Washington Nationals: Road success could loom large in October
By Ricky Keeler
This year, the Washington Nationals have been one of the better road teams in baseball. Is that a good sign for a deep October run?
Despite losing in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night and being one-hit on Wednesday, the Washington Nationals have had another good extended road trip. Heading into the series finale against the Diamondbacks this afternoon, the Nats are 6-2 on this eight game trip.
Over the past week or so, the Nats have continued a trend all season of winning road games. Their 32 road wins are the most in the National League and the second most in all of baseball (Houston Astros have 35). Normally, you would be happy if a team went a little bit over .500 away from their friendly confines, but the Nats have exceeded that.
There’s no exact science as to why the Washington Nationals play better on the road. For one, you can make the case that early in the season, playing road games was a good thing because they could get away from all the uneasiness of the closer situation at home.
On offense, the Nats have brought the long ball with them on the road. They have 79 home runs in those games (tied with the Mets) and they have scored 45 more runs than any other NL team (284).
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If you look at the players who have played in 40 or more road games, three of them have batting averages over .310. Those three are Anthony Rendon (.317), Bryce Harper (.337), and Daniel Murphy (.315). Also, four of them have ten or more home runs (Harper leads with 16).
As we move over to how the pitching staff does on the road, the three top starters (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez) have a combined record of 22-6 in 32 starts.
Scherzer gave up three home runs in a row in the first inning Friday, but his opponents batting average against on the road this year is .156. Now, Strasburg’s opponents BAA isn’t exactly chop liver (.198). With those two pitchers, you always have a chance to win a ballgame, no matter where it is played.
Currently, the Washington Nationals have a five game lead on Milwaukee for home field advantage in the National League Division series. Home field is important, but if the Nats do lose a home game should they make it to October, they can rely on their road success to get back into a series.
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Regardless of the ballpark that these games are played in, the Washington Nationals have been one of the best teams in baseball in 2017. Home/road splits can be taken with a grain of salt, but if you can win on the road consistently, you will have a chance to make a deep run come October.