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The Morning Briefing: Juan Soto Is Pretty Good at Baseball…

Here are today's latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals for Friday, September 24, 2021

Good Friday Morning, Washington Nationals Fans. Here are the latest Nationals and Major League Baseball headlines and analysis for Friday, September 24, 2021. 

Upcoming Games: 

  • Friday, September 24, 2021: Washington Nationals v. Cincinnati Reds; 7:10 pm EST
  • Saturday, September 25, 2021: Washington Nationals v. Cincinnati Reds; 7:10 pm EST
  • Sunday, September 26, 2021: Washington Nationals v. Cincinnati Reds; 1:10 pm EST 
  • Monday, September 27, 2021: Washington Nationals v. Colorado Rockies; 8:40 pm EST

TGIF, Nats Report readers. I hope that you had a great week and are looking forward to this weekend. It’s officially Fall and the weather here in the Washington D.C. metro area has started to reflect the new season. The Washington Nationals have started a weekend series in Cincinnati against the Reds.  Last night, the Nationals were able to get another Curly W behind a good performance from Patrick Corbin and from the bat of Juan Soto. Here is our brief game recap from the game. 

Patrick Corbin pitched pretty well last night, and we hope that he is going to end this season with some positive momentum and be back in 2022 a lot better than his performance this year. In last night’s game, Corbin went 6.2 innings with 99 pitches and didn’t give up any runs. Corbin only gave up four hits, walked only four, and struck out seven. Not a bad game performance, especially after the year that Corbin had. 

Juan Soto also went through another tear last night. Here are just some of the impressive stats from last night’s game: 

  • Juan Soto set a Washington Nationals single-season record of walks with a total of 131.
  • Soto hit two home runs, a single to center, and had two RBI’s.
  • Soto also matched a Nationals record by reaching base safely in 10 consecutive plate appearances.
  • Soto is only four away from reaching Ted Williams record of most games reaching base safely 4 times during one game before turning 23 with 50 games.
  • Soto went 3-2 with two RBI’s, 2 homeruns, one walk and no strikeouts. It brings his batting average up to an impressive .327
  • Soto has gotten on base seventeen times in his last four games, which is the first time any major league baseball player has done that since 2013.

Basically, Soto single-handedly won the game for the Washington Nationals last night by scoring two of the three runs. That is just incredible. Josh Bell was also able to improve his own batting average last night, with an RBI single to left field scoring Lane Thomas.  (Related Article: Perspective: Juan Soto Should Be A Washington Nationals For Life) 

Kyle Finnegan almost blew the game for the Nationals, however, he was able to record the save after an adventurous bottom of the ninth. The Nationals win 3-2, and have won three straight and four out of five. The Nationals record is now 64-89 still in last place in the NL East. 

Tonight, the Nationals will send RHP Paolo Espino to the mound and will make his first career start against the Reds. Previously, Espino pitched in 3 innings of relief on June 28, 2017, as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. On Saturday, the Nationals will send RHP Eric Fedde to the mound and then LHP Josh Rogers will finish out the series on Sunday. For the Reds, they will send Sonny Gray to the mound tonight and then RHP Vladimir Gutierrez on Saturday. The Nationals will face Gutierrez for the first time ever.  

Welcome to the Show…. Yesterday afternoon, the Washington Nationals announced that they selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Jhon Romero from Triple-A Rochester and placed outfielder Yadiel Hernandez on the Paternity List on Thursday. Additionally, the Nationals designated catcher Jakson Reetz for assignment. 

Romero, 26, went 2-4 with two saves and a 2.62 ERA in 38 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester in 2021. He struck out 69 batters against just 11 walks with a .237 opponents’ batting average in 55.0 innings pitched. He tossed more than one inning in 18 of his 38 games, posting a 1.23 ERA (5 ER/36.2 IP) in those outings.

In five outings with Triple-A Rochester, Romero posted a 1.23 ERA (1 ER/7.1 IP) with 11 strikeouts, one walk, and five hits allowed (.192 opp. AVG). He joined the Red Wings after going 2-4 with two saves and a 2.83 ERA in 33 outings with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. A native of Colombia, Romero was acquired by the Nationals from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-handed pitcher Brandon Kintzler on July 31, 2018. 

Jhon Romero has posted a 2.84 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in 119 career Minor League outings across six professional seasons. He was originally signed by the Chicago Cubs as an undrafted free agent on May 13, 2015.

Congratulations to Josiah Gray… With the Nationals winning in Miami on Wednesday night, right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray got his first major league career win. The right-hander pitched six innings and only gave up two runs, struck out eight, and finished his night at 100 pitches. He also stranded the tying runs on base in the bottom of the sixth and handed his team with a lead, which the bullpen was able to actually hold on to. [Congratulations to the Nationals bullpen also!] 

Since coming to the Washington Nationals at the end of July, Gray has had many chances to get his first career win, however, due to the bullpen not holding, it has taken almost two months to get this win. Since coming to the Nationals, Gray has gone 1-2 and pitched in ten games, and has an ERA of 5.96. He has given up 34 runs and 14 home runs. However, he has struck out 52, walked 23 in 51.1 innings pitched. Lastly, Gray has a WHIP of 1.403 and a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.26


SOTO for MVP? We think so!  We all know how talented Juan Soto is and that the Nationals need to figure out a way to make Soto a Washington National for life, (but that is a topic for another time). Juan Soto is creating quite an impressive resume for 2021 that could land him his first MVP award and quite possibly win his second National League batting title. Before last night’s game, Soto was 26-51 with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 10 RBI’s, 18 walks, and 14 runs scored over his last 15 games. Additionally, he has hit safely in 13 of the last 15 games prior to last night’s game. Last night, Juan Soto set a Washington Nationals single-season record of walks with a total of 131. 

Juan Soto passed former Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in walks per season. Additionally, ​​Juan Soto’s last 16 games played he has gone 29-for-54 with 19 walks, 1 HBP, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs and his batting average during this stretch is .537 … 

Juan Soto deserves to be MVP this season for the National League hands down. Lastly, during this four-game road trip, Soto OBP is a very very good .800.  

A New Culture in the Nationals front office? It was reported earlier this week that Mondry-Cohen’s assistant general manager for baseball research and development for the Washington Nationals is leaving the Nationals after this season. Mondry-Cohen joined the Nationals on a full-time basis as an analyst in baseball operations for the Washington Nationals after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. Mondry-Cohen was the assistant general manager for baseball research and development for the Nationals. He was promoted to a manager on the operations staff before assuming the role of Research and Development. According to Dougherty of the Washington Post, Mondry-Cohen is credited with developing “The Pentagon,” which is a Nationals’ internal statistics database. Again from the Post: “And while Washington is known as a scout-first, old-school organization, Mondry-Cohen and his staff were part of a subtle shift toward a more balanced approach.

That has shown behind the scenes in player acquisition and in-game strategy. It was, after all, the numbers guys who pushed the Nationals to trade for Howie Kendrick in 2017. Another example is defensive positioning, as the Nationals have shifted more aggressively in recent years.”


A New Baseball? Yesterday afternoon Baseball America reported that Major League Baseball is going to be experimenting with a “Pre-Tacked” baseball during the Triple-A final stretch.  From the article: “Major League Baseball is experimenting with the use of a different, pre-tacked baseball in select Triple-A games during the final days of the minor league season. MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword told Baseball America on Thursday a ‘handful’ of Triple-A teams will use the new baseball at some point during the final 10 games of the Triple-A season, known as the ‘Final Stretch’. ‘On a very limited basis, we are getting into games a couple of prototype baseballs that [have] a different substance applied to them for grip purposes’ Sword said. ‘It’s not all the way across Triple-A. We just don’t have enough of them. We’re just finding a couple of teams willing to help us out [and] get them into games. Trying to get some game action for these things before the end of the year.’ Many of the teams involved will use the prototype baseball for only one of their final 10 games, Sword said. The decision to experiment with a pre-tacked baseball comes on the heels of MLB’s crackdown on the use of foreign substances by pitchers earlier this season. While acknowledging the foreign substances gave them an advantage by imparting extra spin on the ball, many pitchers also said they needed the substances to maintain their grip on the ball.”  

It should be noted that baseballs that are used in Japan are already pre-tacked and pitchers who participated in this year’s Olympic games reported that they were able to get a better grip on the ball.  

Why does this matter? The issue of using substances so that pitchers can get a better grip on the ball has been a subject of much debate during this past season. Back in June, Major League Baseball started a major crackdown on pitchers who used illegal substances on baseballs. The crackdown earlier this summer came as baseball saw an increased amount of strikeouts. The crackdown led to many funny and memorable moments especially one with the Washington Nationals Pitcher Max Scherzer being checked for an illegal substance three times in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.  If the test of pre-tacked baseballs is successful, it will be interesting to see how this becomes part of the upcoming CBA negotiations that have started. (More on that later in the Morning Briefing).  

 One last item on the baseball topic. It was reported by Yahoo Sports back in August that Major League Baseball has already begun seeking player input on baseball prototypes that could be a long-term sticky stuff fix.  From Yahoo Sports: “Rich Hill confirmed that the New York Mets reviewed the prototypes about a week-and-a-half ago. Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers were also shown the balls while playing in New York, and the San Francisco Giants are expected to receive them during their series against the Mets this week as well… Although the current process is still in the preliminary stages, pre-tacked baseballs — or, balls treated with a substance that gives them a slightly tacky feel for easier grip…” [Click here to read the full article from Yahoo Sports!

And it Begins…Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service letters of intent to seek new labor terms. These notices seem to be part of a formality under federal labor law that is required during every negotiation. According to the AP, the notices “were exchanged Aug. 26 by Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and Ian Penny, the general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association.”  Did you know that the average Major League Baseball players salary rose from $3.97 million in 2016 to just under $4.1 million in 2017, according to union figures, then dropped to $3.9 million in 2020 before accounting for a shortened season caused by the pandemic that reduced the figure to about $1.6 million?

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