Washington Nationals: Grading the starting rotation so far

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CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals gets a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in the sixth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Nationals won 13-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals gets a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in the sixth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Nationals won 13-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Jeremy Hellickson a pleasant surprise

Initially brought in as extra competition for A.J. Cole for the fifth starter’s role, Jeremy Hellickson has done nothing but impress.

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This was highlighted by his perfect game attempt against the San Diego Padres a week ago. And it seems like he’s going to stick around for the rest of the season.

He has a 2.20 ERA and remarkable 0.857 WHIP, both of which are ace-level numbers from Hellickson. Fueled by career lows in H/9, BB/9 and HR/9, he’s been a steal for the Nats.

Manager Davey Martinez has been reluctant to let the starter pitch around the lineup a third time so far, which has helped to keep the rate stats low. Given the stats against him the third time around, it makes sense.

In his career, opposing hitters have a .276 average and .840 OPS. Both those figures are over 15% higher than the previous times around the order.

This brings up the same issues that we mentioned with Gio Gonzalez, about the lack of length turning it over to the bullpen too soon. So it would be good to see Martinez try and allow him to stay in longer as the season goes on.

Expect a little regression here for Hellickson, but with the way Martinez is managing him he’ll keep pumping in sold showings. A great fifth starter so far. A

A. . SP. Washington Nationals. JEREMY HELLICKSON

Next: Nats will cope without Zimm

This rotation will look to continue it’s dominant ways the rest of the season. And if they do, the Washington Nationals will have higher hopes than ever come October.

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