A new season means a brand new series at District on Deck. Each Tuesday of the season, we will highlight a pitcher and hitter of the week who stood out for their performances.
The Nationals dropped two of their first three games to the Atlanta Braves. Although the series wasn't ultra-competitive, Sunday's game was a bright spot heading into the new week. Washington's pitching and defense highlighted the contest leading to a 4-1 win. Three double plays squandered Atlanta's chances at driving in runs. Washington saw some of its cornerstone pieces have success, two of which took home our player of the week honors.
Nationals Hitter of the Week
In his first games since signing a contract extension, the 24-year-old catcher hit .400 in three games versus Atlanta. Ruiz slugged his way to a 1.300 OPS, including launching a ball to the third-deck in Nationals Park.
Ruiz, in fact, did get all of that baseball. The backstop showed exactly what Nationals front office envisioned when they offered the contract extension. What is also reassuring is that Ruiz's Average Exit Velocity and Launch Angle are up from his 2022 averages, which will hopefully lead to an increase power output like we saw in his first home run in the 2023 campaign.
Pitcher of the Week
The left-hander lived up to the hype on Sunday afternoon. Gore threw 5.1 innings with six strikeouts and four walks, with just three hits given up. MacKenzie gave Nationals fans a much-needed win while showing glimpses of his potential. The 84-mph curveball to strikeout Braves first baseman Matt Olson was nasty.
Gore relied heavily on his 4 seam fastball as he threw it 63.4% of the time on Sunday, but it was incredibly effective, as Braves' hitters only had a .200 Batting Average and a .200 Slugging Percentage on the pitch. Gore also had a whiff percentage of 36.4% on his 4 seam fastball, which is very good. Promising results from the young lefty.
There is much to be excited about in Washington regarding the development of cornerstone players such as Keibert Ruiz and MacKenzie Gore. They are the first recipients of the District on Deck "Players of the Week" awards, and it will likely not be their last.