Washington scrapped their way to a 4-3 week versus the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks
Dare I say this team is fun to watch? The 2023 Washington Nationals roster is a group of young players combined with veterans attempting to revive their careers. Starting pitching has been better than expected, and defense has been more efficient than last season.
The series against the Cubs was one of the better-played series in recent memory for the Nats. Just one error was recorded, a MacKenzie Gore failed pickoff attempt. Gore was roughed up a bit by Dansby Swanson and the rest of the Cubs lineup, lasting just four innings while giving up seven hits. Washington lost game one of the series but won the final three, led by a walk-off home run by Alex Call to win on Thursday. No. 20 prospect Jake Irvin was called up to make his major league debut on Wednesday and was impressive, throwing 4.1 innings while giving up just two hits.
Although the Diamondbacks won two out of three against the Nats, it provided some exciting baseball. Washington scored five runs in the ninth inning, led by a Keibert Ruiz home run and Lane Thomas's go-ahead two-run shot. Fast-forward to Saturday night and Joey Meneses hit a three-run shot to take the lead in the ninth. Washington held on to win on Saturday behind Hunter Harvey's first career save.
It was an exciting week to watch the Nationals win games while playing an efficient and exciting brand of baseball. Big weeks were had by a few players in the lineup, like Joey Meneses and CJ Abrams. Joey struggled a bit to begin the season but has raised his batting average to .277 entering the series versus San Fransisco. CJ Abrams, who leads the team in RBI with 17, has developed the clutch gene. On Wednesday, CJ hit a line-drive single to center to take the lead in the eighth inning. Who had a more impactful week than these guys? Luis Garcia.
Hitter of the Week
Arguably the most improved National at the plate, Luis Garcia had 11 hits this week versus the Cubs and Diamondbacks. More impressively, he struck out just three times in seven games. According to baseball-reference.com, Luis's strikeout percentage has decreased by 14 percent compared to last season. In 2022 he drew just 11 walks; he has eight already this season. The shortstop position was not the place for Garcia as he struggled in the field. In 2023 he has been an asset to the Nationals' defensive success, not committing an error through 30 games. His home run to the opposite-field versus Arizona was impressive but also highlights the work he's done to be a complete hitter at the plate.
Garcia was 8-13 versus Arizona with two doubles, a home run, and two RBI. Garcia is red hot for the Nats and has rightfully earned Player of the Week honors. Pitching has been strong for the Nationals this season, who was named Pitcher of week six?
Pitcher of the Week
Pitching in three straight games and recording his first career save earned Harvey the Pitcher of Week Six honor. Nationals fans, myself included, were surprised to see Hunter pitch in three consecutive games, given his lengthy injury history. The 28-year-old flamethrower stepped up for Washington this week, giving coach Davey Martinez a reliable arm to lean on during close games. Harvey closed out the Arizona series with a 100-mph fastball to strike out Josh Rojas,
Washington has something in Hunter Harvey. A former first-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles never found his footing in the organization and has found himself in the Nationals bullpen ten years later. Though 15 games, Harvey has a 2.30 ERA with 18 strikeouts. He pitched to a 2.75 ERA in 2022. The consistency has been important for the Nats' bullpen. Hunter has been and will continue to be a reliable arm for the Nats in 2023 and beyond.