Finnegan and Rainey getting work without high-leverage situations


For the most part, the Nationals bullpen has been a bright spot early this season. Not to take anything away from their accomplishments, but this group of relievers quite frankly had nowhere to go but up.

Washington’s bullpen posted a 5.10 ERA last year, worst in the National League and second-worst in the majors.

So far this year, the Nats ‘pen has a 3.61 ERA that was eighth in the NL and 17th in the majors at the conclusion of Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Marlins. A big improvement.

At the forefront, or should I say the back end, of this bullpen are Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey, two relievers the Nationals really need to have bounceback seasons in 2022.

With a banged-up bullpen that has Sean Doolittle (elbow sprain), Hunter Harvey (pronator strain), Mason Thompson (biceps tendinitis) and Will Harris (pectoral surgery) on the injured list, manager Davey Martinez has relied on Finnegan and Rainey to get important outs this season.

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Corbin’s best not enough as Nats’ losing streak reaches eight (updated)


Patrick Corbin was “pissed” after his last start. He said so after completing only 1 2/3 innings against the Giants on Friday while his ERA inflated to 11.20 and his WHIP went up to 2.561 on the season.

So after an extra day of rest and an intense bullpen session Tuesday with pitching coach Jim Hickey that manager Davey Martinez called “crisp,” Corbin was looking for his best outing of the season. And the Nationals needed it to avoid a second straight sweep and an eight-game losing streak at home.

Corbin did his part, becoming just the second Nationals starter to complete six innings this season while only giving up two earned runs. He struck out a season-high eight batters over his six-plus innings.

But even Corbin’s best wasn’t enough to break the losing streak as the Nats fell to the Marlins 3-2 in front of 12,454 fans taking in Thursday’s matinee.

“Felt really good," Corbin said after the game. "I've been working on a lot of stuff, so it's good to see some results out there. But yeah, I felt pretty good. Just try to continue off this. It's been a tough week or so for us here. It stinks we didn't get the win, but guys are out there fighting and they'll come.”

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Martinez lays out weekend rotation plans for San Francisco

Davey Martinez Jim Hickey Tim Bogar dugout home

After the Nationals wrap up a 10-game homestand with today’s afternoon finale against the Marlins, they will board a plane to embark on a nine-game road trip out west.

First stop: San Francisco, to face a familiar foe in the Giants.

The Giants just swept a three-game series in D.C. last weekend, so the Nats will look to start their three-city road trip with some revenge by the Bay.

Manager Davey Martinez announced this morning he will be sticking with his regular rotation from the past week to lead his club on the mound this weekend, with Aaron Sanchez, Joan Adon and Josiah Gray scheduled to start the three games against the Giants.

As Martinez mentioned last week, Sanchez will get another chance to start after making his Nationals debut Saturday, also against the Giants, in which he gave up four runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings. While that line doesn’t jump off the page, Sanchez did retire nine straight between the second and fourth innings. 

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Game 21 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins


It’s a sunny day in D.C., though still pretty chilly for late April. Not unlike the weather the Nationals will see in San Francisco this weekend.

But before they leave for a three-city road trip out west, in which they’ll play nine games in 10 days, the Nats have to take care of business against the Marlins to wrap up this homestand while trying to end a seven-game losing streak.

Patrick Corbin will once again take the mound for the Nationals while looking for some sign of improvement. The left-hander only completed 1 2/3 innings during his last start on Friday against the Giants and sports an 0-3 record with an 11.20 ERA and 2.561 WHIP on the season. Corbin went 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts against the Fish last year and is 5-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 15 career starts against Miami.

Left-hander Trevor Rogers makes the start for the Marlins this afternoon. Last year’s National League Rookie of the Year runner-up is 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA in four starts against the Nats in his career and is 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA over his first three starts this season.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Sunny, 54 degrees, wind 15 mph in from left field 

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Why Adon gets the start on Sunday over Gray

Joan Adon follow through white

This week started off nicely for the Nationals. They returned home after a seven-game road trip to an off-day on Monday that, thanks to a rainout, broke up a scheduled stretch of 18 games in 18 days to start the season.

The good fortune carried over into Tuesday, as they watched Josiah Gray and Joan Adon combine for 11 ⅔ innings of one-run ball between their two starts in a doubleheader sweep of the Diamondbacks. 

But since Tuesday, the Nats’ fortunes have changed. They have lost four straight, have seen more players bitten by the injury bug and needed to make a couple of roster moves to fill Saturday’s spot in the rotation.

Aaron Sanchez did perform well in his Nationals debut yesterday, earning himself another turn in the rotation despite a 5-2 loss to the Giants. Still not enough to say the bad luck of the last couple of days has passed, especially with Josh Bell leaving yesterday’s game after the second inning with right hamstring tightness.

Even so, they must continue through this grind of a season.

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Sanchez unravels, Bell departs early again in loss to Giants

Aaron Sanchez throw city connect

It’s a tough ask for any pitcher to come up to the big leagues and make a spot start. You’re usually facing an unfamiliar lineup and have done little preparation.

But Aaron Sanchez has been around the block a few times over his seven-year major league career. He had pitched in 159 games while making 103 starts with the Blue Jays, Astros and Giants before making his Nationals debut this afternoon.

And he’s familiar with his opponent, the Giants, who he pitched for last season, while also being on one extra day of rest from his last start with Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. So Nationals manager Davey Martinez liked the matchup for Sanchez to make a spot start.

Sanchez pitched admirably in this opportunity, but was done in by the bookends of his outing that only lasted 4 ⅓ innings en route to a 5-2 loss in front of 27,799 fans on a beautiful 73 degree day in the District.

"I thought I threw the ball well," Sanchez said in front of his new locker at Nationals Park after the game. "Early, they got a couple of hits that found holes. Mostly throughout most of the game, I felt like they found holes. Maybe two to three hard hit balls. But that's baseball. I felt like maybe in the fifth pitch selection could have been a little different now going back and looking at it. But I thought, for the most part, I threw the ball well."

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Sanchez selected to start, Murphy designated for assignment

Patrick Murphy upset red away

While the Nationals enjoyed the off-day due to Monday’s rainout to break up a scheduled 18-day stretch of games to start the season, and while they enjoyed watching budding stars Josiah Gray and Joan Adon lead them to a doubleheader sweep of the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, this week’s schedule crunch created a dilemma for Saturday’s game against the Giants.

With the spot in the rotation open for this afternoon, manager Davey Martinez would have loved to use his secret weapon in Paolo Espino for the start. The right-hander had been stretched out as a starter in spring training and had pitched multiple innings in each of his first two outings of the season.

But after last night’s debacle in which Patrick Corbin only went 1 2/3 innings, Espino was needed to cover the last two innings of the game, taking him out of consideration to start Saturday.

With no other available arms, the Nationals needed to make a roster move. They selected the contract of right-hander Aaron Sanchez and officially announced him as today’s starting pitcher. In order to add Sanchez, the Nats also had to remove someone from the 40-man roster.

That someone was right-handed reliever Patrick Murphy, who was designated for assignment to clear space for Sanchez.

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Game 17 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

Lane Thomas swing white

Hope you slept fast because we’re right back at Nationals Park for a rare early Saturday afternoon game. The Nationals are looking to bounce back after last night’s 7-1 series-opening loss to the Giants in which Patrick Corbin gave up seven runs in just 1 2/3 innings. 

The Nationals needed to make some changes to their roster this morning in order to bring up a pitcher for today’s start. Although Monday’s rainout gave the staff a needed break, Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Diamondbacks created a conundrum for today. And after Paolo Espino’s two innings of work last night, the Nats needed reinforcements for their second game against the Giants.

Aaron Sanchez, who made his way to D.C. from Triple-A Rochester last night, is set to make his Nationals debut against his former team. The 29-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts with the Red Wings. He has a 3.93 ERA over his seven-year major league career, including a 1-1 record and 3.06 ERA over nine appearances (seven starts) with the Giants last year.

In order to select Sanchez's contract and make room on the 40-man roster, the Nats designated right-hander Patrick Murphy for assignment.

Manager Davey Martinez has made a significant change to the top of his lineup this afternoon. Lane Thomas is in the leadoff spot with César Hernández moving down to the sixth spot. After posting a .364 on-base percentage in 45 games with the Nats last year, Thomas gets his first chance to lead off this season.

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Nats follow similar recipe to complete doubleheader sweep of D-backs


The Nationals got what they needed in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Diamondbacks. Josiah Gray pitched 5 ⅓ innings of one-run ball and four relievers combined to cover the remaining outs in a 6-1 win.

Would it be too much to ask for the same in the nightcap?

Joan Adon was hoping to get deep into the game to help out his taxed teammates in the bullpen and perhaps turn around his start to the season. The relievers who weren’t used in this afternoon’s game were hoping to post more zeros. And the Nationals offense was hoping to manufacture runs just like they had done earlier.

Adon did his part, becoming the first Nationals starting pitcher to complete six innings in 2022 as he helped his club complete the doubleheader sweep with a 1-0 win in front of an announced crowd of 11,720.

The 23-year-old rookie starter held the D-backs scoreless over 6 ⅓ innings with five strikeouts on 88 pitches, 57 for strikes, to earn his first major league win. A big turnaround from his previous two starts.

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Game 13 lineups: Nats vs. Diamondbacks


Let’s keep the ball rolling and play some more baseball!

The Nationals and Diamondbacks will shortly take the field again on South Capitol Street for tonight’s nightcap after Washington won the first game of today’s split doubleheader 6-1.

Joan Adon, on normal rest, is hoping his third time's the charm as he takes the mound tonight. The right-handed rookie is 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA over his first two starts of the season. In nine innings, he’s given up 13 hits, 10 runs, three home runs and seven walks (to just eight strikeouts) while hitting one batter and throwing three wild pitches.

Manager Davey Martinez elected to stick with Adon in this spot in an attempt to not put too much pressure on the already taxed bullpen in today’s twinbill. Martinez only used four relievers in the opener, so he should have plenty of options for the nightcap. The Nats will need another starter this weekend, but they will address that later in the week.

Left-hander Francisco Pérez has been designated as the 29th man to give the ‘pen some help for tonight’s game. He is only available for the nightcap because a 29th player is only eligible for both games of a doubleheader if both teams agree to it. The Diamondbacks are using 29th man on tonight's starter, Tyler Gilbert, so they didn’t need it for the first game.

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García named International League Player of the Week


While the Nationals were an early rainout due to inclement weather forecasted for their series opener against the Diamondbacks, there was some news in the minor league system on Monday.

Luis García was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of April 11-17.

Optioned to Triple-A Rochester during the last week of spring training, García has been on a tear to start the season for the Red Wings. Over six games last week, the 21-year-old went 14-for-27 for a .519 batting average and 1.370 OPS while recording five extra-base hits, five RBIs and nine runs scored.

He's slashing .377/.411/.623 with an 1.034 OPS, two home runs, seven RBIs and three walks over 12 games to start the season at Rochester. In the field, he has played 10 games at shortstop (where he has committed four errors) and two games at second base.

In 110 career big league games between 2020-21, García slashed .254/.285/.395 with a .680 OPS, 24 doubles, two triples, six homers, 22 RBIs and 11 walks.

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Future meets past as Gray and Ruiz face off against Scherzer


It was all too perfect how the stars aligned for tonight’s match-up between the Nationals and Mets on South Capitol Street.

What was supposed to be just one of 19 meetings between division rivals turned into a convergence of past and future for the Nationals.

Max Scherzer made his highly anticipated Mets debut and return to Nationals Park tonight in front of a crowd of 25,677 that gave him another loud ovation as he took the mound in the bottom of the first inning. He returned the favor by striking out six over six innings en route to a 7-3 win over his former team.

And who opposed him from his former team? The two players that headlined the package deal that sent Scherzer to Los Angeles at last year’s trade deadline: Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz.

It’s almost too easy to call this match-up fate. The baseball gods had some fun with this one.

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Rizzo lays out Cavalli’s developmental plan at Triple-A


When the Nationals face the Mets in the season’s second game Friday night, Josiah Gray will take the mound with batterymate Keibert Ruiz, symbolizing the future of the franchise.

Ironically, they’ll be up against the past of the franchise in Mets starter Max Scherzer, one of the two All-Star players general manager Mike Rizzo gave up last summer to acquire Gray and Ruiz.

Funny how baseball works sometimes.

But while these pieces of the Nationals’ future are on display in Washington, D.C., another young starting pitcher got his season underway Thursday night with Triple-A Rochester in Toledo.

Cade Cavalli, now the organization’s top prospect after Gray and Ruiz graduated last season, made his season debut with the Red Wings after sticking around the major league camp in West Palm Beach almost to the end of the shortened spring training. And he had mixed results.

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As new season begins, Nats happy to return to normalcy


It’s finally here: Today is opening day!

You can’t help but be excited for the start of a new season (especially after a 99-day lockout). Opening day is just a special day on the calendar, no matter a team’s expectations.

The Nationals have a new organizational direction this season after last summer’s sell-off at the trade deadline. But players, coaches, fans and media alike can’t help but be optimistic at the start of a new season.

I guess the saying is true: Hope springs eternal.

Along with new hopes and expectations, this season also brings a return to normalcy for ballplayers and media members.

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Nats, Wizards rep the District with cherry blossom-themed uniforms


We are nine days away from opening day, and if that’s not enough to get you excited about a new baseball season, perhaps some new Nationals swag will.

The Nationals revealed the club’s cherry blossom-themed City Connect uniforms today, combining two things that represent spring in Washington, D.C. The Nationals are the first of seven major league clubs participating in this year’s Nike MLB City Connect Series.

Managing principal owner Mark Lerner first teased a new alternate jersey for this season during a March 21 spring training game broadcast on MASN, and mentioned the Nationals have been working with Nike on these for a while now.

“Washington, D.C.’s cherry blossoms represent hope and new beginnings, making them the perfect symbol of this Nationals team,” said Lerner in a statement. “We’re excited to unveil these beautiful uniforms as the embodiment of our historic organization’s hopeful future as we lead the District of Cherry Blossoms celebration with our friends at the Wizards.”

While we have been anticipating a cherry blossom-themed uniform release for the Nats over the past couple of weeks, we were not expecting it to be a collaboration with the local basketball team as well.

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What's going to happen once lockout ends?

What's going to happen once lockout ends?
It's a matter of when, not if, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement and the lockout ends. Spring will bloom and a new baseball season will be underway. The real question is what is going to happen once the lockout does, in fact, end? It wasn't our direct topic of conversation, but that question was discussed a bit on this week's episode of the "MASN All Access Podcast." I came up with three things that fall under that...
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Who backs up Bell at first base?

Who backs up Bell at first base?
Now that the celebration of Ryan Zimmerman's retirement has had its moment in the spotlight - and don't worry, I'm sure there will be plenty more celebrations this season and in the years to come - it's time for the Nationals to look ahead as to what their future looks like without their face of the franchise. The long-term ramifications are still to be determined. But as it pertains to the 2022 season, Zimmerman's retirement leaves an immediate hole to be filled on the Nats roster: backup...
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For younger generation, Ryan Zimmerman is baseball in D.C.


On behalf of an entire generation of Nationals fans, I want to congratulate Ryan Zimmerman on his retirement and say thank you.

If you're around my age, growing up a baseball fan in the Washington, D.C., area was complicated.

I've spent all of my almost 30 years of living in and around our nation's capital. I went to grade school in Silver Spring, Md., high school downtown at Gonzaga College High School and college at the University of Maryland in College Park.

As an avid sports fan, I've rooted for the now Washington Commanders, Capitals and Wizards my entire life, along with any team that's represented my city. The Mystics, D.C. United and Spirit have all won championships. I rooted for the Valor as they won the last ArenaBowl of the defunct Arena Football League. I went to all but one of the DC Defenders' home games of the former XFL. I even try to keep up with the Kastles and Old Glory DC in their respective tennis and rugby leagues.

But baseball is harder to explain.

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Although young, Nats farm restocked with position players

Although young, Nats farm restocked with position players
Last week, we discussed which Nationals pitching prospects could make their major league debuts this season, aside from Cade Cavalli. This week, we're pivoting our attention to the position players on the farm. Amy Jennings and I wondered, during this week's episode of the "MASN All Access Podcast," when we might see them in Washington. But for the purposes of this post, this exercise is going to be more of an appreciation of the restocking of the Nats farm system with position players...
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Can Robles take back his spot in center field?

Can Robles take back his spot in center field?
A few days ago, we discussed the curious case at first base for the Nationals heading into spring training. It's an interesting situation to think about for the team's long-term future, but it isn't a very pressing matter as it relates to the upcoming season. The same cannot be said for the situation in center field and how it relates to Victor Robles. It's been a hard fall from grace for Robles, formerly the organization's top prospect, who was believed to be even better than Juan Soto....
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