The Nationals front office has signaled their belief that the team will fail to make the playoffs. Last week, they dealt Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and let the Cardinals take Matt Adams, and more veterans could be dealt before the end of the month. Out of their final 34 games, though, 22 are against teams ahead of them in the NL standings, and the other 12 are against the Mets and Marlins. So while their playoff hopes are still minuscule, BP gives them a 5.5% chance of playing in the postseason. The last Nationals stat preview focused on three hitters that would be key down the stretch, so this one will focus on pitchers that need to come up big.
Strasburg Slowing Down: Strasburg made his first start in over a month Wednesday, and it did not go well, as he allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings. His velocity was down, averaging just 92.3 mph in his final inning and averaging 93.7 mph in the game. He has not averaged lower than 95 mph in a start this year, and has never averaged less than 94 mph in a start until now. The velocity is definitely concerning, but just getting back on the major league mound had to be encouraging for the Nationals, as he has missed significant time this year. The Mets will avoid him this series, but will likely face him in September.
Rodriguez’s Opportunity: Jefry Rodriguez has been the benefactor of some injuries in the Nationals’ rotation, as his start Sunday will be his sixth on the year. His usage as a starter is less than an ideal situation for Washington, as he has had pretty severe splits, with lefties hitting .321/.400/.623 against him and righties hitting just .200/.333/.362. Additionally, his first time through the order, batters have hit just .200/.302/.368 against him, but have hit .350/.422/.750 in their second plate appearance. The highest batting average among Mets’ hitters against righties has been Wilmer Flores (.295), and with several key left handed batters on the shelf, New York probably will not be able to take advantage of Rodriguez’s splits as well as some teams might.
Holland as Hero? Greg Holland has yet to allow a run in his time with Washington, which is a welcome turn of events for a bullpen that jettisoned two important members over the last month. His velocity is actually down in August, as he has sat just 92.8 mph this month (he has not averaged below 93 mph in a month since his Tommy John surgery). Surprisingly, though, he has generated much higher whiff rates on fastballs with the Nats (12.8% with Washington, 5.9% in his last month with St. Louis). His FIP is a sparkling 2.17, but DRA (5.40) is not buying into his performance. His BABIP of .235 also suggests some regression is on the way. Time will tell if he will help to right the ship in the Nationals bullpen, but his peripherals do not paint the prettiest picture.
The Good: Juan Soto has overtaken Bryan Anderson for the highest rookie WARP (3.1 to 3.0).
The Bad: Fun with small sample sizes: First baseman Mark Reynolds’ FIP is the fourth lowest on the team.
The Ugly: Gio Gonzalez has the fourth most walks among starters.
deGrom’s push for a Cy Young continues to strengthen, despite the lack of offensive support in his starts. He is second in pitcher WARP (5.93), just behind Scherzer (6.22). He is first in ERA (1.71), second in FIP (2.04) and third in DRA (2.24). His 204 strikeouts rank sixth.
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