MacKenzie Gore was one of the key pieces that came over from San Diego in the Juan Soto trade and the young lefthander is set to make his Nationals debut this season.
Gore started out the 2022 season very strong with just eight runs allowed in his first nine games (eight starts, 48 innings) for a 1.50 ERA. However, after that, he had three separate outings when he allowed six or more runs in four or fewer innings.
The southpaw was placed on the injured list shortly after that and remained there until he made four minor-league rehab starts for Triple-A Rochester later in the season. Gore only has 89 MLB innings under his belt but he’s already faced a bevy of good hitters.
Gore joined Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on the Audacy Original Podcast “Bustin’ Loose Baseball” and identified the best hitter he’s faced, who just so happens to be a former Nationals star.
“I never had the wow moment where I was like ‘Alright, wow, this guy’s hitting,’” Gore said (15:47 in player above). “When Harper steps in the box you know he can hit. That was a guy when I faced him I was like ‘This guy can do some damage.’ So I would say he’s probably – he’s the best hitter I’ve faced.”
Gore faced Harper in one of his starts last season. He got the best of the former MVP with a popout, a flyout to left field, and a strikeout to top it off.
“When he stepped in you’re like ‘We need to make good pitches right here,’” Gore continued. “So I’d probably go with him as the best hitter.”
Harper has tormented plenty of pitchers throughout his career so it’s not too surprising that someone like Gore had high praise for him, even in a lefty-lefty matchup.
Gore should see plenty of Harper over the course of this season and beyond as the Nationals will play the Phillies 13 times this year.
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