Bad teams play bad baseball. No surprise there.
Following a so-so series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, stiffer competition arrived for the Washington Nationals over the weekend in the form of the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants may not be considered to be among the elite teams in the majors, but the fact they dominated the series in Washington from post to post says a lot about where the Nats are right now — as does the fact that the Nationals got upset by the Giants trying too hard.
Next, the Nationals wrap up this 10-game homestand against the Miami Marlins.
Though the Marlins are currently second in the National League East at 7-8, this series would at least seem to present the Nationals with a chance to halt their five-game skid in what could end up becoming a bit of a battle to avoid finishing in the division’s basement.
Here’s the lowdown from Nationals Park ahead of the three-game set...
- Game One: Tuesday, April 26th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game Two: Wednesday, April 27th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game Three: Thursday, April 28th, 1:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
- Game One: Josiah Gray (2-1, 3.14 ERA) vs Sandy Alcantara (1-0, 1.86 ERA)
- Game Two: Erick Fedde (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs Pablo López (2-0, 0.52 ERA)
- Game Three: Patrick Corbin (0-3, 11.20 ERA) vs Trevor Rogers (0-3, 6.94 ERA)
Yadiel Hernández: For a team struggling for runs right now, it’s not ideal for their best offensive player, Josh Bell, to keep having a nagging injury issue.
In his absence, Hernández has managed to step up to the plate, literally and figuratively.
In his eight appearances since a poor first series of the season against the New York Mets, Hernández is slashing a strong .370/.414/.556 with a pair of doubles and a home run, while providing all of the Nats’ offense in the series finale against the Giants on Sunday.
While he started the season in a sort-of-platoon with Victor Robles and Lane Thomas, he may force his way into more playing time in left field if he keeps hitting well.
Pablo López: While many knew that the Marlins would have a strong rotation this season, they perhaps didn’t expect López to be the one leading the way at this early juncture.
In his first three starts, the right-hander has dominated, allowing just one run on 10 hits in 17.1 innings, striking out 17, and walking just three. López is set for the second game of the series, where he has a chance to extend his strong start to the year against a scuffling Nats lineup.
Patrick Corbin: Corbin’s starts this season have fallen into two categories. Pitch well the first four innings, then run out of steam and surrender a couple of runs, or get absolutely shellacked and chased from the game really early on. His last start was very much the latter.
Against the Giants, Corbin allowed seven runs in a nightmare of a second inning, raising his ERA on the season to 11.20 and dropping his record to 0-3.
Evidently, Corbin still has a lot of issues that the team hopes he can work through, and the new season hasn’t changed that.
Jacob Stallings: After trading Jorge Alfaro to the San Diego Padres earlier this offseason, the Marlins traded for Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though he’s not necessarily known for his prowess with the bat — he’s the reigning Gold Glover behind the plate in the National League — even he will be hoping for better with the bat lately.
Since hitting a home run on the first day of the season, Stallings is slashing just .114/.162/.114 with 13 strikeouts and two walks in 37 plate appearances. His defense will keep him as the Marlins’ primary catcher for now, but he’ll be hoping for a bounce-back in this series.
From the opposing dugout
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One more thing to watch
The Nationals might finally be losing some patience with César Hernández in the leadoff spot.
After a down season in 2021 between Cleveland and Chicago, manager Dave Martinez hoped that Hernández could lock down both second base and the leadoff spot for his team this year.
Through the team’s first 18 games, Hernández is slashing just .247/.275/.299 with just two walks and 15 strikeouts, giving him a wRC+ of just 66.
Particularly of note is the .275 on-base percentage, which is currently the worst figure of his ten-season major league career.
Hardly at the level of a hitter that the Nationals need hitting atop the order and in front of Juan Soto.
With that in mind, the Nats’ skipper made a switch for Friday’s game. With a left-hander in Alex Wood on the mound, Lane Thomas — who did well in the leadoff spot last year, but has struggled in general this year — found himself atop the order, as Hernández dropped to sixth.
“I just wanted to see if we could jumpstart Lane a little bit,” Martinez explained. “He did well for us in the leadoff spot.
“And also too when I talked to César last night about letting him relax a little bit and not trying to put so much pressure on him trying to get on base and just swing the bat. And he did well today, they both did well.”
Hernández was back atop the order on Sunday against right-hander Logan Webb, but could the Nationals go back to Thomas leading off when they next face a left-handed starter?
“We might do that,” Martinez said. “Look, Lane hits left-handed pitchers really well, so it was nice to get him up there against the lefties and see if we can get two cracks at them, so I liked it. He hit a couple of balls hard today so we’ll see what happens moving forward.”
Well, we will probably find out in the series finale against the Marlins with southpaw Trevor Rogers set to toe the rubber for the fish on Thursday against the Nationals.
Either way, it’s clear that the Nationals are not satisfied with Hernández’s start at the plate and he’ll need to start getting on base more to regain the permanent spot at the top of the lineup.
Series Preview Trivia
Last series’ trivia question: Seeing as we talked about the Brandon Belt home run against the Nationals in the 2014 NLDS earlier, who was it that the first baseman hit the home run off of in that game?
Answer: Tanner Roark
As you will have seen in our first few series previews, we’re trying out a new feature this season. We’re going to have a trivia question each series for you to try your hand at and answer down in the comments, then we’ll reveal the answer in our next series preview.
Here’s the trivia question for this series against the Marlins...
Former Marlin, Miguel Cabrera, joined the 3,000 hit club over the weekend, becoming just the 33rd player to reach the milestone. Who is the only other former Marlins player that is a part of that club with Cabrera?