Nationals Update: Josiah Gray Named Opening Day Starter

For the first time since 2020, the Nationals will not have Patrick Corbin be their Opening Day starter. Instead, 2023 All-Star Josiah Gray will take the mound as the Nationals will look to begin the season 1-0 on March 28.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day
Gatorade All-Star Workout Day / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

On Friday, we wrote about who would likely be the Nationals' Opening Day starter. A bit of opportune timing on our part as the Nationals and managed Davey Martinez announced today that Josiah Gray would be the team's Opening Day starter.

Safe to say we nailed that prediction.

It does not come as much of a surprise, however, as the Nationals were more so trotting Patrick Corbin for the past three Opening Days due to tenure and not performance. Last season, a challenger emerged in the form of Josiah Gray en route to an All Star campaign and now, an Opening Day nod.

Josiah Gray easily had his best campaign last season in his short MLB career, pitching to a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts covering 159 innings. He drastically reduced the number of home runs he gave up in the year prior, although the walk issue still crept up from time to time. His WHIP increased from 2022 to 2023, so there is still room for improvement, but I think many, likely even Gray himself, are happy with the improvement year over year.

You can argue ceiling and talent all you want, but it is safe to say Josiah Gray is currently the best pitcher in the Nationals rotation. He is also a fan favorite too, as the team has relatively reserved personalities all throughout whereas Gray will frequently display his fiery emotions on the mound. Maybe not quite to the level that Max Scherzer once did, but it is cool to see Gray hype up his teammates or give a strikeout yell.

Gray's Opening Day start will unfortunately come on the road this season, as the Nationals open their year in Cincinnati against the Reds on March 28, but it is still an honor nonetheless. It does however create a small ripple effect, as now it looks like either Trevor Williams or Jake Irvin (perhaps even Zach Davies) will be the starter for the Home Opener on April 1 against the Pirates. Not ideal for fans who are hoping the Nats can snap this home opener losing streak, but it still is more important to have Gray start Opening Day regardless of home or away. As manager Davey Martinez said, Gray has "earned it."

In that same quote, Martinez said Patrick Corbin will start Game 2, so he was not relegated very far in terms of the Nationals' rotation. This presumably means that MacKenzie Gore is the team's current three starter, although many are bullish on Gore's upside and he will likely surpass Corbin at some point this season.

This is the period that many Nationals fans have long been waiting for - the proverbial passing of the torch, so to speak. The Nationals have little connection to their last great team, the 2019 World Series winning team - just Corbin and Victor Robles remain, both of which are likely to be gone following this season if not sooner. Following their departure, the Nationals will officially be a new team with the young up-and-coming stars leading the way. Gray has already taken up the mantle of Opening Day starter, and reinforcements such as Dylan Crews and James Wood are likely not far away.