The Nats have now completed more than 10% of their regular season schedule. It could be a good time to analyze the statistics of how the Washington Nationals starters and relievers are performing before their trip to Colorado where ERA’s usually take a hit.
THE NATIONALS STARTERS:
When you analyze a small sample of 106 2/3 innings of starting pitching, the 2/3 of an inning by Jeremy Guthrie when he gave up 10 runs will skew the numbers. Here is what the Nationals starting pitching looks like with Guthrie’s stats included:
The Nationals are ranked 2nd in the NL behind the rival NY Mets in starting pitching ERA—but if we remove Jeremy Guthrie’s 2/3 of an inning the statistics look vastly different. Guthrie is not even in the Nationals system as he was released and opted for free agency.
Without Guthrie’s statistics, the Nationals starters have only allowed 29 earned runs. That would give the Nats a current starter’s ERA of 2.46. That statistic is by far the best in the National League.
THE NATIONALS RELIEVERS:
It is the Nationals bullpen that has been the focus of much of the angst directed at the team. The debate on the formation and usage of the bullpen raged on, and after Tuesday’s win in Atlanta it was clear that Blake Treinen would be the fall-guy. Part of the debate was the chasm rumored between Dusty Baker’s pick for his closer and Mike Rizzo’s.
The question of how the Nationals decided on Treinen for the closer role was asked once again in an interview of Mike Rizzo. Treinen was formally removed on Wednesday from the closer’s role, and on Wednesday morning, Mike Rizzo was interviewed here on 106.7 The Fan radio. These are some Mike Rizzo excerpts from the interview:
“We still love the depth we have in the bullpen. We love the bullpen personnel we have. We love the team that we have. We like and trust the personnel we have. We are happy with the guys we have in-house.”
Rizzo discussed the combination of moxy, stuff, and experience for a closer. Rizzo says that having ‘stuff’ is also being able to command your pitches.
“’…’Stuff’ is I think the most important portion of pitching late in the game.”
When Rizzo was asked about the decision to put Treinen in the closer role to start the season, the answer was that it was a group decision.
“Almost 90% of our decisions are unanimous.”
Last night, Koda Glover got his first MLB save, but it was certainly a lay-up for him. He was handed the ball with 2 outs in the 9th inning with no runners on-base. Glover quickly disposed of pinch-hitter Travis d’Arnaud for the final out of the game. It has been Shawn Kelley who has had the high stress saves this week, and Kelley has now tallied 3 saves in the past week.
Since the Tuesday night closer’s debacle, the bullpen has been nails allowing only one run in the last four games and that run was in Wednesday’s blow-out win in Atlanta. But you might have noticed a shift in usage. On Tuesday night Freddie Freeman led off the 9th inning, and Treinen got him mano y mano, and Freeman of course got a hit and the 9th inning almost got away from the Nationals as Treinen was pulled with bases loaded. On Thursday night before Koda Glover got the 8th inning, Oliver Perez was used in a true LOOGY role and disposed of Freddie Freeman before Glover took over with one out.
The bullpen match-up baseball continued on Saturday to perfection. Gio Gonzalez didn’t hit the showers after the 6th inning. He came back out to LOOGY for himself and retire Curtis Granderson before handing the ball to Blake Treinen who earned his 2nd Hold of the season on 3 pitches to get 2 outs. Enny Romero began the 8th inning and the 9th inning and was one out away from a 2 inning save before Dusty Baker yanked him in favor of Koda Glover who just had to retire one batter for the save.
Is this a new Dusty Baker philosophy to go match-up baseball or was the treatment of Blake Treinen like Jonathan Papelbon last year where his closer must be able to pitch multiple days in a row without failing or some other test?
The bullpen usage has made much more sense lately, and nobody appears to have been overworked with the exception of Oliver Perez who got last night off.
“We are a group,” said Enny Romero. “Everybody’s pitching good. … The bullpen now is good.”
If the last four game sample size was any indication of how the Nationals bullpen will be going forward, we will take it in a heartbeat. The bullpen was a perfect 3-for-3 in saves, and has only given up 1-run over 11 2/3 innings for a 0.77 ERA.