Gore impresses in first Nationals start

February 25th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. -- Exactly seven months had passed since last pitched in a Major League game. In that span, the southpaw was traded from the Padres to the Nationals and reported to the Grapefruit League for the first time. Gore made his return known by firing off a trio of fastballs that reached 96 mph against the Cardinals’ big league power in the Nats’ Spring Training opener on Saturday. 

“I would say that’s good for right now,” Gore said. “I would like for it to keep ticking up a little bit. But, 95, 96, is good.”

In his Nationals’ debut, Gore delivered a scoreless one-hit inning to set the pace for their 3-2 win over the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. He located 13 of his 18 pitches for strikes while facing Tommy Edman, Tyler O’Neill, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. The only hit Gore allowed was a ground-rule double from Goldschmidt that bounced off third base.

“He looked really, really good,” said catcher Riley Adams. “Fastball, commanding it really well, working it up, working it down. He could flip that curveball whenever he wants, used it early in counts, behind in counts. [He] threw some really good sliders to Arenado there that just dropped off the table. And [he] mixed in a changeup to Goldschmidt -- that’s something that he told me he was trying to work on a little bit and get a feel for that. 

“Not much more I can ask for out of that outing.”

Gore worked a pitch mix of nine fastballs, five curveballs, three sliders and a changeup. His fastball maxed at 96.3 mph and averaged 95.3 mph for the outing.

“It’s got some life to it,” said Adams. “A few of the pitches, I feel like when he’s working down in the zone, you think the ball’s going to be a little lower … but it feels like it just stays up a little bit longer, so you can catch some pitches at the bottom of the zone. For us as catchers, it’s something to pay attention to because he can spot up well down there. He had some really good life. … It’s going to be fun to catch.”

Manager Dave Martinez and Gore both noted the effectiveness of his slider, and Gore would like to improve his curveball for his next start while he “keep[s] trending up.” Martinez also credited Gore for battling back from an 0-2 count against O’Neill to force a pop out to second base with a 96.1 mph fastball in a six-pitch at-bat. 

“One thing for sure is that his direction was clean, and we loved that,” Martinez said. “We’ll go back, we’ll sit, we’ll watch it, we’ll talk to him about it. But he repeated his mechanics every pitch, which was great to see.”

Gore, who turned 24 years old on Friday, is part of the Nationals’ starting pitching plans for the future. His first appearance with Washington has been highly anticipated since he was acquired from San Diego last August in the Juan Soto Trade Deadline blockbuster. He was on the injured list at the time because of left elbow inflammation, and he finished the season making rehab appearances with Triple-A Rochester. Gore had ramped up in his offseason throwing program and was ready in time for the Spring Training opener.  

“Baseball’s always baseball,” Gore said of pitching in his first Major League game with a different team. “You get to know everybody, and you end up doing it for the guys around you.”