ZNN Game update:
WRONG: Ben, Froggy, Bryan, Nattydread, Anon, JRinAustin, BenDen,
RIGHT: Me!, Natsochist
Sorry ZNN, better luck next time. I really do mean that though. You should see better luck next time.
As Harputron 2000, soulless automaton watching and blogging about the Nationals, I view the team with a distance that is different than most others. And in this role, I have something I need to to get off my robotic chest. You see, over the first few weeks, to the impartial observer such as I, it doesn't feel so much that the Nats are winning these games, as much as they are surviving them.** They are hanging around until the other team screws up and then they sweep in and grab the W.
I know what you are going to say (besides "Shut it, jerkface!"). This plan is in fact the key to victory. A team should wear down the opposing pitcher, get to the soft underbelly of the bullpen, and feast on it. Bullpens are usually a teams weak link, even more so if you can get into their middle relievers. I agree with this 100%. But this ISN'T what the Nats are doing.
They aren't wearing down the opposing pitchers. They work a walk vs the starter about once every 12 and a half plate appearances.
They aren't feasting on the bullpens. They have an ok, but nothing more than that, average and slugging versus the pens they've faced.
No, what the Nats are doing is getting a crazy amount of walks from relievers. More than once every 6 at bats, the opponents are putting the Nats on base for free. Now sure, some of that is the approach the Nats are taking, but if it were just the approach you'd expect to see the Nats have roughly the same standing with starters and they don't. They are good, but not great working their way on base versus starters, 7th in the NL. They are head and shoulders above every other NL teams at working their way on base versus relievers, 1st in the NL more than 20% better than the next best team.
Now before you get all worked up, because I know you will, it's not that the Nats can't keep winning. Nor am I saying that the Nats are getting lucky.* All I'm saying is the Nats can't keep winning like THIS. They can't keep going into the late innings, tied or behind by a run or two and expect the other teams pen to walk and wild pitch them to victory. The wins are going to come. They are just going to come in a different way.
*Well... it's not what I'm saying here. They do have an ungodly HR/FB rate that won't hold up which means a few more runs given up. In all honestly, talent level on the field, they are probably more an 8 win team than a 10 win team right now, but that's still good enough for first place so I don't see why people would possibly get worked up with me saying this. Then again, you are fans. That's what fans do. So go ahead. Get worked up. Harputron 2000 is incapable of feeling hurt.
**of course that's just a silly feeling. The Nats ARE winning, almost entirely because of great pitching. These wins, no matter how they've been gotten, are banked now.