Mitchell Parker, the Nationals' Pleasant Surprise

While the Nationals have not been the most consistent team thus far in the 2024 season, they have gotten consistently good performances from a very unexpected source.
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

For years, we’ve heard that the Nationals can’t develop pitchers. Typically, when Washington has needed an arm, they’ve gotten one on the market, not from their own system. Mitchell Parker is trying to prove that theory wrong this year, and against all odds, it’s actually working. Let’s talk about the 24 year old’s game as he continues to exceed expectations this season.

Much like when Jake Irvin got the call to the majors, nobody expected much from the young starter initially. He owned a 10.45 ERA in AAA last year, and many were writing off the former 5th round pick from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s now hard to ignore his successes through the first 10 starts of his major league career. Parker has now made history, and has debatably gotten out to the best start to his career out of any starting pitcher in Nationals history.

As the sample size continues to grow, there’s only more hope for Parker’s legitimacy in Washington’s rotation. The fact that he has yet to allow more than 3 runs in a single start this season is a testament to his consistency. After easing him into the rotation, Parker has now pitched 6 or more innings in 3 of his last 4 starts. He took a no-hitbid into the 5th inning of his last outing against one of the best teams in baseball, and although his strikeout stuff wasn’t there, he only allowed 3 hits in 7 innings of work. 

It’s not like Parker has been facing the bottom-feeders of the Nationals League, either. He’s pitched against some of the best offenses in baseball (Braves 2x, Orioles, Rangers, Astros, Dodgers), limiting their success in every single outing. What’s really benefitted Washington the most is the length he’s been able to provide in recent starts. The more innings Mitchell Parker eats up, the less pressure the Nationals put on their bullpen. After his last start against the Braves, Parker’s ERA is now below 3.50. He’s turning into quite the pleasant surprise for Washington this season.

Can we expect Parker to continue dealing at this rate? Considering his successes against some of the best teams in baseball, it’s safe to say that there’s going to be room for Parker in the Nationals’ future plans. He might not throw 100mph, but his curveball has been making the best hitters across the league look silly. Could the Nationals have finally developed a left-handed pitcher? It’s legitimately starting to look like it, and it’s becoming harder and harder for the doubters to call this a “Linsanity run” as he continues to shove. 

When the news broke that Mitchell Parker was making his debut, nobody expected the 24 year old to hold the Dodgers to only 2 runs. That’s been the narrative for the majority of his outings this season, but the doubts surrounding Parker are starting to dissipate. It’s starting to look more and more like Mitchell Parker is here to stay in the Nationals starting rotation. Only one question remains… what will the Nationals do when Josiah Gray and Trevor Williams are back?