Nationals season in review: Best pitching performance

October 22, 2012

Gio Gonzalez. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

This Nationals’ season was a memorable and historic one, filled with seminal moments and transcendent performances. Beginning today and for the next week, we will look back at many of them and ask you to rank them. Today, we look at the best pitching performances of the season, and you can vote below.

  • Gio Gonzalez’s complete game shutout. AUG. 31: The St. Louis Cardinals hammer left-handed pitching and Gonzalez turned in his most dominant performance of the season against them. His electric fastball and knee-buckling curveball fooled the Cardinals hitters, who could muster only five hits and struck out eight times. It was the third time that month that Gonzalez had pitched at least eight innings. (Runner-up: Gonzalez’s 20th win on Sept. 22.)
  • Jordan Zimmermann’s first-ever relief appearance. OCT. 11: It was Zimmermann’s in-between-starts throw day and he was available out of the bullpen for NLDS Game 4. He entered in the seventh inning with the score tied at 1-1 for his first-ever major league relief appearance. He threw harder than he ever has, 97 mph fastballs and 91 mph slider, and struck out all three batters on four pitches each to provide one of the most electric relief appearances in Nationals history. The always reserved Zimmermann pumped his fist and screamed.
  • Ross Detwiler’s first postseason start. OCT. 11: The Nationals needed to win NLDS Game 4 to save their season and they entrusted a 26-year-old with no playoff experience who at one point was in the bullpen after losing his spot in the starting rotation. Detwiler pitched a gem against the potent Cardinals offense that hits left-handed pitchers well, holding them to one run (unearned) on three hits over six innings.
  • Ryan Mattheus’s three outs with two pitches. OCT. 7: How about this for a postseason debut? Enter in the seventh inning of NLDS Game 1 with the bases loaded, no outs and protecting a 2-1 lead. Mattheus delivered with two pitches, getting a force out at home on the first pitch and then a double play out of Yadier Molina to save the inning and the game.
  • Tyler Clippard runs scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings. JULY 7: After becoming the team’s closer in mid-May because of injuries to Drew Storen, Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez, one-time setup man Clippard was near-automatic. He was a perfect 14 for 14 in save opportunities and allowed five hits in that span. He struck out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies to run his scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings.
  • Stephen Strasburg’s 13 strikeouts in Boston. JUNE 8: It wasn’t Strasburg’s most dominating start but given the setting and time it was a commanding performance. He opened the series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and allowed two runs on four hits over six innings. He struck out 13 batters and tossed 119 pitches, the most he has ever thrown in a start. The Nationals would go on to sweep the Red Sox and win six straight games against the AL East.
  • Craig Stammen strikes out six straight batters. OCT. 1: Davey Johnson called on Stammen to pitch for the third straight day, a curious decision. But the workhorse reliever entered in the sixth inning and proceeded to strike out the next six batters he faced on 30 pitches, an eye-popping performance.
  • John Lannan saves the day against the Braves. JULY 21: The Nationals’ lead in the NL East had shrunk to 1 1/2 games after the first game of a doubleheader and they called upon Lannan to make his first start of the season after his exile in Class AAA Syracuse. He held the Braves to two runs over seven soggy innings and the Nationals’ division lead never again fell to less than 2 1/2 games.
  • Edwin Jackson’s complete game on 92 pitches. APRIL 14: Jackson has some of the most dominating stuff in the majors and he showed it in his second start in a Nationals uniform. He shut down the Cincinnati Reds, allowing only one run on two hits, walked one and struck out nine. Amazingly, he tossed a complete game on only 92 pitches.
  • Jordan Zimmermann extends streak to 21 starts. JULY 28: In his first-ever start in his home state, he turned in a vintage performance even with a tight right shoulder, allowing only one run on five hits over six innings and striking out six. He ran his streak of tossing at least six innings to 21 starts, then a major league best. The streak was snapped the following start.
James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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Matt Vita · October 22, 2012

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