Spring Training Game #17 Nats have the Mets at CACTI Park

The Washington Nationals are going through their fourth spin through the rotation. Tonight is MacKenzie Gore‘s turn, and his third on the big league field as he pitched one game on the minor league side. So far, so good for Gore who is very intense about his work. His 1.80 ERA leads the team, and he is sporting a 7:1 K/BB ratio.

Compared to last Spring Training, Gore has markedly improved upon over his 2.33:1 K/BB and the 4.18 ERA he finished up with in the Grapefruit League last year.  Gore’s first-pitch strike rate was 58.6 percent last year in the regular season, and that has room to improve. Getting that first pitch strike is a key mantra with manager Dave Martinez . When Gore is ahead in the count in his career, the batters only have a .536 OPS versus 1.031 when the batter is ahead in the count. That is not a sustainable model at 1.031. He got ahead in the count in his career 292 times versus 323 times that he fell behind. Stating the obvious, that is not a good ratio especially when you are nearly at a 60 percent first strike rate.

 “Some pitch shape adjustments is [what I worked on the offseason]. Little things like that, but I’d say the biggest thing was usage, how and where we use [certain pitches].”

— Gore said earlier in Spring Training

Part of Gore’s problem in the past, as we discussed, is that his fastball went from his best pitch to one of his worst pitches when he was traded from the Padres to the Nationals. He needed to get back to basics. His 4-seam fastball was tagged at a slugging percentage of .503 last year versus .351 when he was with the Padres. By getting back to what he was doing with the Padres, the 25-year-old has added velocity and more Induced Vertical Break (iVB) on his fastball, and that means it has a perceived “rise” on the pitch. That was Sean Doolittle‘s best pitch with the Nats. Gore also throws the curveball, slider, and the occasional changeup. Doolittle and Gore, two lefties, have been working together all Spring Training.

At second base in the starting lineup is Trey Lipscomb. A great opportunity to face the Mets’ starting pitcher Jose Quintana. Also in the Nats’ lineup are plenty of lefties with CJ Abrams, Joey Gallo, and Eddie Rosario.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 pm EDT at the CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches. This game is not televised, and the Nationals will provide radio coverage with Charlie & Dave on 106.7 The Fan and the MLB app.

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