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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NATIONALS' PROJECTED STARTERS

Here is who we project to see as the Nationals' starters this week.

C - Kiebert Ruiz
1B - Joey Gallo
2B - Luis Garcia Jr
3B - Trey Lipscomb
SS - CJ Abrams
LF - Jesse Winker
CF - Eddie Rosario
RF - Lane Thomas
DH - Joey Meneses

ANALYSIS:


Once we get a bigger sample size, we'll try to include their 2024 stats in these lineup analyses. That being said, this is a Nationals lineup that has some quality potential. 

Starting at the backstop position, Kiebert Ruiz is a really bright young catcher. While he struggles defensively, the bat is real. Last season he hit to a .260/.308/.409 slash with 18 home runs and 67 RBI. He also didn't strike out a ton either, just 58 strikeouts in 523 at-bats. He's off to a good start with one home run and three RBI this season. 

There's obviously a ton of power potential in the lineup. Joey Gallo, Jesse Winker, Eddie Rosario, and Joey Meneses all can go yard on a routine basis but with that power potential there are obviously a ton of opportunities for strikeouts. As a team, the Nationals struck out 30 times against the Reds. 

What could ultimately decide the Nationals' success at the plate this season is the development of middle infielders Luis Garcia and CJ Abrams.

Both have continued to improve during their young MLB careers. Last season, Garcia posted a .266/.304/.385 slash with nine home runs and 50 RBI while Abrams showed his full skill set with a .245.300/.412 slash with 18 home runs and 64 RBI. He also had 47 steals in 51 attempts. If both continue to improve at the plate, the Nationals could have a great middle infield tandem for the foreseeable future. 

Of course, there's also Lane Thomas who had a major breakout season in 2023 with 28 home runs, 86 RBI and 20 stolen bases while posting a 114 OPS+.