Dodgers @ Nationals April 24, 2024: Rematch between Knack and Irvin

The Dodgers (14-11) won a tight game in the series opener against the Nationals (10-12) last night by a score of 4-1. It featured some clutch hitting in the eighth inning by James Outman and Miguel Rojas, a 119 MPH missile hit by Shohei Ohtani, and Evan Phillips navigating his way through traffic on the bases.

Landon Knack and Jake Irvin both started last on April 17 in Los Angeles, and tonight the two right-handers will take the mound against each other once again. Irvin is one of just two starting pitchers to earn a win against the Dodgers this year, the other being his rotation mate, Mitchell Parker. Knack will look to come out on top this time, hopefully his offense shows up to help him out a bit.

3:45 P.M. Washington D.C.
SS Betts SS Abrams (L)
DH Ohtani (L) LF Winker (L)
1B Freeman (L) DH Meneses
C Smith 2B García Jr. (L)
3B Muncy (L) RF Gallo (L)
LF Hernández, T. C Adams
CF Outman (L) CF Rosario (L)
2B Lux (L) 3B Senzel
RF Pages 1B Lipscomb
P Knack (R) P Irvin (R)

Outman gets the start against the right-handed Irvin, after a pinch-hit go ahead RBI double last night in the eighth inning. Gavin Lux will be at second base and Rojas will have the day off. Rojas added two singles last night, including an insurance RBI single scoring Outman. With that performance, Rojas now has an .824 OPS and 131 wRC+. Nobody would expect that to continue based on his body of work over the last few seasons, but even if he regresses to slightly below average that’s a very valuable player. He’s one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball, and with near average offense, that guy would be a starting shortstop for 80% of MLB teams. Lux will have a long leash, and his defense at second base has been great, but he’ll have to bring something to the plate offensively. His .148/.224/.164 slash won’t continue forever, but he certainly doesn’t look comfortable at the plate. Among 273 players who’ve put the ball in play at least 30 times, he’s one of just 18 players yet to barrel a ball.

Ohtani continued his impressive early season success with a solo homer last night, the hardest-hit ball of the season. He leads baseball in extra-base hits (18), hits (36), doubles (11), batting average (.364), slugging percentage (.677), OPS (1.107), wRC+ (202), and total bases (67).

His Statcast page looks ridiculous.

His weighted wOBA (Weighted On-base Average) of .471 is actually below his xwOBA (Expected Weighted On-base Average) of .500, meaning he’s actually posting numbers below what is expected based on his frequency and quality of contact. To contextualize those numbers a bit, in 2022 Aaron Judge set the American League record for home runs in a single season at 62 en route to his first MVP award, with a .458 wOBA and .463 xwOBA. That’s also the ridiculous kind of season it took to prevent Ohtani from putting together a stretch of three consecutive MVP awards, as he had an .875 OPS with 34 homers as well as 15 wins with a 2.33 ERA over 166.0 innings pitched, resulting in a fourth place Cy Young finish.

For Washington, Lane Thomas is one of their better players, and unfortunately sprained his MCL last night sliding into second base. He should ultimately be fine and will return in a couple weeks, but Washington placed him on the injured list and recalled Trey Lipscomb who’ll play first base today.


Irvin earned his first win of the year last time out against the Dodgers, allowing four hits and a walk over six scoreless innings with six strikeouts. While the Dodger offense was slumping, it’s still quite an accomplishment to keep them off the board. That’s now two consecutive quality starts, with just one earned run over twelve innings in that stretch. He’s lowered his season ERA to 3.13 with a 1.00 WHIP and twenty strikeouts to just six walks over his first four outings. I wrote the Game Thread prior to that start as well, so I’ll copy paste the breakdown I wrote for that one.

“He relies on a four-seam fastball 36% of the time, sitting 93-95 MPH and pairing it with an 80 MPH curveball as his primary breaking-ball. Against right-hand batters he throws his low 90’s sinker often, and sometimes goes to a high 80’s cutter against left-handed batters. He’s thrown the cutter 28 times this year, and 27 of those have been against lefties. He got blown up by lefties last year, to the tune of a 1.55 WHIP and .853 OPS allowed compared to a 1.27 WHIP and .627 OPS against RHB. He also had pretty glaring issues going multiple times through the order, with a 3.24 ERA first time through the order, jumping up to 5.51 and 5.73 second and third time through. Those are probably the adjustments the 27 year-old will be working on this year.”

The 26 year-old Knack had a solid MLB debut last time out, holding the Nationals to just two runs on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts over five innings. It started rough, with three consecutive hits including a leadoff home run to the red hot CJ Abrams, but settled in for the next four innings and put together a respectable outing that the team could use again today. As Knack and Irvin faced each other last time out, I’ll also paste the info I put together on Knack for that thread.

“Knack is primarily known for his command, using it to put together a great year in 2023, with a 2.51 ERA in 22 outings between both Double-A and Triple-A. He’s made three starts this year in Triple-A with a 4.02 ERA over 15.2 innings, with 16 strikeouts to four walks. Bruce had Knack as the 14th-ranked prospect in the system in his preseason rankings. “…Knack’s main two offerings are a fastball and a slider, each of which are above-average at their best, with his slider occasionally flashing plus. His fastball has touched the upper 90s before while retaining good command, and whether he can consistently throw the pitch in the mid-90s is a big factor in his profile.” He has a couple other paragraphs about Knack and his future projection, so check out his work for more info. Baseball America had him the 11th ranked prospect in the system this winter, pointing to a future as a back of the rotation starter or long relief role. MLB Pipeline has him 13th, and Keith Law had him 15th in his prospect rankings this winter. He projects as a low risk, high floor back-end rotation starter.”


Not great news for Brusdar Graterol or the bullpen.


First pitch is at 3:45 PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!