Skip to content
May 4, 2023 / Nat Anacostia

‘The morale’s good. We’re upbeat’: Nats’ April in review

As the Nationals started the season, they were often picked as the worst team in baseball. They finished the month in last place in the NL East, with a 10–17 record and trailing the division-leading Braves by 8 games. They did not, however, have the worst record in baseball—they were tied for 24th among the 30 MLB teams.

The Nats opened the season at home against the Braves, losing the first two games before winning the third one. They next hosted the Rays, who swept a three game series against the Nats. (The Rays would go on to start the season 13–0.) The Nats were 1–5 on the home stand.

Due to a rule change, the Nats will be seeing many more American League teams this season. Starting this year, each team will play a series against every team in the other league (as opposed to just five or six teams in the past), and as a result will play fewer games against each of the teams in their own division (13 rather than 19).

The Nats first road trip was to the West, where they played four games against the Rockies and three against the Angels. They split the series with the Rockies, and lost two of three to the Angels, for a record of 3–4 on the trip.

Returning home, they faced the Guardians and lost two of three. The Orioles then swept a 2 game series, shutting out the Nats in both games and giving the Nats a 1–4 record on the home stand. Starting with their third game against the Rockies and continuing through their first game against the Orioles, the Nats played nine consecutive games that were determined by one or two runs. Their record during the nine-game span was 3–6.

Their next road trip began with a three-game series against the Twins. These would be the three coldest games in Nationals history, with temperatures as the games started of 37, 35, and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The players bundled up and the Nats seemed to do well in the cold, winning the first two games before losing the third. They next played the Mets in New York City and again won the first two games before losing the third. They finished their road trip with a 4–2 record.

The month concluded at home with a 3-game series against the Pirates, (who, to everyone’s surprise, had the best record in the National League). The Friday night game was rained out, and was made up with a doubleheader the next day. The Pirates swept the doubleheader, including a 16–1 blowout in the second game, but the Nats won on Sunday to make the series two games to one for the Pirates.

A number of players made their debuts with the team this month. On opening day, Jeimer Candelario, Dominic Smith, and Corey Dickerson made their debuts—these players were all discussed in my last post on off-season transactions. Also discussed in that article were starting pitchers Trevor Williams, who debuted with the Nats in game 4, and Chad Kuhl, who debuted with the Nats in the game 5, and relief pitcher Thaddeus Ward, the Rule V draft pick who made his major league debut in game 2. Stone Garrett joined the team after Dickerson was injured early in the season, debuting with the Nats in game 5. Garrett hit well in limited playing time. Jeter Downs was called up after an injury to Ildemaro Vargas and debuted with the Nats in game 26.

Not discussed in that article was starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore, who was acquired from the Padres last summer as part of the Juan Soto trade. He had pitched 16 games last season for the Padres, but was injured and not able to start for the Nationals after the trade. Gore debuted with the Nats in game 3 and pitched well the rest of the month. Also not discussed in that article were several non-roster invitees who made the opening roster. Relief pitcher Hobie Harris, who had played in the minor league systems of the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Brewers, made his major league debut in game 2. Lefty relief pitcher Anthony Banda, who had pitched since 2017 for the Diamondbacks, Rays, Mets, Pirates, Blue Jays, and Yankees, made his debut with the Nats in game 2. The month did not go well for Banda, and he ended it designated for assignment. Infielder Michael Chavis, who had played since 2019 for the Red Sox and Pirates, made his debut with the Nats in game 5.

During the month, the team was slightly below average in pitching and well below average in hitting. The starting pitching seems improved from last season, with three of the five starters pitching fairly well in April. The relief pitching remains a relative strength for the team, with near-average performance on a team that is below average in many areas. The hitters had batting averages that were slightly above the major league average and walk rates that were somewhat below the league average. But as power hitters, they were far below average. The Nats hit only 15 home runs in March/April, ranking last among the 30 major league teams.


10–17 (.370)

Pythagorean Record:

11–16 (3.85 R/G – 4.81 RA/G)

April MVP:

Josiah Gray (2–4, 2.67 RA/9, 6 GS, 33⅔ IP, 8.3 K/9, .319 opp OBP, 1.2 RA9-WAR). He had three consecutive losing starts where he pitched well but had zero run support.

Position player of the month:

Jeimer Candelario (.239/.292/.404, 4 HR, 12 R, 14 RBI, 86 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR). Solid defense at third and a bit of power bumps him ahead of the other potential candidates for this award.

Reliever of the month:

Mason Thompson (2–2, 2.37 RA/9, 11 G, 19 IP, 8.1 K/9, .217 opp OBP, 5.03 RE24, 4 shutdowns, 1 meltdown, 0.6 RA9-WAR).

Worst month:

Chad Kuhl (0–2, 9.41 RA/9, 5 G, 22 IP, 7.4 K/9, .415 opp OBP, –0.7 RA9-WAR). It was a tough month for him all around, with his wife going through cancer treatment and Chad ending the month on the injured list. Our best wishes to both of them.

Best start this month:

Josiah Gray (April 25, 5–0 win over the Mets in New York) pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 9 for a game score of 72.

Worst start:

Chad Kuhl (April 29, 16–1 loss to the Pirates at home in the second game of a doubleheader), gave up 8 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks in 3⅔ innings, with 4 strikeouts, for a game score of 15.

Tough losses:

  • Josiah Gray (April 6, 1–0 loss to the Rockies in Denver) gave up 1 run on 8 hits and 1 walk in 6 innings while striking out 6, for a game score of 57.
  • Josiah Gray (April 11, 2–0 loss to the Angels in Anaheim) gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in 5⅔ innings while striking out 3 (game score of 54). The opposing pitcher was Shohei Ohtani.
  • Josiah Gray (April 18, 1–0 loss to the Orioles at home) gave up 1 run on 4 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings while striking out 3 (game score of 54).
  • MacKenzie Gore (April 19, 4–0 loss to the Orioles at home) gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings while striking out 7 (game score of 57).
  • Patrick Corbin (April 23, 3–1 loss to the Twins in Minneapolis) gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings while striking out 6 (game score of 50).

Cheap win:

  • Patrick Corbin (April 10, 6–4 win over the Angels in Anaheim) gave up 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings while striking out 3 (game score of 37).

Biggest shutdown:

Hunter Harvey (April 26, 4–1 win over the Mets in New York) came into the game in the bottom of the seventh with one out, runners on second and third, and the Nats leading 3–1. He struck out Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor to get out of the inning unscathed. He came back for the eighth (with the Nats now leading 4–1) and retired the side on a strikeout and two ground outs. (win probability added/WPA +.272)

Worst meltdown:

Kyle Finnegan (April 4, 10–6 loss to the Rays at home). The Nats were ahead 6–5 when Finnegan got the call to get the save in the top of the ninth. He immediately gave up home runs to Luke Raley and Josh Lowe, putting the Nats behind. He walked the next batter (who stole second but was thrown out trying to steal third), then gave up a single followed by a double. Yandy Diaz then hit a 3-run home run, and the Nats trailed 10–6. Hobie Harris got the call to get the final two outs. Finnegan had faced 6 batters and gave up 5 runs on 5 hits (including 3 home runs and a double) and a walk. (WPA –.821) This was the Rays’ fifth consecutive win; they would go on to open the season 13–0.

Clutch hit:

CJ Abrams (April 27, 9–8 loss to the Mets in New York). The Nats were trailing 7–4 when Abrams came to bat in the top of the eighth with one out and the bases loaded. Abrams lofted a cutter into the Nats bullpen in right-center field for a grand slam, putting the Nats ahead 8–7 (WPA +.565). Unfortunately, the Nats’ bullpen was unable to hold the lead, surrendering two runs in the bottom of the frame.


Jeimer Candelario (April 29, 6–3 loss to the Pirates at home in game 1 of a doubleheader). Trailing 1–0 in the bottom of the third, the bases were loaded and there were no outs. Candelario hit a sharp liner to the shortstop, who was able to double off CJ Abrams at second base. (WPA –.200). The next batter, Joey Meneses, grounded out to end the inning, with the Nats unable to score.

Memorable fielding plays:

%d bloggers like this: