Nationals Baseball: Pitching : The Good and the Bad

Friday, May 31, 2024

Pitching : The Good and the Bad

If the offense didn't seem to match the brightness of the season that's because the offense isn't all that bright. It's managed to hang on because of some fast starts and timely hits but it's still 13th in the league in runs.  It's the starting pitching that's carrying this team. 

Jake Irvin 

The Good 

His walk rate has dropped precipitously from over 4 per 9 IP to almost 1.5. That's better than he ever did in the minors.  He's also seen his HR rate drop to a little under 1, more in line with his minor league stats than the 1.5 he put up last season. 

The Bad

He still doesn't strike out many (this will be a re-occurring theme) and guys are basically hitting the ball in the same manner as last year - just slightly less hard and slightly more on the ground. That puts him at the mercy of where the ball goes. IOW - luck. 


Don't put guys on base. Don't give up homers. Strike guys out.  Give me 2 of 3 and you will be successful unless you are REALLY bad at the other. Irvin is getting lucky but only a little bit and has deserved this good start. You have to wonder if he can keep up the super low walk rate but until he doesn't why not? You don't know if he has focused on it before


Mitchell Parker

The Good 

See Jake Irvin. You have a super low walk rate and a decent HR rate. The HR rate is especially nice because that is what he excelled at in the minors and it's something you could think he could keep up. He's inducing far more GBs 

The Bad

He is not striking guys out and he's not inducing a lot of soft contact. 


If you want to be wary about one of the starters Mitchell would be it. He's not just improving at one specific aspect like Irvin. He's never pitched like this before in the minors. Now, it's not like he's doing anything that screams it can't keep it up but he has the least amount of history suggesting he can and if pitching was a simple as "throw it in the zone and keep them from homering" we'd have a lot more great pitchers.

MacKenzie Gore

The Good

Completely coming into his own. The K-rate is ace level as is the HR rate. The walk rate is completely acceptable. The hard hit rate has dropped. Velocity is up. Swinging strikes is up. Outside the zone swing rate keeping going up while the contact keeps going down. Just a grab bag of goodies here.  There seems to be actually BAD luck for him a BABIP going which suggests possibly more improvement although oddly he does seem to be a guy that when guys can put in the ball in play they do it pretty well.

The Bad

He doesn't start off with strikes as often as he should and given the mere acceptable walk-rate and high K-rate he tends to throw a lot of pitches quickly. Even with 0 walks last game he was getting to 100 pitches before getting out of the 6th. For someone with a history of injury this can be a precarious thing to deal with.


I'm not sure what more can you want.  He's one step away - either efficiency or durability - from being an true ace if he keeps pitching like this.

Trevor Williams

The Good

2023 was a "bottom out" year for Williams featuring an unusually low K rate and high BB rate. Those have both shifted more back to historical norms for him. Also similarly he's inducing GBs at a rate more in line with what you'd expect from him. He's very much keeping the ball in the park and keeping the ball from being hit well. 

The Bad

He's still getting hit hard.  Nothing about his strike or chase numbers suggest massive improvement fooling hitters.


If you want my take Williams is having the make-up year from last season. He pitched poorly and everything broke as bad as it could while doing so.  Now he's pitching better and everything is breaking as good as it can.  The stats all scream he can't keep this up. That HR/FB rate (3.3%)  which is about 1/3 of what the best pitchers normally get for a year is just a flashing red light. Some regression is coming here. The question is if that puts him as still very good or just ok.  Again he's pitching well so there isn't a comeuppance to bad coming here unless something changes - which it might - his historic HR/FB rate can get kind of high. 

General Memorial Day sense 

The Nats are getting nearly everything they could be getting from these 4.  There are some things to keep watching and some things not to expect to keep up.  I'd be pretty surprised if Parker and Williams are holding the same stats come the All-Star break. But unless they completely collapse, an unlikely scenario, the Nats can still rely on them for decent innings if not great ones.  In the meantime Jake Irvin is starting to solidify himself as a mid-rotation starter and Gore is setting himself up for ace status.  This is pretty much the best case scenario for the Nats going into the season in a general sense. (I'd say pretty much bc best would include Gray rounding into a #2 type as well). There's likely some comeuppance coming and since the offense doesn't hold the same "likely to get better" status a slight dip in performance but if you are looking toward the future a drop off in 2024 win rate shouldn't bother you more than these performances on the mound by Gore, Irvin, and maybe Parker excite you


Anonymous said...

Nothing about taking 3/4 in Atlanta? That could be the highlight of our season!

Jay086 said...

Ace status is a stretch for gore imo until he can go deeper into games

Mainelaker said...

Didn't see anything about Corbin. Are we hoping he disappears, or at least moves to pen? Or do you expect him to stay in the rotation?

Carl said...

If Williams ends up being our All-Star, I may hurl.

kubla said...


I think Harper is evaluating the future pieces of the rotation/pitching depth. Corbin doesn't figure in because he's cooked and will be gone by 2025 if not sooner. I can take a shot at it though.

The good:
His contract is up soon. His HR% is down and his GB % is about his career average. By bWAR, he's not the worst SP in the league.

The bad:
He is on the team right now. The HR% thing is probably luck because his hard-hit and line drive % are up. His K % is way down from his best years. He's the fifth-worst pitcher.

Sending him out every five days bums me out. Please bring up someone else. A replacement-level player would be a roughly two-game improvement over the remainder of the season.

Anonymous said...

Could Mitchell Parker be the new John Lannan?

Anonymous said...

Nah, throws much harder & better stuff. Overall just looks better than Lannon so far at least

Ole PBN said...

Re: Corbin… think about what he would have to do down the stretch to increase his value enough to net even a mediocre prospect? And even if he did turn it around over the next several starts before the trade deadline… how likely is it to happen? So we have a guy who is as solid a bet as ever to stay healthy as he is to be terrible down the stretch. He doesn’t factor into the future, and yet is slated to take the ball with his 6 ERA every fifth day.

Maybe there is something in his contract that prevent a move to the bullpen, regardless of his performance? Because where this team is headed with an eye towards the future, I would love to see that spot go to some names that we need to evaluate this year if we’re going to contend next year. Instead of Corbin, we could be seeing Rutledge or Cavalli (once healthy)? Not to mention, who gets booted once Josiah Gray returns? Either we move to six man rotation or someone not named “Gore” gets demoted. I can’t believe Rizzo would do that…

SMS said...

@Ole PBN - Agreed on Corbin being untradable as a starter, but this team didn't give up on Dickerson until the deadline, so stubbornness may prevail.

My hope was that Cavalli or Gray would have been ready by about now, which would've given Corbin a couple of months to luck into some good relief results and maybe someone would be interested if we paid down some salary. But Gray hasn't even started his rehab assignment and Cavalli's fastball control looked pretty off last night. They're both at least 3 weeks away, so no time to build a new Corbin narrative. Oh well, he goes deep into games, which helps the bullpen, and he's not really blocking anyone yet, so I guess I'm fine with it. (It's also just healthy for me to have a good reason to not watch a game or two a week...)

But, yeah, it would be an absolute tragedy is they demote Irvin or Parker when they're pitching like this. I can't imagine Rizzo would do that.

Anonymous said...

Mostly just meant the pitching to contact and giving up very few homers.

kubla said...


They could package Corbin with the reliever and/or position player getting the most interest. The other team takes on his salary in exchange for giving the Nats nothing in the trade. We never have to think about him again.

(I recognize that he had a decent game tonight and the JV relievers crapped the bed, but I will stand by that being luck because he gave up 9 H+BB and had only 5 Ks over 6 innings. The ER was low because all those baserunners didn't score.)

Steven Grossman said...

Guys....sorry that the future isn't coming fast enough to suit your tastes. The pieces are there. Stick to the plan; let's not rush.

In MLBTR's Front Office Q&A today:
****If you could gaze into your crystal ball and undo all the trades that AJ Preller made to send prospects away, would the Padres be better off today?
Anthony Franco
3:30 Really good question. The answer's probably yes, largely because of the Soto trade alone. Gore, Abrams and James Wood all look like franchise building blocks
****Agree 100% Padres don't look great. As I kept saying to Nats fans who still complain, you weren't winning *with* Soto. As Corbin comes off the books, is this the offseason that the Nats go fishing for free agent pitching?
Anthony Franco
4:00 From a baseball perspective, next year is the right time. The Nats situation is complicated by the Lerners "will they, won't they sell" dance, but the payroll/position player core are falling into place and there are a decent number of upside starters who'll be available. Fried's the big one, but Buehler and Flaherty are out there. Severino looks good again

G Cracka X said...

Entering Monday, your Nationals fWAR position player leader is.....Jacob Young