Heading into Sunday’s series finale in San Diego, Washington Nationals’ starters had put up a 2.17 ERA in the previous ten games and 62 1⁄3 innings pitched, which was a run better than any other National League staff over that stretch, as noted in the Nationals’ pregame notes, ahead of the Chicago Cubs (3.40) and Padres (3.27).
Gio Gonzalez continued that solid run by the Nats’ starters with a 6 2⁄3-inning outing in which he gave up five hits, a walk and one unearned run on Sunday.
Over his last four starts, Gonzalez is now (4-0) with a 0.33 ERA (2 R, 1 ER), seven walks, 23 Ks, and a .156/.229/.156 line against in 27 2⁄3 IP in those outings.
Gonzalez has also managed to keep the ball in the yard in the last four starts, and the Nationals’ pitchers, as a group, have allowed just eight home runs, (six by the starting staff and two by the relievers).
While the Nationals as a team, have dealt with a variety of injuries, they’ve still gotten solid pitching from the rotation, with Nats’ starters putting up 3.13 ERA in August, the NL’s second-lowest (behind only the Dodgers’ 2.77 ERA), a 4.31 FIP (fifth-lowest), a .224 BAA (third-lowest) and a 1.17 WHIP (second-lowest).
Nationals’ relievers have the third-lowest ERA in the NL as a group this month (3.04), the NL’s lowest FIP (3.19), the lowest BAA (.177), and lowest WHIP (0.96).
Dusty Baker joked during the series with the Padres that he was surprised he hadn’t heard from Commissioner Manfred with the kind of lineups he’s had to pencil in over the last few weeks with all the injury issues the Nationals have dealt with.
“I’m glad that the Commissioner’s Office ain’t calling me to tell me that I don’t have four major leaguers, like in Spring Training,” Baker joked.
But the players the Nationals have called upon have done what they can to contribute to the cause.
“These guys are better,” Baker said when asked about the resiliency of his players.
“They’re getting better. The main thing is that we pitched well, and if you pitch well, then you don’t need as much offense, which you’ve seen lately, we haven’t had the same kind of offense that we usually have but we’re finding a way to win the games.
“But it starts with the pitching and we’ve got good pitching every day, and so these guys are just trying to find a way to win.”
They’ve found a way to win in seven of their last ten and 11 of 18 in August, and they head to Houston with a 14.0-game lead in the division.
Baker explained his philosophy for dealing with adversity this past weekend, when he discussed all the injuries the Nationals have overcome thus far.
“It’s not a very pleasant situation, but you know that that’s kind of a problem, but once you know you have a problem you don’t continue to dwell on the problem,” Baker said.
“You dwell on a solution to the problem.”
With contributions from some unexpected sources (Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin, Andrew Stevenson), solid performances from players pressed into bigger roles (Adam Lind, Edwin Jackson), and some key additions (like Howie Kendrick, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle), the Nationals have managed to keep rolling.
“You’d rather have everybody healthy, but again, you try to deal with the solution.”