Nats-killers series #3: Glove-first Kevin Pillar finds his power stroke against the Washington Nationals


We’re again for an additional installment of our Nats-killers sequence as we attain the midway level, wanting on the gamers who handle to up their recreation in opposition to the Washington Nationals.

If you wish to atone for the sequence to this point, together with the introduction and the primary two gamers in our checklist, you could find the hyperlinks under.

The introduction to the sequence offers you the factors we’re in search of within the Nats-killers and a few of the near-misses who received’t be on the checklist.

Let’s proceed our countdown with #3 on our checklist of Nats-killers: Kevin Pillar.

On this sequence, we’re going to check out their numbers in opposition to the Nationals after which revisit their “signature” second in opposition to the group the place they honestly modified the sport.

The Numbers

When most individuals first consider Kevin Pillar, their minds will typically go to his Gold Glove-worthy protection in heart discipline, even when he hasn’t received a Gold Glove so far in his profession.

Offensively, it’s usually been a unique story for Pillar. Thus far in his profession, he has an underwhelming .260/.297/.409 slash line and 88 wRC+.

When you will have plus-defense like Pillar although, you’ll be able to dwell with the marginally below-average offense.

As must be apparent by his presence at #3 on this checklist, he steps up in opposition to the Nats.

In 25 video games in opposition to the Nationals, Pillar has slashed a sensational .360/.402/.733 with eight residence runs, 20 runs scored, and 20 RBIs, giving him a wRC+ 202 in 92 plate appearances.

On the face of it, Pillar’s success appears to be like fully unsustainable. His stroll charge in opposition to the Nats is in step with his profession charge, however he really strikes out extra in opposition to Washington, at a 22.8% clip, in comparison with a profession 16.6% charge, giving him an exceptionally inflated .404 BABIP.

Nevertheless, even with a bigger pattern measurement final yr, Pillar stored that BABIP up and nonetheless hit effectively.

Enjoying for the New York Mets in 2021, Pillar shared a division with the Nationals for the primary time and took full benefit of the possibility to face them extra, slashing .364/.432/.879 with a 243 wRC+ and 5 of his eight profession residence runs in opposition to Washington coming in 2021.

Regardless of whether or not he’s been within the reverse league or been in the identical division, Pillar has at all times discovered a option to rack up the hits in opposition to the Nationals in his profession.

Signature Second

Pillar’s efficiency in opposition to the Nationals has been comparatively constant in his profession, from final season with the Mets to even his first video games in opposition to them with the Toronto Blue Jays.

In actual fact, he made an enormous mark in his first profession recreation in opposition to the Nationals again in 2015.

Photograph by G Fiume/Getty Pictures

In the beginning of June, the Nationals started a two-game set with the Blue Jays at Nationals Park. The hosts had been tied atop the Nationwide League East and the guests had been off to a disappointing begin to a season that they had excessive hopes for with a report of simply 23-29.

With their new ace, Max Scherzer, on the mound for the sequence opener, the Nationals had been full of confidence dealing with a Toronto group that was nonetheless looking for its ft.

A minimum of, they had been full of confidence till Pillar launched a solo residence run within the prime of the second inning to present the Blue Jays an early 1-0 lead — Scherzer giving up solo residence runs, yep, that checks out, even in simply his first season with the group…

However that’s not the signature second on this recreation for Pillar, that got here a bit in a while.

The Nats managed to rebound within the center innings, getting into the highest of the sixth with a 3-1 lead and Scherzer settling right into a groove, hanging out 5 and strolling only one within the 5 innings.

After two fast outs to start out the body, Toronto began a two-out rally with a double by Danny Valencia and a seven-pitch stroll for Justin Smoak that introduced Pillar up because the go-ahead run.

At this level, it must be apparent what occurred. In a 1-1 depend, Pillar crushed a dangling breaking ball over the identical left-field fence that his first residence run of the evening soared over and turned a two-run deficit right into a one-run lead for the Blue Jays.

It was a decisive blow for the Blue Jays, because it gave them a lead they wouldn’t lose, shutting down the Nats the remainder of the best way in a 7-3 win. You’ll find a clip of the house run on YouTube as a part of the total recreation.

One shiny aspect of the homer was that possibly it helped make Scherzer mad, as a result of simply two begins later, he dominated the Milwaukee Brewers in a one-hit shutout. Then the beginning after that, he threw a no-hitter in opposition to the Pittsburgh Pirates — thanks once more, José Tábata — to assist Scherzer cap off one of the crucial dominant pairs of begins for a pitcher in MLB historical past.

For Pillar although, it was simply the primary recreation in opposition to an opponent who he should now sit up for seeing on the schedule…

Subsequent up…

Whereas the three gamers we’ve coated to this point have all been usually common hitters of their profession so far, #2 on this checklist is by far and away the perfect hitter of anybody on this checklist.

For those who want an additional clue, he’s really been a latest teammate of Kevin Pillar…

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