Zimmermann 8 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 K
Strasbrug 5 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K
Gonzalez 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K
Scherzer 9 IP, 0 H, 0BB, 10K
Ross 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 11K
Combined 36.1 IP, 20H, 4BB, 34K and oh yeah 1 ER
That's an ERA of 0.25, a WHIP of 0.66, a BB/9 of 0.99, and a K/9 of 8.42
This is why the Nats were pre-season favorites.
We talked about it Monday but it's worth going over again. We figured the offense could struggle. We figured the bullpen could struggle. These things though, weren't the difference between a good team and a mediocre one. They were the difference between a great team and a good one. The reason "good" was the base (and I take that to be high 80s/ low 90s) was because of that pitching staff because let's just say you quasi-averaged the last two seasons for these guys
Max : 3.02 ERA, 1.074 WHIP (in AL)
ZNN : 2.96, 1.08
Stras : 3.08, 1.09
Gio : 3.45, 1.23
Fister : 3.12, 1.21
and let's say you tweak Max down a little for the shift and the rest up a little because you are a pessimist
Max : 2.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
ZNN : 3.10, 1.15
Stras : 3.20, 1.15
Gio : 3.60, 1.30
Fister : 3.50, 1.25
Outside of assuming perfect health, you've done nothing crazy here. There is no magical improvements or bounce backs to best years ever. Just their recent typical year, even downgraded a bit because you tend to do that as you age.
Here's where those numbers would rank now in NL ERA
Max : 9th
ZNN : 14th
Stras : 16th
Gio : 26th
Fister : 25th
and this is now where you have some oddly low ERAs that should rise. Even if you expand past qualified and let in some more ERAs based on like 40IP you get 11th, 17th, 19th, 33rd, and 30th. You felt good about the Nats because if you were an optimist you had 3 #1 types and 2 #2s in your rotation. If you were a pessimist you broke it down as a #1, 2 #2s, and 2 #3s. Either way what you had was much better than what they had.
The Nats were baseline good because of this. But when this went didn't materialize for various reasons - that assumed baseline dropped and if the hitting failed (like it kinda has) and the bullpen failed (like it kinda has) you were looking at a .500 team. Now though it looks like the baseline has re-established itself. They aren't perfect, they are coming back from injury, but there is an energy I'm feeling now, a "you can't stop us because if you happen to beat us tonight we'll shut you down tomorrow" that's building. If the Nats can get a 3-4 more very good to great performances in the next rotation turn I think the attitude takes a definitive shift.
The early season run was because Bryce had become a monster for a month. The team was carried by him but that carried with it the knowledge that if this one guy slowed down merely to very very good (like he did) the train would roll to a stop (like it did). This run that maybe starting is different. If one guy struggles the next guy in line is there to pick him up. It's time to put these jokers in the rear view permanently. Sweep.
Why did I mock the NL East yesterday? Because two reasons (1) the NL East really does stinks. Sorry if that offends you, but it's true. There's no way to look at the records or numbers and come across with any other conclusion. If the Braves or Mets collapse we'll start the "worst division ever" discussions. This doesn't mean the Nats stink. It means they could get away with playing mediocre ball for almost 3 months and still find themselves in first. The Nats are a good to very good team, (I think we can agree that right now various issues keep them from having great potential) trying to find their way. Once they do (and I think they are right there) they'll trounce these clowns, and (2) I didn't want to right about what I was thinking which was - Strasburg comes back from injury, throws shutout ball and a chunk of Nats fans are talking about how the Braves offense stinks or how his off-speed was worrying. I honestly think there is a group out there who want to see Strasburg fail, if he can't be the awesome generation defining pitcher they thought he would be. And I hate that. (Strasburg did what we all want to see pitchers do - find out what's working that night and work it as well as you can.)
Also - yeah the Yankees lost 2 in a row to the Phillies. It happens. The Nats got swept by the Reds. The Reds aren't better than the Nats. Hell, the Yankees aren't better than the Nats. I can admit that. If the Yankees finish with a better record than the Nats I'd be shocked. Now granted a big part of that is NL East. But I'd say that if they were tossed today into a neutral division.
Next time I'll warn you that I may offend your NL East loving sensibilities.