Game #19 has the Nats facing the team of Walter Johnson

The Washington Nationals are on the road in a game that has deep Washington, D.C. roots that can be traced back to the Griffith family and all the way back to the original Washington Senators and the lineage going back to Walter Johnson and the first of D.C.’s World Series in 1924.

This Washington Nationals team faces a Minnesota Twins’ team tonight that would have been the 1961 Washington Senators if Griffith had not relocated to Minneapolis with players like Harmon Killebrew, Camilo Pascual, and Jim Kaat.

Kaat’s career would span over four decades from his debut with the Washington Senators in 1959 to his final year in 1983 at the age of 44. Baseball was different back then. They did not keep pitch count records back then, but suffice it to say that at the age of 36, Kaat threw a lot of pitches in his 303 2/3 innings over 40 starts in which he posted a 20-14 record that year. It is a stark contrast to pitchers today who are conditioned to throw max effort on every pitch and lucky these days to reach the 180 inning line. Only five pitchers were at 201 innings or more last year. Only 27 pitchers were at or above 180 innings last year.

We will see if any Nats pitchers this year reach any of those innings’ marks this year. Patrick Corbin led the team with just 152 2/3 with Josiah Gray right behind him with 148 2/3. Pitching is showing improvement, and the offense and coaching has to take most of the blame for the losses this year so far.

The coaching staff still hasn’t shown any willingness to play some small ball other than Victor Robles laying down bunts on his own. They play for the big innings and generally have come up empty. In the last game, CJ Abrams had runners at the corners with one out and instead of bunting. He swung away and promptly rolled into a 4-6-3 tailor-made double play to end the inning, and the Nats were shutout. The team also isn’t using their speed to put pressure against their opponents and only have nine stolen bases which ranks them 11th in the N.L.

“We’re in a funk as a team. Just can’t drive in that run. We out-hit them [on Wednesday]. We just can’t get that one big run across the board there.”

— manager Dave Martinez after Wednesday’s loss

Today’s starter is Trevor Williams against the AL Central’s first place team. Martinez has a reworked lineup dropping Dom Smith to the sixth spot in the lineup and Keibert Ruiz up to the two-hole.

The Twins will pitch right-hander Tyler Mahle. The 28-year-old has a 4.11 ERA overall and a 6.00 ERA in his home ballpark this year. Yes, small sample sizes. Nats fans might get to see Michael A. Taylor this weekend as the Royals traded him to the Twins in the off-season.

The Nats starters ERAs are a combined 4.95 and that number is skewed greatly by Chad Kuhl and Corbin’s ERAs, and those two will pitch on Saturday and Sunday in this series with the hopes that they improve.

Here is how they rank:

No. 5 Starter: Chad Kuhl 8.59 ERA
No. 4 Starter: Patrick Corbin 6.30
No. 3 Starter: Josiah Gray 3.74
No. 2 Starter: Trevor Williams 3.52
No. 1 Starter: MacKenzie Gore 3.43

Here is your Baseball Savant Statcast link for the game.

Washington Nationals vs. Minnesota Twins

Stadium: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1st Pitch: 8:05 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

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