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Series Preview: Mariners (37-39) vs. Nationals (30-47)

The Mariners return home for a rare three-game series against the Nationals.

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Mariners were so close to showing some actual positive signs on offense last week. The two double-digit run totals on Thursday and Friday got their run differential back into the positive side of the ledger but they still wound up losing four of their six games on their road trip. This series against the Nationals is their last chance to beat up on a weaker ballclub before the All-Star break; they have the Rays, Giants, and Astros lined up after this.

At a Glance

Nationals Mariners
Nationals Mariners
Game 1 Monday, June 26 | 6:40 pm
RHP Trevor Williams RHP Luis Castillo
28% 72%
Game 2 Tuesday, June 27 | 6:40 pm
RHP Jake Irvin RHP Bryan Woo
33% 67%
Game 3 Wednesday, June 28 | 1:10 pm
LHP Patrick Corbin RHP Logan Gilbert
31% 69%
*Game odds courtesy of FanGraphs

Team Overview

Overview Nationals Mariners Edge
Overview Nationals Mariners Edge
Batting (wRC+) 93 (12th in NL) 98 (9th in AL) Mariners
Fielding (OAA) -2 (9th) 12 (1st) Mariners
Starting Pitching (FIP-) 112 (12th) 91 (3rd) Mariners
Bullpen (FIP-) 114 (15th) 87 (3rd) Mariners

The Nationals have fallen quickly after their World Series victory back in 2019. The only players remaining from that championship roster are Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Victor Robles. Over the last three seasons, they’ve embraced a full tear down, trading away Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, and Juan Soto for a huge haul of prospects. Most of those youngsters are still developing in the minor leagues which means the 2023 roster is in the weird middleground between rebuilding and the forthcoming youth movement. They haven’t been as bad as expected thanks to some strong years from a few veterans and a handful of smaller breakouts. Still, it’s going to be a while until they’re truly ready to climb out of this valley.

Nationals Lineup

Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Player Position Bats PA K% BB% ISO wRC+
Lane Thomas RF R 323 25.4% 5.6% 0.208 127
Luis García 2B L 295 11.9% 5.1% 0.117 86
Jeimer Candelario 3B S 311 19.0% 8.4% 0.210 117
Joey Meneses DH R 313 18.5% 5.8% 0.088 94
Corey Dickerson LF L 87 17.2% 5.7% 0.148 95
Keibert Ruiz C S 263 8.0% 5.7% 0.140 77
Dominic Smith 1B L 301 15.0% 8.3% 0.055 78
Derek Hill CF R 204 21.6% 7.8% 0.209 127
CJ Abrams SS L 259 22.8% 3.5% 0.160 80
Hill’s stats from Triple-A

As a team, the Nationals are incredibly difficult to strike out. They’ve embraced a heavy contact focused approach at the plate leading to the lowest team strikeout rate and the second lowest team walk rate in the majors. Unfortunately, without much power in their lineup, their team batting average is a pretty empty .262. The best batter in their lineup has been Lane Thomas who has shown consistent growth since coming over from the Cardinals back in 2021. He’s hitting for more power than ever before and he still has two more years of team control left. It’s possible he’ll be the elder statesman on the next competitive Nationals roster. Keibert Ruiz and CJ Abrams, two young prospects who are already contributing in the big leagues, have struggled this year. The latter just hasn’t been able to get on base consistently to utilize his plus speed while the former hasn’t found a way to translate his power breakout from 2021.

Probable Pitchers

Updated Stuff+ Explainer

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

RHP Trevor Williams

76 17.6% 7.3% 14.1% 40.1% 4.14 5.16
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 47.4% 90.1 80 80 99 0.366
Sinker 14.4% 88.2 90 127 53 0.359
Changeup 15.5% 83.3 69 49 126 0.350
Slider 14.3% 81.8 93 90 104 0.338
Sweeper 8.4% 76.8 100 54 96 0.290

Trevor Williams found himself at the center of some controversy earlier this year when he made some insensitive and unsympathetic comments about the Dodgers Pride Night celebration. On the mound, he certainly hasn’t done much to standout. A journeyman who is on his fourth team in four years, he’s well established as a swingman who can eat innings out of the rotation or the bullpen. He has a trio of secondary pitches that he mixes in around his fastball, with his gyro slider being the best of the bunch. He fills the zone with his pitches but none of them earn enough swings and misses to truly be effective.

RHP Jake Irvin

42 17.4% 12.1% 7.7% 41.7% 4.71 4.94
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 36.5% 93.6 90 48 89 0.382
Sinker 26.9% 92.9 98 51 99 0.351
Changeup 6.1% 87.5
Curveball 30.5% 79.7 107 81 194 0.282

Jake Irvin made his major league debut this year after quickly rising through the Nationals farm system. His 6-foot-6 frame helps him gain an above average amount of extension on his pitches, imparting a healthy amount of perceived velocity to his fastball that already sits in the mid-90s. He mixes in a slurvy curveball as his best secondary pitch, though some release point inconsistency makes it pretty easy to pick up out of his hand. He doesn’t really have a third pitch at this point in his development; he’s dabbled with a changeup but has struggled with the feel for that pitch making it a distant third option in his arsenal.

LHP Patrick Corbin

89 2/3 14.0% 7.1% 16.3% 45.9% 5.32 5.18
Pitch Frequency Velocity Stuff+ Whiff+ BIP+ xwOBA
Four-seam 13.5% 91.6 66 55 84 0.462
Sinker 45.5% 92.0 86 62 80 0.389
Changeup 8.6% 81.1 63 124 121 0.408
Slider 32.4% 79.4 83 96 95 0.343

It’s been a long time since Patrick Corbin was the Nationals number 1C behind their 1A and 1B in Scherzer and Strasburg. After signing a huge six-year deal with Washington in 2019 and helping them win a World Series, he hit a wall — possibly due to overuse during their championship run — and hasn’t recovered. His signature slider is still a pretty effective pitch but opposing batters are absolutely crushing his fastballs which makes it hard to get to his breaking ball during at bats. To make matters worse, he doesn’t really have a great option to keep right-handed batters at bay with a mediocre changeup his best option in his repertoire. That means his platoon splits have been pretty lopsided.

The Big Picture:

The AL West

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Rangers 47-30 0.610 -- L-W-W-L-L
Astros 42-36 0.538 5.5 W-W-L-L-W
Angels 42-37 0.532 6.0 L-L-L-W-L
Mariners 37-39 0.487 9.5 L-W-W-L-L
Athletics 20-60 0.250 28.5 L-L-W-L-L

The Wild Card Race

Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Team W-L W% Games Behind Recent Form
Orioles 47-29 0.618 +5.5 W-L-L-W-W
Yankees 43-35 0.551 +0.5 W-L-L-W-W
Blue Jays 43-36 0.544 -- W-W-L-W-W
Astros 42-36 0.538 0.5 W-W-L-L-W
Angels 42-37 0.532 1.0 L-L-L-W-L
Red Sox 40-39 0.506 3.0 L-L-W-L-L

The three teams ahead of the Mariners in the AL West all lost their weekend series which means the standings stayed static. The Rangers couldn’t get their offense going in New York and return home to face the Tigers this week. The Astros barely avoided a three-game sweep by the Dodgers, winning their game on Sunday in 11 innings, and travel to St. Louis next. The Angels outscored the Rockies 32-12 over the weekend thanks to a lopsided 25-1 score in their record-breaking victory on Saturday but wound up losing two of three anyway; they’ll limp home to host the White Sox.