After a busy offseason in which the team addressed positions up and down its roster, it was clear that the Washington Nationals main focus over the last few months was to seize control of the pitcher-batter battles.
In that spirit, the team went after players who could join Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on the mound and names like Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez, and Jeremy Hellickson wear the “Curly W” on their chests today.
And just like that, they have already made an impact down in West Palm Beach.
The Nationals made a splash by landing the most sought-after arm in free agency, signing left-handed Patrick Corbin in December. Corbin, who has seen action twice in Spring Training play, is yet to allow an earned run – he has allowed one unearned run – in five innings work. He has struck out three batters, who hit for .167 against him.
Jeremy Hellickson, who spent last year with the team but effectively left in free agency, was brought back last month and has virtually mirrored Corbin so far on the mound. He has allowed one earned run over five innings, striking out seven batters and holding opponents to a .167 batting average. His earned run came on a long ball by Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson.
The third newcomer, Anibal Sanchez, arrived in Washington a few weeks after Corbin in late December after electing free agency at the end of the season. He has allowed two runs over four innings with one strikeout. Opposing batters have hit for .286 against him in the spring.
MLB.com’s Jamal Collier looked at the numbers for all five potential Nationals starters – Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Sanchez and Hellickson – and as it turns out, they hold a combined ERA of 1.50 over 18 innings in Spring Training. He explained that those numbers are accurate including the game played this past Sunday.
These three pitchers’ performance, coupled with the seasons that are always expected from Scherzer and Strasburg, are pointing to a resurgent season for the Nationals and a heated battle for the NL East crown.
Make no mistake. Despite failing to bring Bryce Harper back to Washington, general manager Mike Rizzo has put together a team to win, and win today.
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