Opening Day was exciting as it could be for a rebuilding team. I am overreacting to this past weekend’s Nationals games but some of my points I feel are valid.
First off, why was Alex Call getting blown away by 87-90 MPH fastballs in several of his at-bats on opening day? I understand getting tricked with a nasty pitch, but a major leaguer shouldn’t have any trouble fouling low-velocity fastballs off. He did a lot better with this on Sunday. Opening day jitters I guess.
Secondly, several players were swinging at pitches way out of the strike zone. CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia, and Lane Thomas didn’t look good at the plate at all. Abrams had three errors to go along with a K in his 0-4 day. Corbin didn’t look very good as he was yanked in the fourth inning but at least he didn’t give up as much hard contact as usual. One bright spot was Joey Meneses and his ability to barrel up the ball. Even the final out of the game was solid contact. Hunter Harvey, Mason Thompson, and Erasmo Ramirez highlighted what has the potential to be one of the top bullpens in the league this year. Along with Hobie Harris and Thad Ward, don’t be surprised if this bullpen is the best part of the team this year. Hopefully they won’t be overworked as much as they were last season.
Game 2 provided some more negative overreactions. Josiah Gray looked nothing like he did during spring training and allowed 5 earned runs including 3 home runs. CJ Abrams continued to struggle at the plate and rule-5 pick Thad Ward didn’t exactly impress in his Nats debut. This year development is a higher priority than wins and losses. Gray and Abrams are two players that I am looking to see strong improvement from and even though we are only two games in, the play we saw from them in spring training is completely absent.
The offense as a whole struggled mightily. We knew that the offense wouldn’t be that great this year but putting up only 3 runs through the first two games is pretty pitiful for any team. Keibert Ruiz did crush a ball into the upper deck, displaying the power potential that we know he has.
Game 3 provided a much better show as Mackenzie Gore showed some great stuff besides a few walks. Lane Thomas showed his doubters that he can be a leadoff hitter. He just needs to be more consistent and avoid the strikeouts. Jeimer Candelario played incredible defense in game 3. I was very surprised considering his offense was talked about much more than his defense before the season.
Overall, the offense needs to be more consistent. Even though the series finale was better, no runs were scored by the Nats after the first inning. Hits need to be strung together and the chasing of pitches outside the zone needs to be fixed, especially by the veteran players on the team.
Biggest positive overreaction of the series: The Bullpen is going to be one of the best in the entire league this season.
Biggest negative overreaction of the series: CJ Abrams has gotten worse and will eventually be sent down.