When Paolo Espino toes the rubber against the New York Mets, he will be making his tenth start of the season. If I told you at the beginning of the year Espino was going to have ten starts this season, you would have told me the Washington Nationals would be twelve games under .500. Well, you would have been right.
Espino made a spot start in mid-April, hung around to pitch in the bullpen, made a couple of spot starts in June and by early July, was entrenched in the five man starting rotation. Prior to giving up six earned runs in his last start, Espino’s earned run average hovered in the high twos and low threes, before settling at its current 3.66. He’s been one of manager Davey Martinez’s most reliable pitchers.
While the Nationals keep Espino on short leash, rarely letting him go past five innings or eighty pitches, they have benefited from him keeping them in the games he has pitched.
Nationals pitcher Paolo Espino needs to keep the ball on the ground to be successful.
Espino has faced the Mets once before this season, spinning five innings of five hit ball, without allowing a run. He also induced more ground ball outs than flyball outs. Espino doesn’t miss many bats, as evidenced by his 6.6 K/9, though when he gets opponents to beat the ball into the ground, good things happen.
In four of his starts this year Espino has induced more groundouts than flyouts, or the same number of GO/FO. The Nationals are 3-1 in those games. Five times Espino has tallied more flyball outs and the Nationals are 1-4 in those contests.
Simple, right? If Espino is pitching down in the zone and opposing batters are hammering the ball into the ground, more times than not the Nationals come out ahead.
Also, Espino has given up seven home runs in the starts where the Nationals have been eventual losers. In wins, he hasn’t surrendered one long ball.
The trend Espino has been following is keep the ball out of the air (and in the yard), walk away a winner.
Give Paolo a little run support, hope for a lot of ground balls, and play the law of percentages. Odds are a Curly W finds its way into the boxscore.