Step 4: The Young Core Take The Next Step
Gone are the days of Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, and the majority of the Nats 2019 World Series core. In their place are Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas, and Riley Adams. They join Carter Kieboom, Victor Robles, and Luis Garcia in what is Washington’s new youth movement with Juan Soto as the centerpiece.
Over the last two months of the 2021 season, D.C. fans were subjected to a mix of growing pains and glimpses of brilliance. Most particular, Ruiz (.284/.348/.395), Garcia (.242/.275/.411), and Gray (5.31 ERA, 5.71 FIP) showcased why they are all seen as future cornerstones. For Washington, they need their youngsters to take the next step in their development.
In the Giants case, their roster is full of mostly veterans, but 24-year-olds Logan Webb and Camilo Doval were key contributors to the team’s success. After thriving in the minors, Webb stumbled in his first taste of the big leagues, posting a 5.22 ERA and 5.47 ERA in 2019 (39.2 innings) and 2020 (54.1 innings) respectively.
But this year, Webb was finally able to put everything together, posting a 3.03 ERA with 158 strikeouts. Against the Dodgers in the NLDS, Webb made his playoff debut, but quickly showed he had ice in his veins. He only allowed one run in 14 2/3 innings, while striking out 17. Despite losing the series, Webb showcased he is already following in the footsteps of Giants greats, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.
The rookie Doval took over as the Giants starter down the stretch, posting a 3.00 ERA, with 37 strikeouts in 27 innings. In the NLDS, he threw a perfect ninth inning in Game 1 before recording the save in Game 3. Unfortunately, he couldn’t replicate his success and allowed the eventual winning run in the top of the ninth of Game 5. Despite that, the flamethrower established himself as a top up and coming closer.
Unlike the Giants whose main core is filled with mainly veterans, Washington is relying on their youngsters to take the next step in their development to truly contend.