Starting Pitching: A
This offseason, the national media talked about the impact Dusty Baker would have on the Washington Nationals and he definitely has made one. But, another thing to look at is the influence that new pitching coach Mike Maddux has had on this rotation.
Through the first 23 games of the season, the Nats’ starters are 12-4 with a 2.28 ERA (second in the NL behind the Cubs in both categories). One thing the Nats have done is gone deep into games to help out the new-look bullpen. They have thrown the most innings of any team in the NL (146) and the third most in baseball.
Plus, it’s amazing when you think about how great this rotation has been and that their ace, Max Scherzer, has been the worst of the five starters. However, most of Scherzer’s problems have been because of lack of command on his fastball and his problems in the first inning (eight of 15 earned runs allowed in the 1st).
Even though Scherzer has been average, the other four have had great starts. Tanner Roark had his best start of the year with 15 strikeouts back on April 23 against the Twins. Gio Gonzalez, who got a late start to his season because of the days off in the first week, has pitched 6+ innings in each of his four starts (1.42 ERA). Joe Ross has shown good poise in his first four starts as well (0.79 ERA).
Finally, I think its important to look at the start Stephen Strasburg has gotten off to. In his last three games, Strasburg has 29 strikeouts and he leads the National League in K’s (40). His 2.25 ERA this month was over two runs lower than his ERA from April 2015 (4.60).
Overall, this rotation has shown it is one of the more talented ones in the game. I like how Maddux has them tracking pitches the day before they start and you can see that it has an impact when they take the mound the following day. Clearly, the rotation has been the best aspect of the team through the first month.