Considering the Nationals’ current standing, it is shocking to remember that just four years ago the team had the best starting pitching rotation in the league. The Nationals struggled last week, winning only one of five straight matchups at home. After dropping the first two games of a three-game set against the Cleveland Guardians, Washington won the third on Sunday behind Luis Garcia’s seventh-inning moonshot. However, two consecutive shutout losses to the Orioles on Tuesday and Wednesday completed a disappointing homestand. 

The Nationals’ pitching struggled, allowing four or more runs in four games out of five. The bats were alive, but never when they needed to be. Here’s what happened last week in Nationals baseball.

Pitching Woes

Throughout the entire season, the Nationals have only played five games in which they allowed fewer than four runs. So far, marquee starter Patrick Corbin has shown no improvement from last season — the worst year of his career. The lefty has a 6.30 ERA, giving up the third most hits in all of Major League Baseball. Chad Kuhl was another weak spot in the rotation, sporting an 8.59 ERA while giving up eight walks. For the team to be even remotely competitive going forward, pitching must become a primary concern for the Nationals’ front office — manager Davey Martinez and pitching coach Jim Hickey.

The Team is Hitting… Kind of

Over the past seven days, Washington has boasted the tenth-highest team batting average in MLB, and Nats hitters struck out a league-lowest 34 times. Outfielders Victor Robles and Lane Thomas were bright spots in the lineup this year, as both currently hold batting averages over .270. In addition, albeit with a small sample size, rookie outfielder Stone Garrett has shown a lot of promise at the plate. With over 23 at-bats this season, Garrett is batting over .450. Despite this potential, the team ranked toward last in the league in runs scored, walks drawn and home runs over the past week. 

Consistency Issues

The Nationals scored 14 runs over the five-game homestand, but still only emerged victorious once. The team tended to score an abundance of runs early in games, before faltering offensively in the later innings. This trend allowed back-to-back comebacks from the Cleveland Guardians on Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15. However, when the Nats spread offense out over more innings, they can separate themselves from the absolute worst teams in the league. The Sunday, April 16 game was a perfect example: the Nationals scored in five different innings, and despite weak pitching, outplayed the Guardians.

Bright Spots

Third baseman Jeimer Candelario thrived at the plate over the past week. His batting splits from April 12 to April 19 stood at .400/.455/.650. So far this season, he proved himself to be General Manager Mike Rizzo’s best off-season addition. Additionally, although the Nats’ pitching has been lackluster overall, Josiah Gray continued to extend his streak of quality starts. He pitched five one-run innings on Tuesday against the rival Baltimore Orioles. Despite suffering a loss in his only appearance of the week, he has shown significant progress after his disaster against the Atlanta Braves. His curveball and slider improved dramatically and now make up for his notoriously ineffective fastball.

A Look Ahead

The Nationals’ pitching staff looks to bounce back from a rough week with the upcoming road trip. The Nats will play a three-game road series against the Minnesota Twins before visiting their division rivals, the New York Mets. Both teams rank towards the bottom of MLB in team offense, so the Nats have a chance to pick off a few easier wins next week.

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