Spring Training Battles for the Washington Nationals

Erick Fedde takes the mound to kick off Spring Training, as he competes for the Nationals’ fifth spot in the starting rotation. (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

There’s a lot to look forward to this spring for Nationals fans. The overwhelming majority of the team’s core from 2020 is returning, as well as a few players who opted out of play last year. Washington also added a few pieces that will play prominent roles in the upcoming season.

With the dawn of each new iteration comes a bevy of decisions regarding what roles each player will fill. Some years, those answers are more clear than others. This season, on the surface, there’s not much that isn’t apparent. But much like most years, there are numerous questions further down the roster that must be addressed, as well as the conundrum of how to restructure the batting order.

We’ve already introduced these topics earlier this week, but each merits some additional discussion, including an established pecking order in each race.

Continue reading “Spring Training Battles for the Washington Nationals”

Everybody Eats (On Both Sides of the Ball)

Bradley Beal (center) and the Wizards knocked off the Lakers on Monday night, stretching their winning streak to five consecutive games. (Photo: Adam Pantozzi, NBAE via Getty Images)

Throughout this entire season, The Wizards have been a talented basketball team, yet their record didn’t reflect it. It was just a matter of time before the results of the whole caught up with the sum of the parts.

In their last five games, the Wizards have defeated the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Lakers. Not all of the margins of victory were close, none of those teams are truly bad (especially considering John Wall was motivated for obvious reasons), and four of those wins came against borderline Conference Finals contenders.

So what’s changed? We can all chalk it up to three things.

Continue reading “Everybody Eats (On Both Sides of the Ball)”

Washington Nationals 2021 Spring Training Primer

Ryan Zimmerman returns in 2021 after a one-year hiatus, but he’ll take on an unfamiliarly reduced role. (Photo: Getty Images)

Spring Training is underway across Major League Baseball, and that means the newest iteration of the Washington Nationals is beginning to take form. Most of their key pieces from last year’s team will be back in 2021, but that wasn’t a season that returned many fond memories.

Continue reading “Washington Nationals 2021 Spring Training Primer”

If Not Justin Fuente, Then Who?

Unless the tide changes in the final two games of this season, we’ve hit the beginning of the end for Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech. (Photo: Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)

This season has been a colossal disappointment for the Hokies. There’s no better way to put it. There are other factors that come into play, but none that other schools aren’t also dealing with.

I spent much of the offseason as a Virginia Tech writer for Sports Illustrated, and I admittedly had high expectations for the Hokies. Shortly before joining the SI team, I had written a relatively all-encompassing article about Justin Fuente. Over the last few months, his stock has cratered.

Continue reading “If Not Justin Fuente, Then Who?”

Is Jim Hickey the Answer to the Nationals’ Pitching Coach Dilemma?

Jim Hickey (left) and Dave Martinez (right) during their time as understudies to Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. (Photo: Nationals Communications)

If it seems like every year or two, the Nationals are looking for a new pitching coach, that’s because they are. They blow through managers too, but the search for a pitching coach seems equally – if not more – tiresome.

The Rise and Fall of the Nats’ Staff

Steve McCatty handled Washington’s pitchers for seven years (2009-15). The staff’s ERA dropped from 5.00 when he took over to 3.33 (second-best in baseball) in 2012, improving every year during that span. The unit checked in at a remarkable 3.03 in 2014, and never registered an ERA above 3.62 or worse than eighth in the majors in McCatty’s final five seasons.

The team as a whole spiraled under Matt Williams during 2015, and the contracts of most of the staff – including McCatty – weren’t renewed during that offseason.

The Nats let him get away, not knowing the misfortune and disfunction that could strike a pitching staff that based on talent alone was dominant.

Continue reading “Is Jim Hickey the Answer to the Nationals’ Pitching Coach Dilemma?”

Washington Nationals Week in Review: Aug. 31–Sept. 6

Brock Holt slides home, adding to what was his most successful week in over a year. (Photo: John Amis/AP Photo)

It was a tale of two series for the Nationals this week. They were swept in four games by the Phillies, but took two out of four from the Braves to end the week. They had a losing streak extend all the way to seven games, but they finished the week winning two of their last three.

Rather than going game-by-game, let’s discuss trends this week.

Continue reading “Washington Nationals Week in Review: Aug. 31–Sept. 6”

Washington Nationals Week in Review: Aug. 25–30

Trea Turner continued a torrent stretch at the plate, solidifying himself as one of the league’s top shortstops. (Photo: Turner’s Instagram account)

The Nationals once again had a slightly abbreviated week. The prior “week” extended into Monday, since the Marlins series was atypically long, and Thursday’s tilt with the Red Sox was postponed – as were most games across the league out of respect towards racial injustice.

The Nats lost their first two games against the Phillies before the postponed match, then dropped two out of three from the Red Sox at Fenway Park, falling further from shouting distance of the other National League playoff contenders.

Continue reading “Washington Nationals Week in Review: Aug. 25–30”

Washington Nationals Series Review: Aug. 21–24

With extra innings needed from the bullpen, Wander Suero reminded Dave Martinez why he trusted the right-hander in 2019. (Photo: MASNSports.com).

After two days off earlier in the week, the Nationals returned to face the Marlins at home for five games. Washington lost the first game and split Saturday’s doubleheader, then continued to trade wins and losses in the next two games. The result: a 3-2 series loss and a missed opportunity to make up significant ground in the – albeit early – playoff race.

Here’s a recap of the series, as well as a preview of this week’s schedule.

Continue reading “Washington Nationals Series Review: Aug. 21–24”

Washington Nationals Midweek Review: Aug. 17–20

20-year-old Luis Garcia had a historic week, including a three-hit Tuesday with a home run. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Normally this is a weekly installment, but Washington has a couple off-days now before having a loaded schedule in the coming weeks.

The Nationals kicked off a three-game series in Atlanta on Monday. They fell just short in the opener (7-6), but rebounded to win the following night (8-5). Erick Fedde was set to start the rubber match on Wednesday, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather. The Nationals, who could’ve benefited tremendously by taking two out of three from the Braves, had to settle for a two-game split.

Continue reading “Washington Nationals Midweek Review: Aug. 17–20”

Washington Nationals Week in Review: Aug. 10–16

Juan Soto continued to showcase why he is one of the best hitters in the league. (Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

It was a wild week for the Nationals, in more ways than one. They played seven full games, plus the continuation of Sunday’s suspended game against the Orioles. They were in a hole at the resumption of that matchup and fell 6-2, but went 4-3 otherwise, splitting four contests against the Mets and taking two out of three – other than the suspended game – from Baltimore.

The biggest news from the week may have nothing to do with the standings, though. Sam Freeman, Sean Doolittle, Starlin Castro and Stephen Strasburg were each placed on the IL, paving the way for Seth Romero, Dakota Bacus and Luis Garcia to make their big league debuts.

Continue reading “Washington Nationals Week in Review: Aug. 10–16”