Series Preview: Pirates hope to continue strong start against Nationals

After sweeping the Miami Marlins to start the 2024 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates make their way up the coast to Washington D.C. on Monday to take on the Washington Nationals.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Miami Marlins
Pittsburgh Pirates v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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MONDAY: Marco Gonzales (LHP) vs McKenzie Gore (LHP)

The Pirates will start their season off by facing a fifth straight left-handed pitcher in the Nationals' McKenzie Gore.

The 25-year old left hander is coming off a 7-10 season in 2023 with a 4.42 ERA. He struck out 151 in 136.1 innings pitched while walking 57. The long ball was a killer for Gore last season as he allowed 27 home runs in his 27 starts, an average of one per game. He also posted a WHIP of 1.401.

From an advanced metrics standpoint, his ERA+ puts him below league average at 97 while his 4.89 FIP actually says he got a bit lucky last season at posting just a 4.42 ERA.

He has had good success against the Pirates in the past, however, allowing just five base runners across 26 plate appearances.

For the Pirates, left hander Marco Gonzales makes his Pirates debut. Gonzales enters this season with a 65-49 overall record and a 4.14 career ERA in 893 innings pitched. Last season, he was 4-1 with a 5.22 ERA in 10 starts for the Seattle Mariners.

WEDNESDAY: Mitch Keller (RHP) vs Trevor Williams (RHP)

On Wednesday, the Nationals will send right-hander Trevor Williams to the mound. The former Pirate was 6-10 last season with a 5.55 EERA in 30 starts. Like Gore, Williams gave up the long ball a ton, allowing a league-leading 34 home runs in 144.1 innings pitched.

For the Pirates, Mitch Keller will make his second start of the year after allowing four earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks against the Marlins last Thursday.

The Nationals have had Kellers' number during his career, with nine runs in 15.2 innings pitched. Notably, Keller has not allowed a home run to the Nationals in his three starts against them.

THURSDAY: Martin Perez (LHP) vs Josiah Gray (RHP)

In the series finale on Thursday, Josiah Gray gets the ball for the Nationals. The former top prospect was solid in 2023, earning an All-Star nod. In 30 starts he went 8-13 with a 3.91 ERA across 159 innings pitched. He was susceptible to home runs and walks, however, with 22 home runs allowed and 80 walks. He also struck out 143 in 159 innings pitched. He'll look to improve upon his 1.79 SO/W ratio from last season.

However, in his 2024 debut for the Reds, Gray only went four innings, allowing seven earned runs.

Martin Perez had a very good Pirates debut over the weekend, allowing just one run in 4.1 innings pitched. He'll look to carry that success over to Thursday. In his career he has four appearances against the Nationals including three starts. In 15 innings pitched, he's allowed 13 earned runs on 21 hits and five walks equaling a 7.80 ERA and a 1.733 WHIP.