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Series Preview #20: Diamondbacks @ Nationals

You either sweep them or ... you sweep them anyhow.

Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty, but the Diamondbacks got the job done when they took the home series against the Washington Nationals a month ago. Since then the Nationals have gone 11-14. In their last 30 games the Nationals have gone 14-16, so yeah, you could say they play a bit below .500 ball although their somewhat worse month of April makes the Nationals occupy the final spot in the NL East, with quite some distance from the ones in front of them.

That isn’t a surprise, of course, because just like all hens see their eggs being taken away, the Nationals have seen their golden boys getting moved: they have been in a bigger rebuild and fire sale than Jonathan and Drew Scott in Season 3 altogether.

After Washington won the World Series only the worst and the broken have stayed. And the worst and broken carry the name of Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, with the latter being the only member of that 2019 World Series team that isn’t completely beef jerky. He’ll stay with the Nationals until his contract ends after the 2024 season.

But the Nationals isn’t such a bad team, batting wise it is pretty much an average hitting team, being the team with least strikeouts in the entire MLB, a good batting average and a healthy on-base percentage. But it isn’t a slugging team, they are ranked last in the MLB in homeruns, although with Corey Dickerson now back from a prolonged injury stay it could change a bit. A baseball team with no slugging is like a French kiss without using the tongue, and you know what that means: it means it doesn’t put you over home plate.

The Nationals’ pitching, although not as bad as Oakland’s, Kansas City’s and Colorado’s, is their weakness. Dave Martinez doesn’t have much pork to pull from: his starters pitch as deep as they can, and with 92 pitches per start they belong to the top in MLB. But it isn’t enough. And there are no alternatives.

But we’ll get to that in the matchups.

Game #1 Tue 06/06 4:05 PM MST, Jake Irvin (WSH) vs Tommy Henry (ARI)

  • Jake Irvin. 6 GS, 27.0 IP, 1 W-3 L, 5.67 ERA, 5.81 FIP, 1.63 WHIP, 1.29 K/BB.
  • Tommy Henry. 8 G, 7 GS, 41.0 IP, 3 W-1 L, 3.73 ERA, 5.21 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 1.56 K/BB.

Irvin was a 4th round pick in 2018, pitched in Class A in 2019 but was hampered by COVID in 2020 and then underwent TJ surgery that kept him from pitching in 2021. Despite the return from TJ the Nationals had an aggressive assignment for him in 2022 in AA and promoting him to AAA. That is where he started this year too, with not so impressive results, but after 5th starter Chad Kuhl hit the injury list Irvin was the next man up. Before hitting the majors he had reportedly not ever completed more than 6 innings although he passed the durability test in 2022 in the minors.

On both MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs he is ranked as a Top 20 prospect, with a FV of 40, with a probable back-end rotation future. Irvin pitched his first MLB game at the beginning of May and was able to escape any real damage in his first two outings against the Cubs and Giants. In the following 4 games and 16.1 innings he has given up 18 runs, especially left-handed hitters were successful with a .281/.397/.544 batting line.

That means Pavin will hit lead-off again, and the lefties will have to give Tommy Henry the run-support he needs because FIP still isn’t impressed by Henry due to the low number of strikeouts. Henry already faced the Nationals this season, and got a No Decision, although he allowed just 2 runs on 6 hits, over 6 innings.

I will keep my money on the Diamondbacks for this game.

Game #2 Wed 06/06 4:05 PM MST, Patrick Corbin (WSH) vs Zach Davies (ARI)

  • Patrick Corbin. 12 GS, 67.2 IP, 4 W-5 L, 4.92 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, 2.33 K/BB.
  • Zach Davies. 4 GS, 18.1 IP, 0 W-1 L, 5.40 ERA, 4.65 FIP, 1.64 WHIP, 1.56 K/BB.

You wouldn’t say that Corbin already got more wins this season than Zach Davies in this and last year combined. But, yeah, that is what happens when our Zach “No Decision” Davies takes the mound (I will honestly say I made this up, but it is plausible though).

Davies hasn’t had the easiest opponents this season, pitching twice against the Dodgers and another one against Boston, but was able to go into the 6th inning against the Rockies. You can’t expect much more than that from him and maybe an all righty-lineup could put him up for the win too! Corbin’s splits are the same again as in 2021, with righties punching him well, but he will go 5-6 rounds anyhow before getting the technical KO.

Maybe facing Davies can finally put Corbin in the line for a win, although the Diamondbacks haven’t been very kind to him: the 3 times Patrick pitched against his former team, the D-Backs hit 5 homeruns in 12.1 innings off Corbin, totalling 20 runs.

Davies, on the other hand, faced the Nationals 6 times in his career and is 4-0 against them, so walk me to the Cavern Club to enjoy me a Davies and the Diamondbacks.

Game #3 Thu 06/06 10:05 AM MST, Josiah Gray (WSH) vs Merrill Kelly (ARI)

  • Josiah Gray. 12 GS, 67.0 IP, 0 W-2 L, 3.09 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 1.42 WHIP, 1.67 K/BB.
  • Merrill Kelly. 12 GS, 70.2 IP, 7 W-3 L, 2.80 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 2.75 K/BB.

Gray is the best pitcher on the Nationals’ squad at the moment although probably overperforming with a 4.4 BB9 looming in the darkness. With a lifetime 4.1 BB9 over 4 seasons in the MLB he will play with fire against the Diamondbacks and their running game. However, Gray has been able to suppress the homers, turning a lot of fly-balls into grounders, a result achieved thanks to his variety in pitching, where his weak fastball is camouflaged by a heavy increase in slider usage and the appearance of a cutter. Though no pitch really dominates here, he has been able to get some early results, probably due to the various ingredients of the pitching stew.

The Diamondbacks saw him in the series in Arizona and Gray was tagged with a loss after giving up 3 runs over 5 innings. Merrill only knows what winning is when facing Washington and we expect nothing less in this matchup.


Here we go again...sweep or no sweep?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    (25 votes)
  • 46%
    No sweepa.
    (22 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now