Blog Entry

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:34 am
Only one team in the majors has yet to go to the bullpen in the first five innings of a game.

No, it's not the Phillies. Or the Giants. Or the A's.

Keep guessing, and let me know when you get to the Nationals.

Yes, the Nationals.

Last year, they didn't get past opening day without an early departure by the starter. By the end of the year, they had 38, the most in the majors.

Now, they're the only team without one (every other team has at least two, led by the Pirates with seven).

It's all according to plan.

"I'm not a big stat guy, but I firmly believe that the farther the starter goes in a game, the better chance you have of winning," pitching coach Steve McCatty said by phone Tuesday morning. "You try to get guys to know they have to go farther in the game to give you a chance to win."

It's not exactly revolutionary thinking, but McCatty has prioritized limiting walks over striking out batters. Sure enough, Nationals starters have just 45 walks in 173 innings, fewer than any rotation other than the Phillies.

"We're trying to stress it in the minor leagues, too," he said. "One thing the pitch count has done is it keeps guys from going deep in games, but we're telling guys you can go seven innings with 100 pitches or less.

"I was a guy who threw 135-145 pitches every time out, but just because I did it doesn't make it right."

The Nationals have gotten innings out of their starters without running high pitch counts. No Nats starter has thrown more than 109 pitches in a game, and last Friday against the Giants Jason Marquis threw a 96-pitch complete game.

The five-inning thing, as McCatty admits, isn't the best indicator. The Nationals are only in the middle of the pack in starts of six innings-plus (they have 19 in 28 games), and the Nats have just six starts of seven innings-plus (the Rays lead baseball with 15).

But for an unheralded staff -- Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Marquis and Tom Gorzelanny form the Nationals rotation -- the five-inning streak is impressive.

Especially from a rotation no one has paid attention to since Stephen Strasburg got hurt.


Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:37 pm

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:52 am

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 2:09 pm

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:54 am

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 2:35 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 16, 2010
Posted on: May 3, 2011 4:08 pm

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

The one part of this team I thought would be their Achilles heal turned out to be the strong part of the team, their pitching. I said all off season spend the money on pitching, then they went out and spent it on Werth. I thought that was the end of the Nats competing this year. Always knew Hernandez was a crafty guy Lannan and Marquis always have good games in them and Zimmerman was an up and coming but still wasn't expected to be there yet and Gorzelanny was just a fifth starter out of necessity. Boy did they come together. The defense is starting to show up and if the bats start to spark, this team will be one to reckon with. They look like they may already be contenders. Kudos to the players and coaching staff, now if ownership puts out some money to keep what they have and add a few more pieces----WATCH OUT ALL HERE COME THE NATS!!!!

Since: Feb 26, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:57 pm

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

Damn right Nats... Is it likely that we keep this up? No, but for once I'm happy to see the Nats not dead last in the NL East with no saving grace in sight. With the emergence of Zimmerman as well as Gorzelanny [who would of thought it?], our lineup doesn't necessarily need to be as potent. Taking three out of four from the defending WS champs is something I'd never expect this team to do. Just goes to show you: you suck for long enough and eventually things start to go your way and you can start thinking about becoming a contender. Keep it up, boys. Go Nats.

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