Washington Nationals: Best Pitching Performances

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals reacts after retiring the side in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals reacts after retiring the side in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Last week, we wrote about top home runs in Washington Nationals history. Today we will be looking at the top pitching performances in the team’s history. The only rule is the performance had to be done by a Nationals pitcher, sorry Expos fans. Without further ado, here is our list.

Stephen Strasburg’s debut, Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, June 8, 2010

Drafted number one overall in 2009, Stephen Strasburg was the most hyped pitching prospect ever. Strasburg made his debut in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and he lived up to the hype. Strasburg went seven innings, gave up two runs, walked none, and struck out 14. The Nats went on to win 5-2. Strasburg ended his night by striking out the last seven batters he faced.

Jordan Zimmermann’s No-Hitter, Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins, September 28, 2014

In 2014, Jordan Zimmermann was a part of the Nationals big three in the pitching staff with Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg. While Strasburg couldn’t stay healthy, Zimmermann was the most consistent of the group. In the last game of the 2014 regular season, the Nats had already locked up the division title and the best record in the NL. All that was left was their last game with Miami Marlins. Zimmermann was on the mound and he was unstoppable.

The righty threw the fifth No-Hitter in franchise history (Dennis Martinez threw a perfect game in 1991), and first since the team moved from Montreal. Zimmermann only allowed two base runners, a walk, and a strikeout-wild pitch, while striking out 10. The No-Hitter was saved on the last play of the game on a diving catch by rookie Steven Souza Jr.

Max Scherzer First No-Hitter, Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates,  July 20, 2015

Max Scherzer was the top pitcher on the 2015 open market and signed a seven-year deal worth 210 million. Throughout his tenure with the Nats, Scherzer has lived up to his contract. During the 2015 season and against the Pittsburg Pirates, Scherzer came one pitch away from a perfect game before he hit Pirates hitter Jose Tabata. It is still unclear if Tabata leaned into the pitch. Scherzer got the next batter out and had to settle for his first-ever no-hitter. Oh darn. Scherzer struck out 10 in a dominant outing.

Max Scherzer’s Second No-Hitter, Washington Nationals vs. NY Mets, October 3, 2015

After winning the division in 2014, the Nationals had high expectations for the 2015 season. The team came up well short as they missed the playoffs. The two bright spots for the  Nats 2015 season was Bryce Harper winning NL MVP, and Max Scherzer’s first season with the team. Max Scherzer’s last start of the season was against the Mets, who went on to win the division.

Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention, Scherzer put on a show. He threw his second no-hitter of his career and his second of the season. Again he came one batter short of a perfect game, this time it was on a throwing error in the sixth inning. Scherzer struck out at the time, a career-high 17, and at one point, nine straight batters in a row. Scherzer became the sixth pitcher and first since Roy Holliday to throw two No-Hitters in the same season.

Tanner Roark strikes out 15, Washington Nationals vs. Minnesota Twins, April 23, 2016

Tanner Roark emerged as a reliable number three-four starter in the Nationals rotation. Early on in his career, he was jerked around from the bullpen and starting rotation before becoming a fixture in the starting rotation. While he was solid in the rotation, he was never as dominant as Scherzer or Strasburg. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Roark dominated the Twins the way he did in an early 2016 game.

The righty went seven shutout innings, gave up only two hits, walked three, and struck out a career-high 15. This was an impressive feat from Roark who has gone on to have an impressive career as a journeyman.

Max Scherzer 20 strikeout game, Washington Nationals vs. Detroit Tigers, May 11, 2016

On May 11, 2016, Scherzer was facing off against Jordan Zimmermann and the Detroit Tigers in a homecoming for both pitchers. This marked the first time both pitchers faced their former team since leaving. Scherzer beat Zimmermann in a pitchers duel as he threw another gem. Scherzer went nine innings, gave up two runs, walked none, and tied the record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 20.

Scherzer joined Roger Clemens (he has two separate 20 strikeout games), Randy Johnson, and Kerry Wood as the only pitchers to accomplish this feat.

Anibal Sanchez Playoff Gem, Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals, October 11, 2019

Anibal Sanchez got the nod for game one of the NLCS against the Cardinals due to the team’s big three all being on short rest. At this point in his career, Sanchez was known for going five-six innings and was being relied on to be a stop gag. The Nationals bullpen was a disaster outside of Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. Unfortunately, Hudson wasn’t available.  Instead, Sanchez proved that wasn’t a problem as he mowed through the Cardinals lineup.

Sanchez carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and was four outs away when he gave up a single. The veteran went 7.2 innings, as he gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out five. Sanchez’s outing set the tone for the series as the Nats went on to sweep the Cardinals.