Nats Notebook: Washington Nationals look to rebound with D’backs coming to town

Nats Notebook: Washington Nationals look to rebound with D’backs coming to town

Washington Nationals
(© WoodysPhotos – Shutterstock)

The Washington Nationals continue their homestand with a three-game set against Arizona, beginning Tuesday evening, before heading out for a tough upcoming stretch on the road — at Atlanta this weekend and at Houston next week.

The Nats (25-34) went 1-2 against the Phillies over the weekend, dropping to 12-19 at home this season, and finished with a 14-15 record in the month of May.

First baseman Joey Meneses brings a six-game hit streak into Tuesday’s contest, as he continues to lead the team in hits (71) and RBI (30). Meneses enters the week batting .306 on the season.

Right fielder Lane Thomas homered eight times in the month of May, while power-hitting catcher Keibert Ruiz wasn’t too far behind, with five dingers of his own. The talented young backstop went deep three times last week alone.

Third baseman Jeimer Candelario and second baseman Luis Garcia combined for 10 hits, three homers and 11 RBI last week. Nats manager Davey Martinez would love to see more production from right fielder Lane Thomas and first baseman Dominic Smith, who combined for just 7 hits and 7 strikeouts across 41 at-bats a week ago.

The team ERA is down to 4.59 on the season, which Josiah Gray’s 3.09 being the best among the regular starters. He gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in his 5.1 innings against the Phillies on Friday, but Washington hung on for an 8-7 victory thanks to one of two bullpen wins by closer Kyle Finnegan this past week, despite blowing saves in both contests.

Finnegan is 3-2 on the season, and has already matched his season high with 11 saves (4 blown saves) and 3 holds. He’s only allowed a dozen runs in 23.1 innings pitched in 2023.

The Nationals are still in last place in the NL East standings, but are only 10 games behind the first-place Braves (35-24). The Diamondbacks (35-25), meanwhile, are currently tied with the Dodgers for first in the NL West and are one of just three teams in the NL with a winning record on the road (15-11).

Veteran first baseman Christian Walker (.254 average, 53 hits, 12 homers, team-best 36 RBI) and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.310, 62 hits, 9 HR, 35 RBI) are leading the Arizona offense.

The D-Backs have a couple of former Wahoos on the roster as well — designated hitter Pavin Smith (.206, 26 hits, 5 HR, 22 RBI) and right fielder Jake McCarthy (.187, 17 hits, 1 homer, 5 RBI, 10 stolen bases). Smith was part of UVA’s College World Series championship squad in 2015 along with McCarthy’s older brother, Joe.

On the mound, Zac Gallen (7-5, 2.75 ERA, 88 strikeouts) and Merrill Kelly (7-3, 2.80 ERA, 77 strikeouts) have been a solid 1-2 punch for Arizona. The Nats are fortunate to not have to face Gallen, but Kelly is the projected starter in Friday’s game against Gray.

Jake Irvin (1-3, 5.67 ERA) gets the nod in the series opener for the Nats against Arizona lefty Tommy Henry (3-1, 3.73 ERA), and then on Wednesday, Washington’s Patrick Corbin (4-5, 4.92 ERA) faces Zach Davies (0-1, 5.40 ERA).

This Week’s Schedule

  • Tuesday vs. Arizona, 7:05 p.m. (MASN 2)
  • Wednesday vs. Arizona, 7:05 p.m. (MASN 2)
  • Thursday vs. Arizona, 1:05 p.m. (MASN 2)
  • Friday at Atlanta, 7:20 p.m. (MASN)
  • Saturday at Atlanta, 4:10 p.m. (MASN)
  • Sunday at Atlanta, 1:35 p.m. (MASN)

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website,, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.