The Washington Nationals pitching rotation in 2014 pitched lights out, propelling them to their second division title in three years.
I’ve referenced the Washington Nationals current three-headed pitching monster several times. Looking back on the 2014 starting rotation, there wasn’t a let down from the staff ace, to the five-guy.
There may have been off nights for an individual pitcher, though there was not a weak pitcher in the bunch. A group of five guys who took the mound on most days it was their turn (all but 13 starts came from these five), and pitched deep into ball games on most occasions.
We can assume the Nationals knew what they were working with in regards to three-fifths of their pitching staff.
Stephen Strasburg was a 15 game winner and All-Star in 2012. Jordan Zimmermann won a league best 19 games the year before, and was an All-Star. Gio Gonzalez won a league best 21 games in 2012 and finished third in the Cy Young balloting.
Maybe they were the original three-headed monster.
The other two pitchers in the rotation, Tanner Roark and Doug Fister, were the wild cards. Yes, Roark was 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA the year before, but 2014 would be just his second year in the league. A possible sophomore slump was looming. After being drafted in the 25th round and never really considered a prospect, who knew how he’d follow up his rookie season.
Fister, was acquired in the previous offseason, had some rough patches mixed between the success he experienced. He pitched to contact a lot and averaged just three strikeouts per walk.
The rotation came together in 2014 and had one of the best regular season performances as a complete staff in team history.
All five starters finished in double-digit wins, led by the 16 provided by Fister. Four pitchers had ERA’s 3.14 or less, and the odd man out was at 3.57. The team earned run average for the year was 3.03, best in the league.
The group almost had three pitchers tally two-hundred innings, and collectively they almost went seven innings per start. The five complete games and four shutouts between them, both ranked in the top four in the National League.
All told, the Nationals 96 wins as a team (69 from the starters) made for the second best record in all of baseball.
Zimmermann, Fister, and Strasburg would garner Cy Young votes and the pitching held true in the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately the bats did not show up, and the Nationals scored a combined five runs in their three losses, while the pitchers gave up only eight runs in those games.
On paper and in performance, the 2014 Washington Nationals pitching staff was truly legit.