There are a few good signs, mainly that their strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at 2.86, sixth in the majors. That could come down because Jason Marquis has struck out 7.0 batters per nine innings, an unrealistic rate for him to continue. Then again, Jordan Zimmermann has struck out 3.3 batters per nine, which is certain to go up.
According to one advanced metric, the Nationals are headed for a correction. The Nationals’ starters, per the essential FanGraphs.com, have an xFIP of 4.09, 17th in the majors. What the means: based on how the starters have pitched with a normalized home run rate, the Nationals’ starters would be expected to post a 4.09 ERA for the rest of the year.
Nationals starters have been a little lucky in two categories. Their rotation has allowed a .276 batting average on balls put in play, seventh-lowest in the majors. (Marquis, interestingly, actually has a .344 BABIP, which he’s been able to negate thanks to a 5.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.) Only 6.0 percent of their flyballs allowed have become homers, the second-lowest rate in the majors.
The season’s sample size remains a little small for all of that to matter too much. But the starter’s success early in the season has perhaps had a positive effect on the rest of the team. The Nationals have had a chance to win every single game this year because of their starters.
“As an offense, it can make you relax at the plate a little bit,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “There’s no doubt, when you’re pitching is struggling, as a hitter you feel like you need to make something happen every at-bat, do more than you’re capable of.”
Finally, one more notable number that did not make the paper: Nationals starters have thrown 3.69 pitches per plate appearance, tied for least in the majors. Given their preference for quick outs and pitching to weak contract, that’s a good sign.
FROM THE POST
Here’s that aforementioned story on how the Nationals’ rotation has surpassed expectations and pitched like the most consistent rotation in baseball.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Pawtucket 5, Syracuse 1: Henry Rodriguez allowed no runs in one inning on a hit and a walk, striking out one. Cole Kimball pitched one scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two. Corey Brown went 2 for 4 with a home run; he’s hitting .200/.263/.343. Roger Bernadina went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts.
Harrisburg 6, Altoona 2: Stephen Lombardozzi went 3 for 5 with a double and a triple. Tyler Moore went 2 for 5 with a triple. Josh Johnson went 1 for 4 with a triple and a walk. Brad Meyers allowed one earned run in five innings on four hits and no walks, striking out three.
Potomac 9, Frederick 0: Stephen King went 2 for 4 with two homers and five RBIs. Eury Perez went 3 for 4. Destin Hood went 2 for 4. Marcos Frias allowed no runs in 6 2/3 innings on four hits and two walks, striking out five. For the season, Frias has allowed one earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.
Hagerstown 1, Lakewood 0: Bryce Harper went 0 for 2 as a DH. For the season, he’s hitting .231/.333/.333. David Freitas went 1 for 3 with a double. Cameron Selik struck out 11 and allowed a hit and a walk in five scoreless innings. For the season, Selik, 23, has allowed no runs in 15 innings while striking out 20 and walking three.