On the Nats' great starting pitching stretch

MacKenzie Gore

ATLANTA – The Nationals have always focused on starting pitching. They boasted some of the best rotations between 2012-19, en route to winning four division titles, a National League Wild Card berth and a World Series championship.

Now after a few lean years, they’re starting to see a new generation emerge as one of the best rotations in baseball. And over the last week, manager Davey Martinez, pitching coach Jim Hickey and pitching strategist Sean Doolittle have their young rotation on an impressive stretch.

Following last night’s 7-2 win over the Braves, Nationals starters have pitched to a 2.36 ERA (11 earned runs in 42 innings) with 52 strikeouts and just five walks over the last seven games.

During that stretch, Jake Irvin has allowed two runs and two walks with 16 strikeouts in 12 ⅓ innings over his last two starts. MacKenzie Gore has allowed three runs (two earned) and one walk with 18 strikeouts in 12 ⅓ innings over his last two starts. Mitchell Parker gave up three runs and no walks with six strikeouts over six innings on Monday. Trevor Williams gave up one run and no walks with eight strikeouts in five innings on Saturday. And even Patrick Corbin turned in a quality start Sunday, giving up four runs (three earned) and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings.

“They're pitching really well,” Martinez said. “They’ve got the fastball. We always talk about how McKenzie's stuff is really good. They're utilizing his fastball, but they're also mixing in the breaking balls when they need to, and they've been effective. And they're getting better at being efficient. That's what I love about him. Hickey talks about that every day with these guys, understanding what you can do in certain situations. They're buying in and doing well.”

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Nats mixing rotation to give Parker extra rest

parker pitching white

After the Nationals finished their three-game series against the Twins on Wednesday, their presumed starting pitchers for this weekend’s three-game series against the Mariners were MacKenzie Gore, Trevor Williams and Mitchell Parker.

But Thursday’s off-day gave manager Davey Martinez a chance to switch things up and give one of his young starters some extra rest before his next start.

Patrick Corbin will now start Sunday’s finale against Seattle on normal rest, with Parker starting the opener in Atlanta on Memorial Day.

“I just wanted to give Parker an extra day,” Martinez said before Friday’s 6-1 win. “You know, he hasn't done this (starting in the major leagues). So I thought it'd be nice to give him an extra day.”

Parker made his last start on Monday (six innings, seven hits, three runs, one walk and seven strikeouts in a win over the Twins), so he’ll actually get two extra days of rest before retaking the hill Monday.

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Mateo still matters and another look at starters' scoreless streak

Jorge Mateo

In the unpredictable world of baseball, it’s been fascinating to watch Jorge Mateo go from bubble non-tender guy to trade bait to integral part of the Orioles’ lineup planning.

He has a role on a first-place team and owners of the best record in the American League that for quite some time appeared to have little use for him. Another good reminder of the dangers of rushing to conclusions.

Mateo was groomed and advertised as more of a super-utility guy, with club promises to test him more regularly in the outfield at spring training. It didn’t happen that much, and he’s settled in as a second baseman.

Jackson Holliday eventually will become the everyday player at the position, but he was platooned during his brief stay in the majors and currently is leading off again for Triple-A Norfolk. He went 1-for-3 yesterday with a double, two walks, two strikeouts and a run scored and is batting .278 with a .928 OPS.

Mateo entered yesterday’s series finale against the Reds with home runs in two of his last three games. Before Thursday, he hadn’t hit a ball over the fence since April 30, 2023 in Detroit. He delivered an inside-the-park homer on Aug. 20 in Oakland.

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Bradish to begin season on injured list, Means also expected to be unavailable on Opening Day

Kyle Bradish ALDS Game 1 white

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles’ pitching depth will be tested early.

Kyle Bradish will begin the season on the injured list with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his right elbow. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and begins a throwing progression on Friday.

John Means is a month behind the other pitchers after experiencing elbow soreness before the playoffs, and he’s also expected to land on the IL.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias is becoming known for dropping injury news on the first day of camp. He was at it again this morning.

Bradish, who finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting and started Game 1 of the Division Series, felt some irritation in the elbow last month while throwing. An MRI confirmed the injury.

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