With improving results, Ruiz starting to hit with more authority

NEW YORK – This first half has been forgettable for Keibert Ruiz. Ever since he landed on the 10-day injured list, missed 10 games and lost almost 20 pounds with a bad case of the flu in April, his season has been thrown out of whack.

But surely – and albeit slowly – the young catcher is starting to see some consistent positive results at the plate.

Ruiz’s batting average bottomed out at .127 and his on-base percentage at .184 in early May. His slugging and OPS soon followed at .207 and .392, respectively. He was still working to regain the weight and strength he lost while he was sick.

Then he needed to get his timing and feel back at the plate, reverting back to what has been his downfall in the past of using his great bat-to-ball skills to put balls in play that he shouldn’t for easy outs.

He has been the biggest disappointments for the Nationals thus far in 2024.

But following his two-run home run in the ninth inning of last night’s 7-5 loss to the Mets, his results are starting to turn around.

“I feel good,” Ruiz said. “Just trying to be patient. Trying to get a good pitch to hit. And whatever happens, just let it go.”

Over the last week, Ruiz is 13-for-34 (.382) with two doubles, two homers, eight RBIs and a 1.018 OPS. Over his last 17 games, he’s 19-for-63 (.302) with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and an .819 OPS.

Ruiz has recorded eight RBIs in his last four games. He also has not struck out in his last 37 plate appearances, which is the longest active streak in the major leagues.

“The results are better,” he said. “Like I said, I'm not trying to do too much. I'm just trying to get a good pitch to hit and be patient at the plate.”

The Nationals have committed to Ruiz as their long-term catcher of the future. So they would really like to see the soon-to-be 26-year-old finish this dreadful first half strong and carry it over for a strong second half.

He’s not quite back to the production level they saw at the end of last season. But he is getting better.

“He's doing a lot better. He is doing a lot better,” said manager Davey Martinez. “(Pitching coach) Darnell (Coles) has been working with him about staying behind the ball and using his legs a little bit more. And he's been hitting the ball really well.”

There are only five more games to go before the All-Star break, of which he’ll probably play at least three. You hope for continued improvement this week. But you also hope the break isn’t coming at the worst time for Ruiz, just as he is getting his groove back.

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