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An "insane" pitching staff dominates again

Jun 24, 2012, 4:45 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Edwin Jackson earned the win and lowered his ERA to 2.91 in the process.

He's been the Nationals' No. 4 starter, technically speaking, since Opening Day. There is nothing about Edwin Jackson, however, that resembles a No. 4 starter.

Fourth starters don't boast a 2.91 ERA in late-June. Fourth starters don't boast a 1.04 WHIP. Fourth starters don't have seven consecutive quality starts.

And fourth starters don't carry a perfect game into the fifth inning and a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning as Jackson did Saturday night during a 3-1 victory over the Orioles.

"That's insane," closer Tyler Clippard said. "It makes us smile. … I just can't imagine what those other teams are thinking when Edwin is our fourth guy. It's a joke. He's probably the No. 1 starter on more than half the teams in the league."

Actually, Clippard is spot-on with that assessment. There are 15 major-league rotations right that do not include one starter with a sub-3.00Read more ยป

  1. Farid Rushdi - Jun 24, 2012 at 4:54 AM

    Hey Mark,Do you think the Nationals will sign Jackson to a multi-year contract this year instead of letting him leave via free agency at the end of the year?I don't see anyone in the minors ready to fill that slot in 2013 and I don't think they'd want to do another 3-for-1 or 4-for-1 Gio type of trade to replace him.What do you think?Farid @ Idaho

  2. Gonat - Jun 24, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    I am just smiling and Mark nailed it. This is what we were talking about in the morning. If EJax could get out of the 1st inning unscathed and with a low pitch count, he could go on a roll, and he did just that.

  3. Kevin Rusch - Jun 24, 2012 at 5:02 AM

    Farid,I think some of it depends on how many years EJax wants. 2-3, maybe. 4-6? I don't know. Does anyone have a sense of how it came to pass that he's bounced around so much? Is it just the vagaries of the business, or does he come with any insider baggage?

  4. Gonat - Jun 24, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… NatsJack, if EJax can start the game with a 1-2-3 1st inning, he could be the Nats best pitcher.A .981 OPS in the 1st inning won't cut it. Contrast that with the best 5th inning with a .283 OPS. June 23, 2012 12:21 PM ____________________________You called it. I think NatsLady also had a good thought about a longer warmup. I wonder if EJax did anything differently in his pregame throwing.

  5. Laddie Blah Blah - Jun 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Pitching and defense. That's the team Rizzo wanted, and he got it. The GM deserves a mountain of credit for getting Gio and Ejax last winter. And McCatty & co. also deserve some credit, as well. Ejax has improved his command, cut down on his walks, and improved his WHIP. Whatever tweaking they did to his mechanics in ST has paid off.I suspect Ejax wants to stay with the Nats. The fans appreciate him and his teammates do, too. If they can work out an extension, Rizzo will figure out something to fill in the no. 5 spot in the rotation, if neither Det or CMW can do the job.All this team needs is just a little more offense. They are that close to being a dominant team, not just a good team, but a dominant one. If Zim can come back to where he used to be, and Mikey-Mo morphs back into the Beast, watch out. Moore is looking good at the plate, and it is just a matter of time before the Cyborg gets his mojo back.Of course, there are always those darn injuries. The Nats have been very fortunate with the starting rotation, and very unlucky everywhere else.

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    And I gladly stand corrected on stating that Storen would resume his closer role upon his return. T-Clip not only deserves it, his performances demand it.What a luxury to have both those guys AND Sean Burnett.

  7. Positively Half St. - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I agree that the decision to extend Jackson or not will depend on how long a contract he wants. For a guy that has been shuttled around as much as he has, I think that stability would be his number-one desire. Why won't anyone reward the guy with even a short multi-year contract?I think it is also important to remember that we are not even at the All-Star break. Jackson will have to sustain a solid level of performance throughout the whole season to get extra years. One thing to be sure of, though, is that Scott Boras will want him rewarded after settling for a one-year contract this time.+1/2St.

  8. MicheleS - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Ditto what NatsJack said – although I gave myself the 1% out because Davey changes his mind all the time ;-)We are sooo lucky to have this pitching staff. I think the question of EJax staying depends on 2 things – do we have a dark horse in the minors that by September call ups is ready and what does Boras think he can get for him on the open market. Ejax could suprise us and do a Jared Weaver and get the deal done before the end of the year on the flip side, he is a military kid, so moving around is probably a way of life for him.

  9. MicheleS - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    1/2st.. Several teams offered EJAX a 3 year deal this past offseason – Pirates and O's if I remember correctly – he came to the Nats instead.

  10. Tim - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    We're gonna have FIVE starters with a sub-4.00 ERA at the end of the year. I truly feel that Detwiler will be just as dominant. He'll be somewhat inconsistent, but I predict he'll finish with an ERA below 4.00 for the year.Beat the Birds Det!

  11. Doc - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Good on Davey for keeping Clip at closer. He wants to be there and he deserves to be there. I'm sure his room mate well understands that.Now if Davey (and the coaching staff) could only start seeing Zim swinging late on fastballs that he used to smack, he'd become the complete manager.

  12. NatsNut - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    =) thanks NNT! you're awesome. NatsNutToo said…

  13. NCNatsie - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Storen for Dempster?

  14. MicheleS - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    NC.. Dempster is a 2 month rental at best. Not worth Storen. Plus Storen is too expensive for the cubs. They want super cheap prospects. Not sure what we have in the Farm system that would temp them.

  15. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    So, is that an Insane Clown Pitching Posse, bro?

  16. NatsFirin'BBs - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    You have to feel like, if Storen gets back in enough time for a two week audition before the trade deadline, one of the two of them could be moved. Burnett has shown he can fill the set-up role, and Clip has obviously shown he can handle closing. I think that Clip may actually be a bit more attractive to other teams as he has shown he can both set-up and close, and he isn't just coming off an injury. It'll be interesting.

  17. Section 222 - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    And I gladly stand corrected on stating that Storen would resume his closer role upon his return. You simply stated your opinion without berating those who thought differently. Nothing wrong with that. But I'm not taking a victory lap on this until it actually happens. Davey has been known to, ahem, change his mind from time to time.One of the great things about having a rotation like this is that we start one of our all star quality horses in at least 2 of every 3 game series. No team gets off easy because of the schedule.

  18. Brother Juniper - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    If Storen pitches well, I wouldn't move him. Spreading out the work helps prevent one pitcher from being over-used.I've always assumed Harper is a natural right hander who learn to bat left. Is it possible he's a natural left hander who learned to throw righty becasue he wanted to be a catcher?

  19. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    My favorite Nats player now is Mark Reynolds.

  20. NCNatsie - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Br. J, I believe he said somewhere he was a natural lefty.

  21. NCNatsie - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Michele, I hadn't heard the Cubs were looking for super cheapies. That wasn't necessarily Theo's style in Boston (tho' he or anyone else will take 'em when they can find 'em.) They've got plenty money, and can't possibly see Marmol as the long range guy there, so I would think it could make sense. You may well be right about the price being too high on our side, but given Davy's statement, it seems like his decision is made (I know, I know, remember the Lannan) and I would think Drew would welcome going to a team where he could be the closer. And Demster could give us a World Series w/o Strasburg imho.

  22. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    On Harper, from a Bob Carpenter post to the message board on the team site (in response to a reader question):He told me he's a natural lefty, and can throw LH as well as RH. He plays golf LH and said he can kick a ball (not sure if he meant soccer or football … maybe both) with either foot.

  24. Gonat - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… And I gladly stand corrected on stating that Storen would resume his closer role upon his return. T-Clip not only deserves it, his performances demand it.What a luxury to have both those guys AND Sean Burnett. June 24, 2012 6:10 AM ____________________________There are 2 rules in sports. One is you don't generally lose your spot when you are injured. The other is the Wally Pipp rule takes affect when the injury is long enough that the new player dominates and can't lose his job.I also think the "sting" of Zim's revelation has possibly shaken Davey to put team before players. Let's face it, Clippard has been the best closer in the MLB albeit he hasn't done it for the full season.

  25. Gonat - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… My favorite Nats player now is Mark Reynolds. June 24, 2012 8:56 AM _____________________________Great one!

  26. Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    natsfan1a said… So, is that an Insane Clown Pitching Posse, bro?I thought of that instantly, but then again, somehow this doesn't feel like a Dark Carnival.

  27. Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Although, now that I think of it, it sorta did for a few years, there.

  28. Jimmy - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Ditto Lady Blah Blah – this is exactly the type of team Rizzo set out to assemble, dominate pitching and plus defense. He said as much during the off-season. It's been very impressive watching it come together almost exactly as planned.

  29. Jimmy - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    I prefer "The K Street Rotation." Cant remember who I saw use that first, but it remains fitting in every way.

  30. Raphael Talisman - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I think the Nats might need to trade for bat. With Zimm out for who knows how long and Morse probably playing hurt as well. I just hope if that happens they get a guy with an attitude that fits the chemistry of the clubhouse.

  31. Feel Wood - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    And I gladly stand corrected on stating that Storen would resume his closer role upon his return. T-Clip not only deserves it, his performances demand it.But Davey never said that Clippard will be his closer when Storen returns. He only said that Clippard is his closer…RIGHT NOOOOOW. [/Jerome voice] Because the last thing Davey wants, or needs, is a closer controversy. And he's sure not going to start one…RIGHT NOOOOOW. If he anoints Clippard the closer when Storen returns, he's going to have a closer controversy no matter what. People (and especially the press) will be putting a microscope of comparison on every inning Storen and Clippard pitch. If Storen happens to have a good outing and Clippard has a shaky one, they'll be asking the question. They'll be asking the question if Storen goes 1-2-3 and Clippard walks one guy. They'll be asking the question if Clippard pitches two nights in a row. "Davey, is Clippard your closer tomorrow?"But if he makes Storen the closer when he returns, he nips the controversy in the bud. Because then all he has to do is defend Storen, not keep comparing two guys because the press keeps asking the question. Defending Storen is a much easier job, and less distracting. Because unless Storen is Henry-level awful (and that's doubtful) order will have been restored.

  32. Mr Baseball - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Question: Why is Bob Carpenter a much better announcer on Fox than he is on Masn? If you listened there was no front door, back door, side door or swing back pitches in his broadcasting both games he's been on Fox. Why can't he be the professional on Masn. I much prefer listening to him on Fox!

  33. Steady Eddie - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Hello? Talking about trading ANY of our current bullpen stalwarts (I.e., everyone in the pen today except Mike Gonzalez is just not going to happen. A consistently winning team for years to come — especially one built on completely dominant pitching like this one — needs a pen in which the manager can feel totally comfortable giving the ball to the appropriate reliever at any juncture, without having anyone he needs to work around and only give mop up duty. When Druuuu gets back we have that pen (leaving aside Wang wh's not going to be a reliever for long, he'll either go back to the rotation if he finds his stuff consistently or be gone). NO reason to change ANYTHING about it. Would Atlanta say "oh, we don't need Kimbrel AND Venters AND O'Flaherty?". You want a pen of keepers for as long as they last.

  34. NatsNut - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Carp answered this on air the other day too, but then FP said something like, "maybe he's amphibious" instead of "ambidextrous". _______________________On Harper, from a Bob Carpenter post to the message board on the team site (in response to a reader question):He told me he's a natural lefty, and can throw LH as well as RH. He plays golf LH and said he can kick a ball (not sure if he meant soccer or football … maybe both) with either foot.

  35. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Good point(s). Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa said… natsfan1a said… So, is that an Insane Clown Pitching Posse, bro? I thought of that instantly, but then again, somehow this doesn't feel like a Dark Carnival. June 24, 2012 10:04 AM Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa said… Although, now that I think of it, it sorta did for a few years, there. June 24, 2012 10:05 AM

  36. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. natsfan1a - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Yes, I recall that. I believe it was a Yogi Berra allusion. :-)NatsNut said…Carp answered this on air the other day too, but then FP said something like, "maybe he's amphibious" instead of "ambidextrous".

  38. NatsNut - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Oh. haha. Never heard that Yogi-ism. Good one.

  39. djinFl. - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Laddie Blah Blah said: pitching and defense is what Rizzo wanted.I would bet Rizzo and Davey talked nightly about hoping Zim holds down third until the NL/AL gauntlet finished. I think all of us looked at this as an deciding stretch of our season. They wanted stability through these games, Zim's defense, as well as him remaining in the 3 hole was part of that. No shifting people around, arriving at the park wondering where they were batting. With the end of the gauntlet–geez Zim needs the dl and we will have to shift things when we get to Colorado.Bet we can handle the disruption fine now.

  40. JT - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    All of this pitcher talk boils down in the end to health. If they can maintain current health I don't believe Davey will want to disturb the rhythm he has going right now. Storen is smart enough to realize that this bunch has held first place all season without his services and will accept any roll Davey decides he should have. These things have a way of working out, especially on a winning team. Chemistry will keep these guys heads on straight.

  41. MicheleS - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Mr Baseball. Carp is a pro. Let's face it, both He and FP have to be homers for MASN. They pay the bills. If you listen to all the other teams announcers they are all homers (see Hawk Harrelson). At least FP and Bob aren't obnoxious about it.And Carp was great last night. He really handled Verducci – who is a reporter – not an analyst by trade – extremely well.

  42. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    (from last thread re: RZ)Ghost Of Steve M. said… NcNatsie, huh, 18 for 15? Zim has to sit for a minimum of 15 days and can sit 18 or 25 or whatever.The only rule is no less than 15.Right . . . but right now, he can sit the minimum of 15, and rest for 18 without missing any additional games.

  43. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    MicheleS said… 1/2st.. Several teams offered EJAX a 3 year deal this past offseason – Pirates and O's if I remember correctly – he came to the Nats instead.I suspect strongly that he mostly just wanted to be with a decent team for one year, show off his stuff, and cash in at the end of the year with a multi-year megabucks contract. I.e., I suspect he didn't think his 3-year deals were enough money, so he wanted one year to show his stuff.And so: he will want a nice fat multi-year deal somewhere at the end of the year. It might be in DC, it might be anywhere.Well, that's my guess anyway.

  44. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Gonat wrote:I also think the "sting" of Zim's revelation has possibly shaken Davey to put team before players….Nahh, I don't think Davey's been stung. If we could see his trouble with fastballs, I'm sure Davey saw it a long time before that.Davey's a long time manager with proven excellence, and has always had unwavering support of his players.The thing is: yes, team comes first, but team is made up of players. And so that's why you do things like keep playing Espi for so long, because he thinks Espi will _eventually_ come out of the slump, because he has too much talent.And I'm sure that's why Davey gave HRod so much rope.And I'm sure he figured that either RZ would _eventually_ learn to adjust to be able to bat with the bad shoulder, or at least give RZ enough time to keep trying to adjust. (Lot's of players, for example, towards the end of their career learn how to adjust with a slower bat speed, and can still be productive).In other words, Davey had RZ's back on this, too.I'm guessing that RZ finally concluded: "you know what, I can't make the adjustment. I thought I could get it with what I've been in BP — but I've tried, and I finally have to admit I can't do it."RZ, apparently (at least in Davey's eyes) has earned the right to make that call himself. Perhaps RZ dragged this out longer than he should — perhaps because he knew he was under the microscope with the new $100m contract and that he'd already been on the DL; or perhaps because he knew so many other Nats have spent so much time on the DL; or perhaps (and I'm sure this is true and a partial reason) he's seen so many other Nats really dig deep, gut it out, and play through injuries. It's hard to give up and say: I just can't do this. Davey apparently wanted RZ to make that call himself.Bottom line: I don't think Davey was stung. It just part of dealing with the nagging injuries that so many players get, and so many work through, over the course of a long season.

  45. A DC Wonk - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Correct me if I'm wrong . . , ri qualify for league leaders, you need 3.1 PA for every game your team has played. Nats have played 69 games. So, after today, 70 * 3.1 = 217Harper has 211 PA. So, if he could get 6 PA today, he'll qualify, right? (OK, yes, I know it's doubtful — when was the last time the Nats batted around 5 times in a games . . . )Also, Harper's mini slump is such that he'd not be in the top 10 for anything anyways . . . but, just getting the landscape down here, seeing where things are . . .

  46. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 24, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    OMG I just checked RZ's OPS over last seven days: .174, that's ugly.Even in his mini-slump, Harper has more BBs than SOs, 4 vs 3.

  47. Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa - Jun 24, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    but right now, [Zim] can sit the minimum of 15, and rest for 18 without missing any additional games. Yes, but … isn't the whole point of taking him out of the lineup to have him miss games?

  48. Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa - Jun 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Bottom line: I don't think Davey was stung. It just part of dealing with the nagging injuries that so many players get, and so many work through, over the course of a long season. Yes, that, and … he believes (and I agree, FWIW) he's still helping the team win, with his glove. And he probably believes that maybe today's the day he goes 2 for 4 with an RBI. And he was trying to gut it out for the "hard" part of the schedule, which is over after this weekend.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

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NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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