBIs while slashing .375/.417/.417/.79. Meanwhile, Anthony Santander gets the majority of playing time in right field and is coming off his most productive season. Santander is a DH option but also sees playing time in right. If Santander isn’t right, Terrin Vavra fills in for the power threat. Lastly, Austin Hayes can be found as the starting left fielder. Hayes started strong last year, recording a .779 OPS before the all-star break but only managed to hit four home runs and post a .626 OPS during the second half. The Orioles, as a team, are hitting the ball well. They rank eighth in the league with 140 total hits on a .260 batting average.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Tues 4/18 – Dean Kremer (0-0) 9.49 ERA vs. Josiah Gray (0-3) 4.32 ERA

Game time – 7:05

Dean Kremer will start game one of the series against the Nationals. Kremer hasn’t been off to a productive start. Kremer has three starts this year. However, he hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in any game thus far. Additionally, Kremer only made it to the fifth inning in one of his starts. This season, the right-hander has allowed 13 earned runs, five homers, and 16 hits over 12.1 innings. A productive start in 2023.

Josiah Gray’s stats look good this year, and he’s posted a 4.32 ERA over his three starts. However, the Nationals don’t love playing fundamental baseball when Gray is pitching, contributing to his three losses. Hopefully, Gray can perform an outstanding performance to beat the Maryland rival.

Wed 4/19 – TBD vs. MacKenzie Gore (2-0) 3.00 ERA

Game time – 7:05

On paper, Mackenzie Gore is the Nationals’ best pitcher. He’s been able to constantly find the strike zone and limit walks. Gore’s last outing wasn’t as sharp as previous starts, and the pitcher knows he has to be better against a tough Orioles lineup. Before the season, Gore was projected to earn five wins, and he’s already 2-0. Let’s see if the young lefty can stay undefeated.

Betting Nuggets

Favorite: Orioles (-135)

Underdog: Nationals (+115)

Over/Under: 9.5

Total: 9 runs

Broadcast Information

Television: Nationals fans will be able to watch both games against the Orioles 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 continue to build on the “little things” and sweep the Orioles with two wins. Washington will be 7-11 when they head to Minnesota to play the Twins.

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