Starting pitching – for the Nats it has always been something people have scoffed at. Some around here thought this year might be different, but the first week of the season seemed to prove it was more of the same. Last night, and this past week, however, things have started to look up. Let’s start with last night. A 3 run Braves first made it look bad early, but Martis recovered and ended up pitching 6 full without giving up another run. After the Nats took the lead in the 6th, the bullpen looked good again, and the save by Hanrahan was a work of art. I won’t call it a thing of beauty, because it was not that.
In the 9th, up by 1 run, he walked the leadoff man and then gave up a double to Shafer. “Here we go again,” I thought. He then got a comebacker groundout. Ok, 1 out. You walk the next guy to load the bases and get the double play, right? No, they let Kelly Johnson hit, and he popped out to CF. It was close to dropping in, which would have tied the game, but Dukes came up with it, and it was shallow enough to not score anyone. After that, a decently hit grounder right at Hernandez ended the game. Nats win 2 in a row.
Let’s go back to the pitching
Specifically back to talking about the starting pitching. After not getting a single quality start in their first 7 games, look at what the starting pitching has done in the last 6:
That is just a great run of starting pitching. 3 guys going into the 7th, 5 quality starts, an ERA from the starting pitcher of 2.70 over the last week, and most importantly, 3 wins. This isn’t going to keep up quite like this, but if they can get something approaching this for much of the season, they’ll climb right out of their 0-7 hole.
If it wasn’t for the bullpen, and lack of breaking it completely open on offense, instead of being 3-10, they could easily be 5-8 or even 6-7. Sure that’s not first place, but it looks very different. It looks more like the team people thought we might have here. It’s early, just like the first 7 games wasn’t necessarily the way it was always going to be, neither are the last 6. But it gives hope that this team will be able to have a respectable season, that this isn’t going to be a repeat of 2008, and that they are building on something here.