Apr 16, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT
Stephen Strasburg took his second loss of the 2014 season on Tuesday night in a game that turned ugly very quickly. Strasburg gave up three earned runs in each of the first two innings against the Marlins, and was removed after four. He now sits 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA on the season and has only one quality start through four outings on the year.
Strasburg’s rough night was a continuation of what has been a growing problem for the Nationals early on this season. Though the team holds a winning record at 8-6, their starting rotation has been the most inconsistent unit thus far.
Strasburg’s start was the fifth time this year already (out of 14 total games) a Nationals’ starter has allowed five earned runs or more. All five members of the rotation have one such outing to their name.
The rotations numbers are starting to suffer as a whole. Nationals starters currently hold a 5.06 ERA collectively, the 26th worst mark in the majors. That is last in the NL East and only two National League teams (Colorado & Arizona) have been worse.
For comparison, the Nats ranked seventh in MLB with a 3.60 rotation ERA in 2013, and placed second in the majors in 2012 with a 3.40 mark.
Here are some other troubling statistics relating to the Nats’ rotation:
.282 BAA – 24th in MLB
1.490 WHIP – 25th in MLB
.816 OPS – 25th in MLB
10 HR allowed – 22nd in MLB
28 BB allowed – 23rd in MLB
Eight of the Nats’ 14 games this season have, to be fair, been against the Mets and Marlins, who each rank near the top of the league in runs scored so far. The Marlins, believe it or not, are currently fourth with 73 runs through 15 games (4.87 R/G). The Mets are 11th in MLB with 63 runs through 14 games (4.5 R/G).
The Braves rank much lower, but seem to find their swings when they play the Nationals. In their three-game sweep last weekend, the Braves put a total of 23 runs on the board.
The Nats have been able to offset much of their starting pitching issues with the fifth-most runs in the majors, and they should get Doug Fister back very soon. As long as he returns fully healthy, he should provide a significant upgrade to the back of their rotation. But even when Fister does return, the Nationals other starters will have to get back to the brand of baseball that led the team to winning records in each of the past two seasons.
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