Game #38 Second chances for the Nats

The Washington Nationals might have shocked everyone but themselves last night as manager Dave Martinez pushed almost all the right buttons to win a game that greatly favored the Red Sox on paper. As we wrote in the pregame, Martinez needed “an ace start from Patrick Corbin as the Nats were facing the Red Sox best pitcher in righty Tanner Houck. Corbin’s results were good enough, and he earned his first win going 5.0 innings of 1-run ball. Martinez went to the bullpen with a 3-1 lead, and the Nats won 5-1 to push the team back to a game over .500. Today, the Nats get a second chance to go to two games over .500 which they last saw on June 30 of 2021.

What Martinez put in place was his best defensive plan of the season, and Corbin didn’t self-destruct in the first inning because of it. With two quick outs, and no runners on-base, Corbin threw a dead-red slider that Tyler O’Neill smashed off of the Green Monster only because the 110 mph liner didn’t have enough launch angle. Corbin then walked Rafael Devers in a 3-2 count in a lefty-lefty matchup and it looked like Corbin was ready to unravel. The next batter, Connor Wong, had a 2-0 count and hit a line drive one hope single that Victor Robles and Keibert Ruiz turned in the play of the game. Robles threw a 90 mph seed to Ruiz to tag out O’Neill for the third out. From there, Corbin almost cruised through the rest of his outing.

We say it all the time that defense matters. Lineup construction matters. Analytics matters. Martinez was pushing all the right buttons. In the sixth inning, Derek Law in relief of Corbin, did not have his “A” game. He gave up a single and walked two batters with two outs to load the bases. With Jarren Duran batting, Martinez already had his lefty, Robert Garcia at the ready, and he K’d Duran in the fireman spot of the night.

There were so many things that Martinez did right from even the little things like finally sitting Nick Senzel against a tough righty. We’ve been through his numbers and struggles against RHPs. While players have to execute, the historical data is kind of clear on Senzel. He mashes lefty pitching, and is the opposite against right-handers.

This 2024 Washington Nationals team has been winning on generally small margins of victory from 1-to-4 runs and what they call within “slam range.” They have 14-of-their-19 wins in non-blow-out games. And the team has lost 5-of-9 of their one-run games. What if they had yesterday’s lineup for Wednesday and gave Mitchell Parker that type of defense? What if Senzel didn’t start against Kyle Bradish and strikeout four times?

Managers can factor into games. Put your players in their best situations to succeed for themselves and the team. Sure, Senzel needs to play every few days. Riley Adams too. Robles finally got into a game, and you know what, he was a difference maker with the glove, arm, and bat. The Nats corner outfield defense is in the bottom tier of all of baseball. Jesse Winker is the worst ranked defender per play on the team. Sure, he isn’t making errors — but he doesn’t get to balls that he should.

Today’s matchup is Jake Irvin against the Red Sox righty, Cooper Criswell who has six career starts. He is 27 years old and was acquired this year by Boston. Once again, a Nats starter has to throw up zeroes to give his team a chance.

On this day in Nats history, we celebrate Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout game against the Detroit Tigers in 2016. The Nats are hoping for some more positive history on this day.

With plans to get Josiah Gray back into a rehab assignment, you have to wonder if he can make it back in the month of May. Here’s what we think the schedule could look like going forward:

  1. Saturday: Jake Irvin vs. Red Sox
  2. Sunday: MacKenzie Gore vs. Red Sox
  3. Monday: Trevor Williams vs. White Sox
  4. Tuesday: Mitchell Parker vs. White Sox
  5. Wednesday: Patrick Corbin vs. White Sox
  6. Thursday: Day-off May 16
  7. Friday: Irvin vs. Phillies
  8. Saturday: Gore vs. Phillies
  9. Sunday: Williams vs. Phillies
  10. Monday: Parker vs. Twins
  11. Tuesday: Corbin vs. Twins
  12. Wednesday: Irvin vs. Twins
  13. Thursday: Day-off May 23
  14. Friday: Gore vs. Mariners
  15. Saturday: Williams vs. Mariners
  16. Sunday: Parker vs. Mariners

Your top Washington Nationals on the FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboard has CJ Abrams and Trevor Williams at the top at a +1.2 WAR followed by Luis Garcia Jr. at a +1.0 WAR. Jake Irvin and Jacob Young at +0.9.In total, 21 Nats’ players are in positive WAR and another five at a neutral 0.0 WAR.

“That was great. I always say, if we come out and jump to get the lead early — it gets our pitchers to relax a little bit. We did that, and [Corbin] was able to settle in a little bit. He gave us what we needed, and the bullpen came in — and shut it down.”

— manager Dave Martinez said yesterday

The Nats starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.09 and 16th in MLB. The Nats are now 6 points from 14th best in baseball. The Nats have been slowly moving up in the rankings it seems week by week. At this point in the season, the ERA movement is in smaller increments due to the total innings increasing to the 200 inning mark. In the old-days that was a good workload for one starter in a season.

Here is how they rank:

No. 5 Starter: Patrick Corbin 5.91
No. 4 Starter: Jake Irvin 3.72
No. 3 Starter: MacKenzie Gore 3.44
No. 2 Starter: Mitchell Parker 2.67
No. 1 Starter: Trevor Williams 1.96

Washington Nationals vs. Boston Red Sox

Stadium: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
1st Pitch: 4:10 pm EDT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan radio and via the MLB app; In Spanish on DC 87.7 FM and La Pantera 100.7 FM/1220 AM. On Sirius/XM, the Nats will be online, and the opposing team on Channel 179.

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

TalkNats is Celebrating the 5 and 100 year anniversaries of World Series Wins by providing Game-by-Game Summaries.

Game 38:
The Nationals lost on 05/10 on the road against the Dodgers resulting in a record of 15-23. You know what’s coming tomorrow with Gerardo Parra, right? Box Score / Standings
The Senators won on 06/03 on the road against the Detroit Tigers resulting in a record of 19-19 and getting to .500. Box Score / Standings

This entry was posted in InGame. Bookmark the permalink.