Washington Nationals: Players of Week 18

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

The Comeback Kids

The Washington Nationals may not have the best record in the National League, but their grit is up there with the best of them. Two four-run comeback wins in back-to-back games versus Colorado made for an exciting start to the week for the Nats. Washington then traveled to New York for a series against the Mets that did not go as well, dropping three of four games.

The Nats gave up ten runs to Colorado on Monday night, a team who is not the best with the bats. Patrick Corbin was on the mound and allowed ten hits and five earned runs over 6.1 innings. Jeimer Candelario provided the offense for the Nats with two hits, including a home run. Alex Call drove in two runs, and Keibert Ruiz had two hits. Tuesday and Wednesday were electric in Nationals Park.

On Tuesday night versus Colorado, the Nationals had nothing going with the bats for what seemed like forever. In the eighth inning, the Nats started rallying, and Jeimer Candelario hit a double to cut into Colorado's lead, 5-3. Joey Meneses steps up to the plate and hits a three-run home run to put Washington in front, 6-5. The Nats closed out the Rockies in the ninth to seal the deal.

Just 24 hours later, the Nats were down 4-1 in the ninth inning to the Rockies. Colorado's closer, Daniel Bard, had a rough outing. With the bases loaded, Bard hit Dominic Smith in the foot to score a run. Stone Garrett hit a soft roller that scored a run, then Illdemaro Vargas worked a walk, and the game was tied at four. With the bases still loaded, CJ Abrams hit a ground ball to the right side that bounced over the head of the first baseman, scoring the winning run. The Nats walked off the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon.

A four-game road trip kicked off Thursday in New York with a tough loss to the Mets, 2-1. Mason Thompson allowed three hits and two earned runs while recording just an out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Friday night was no prettier; the Nats scored just one run for the second straight game. Luis Garcia established he owns Max Scherzer, hitting another home run against the righty. MacKenzie Gore was solid until the fifth inning, where he walked the first two batters and then gave up a mammoth home run to Pete Alonso. The Nats couldn't overcome the three-run deficit and lost by the final 5-1. The offense returned to form on Saturday as Washington totaled 11 runs on 13 hits in a win over New York. Everyone in the lineup had a base hit; it was that type of night for the Nats. Patrick Corbin threw 5.2 innings while giving up four runs to earn the win. Sunday was back to little offensive production, being outclassed by Mets' starter Justin Verlander. The Nats dropped the series finale; 5-2.

Hitter of the Week

Jeimer Candelario

As Nats fans call him, "The Candy Man" has been a great off-season signing for the Nationals. This week against the Rockies and Mets, Jeimer had a home run, three doubles, and six RBI. Candelario has the highest OPS percentage on the Nationals, at .823. His steady play over the season has been important for the Nationals' lineup.

What would Washington's lineup look like without Jeimer? We could find the answer soon, as Candelario has been generating buzz across the league in the trade market. It seems that GM Mike Rizzo could be waiting teams out to strengthen the return for Jeimer. A Top-100 prospect seems like a necessity. Will Candelario be moved ahead of this year's trade deadline? Our many questions will be answered by the deadline on Thursday.

Pitcher of the Week

Josiah Gray

Josiah Gray was dynamite on Friday night in New York. The 25-year-old righty threw six shutout innings against the Mets with four strikeouts and three walks. It was a tough-minded start from Josiah, as his ability to work out of traffic on the base paths is impressive. Gray committed a throwing error to first base in the fourth but quickly recovered to retire the side. The offseason improvement from Gray is showing why he was a highly-touted prospect in the Dodgers organization.

Gray's ERA is down to 3.27 for the 2023 season. His ERA last season was 5.02. He's undoubtedly been the best pitcher for Washington this season and arguably one of the better-starting pitchers across the Majors in 2023. What's the next step for Josiah? Limiting his walks, no question about it. Gray averages four walks per nine innings. If that number could drop under three, he would be one of the best pitchers in the National League. The Nationals have a good one in Josiah Gray. The rest of the league will catch on soon enough.