Although we’re only a week into the season, it’s always fun to take a look at who’s hot and who’s not. It’s going to be a rough season for the Nats, but it’s important to keep track of how these guys are progressing, especially the younger guys. As for some of the veterans, this might also be important since the Nats will begin discussing certain players in trade discussions by June or July.
Season Stats: .346/.433/.615, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Bell is off to a scorching start this season, which is a stark contrast from last season’s start. This is great news for the Nationals since Bell just might be the Nats top trade chip in July if they decide to move him (which I’m not entirely convinced they will). Hitting behind Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz is going to give Bell a ton of opportunities to knock in runs. If he’s able to capitalize on those opportunities, he will likely cash in this offseason when free agency rolls around.
Season Stats: .346/.346/.538, 1 HR, 7 RBI
Wait, what? Franco went 1 for 13 in the opening series against the Mets but has rebounded with a 8 for 13 stretch with two doubles and a homerun against the Braves. Franco is going to be hot and cold all season and it would truthfully be shocking to see him turn into anything more than a replacement level player. Crazier things have happened though and maybe Franco will actually turn out to be a useful trade deadline piece.
Season Stats: 1 Start, 5 ⅓ IP, 1 ER, 2 hits, 1.69 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, 3.05 FIP
Sure, it’s only one start, but Rogers looked very good against a good Braves lineup. It’s also coming on the heels of a 6 start sample at the end of last year that saw Rogers put up a 3.28 ERA. Is he that good? Probably not. But is a nice depth piece that could even turn into a potential fifth starter? Yeah, he is. Rogers pitches to contact and works quickly, which fielders love. He’s certainly deserving of another couple of starts in the rotation so the Nats can determine what they might have with the lefty.
Season Stats: 3 Games, 3 ⅔ IP, 2 ER, 3 hits, 4.91 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 0.87 FIP
If you looked at Arano’s numbers prior to coming to DC, you’d probably wonder why the Phillies even let him go based on how bad their bullpen has been. He’s been rock solid when he’s been able to pitch. The problem is he’s only thrown 4 ⅔ innings in the majors since 2019. He pitched into some bad luck in his second appearance, where he ended up getting charged with 2 runs, but his stuff is nasty. If he can stay healthy, he’ll likely end up being a staple in the bullpen for years to come since he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season.
Season Stats: 3 Games, 2 SV, 3 IP, 0 ER, 2 hits, 0.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 1.05 FIP
This one is big. We’ve all been waiting for Rainey to take control as the Nats closer for a couple of years now. It’s a very small sample size, but after three appearances, it looks like he just might do it. Control has been an issue for Rainey in the past, but as long as he’s able to stay healthy and limit his walks, he should have no issues holding onto the closer spot.
Before we get to “who’s not”, the bullpen as a whole deserves a shout out here. What looked like a huge weak spot, has actually been above-average over the first week of the season. Sean Doolittle has three scoreless innings in the books to go along with Rainey and Arano’s strong starts. Based on the very small sample size we have, there seem to be some reliable options out there.
Season Stats: .053/.053/.053, 0 HR, 0 RBI
If you thought I was going to start this section with anyone else, you were sorely mistaken. “Esky” is 1 for 19 to start the season and he has no business starting at shortstop, even for a rebuilding team. When the Nats re-signed Escobar in the offseason, I was fine with it as long as he was signed to be a utility infielder. Mike Rizzo had other plans and decided to double down on the 35-year old’s career year last year. So far, it’s not working out.
Season Stats: .000/.063/.000, 0 HR, 1 RBI
Look, we knew the bottom of the lineup was going to be a black hole, but between Escobar and Robles it’s worse than imagined. Robles doesn’t have a hit on the season and his only time on base was a hit by pitch with the bases loaded which also resulted in his first RBI of the season. He’s been terrible at the plate so far, and his defense hasn’t been great either. He needs to get on track soon, otherwise the Nats are going to have to start looking for a new CF.
Season Stats: 3 Games, 2 ⅔ IP, 5 ER, 9 hits, 16.88 ERA, 4.125 WHIP, 8.68 FIP
Truthfully, this is an impressive stat line. Like there’s nothing there that is even remotely impressive. He made the club out of Spring Training despite posting two consecutive seasons with an ERA above 5.30, but his time might be coming to an end in DC. The Nats need “mop up” guys, but they can do better than Voth at this point. With Tyler Clippard sitting in AAA having thrown 4 scoreless innings, Voth’s time in DC is likely over.
Now, as a bonus, let’s take a look at how some of the organization’s top prospects are performing in the minors.
Season Stats: .500/.560/.682, 1 HR, 7 RBI
House is absolutely obliterating low-A pitching right now. That doesn’t mean he should be promoted immediately, but it’s certainly promising. He’s striking out at a fairly high clip (around 30% of his PA’s), but we only have a small sample size right now. He’s only 18, but ideally, if House keeps hitting, he’ll find himself in AA by the end of the year.
Season Stats: 1 Start, 4 IP, 3 ER, 4 hits, 6.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
In his lone start of the season so far, Cavalli gave a mixed bag of results. He went 4 innings and only walked one batter, which is a huge plus as he works on his command. On the flip side, he gave up 3 earned runs including a home run. Cavalli dominated A and AA hitters last season, but has struggled so far against AAA hitters. This season should be a good test for Cavalli as he gets closer and closer to making his Major League debut.
Season Stats: 1 Start, 3 IP, 0 ER, 2 hits, 0.00ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Full disclaimer, I might be just as high on Henry as I am on Cavalli. I love Cole Henry. In his first start of the season, he went 3 innings, gave up zero runs and struck out 5. There’s no doubt that his pure stuff isn’t as good as Cavalli’s, so his ceiling is obviously lower, but his floor is higher than Cavalli’s. Henry’s biggest question is whether or not he can stay healthy, so the Nationals are going to be very careful with him. If he can stay healthy, he should help form a nice middle of the rotation for years to come with Cavalli and Josiah Gray.