Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - The Starting Pitching is peaking

Monday, June 02, 2014

Monday Quickie - The Starting Pitching is peaking

What?  You expected talk about the offense? It's going to take more than a couple of fluke high-scoring games to get me praising those guys again.  I did like what I see and you can't blame them for struggling against Darvish, who is that good, but the story of the weekend for me was the starters.

19IP 17H 3ER 4BB 19K

That's an ERA*of 1.42 and a WHIP of 1.11

*I asterick the ERA because honestly if it's YOUR error that causes runs to score I think it should be counted against you. Didn't do it - but if you wanted to the ERA jumps to 2.37

Strasburg, Fister, and Roark have been as good as any three pitchers in baseball recently.
  • After his disastorous first start, Fister has put up an 2.13 ERA in 4 starts, with a .585 OPS against and all of 2 walks. 
  • Since getting beat up by Philly, Tanner Roark has put up a 2.20 ERA in 5 starts with a .590 OPS against and a WHIP under 1.00 (24H, 8BB in 32.2 IP) 
  • In his last 7 starts, Strasburg has gone 7 IP or more 5 times. (pulled for needed PH in the other two) He's put up an ERA of 1.90, a .639 OPS against, and has struck out 48 batters in 47IP. 
Given Blake Treinen's successful outing there were only two things keeping the Nats from making a nice little run here : the ineffectiveness of Zimmermann and the terrible offense. (Which, yes is like saying a car can brake fine and only thing keeping it from running correctly is that it won't go.) Prior to the 9 run outburst, the Nats had scored 14 runs in Strasburg's last 5 games. They scored 13 for Roark in that same time frame and instead of a nine, just backed him up with a big fat zero in the most recent game.

But was that just Darvish being dominating? Is the offense better now? We'll see. If they are ok, they should score some runs against the Phillies with Lee out. A rookie, Burnett who hasn't been sharp, and Kendrick who has struggled lately and let's face it - isn't anything special.


cass said...

I think Yu has replaced Dickey as my favorite non-Nats pitcher to watch. So much good stuff, variety of good stuff, and total command of it. I'm sure he's not always that good. Tough loss, but damn.

JWLumley said...

Yeah, count me among those who doesn't think the offense is cured based on two games spent roughing up back of the rotation starters. Nate McLouth, despite a couple of good games, is still not good. Danny Espinosa is still a glove-first SS, miscast as a 2B,Denard Span is what he was, below league average at the plate. Rendon, Werth and LaRoche, will still go through ups and downs. And when 2 of the 3 are slumping, the offense will seem absolutely anemic.

They still need another bat because the starters have been phenomenal. I don't think Roark will keep this up, but I keep waiting for the bubble to burst and it doesn't. Still, I don't think he'll be a bad #5 if it does. Fister, is pitching like, well, Fister. One of the top 15 or so starting pitchers in baseball. Also, the bullpen has been unreal. A league average offense would win 95 games with this pitching staff. I know that when you look at each individual on the Nats a case can be made for each player, the problem as a whole is that there's too many outs in the lineup and too many free swingers. They don't work counts and guys who can locate and change speeds will continue to baffle them regardless of their stuff.

Clip&Store said...

They really should, and sort of need, to sweep the Phillies. Anything less than 2/3 is absolutely unacceptable. What do you think of jzimm going forward? for the most part the numbers say he has been rather unlucky.

Not sure, too early to say anything about the offense, but they were due to revert to the mean eventually. Without harp and rzimm they aren't good, but they aren't THAT bad.

Jimmy said...

Fister is amazing. Love the way he play's, starting to think I'd rather have him than ZNN (although he's had terrible luck this year). On Roark, while I don't believe this run is sustainable the sample size just gets larger and larger with each start.
Harper what's your take on the Zman coming back for lf

Chaz R said...

I think the pieces are beginning to come together. The hitting has increasingly been better through the last part of May. The Phillies will be a good litmus test, especially if Zim is back in the lineup.

I'm not really worried about ZNN. If you look at ZNN’s numbers the past 3 years including 2014, they look very similar except for the BABIP which is through the roof. I think that tells you there is some luck involved and also that ZNN might not be hitting his spots exactly as he has in past. His velocity in his last start was really good, but he was just missing at times and consistently getting behind in the counts. I suspect he will make the slight adjustment and be back to his old self.

blovy8 said...

There are rumors about Tampa dumping salary soon, and if so, Zobrist should be on our wish list. He could fill in all over the place while being an average hitter for about the same cost as Span.

Chaz R said...

Ugh, just looked through the May records. Nats were 10-15. Last year they were 15-13. Has to be a win streak n the future.

WiredHK said...

That was excellent this weekend from the SPs. I've been wondering if we were really seeing a turn around in the last 7-8 games (or just weak opposition) and those three games certainly seem to suggest it is happening. Let's get RZim back and start make taking 2 of 3 a regular thing....

blovy8 said...

Jeez, now MLBtraderumors has the same idea, and would posit a Zobrist/Espinosa trade. I'd do that deal in a less than a Tampa Bay day.

Kenny B. said...

Span, Rendon, Werth, LaRoche, Zimmerman, Ramos, Desmond, and Espinosa. This is starting to resemble a major league lineup.

Sidenote, has anyone ever thought of moving Desmond to second and Espinosa to short? Seems to me like there's a solid defensive argument in favor, and the offensive argument is a wash.

Froggy said...

Looks like the Nats finally got that 'big bat' left fielder I predicted they would...some kid called Zimmerman.

What a difference in the pitches everyone else sees with ALR and Zimmy back in the line-up.

BooyahSuckah! said...

Kenny, maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see the point of that change. Desmond is playing his natural position at SS. He plays it well, although not flawlessly by any stretch (although he always seems to have a good season after a few hairy weeks to start). While Espy is technically playing out of position, he's been a 2B for years now (399 games at 2B versus 40 games at SS, and only 2 since 2012), and plays the position superbly, so much so that he continues to start despite flirting with the Mendoza line for years.

On the other hand, if you switch them, you get a "natural shortstop" who hasn't regularly played the position since the minors over a guy with a career .961 fielding percentage at SS (actually higher than Espy's .954). Then at second you get a guy with 5 career games at 2B over a guy with a career .986 fielding percentage at the position.

Seems to me that, given this team's penchant for extended offensive slumps, messing with a couple of the only "sure things" (along with Span) that you have on defense would be an exceptionally bad idea.