The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nationals starting pitchers are winless since July 6, a span of 41 games

Washington Nationals pitching coach Jim Hickey visits with Patrick Corbin on Aug. 1. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

This story has been updated.

From June 16 through July 20, 2019, the Washington Nationals went 27 consecutive games without a loss by a starting pitcher. The run, which helped pave the way to a playoff berth and an eventual World Series title, was the longest by a team since 1916, when New York Giants starters also went 27 games without a loss during their MLB-record 26-0-1 streak. Flash forward three years, and Washington’s starting pitchers are making a different kind of history.

Heading into Friday’s series opener at home against the Cincinnati Reds, Nationals starters have gone 41 games without a win. That’s the longest such streak since at least 1901 and four games more than the next-longest drought during that time, set by the 1949 Washington Senators.

MASN reporter Dan Kolko mentioned the remarkable streak ahead of the Nationals’ game in San Diego on Saturday. The broadcast showed a graphic of the longest streaks since 1901 early in the game before Josiah Gray earned a no-decision despite allowing only one run over five innings. Gray was the last Nationals starter to record a win, thanks to his masterful 11-strikeout performance against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 6. Since then, he is 0-3 with four no-decisions.

Collectively, Washington’s starters are 0-24 with an ERA near 7.00 since July 6, while the team is 12-29. Patrick Corbin has been the worst of the eight Nationals pitchers to start a game during that stretch, posting an 0-7 record with a 9.82 ERA in eight starts. Corbin, who failed to make it out of the first inning in two of his past five starts, is three defeats shy of becoming baseball’s first 20-game loser since the Detroit Tigers’ Mike Maroth in 2003.

Aníbal Sánchez is 0-5 with a 5.72 ERA in seven starts during the streak. During the Nationals’ streak of 29 games without a loss by a starting pitcher in 2019, he and Corbin were a combined 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA.

A particularly ugly stretch for Nationals starters came earlier this month, when Gray, Corbin and Cory Abbott combined to allow 19 earned runs in three straight losses to the Phillies.

“We got to get some better starting pitching,” Manager Dave Martinez said after the last of those defeats. “We’re always behind, and it’s tough for morale.”

Washington’s starting pitching has been better of late — Sánchez, Paolo Espino, Gray and Corbin combined to allow only six earned runs in four games against the Padres last weekend — but that has yet to translate to a win. Carl Edwards Jr. and Erasmo Ramirez have three wins apiece out of the bullpen during the streak.

For the season, Nationals starting pitchers have the second fewest wins in baseball (23) but still eight more than the Pittsburgh Pirates. Houston Astros starters have combined for a major league-best 63 wins.

As for the record streak the Nationals recently surpassed, the 1949 Senators went 35 consecutive games without a win by a starting pitcher from June 22 through July 30. Sid Hudson ended the drought with a complete game victory over the St. Louis Browns on July 31, and the significance of the right-hander’s performance wasn’t lost on Washington Post reporter Morris Siegel.

“Big Sid rode herd on the Browns,” Siegel wrote after Hudson scattered five hits in Washington’s 7-3 win. “He gave ’em a walk in the second inning, two hits in the third, two more in the sixth and their final safety in the eighth to become the first Nat pitcher to start, finish and win a game since June 21 when he himself turned the trick against the White Sox.”

The Senators finished 50-104, last place in the American League.