Washington Nationals: Players of Week Four
By Reese Evans
A series win. The Nationals took two of three from the Minnesota Twins to earn the first series win of the year.
Washington's offense struggled to get much going early in the week, not scoring a run in two losses to the Baltimore Orioles. 11 hits in 18 innings will not win many games. Starting pitching was the highlight of the two-game set, with Josiah Gray continuing his solid start to his 2023 campaign in game one. Josiah battled through five innings where he didn't have his best stuff, scattering four hits and four walks. MacKenzie Gore threw a gem in game two, striking out seven across six innings of work. The lefty walked four and allowed a homer but looked dominant in his fourth outing of the year.
Onto the tundra of Minnesota. While setting record lows for temperatures in a Nationals game, the bats caught some heat. On Saturday, Washington scored ten runs for the second time this season. Shortstop CJ Abrams slugged his first home run in a Nationals uniform, and Joey Meneses went 4-6 at the plate. Abrams and Meneses could use the jolt of confidence from Saturday's win moving forward. Starting pitchers Patrick Corbin and Trevor Williams threw quality starts continuing the pitching staff's strong start to the season. Who were the most impactful players of the week for Washington?
Hitter of the Week
Clutch-hitting. The Nationals 24-year-old catcher delivered one of the biggest hits of the young season. Following a two-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles while scoring no runs, Washington needed a win on Friday night. In the top of the eighth inning, recently extended Keibert Ruiz hit a line drive single to left field to score Lane Thomas, putting the Nationals ahead of the Twins, 3-2.
Ruiz had a solid week, hitting .312 in four games played. A three-hit performance versus Baltimore was the offensive highlight of the series. Notably, coach Davey Martinez moved the backstop up to second in the batting order on Friday night, and Ruiz delivered. Davey has been unpredictable with lineups, as he moved Keibert back to fifth on Sunday afternoon despite the clutch hit. Ruiz hit a double in Sunday's contest versus Minnesota. The clutch hit delivered a big win for Washington, combined with three hits on Wednesday, was enough to earn hitter of the week honors for Ruiz.
Pitcher of the Week
"Big Red" is dealing. District on Deck "Pitcher of the Week" dealing. The sinker and slider dominant repertoire has Mason Thompson sporting a 1.15 ERA through 15.2 innings pitched. This week he made two appearances throwing multiple innings in both games. On Tuesday versus Baltimore, Mason threw two clean innings with a strikeout on just 19 pitches. In the 10-4 win versus Minnesota, Thompson was the pitcher of record. In 2.1 innings of relief for starter Chad Kuhl, Mason struck out four while walking none. An unearned run was scored due to catcher Riley Adams' passed ball and throwing error in the fifth inning.
Thompson taking the next step in his development is what the Nationals front office is looking for. The 25-year-old was acquired from the San Diego Padres for Daniel Hudson, which could end up being one of Mike Rizzo's better trades. The right-hander had a solid 2022 season between the Nationals and AAA Rochester, posting a 2.92 ERA at the Major League level in 24 games. Thompson battled a bicep injury that sidelined him for most of the year. It's still early, but signs point toward Thompson having immense potential in any role in the Nationals bullpen for years to come. The right-hander could have All-star potential for Washington.