So I went away and while I was gone the Nats took on one of the hottest and one of the coldest teams in the majors. San Fran was 18-9 coming into the Nats series and had won 7 of their last 10. The Nats promptly swept them. It didn't even seem that close to me, the Cain game being the only one the Nats went into the late innings with a chance of losing. Colorado had gone 9-22 coming into the Nats series, which included a pasting by the Nats at home and had gone 1-5 in their last 6. The Nats lost 2 of 3 to the Rockies. It kind of felt, too, like they were one bad inning away from maybe sweeping the Nats.
Such is sports. The Nats wanted those Colorado games as much as the San Fran games, but they lost anyway to a much inferior team. This is why it's all about getting to the playoffs. Get in and see what happens because anything can and often does.
The story of the first half is still the same though, awesome pitching overcoming some mediocre hitting.
Here's an easy way of breaking down how great the Nats pitching has been.
Better than Expected (*career year)
Worse than Expected
Thirteen out of the fifteen guys who have pitched for the Nats this year have seasons at least as good as expected (hey - what did you expect from Perry?). The only ones who have failed were a possible 5th starter and a should have been middle-inning reliever. Almost a third of the staff (you could argue Burnett's case as well) are having career years.
Is it luck? Is it talent? Is it timing? Yes. Yes. Yes. Rizzo has put together a staff that is both young and full of talent. It was primed to be a very good staff. The fact that they've gotten a bit lucky and nearly everything has worked out* when really everything doesn't always work out has made it special. And really in my mind the only uncontrollable thing that went wrong was Wang. Lidge should have not gotten big innings, certainly not right off the bat. H-Rod is too up and down to be trusted over and over with important innings, which the closer will get, if not every time. Davey doesn't screw these things up and the Nats staff is almost flawless. It's incredible.
Baseball has enough seasons and teams that saying "this doesn't happen" is impossible. But I guarantee this, that everything goes right with a pitching staff, rarely happens.
- Ian Desmond's 17 homers is only 2 less than all other NL East SS's combined.
- I know that the SF series probably got some people excited but that's what happens when you have 5 or 6 guys hot at the same time. You score runs. Thing is you don't usually have 5-6 guys hot at the same time. A couple guys cool off and ta-da! you get the Rockies series. Nothing about this team has changed. It still could use another bat.