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Nationals Are 20-21. Really?

Posted By Howard Megdal On May 18, 2011 @ 10:36 am In Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

So Stephen Strasburg is still months away from a return. Bryce Harper looks great- in Single-A. Big-time signing Jayson Werth is hitting .238. Ryan Zimmerman has played eight games all season.

So how are they just five games out of first place, and a game under .500?

Well, a few things have gone right, though almost none of them involve offensive production. As a team, Washington has a .646 OPS, good for last in the National League.  Laynce Nix, has an .837 OPS at least, though his one walk and 25 strikeouts in 86 plate appearances suggest that level of hitting won’t last long.

But the starting pitching has been thoroughly average- John Lannan is the worst of the bunch so far, with a still-okay 85 ERA+. Tom Gorzelanny’s 113 ERA+ leads the group.

The bullpen has also been strong, particularly Drew Storen, whose ERA over 23 2/3 innings is a sparkling 0.38. Tyler Clippard’s ERA in 1.80, with 30 strikeouts in 25 innings. Todd Coffey and his sprint in from the bullpen has also been rewarding, as has the work of Doug Slaten, lefty reliever extraordinaire.

The pitching should regress somewhat, especially the bullpen. But the offense can’t possibly be this bad. In all, this still has the makings of a genuine near-.500 team. With a 69-93 record last year, that counts as progress.

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