Game 117 lineups: Nats vs. Cubs

josiah gray red

At this point, all you can ask as a Nationals fan is to see as many young potential building blocks as possible on the field at the same time. So that makes tonight’s series opener against the Cubs potentially a good night for everyone. That’s because Josiah Gray is on the mound. Keibert Ruiz is behind the plate. And CJ Abrams is starting at shortstop.

The Nats officially called up Abrams today, placing Luis García on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain. The 21-year-old becomes the first of the five prospects acquired from the Padres in the Juan Soto-Josh Bell trade to play here in D.C., and expectations will be high for him to show us a glimpse of his potential game tonight.

It’s also a big start for Gray, who faces the Cubs for the second start in a row. The young right-hander had success at Wrigley Field throwing fastballs down in the zone more than he typically does, even though he still surrendered one home run in the seventh inning after six scoreless frames. Can he take that same approach and enjoy success again, or does he need to change anything up?

Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Cloudy, 72 degrees, wind 5 mph in from right field

2B César Hernández
RF Joey Meneses
1B Luke Voit
LF Yadiel Hernandez
DH Nelson Cruz
C Keibert Ruiz
SS CJ Abrams
CF Lane Thomas
3B Ildemaro Vargas

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Game 113 lineups: Nats at Cubs (García scratched)

robles thomas meneses

CHICAGO – It’s another beautiful day at the Friendly Confines, where the Nationals woke up feeling good about themselves following a dramatic, 6-5 win over the Cubs on Tuesday night. Now they’ve got a shot at a series victory and some positive vibes before they head home to face Juan Soto, Josh Bell and the Padres this weekend. (And yeah, that’s not going to sound right for a long time.)

Davey Martinez’s lineup is kind of piecemeal because Nelson Cruz remains out with a sore right shoulder and Keibert Ruiz (who was fantastic Tuesday night) gets the day game off. So it’s Lane Thomas leading off, with rookie sensation Joey Meneses batting cleanup and a less-than-fearsome power duo of César Hernández and Victor Robles batting sixth and seventh, respectively.

Suffice it to say, the Nationals need a decent start out of Josiah Gray. The right-hander has been in a rut, going 1-4 with a 7.63 ERA over his last six starts, having served up a whopping 13 home runs during that time. The good news: The wind still isn’t blowing out at Wrigley Field, though it is the warmest day we’ve had this week, so Gray does need to keep the ball down and keep it in the yard.

UPDATE: Luis García was a late scratch for unspecified reasons. César Hernández will now bat second, with Ildemaro Vargas shifting to shortstop and Maikel Franco taking over at third base.

Wrigley Field
Gametime: 2:20 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees, wind 5 mph in from right field

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Slight pitching improvement, but still no win for Nats (updated)

sanchez gray

CHICAGO – At this point, the Nationals will gladly take the bare minimum that could be considered a decent performance from a member of their rotation: five innings and a chance at a win. They hadn’t come close to getting such an outing over the last five days, and they’ve barely received any that meet that low standard over the last month.

So when Aníbal Sánchez managed tonight to not only complete five innings allowing only three runs, but then take the mound for the sixth as well, it felt like something of a step in the right direction for the Nats.

Not a step in a winning direction, mind you. But at least a step forward instead of backward.

It made no difference in the end, because Sánchez was charged with another run in the sixth, the bullpen gave up two more in the seventh and the lineup managed nothing but Luke Voit’s solo homer in the sixth and Joey Meneses’ two-run homer in the eighth during a 6-3 loss to the Cubs that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests.

Thus did the Nationals drop their sixth straight, falling to a major-league-worst 36-75. With the season more than two-thirds complete, they’re now on pace to lose 110 games.

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Voit, Gore to join Nats in Philly, Abrams reporting to Rochester

luke voit

Three of the six players the Nationals acquired from the Padres this week, all of them age 18-20, won’t be sniffing the major leagues for some time. The other three, though, are poised to join the club before season’s end, one of them as soon as tonight.

Luke Voit, the lone veteran to be included in the blockbuster deal that sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego, is scheduled to meet the team in Philadelphia and will probably be in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Phillies.

The 31-year-old will see time both at first base and designated hitter the rest of the way, according to manager Davey Martinez. Though he had pedestrian numbers this season with the Padres (a .225/.317/.416 slash line with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 344 plate appearances), Voit’s .733 OPS is as good as anyone currently in the Nats lineup.

Over parts of six big league seasons with the Cardinals, Yankees and Padres, Voit owns a strong .838 OPS and 86 homers. He led the American League with 22 homers and finished ninth in MVP voting during the condensed 2020 season.

And because he’s under club control through 2024 (same as Soto), Voit could figure into the Nationals’ plans beyond this year.

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