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Washington Nationals’ MacKenzie Gore keeps building in third start of the spring…

MacKenzie Gore wasn’t thrilled with his performance in his third start of the spring.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

MacKenzie Gore came out of his 2023 spring debut (and first start for the Nationals since Washington acquired the then-injured lefty from San Diego in the trade which sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres at the Trade Deadline last August) feeling good about the brief, 18-pitch, 13-strike outing in the 2023 Grapefruit League opener.

“I thought it was good,” Gore said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“I thought we were building off what we did in the (live batting practice sessions earlier this week). There are just some things that need to get better, but yeah, I thought it was pretty solid overall.”

Gore threw his four-seam fastball for 9 of 18 pitches, (50%, 95.3 MPH AVG), and mixed in his curveball (28%, 81.2 MPH), slider (17%, 89.5 MPH), and changeup (6%, 87.5 MPH), giving up one hit and striking out one batter in his initial outing of the spring.

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Gore averaged 94.7 MPH on his fastball before he was injured and landed on the IL last season, throwing it 60.9% of the time, and he said he was happy with his velocity sitting at 95 MPH and getting up to 96.3 MPH the first time out this spring.

“I would say that’s good for right now,” Gore said, as quoted by writer Jessica Camerato.

“I would like for it to keep ticking up a little bit. But, 95, 96, is good.”

There was no Statcast data for start No. 2 by the southpaw, a two-inning outing in which he gave up four hits, a walk, and a run in a 34-pitch, 23-strike outing. Gore said afterwards he wasn’t quite as sharp the second time out.

“It wasn’t quite as good as I thought we’ve been through camp so far,” Gore said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.

“But we got in two innings and there were some good things. But I didn’t think it was quite as good as we had been up to this point.”

“He wasn’t as sharp, but he wasn’t bad either,” manager Davey Martinez said.

“I’m sure he beat himself up because he’s a perfectionist. He didn’t throw that bad. So for me, when he got behind today, at least he came back and pumped strikes. But he understands he’s got to be more efficient, more in the strike zone. But overall, I thought he was OK. A few days ago, he was way better. Today, he was fine.”

Start No. 3 of the spring for Gore was not exactly the progression the lefty was hoping for, as he said after giving up three hits, a walk, and two runs, only one of them earned, in a 35-pitch, 23-strike outing in which he struck out one of the 13 batters he faced.

Gore threw 51% fastballs, averaging 94.2 MPH with his four-seamer, which got up to 95.5 MPH in the outing, and he mixed in his curveball (20%, 81.5 MPH), change (17%, 87.4), and slider (11%, 88.4).

“His fastball was not sharp today,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco after a 5-3 win over Miami.

“We talked about that a little bit. So we’re gonna do some work with him as far as mechanics. He just flies open on his fastball. I think he’s just trying to do too much. His breaking balls were really good. So we’ll get him back on track here. You saw it, I mean, he gets all bent out of shape. We gotta get him to understand, come down a little bit and know that he’s gonna be just fine.”

“We got through three and 35 pitches, which is good. But we got some work to do,” Gore said in assessing his own start.