Originally written on The Nats Blog  |  Last updated 5/18/12

The Washington Nationals pitching staff has been its strength throughout the course of the year so far. In April, the numbers were staggering and unsustainable, and the ERAs have started to tick up in the past week or so. But while Nationals starting pitchers no longer have sub-2.00 ERAs, they've still been an elite staff.

In April, the Nationals pitching staff gave up a total of 59 runs. So far in May, the staff has given up 67 runs and there are still 12 games left in the month. On its surface, it certainly looks like a reason to be concerned. That’s compounded by numbers that aren’t really all that great this month. Three out of five starters have ERAs between 4.15 and 4.50 in May.

However, the Nats pitching staff currently boasts a cumulative 1.8 WAR in May, which is still good for fourth best in the National League. They’re eighth in the League in ERA at 3.87, but that still puts them in the top half of the league. More importantly, they have a 3.55 xFIP, which is good for fourth best in the NL, and a 3.37 Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA), which is third best in the NL. These stats indicate the staff's numbers should get better over time if they keep pitching like this.

Yes, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann have had rough outings this week compared with what they’ve done this season so far, but that doesn’t mean the pitching rotation is going to crash down around them. Everyone has a bad start every once in a while. Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez is third in MLB in WAR (1.8) behind Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. Strasburg and Gonzalez have two of the top 10 SIERAs in all of baseball.

A few rough starts and some ugly save attempts by Henry Rodriguez seems to have some Nats fans concerned that this pitching staff was way out performing its potential. While their success in April was unsustainable, everyone should have been fully aware of that and expected a fall to earth. The fact remains that four of the team’s five starters have sub-3.00 ERAs, and the outlier, Edwin Jackson, has a still-impressive 3.71 ERA. 

As the offense starts coming together, the few pitching faux pas the Nats will have will seem less important. With Michael Morse due to return in the next couple of weeks, that will certainly help. The offense has already started to improve a bit, though. In the last seven games, the Nats have scored 34 runs. In the 11 games prior to that, the team scored just 35 runs. The weather will continue to warm as we approach summer, which should help the power numbers and help the pitchers gets some more wins.

The Nats are 9-11 in their last 20 games, but I’m not at all concerned. They still have an elite pitching staff and an offense that, despite a harrowing number of injuries, still is marginally competent. Their main issue is scoring runners that have already reached base; they only knock in about 12% of runners, which is tied for the MLB-worst. If they can find a way to improve their situational hitting and drive in about 14% of runners, the pitching will benefit significantly, and you’ll see the team continue to win more than they lose. That’s all a good recipe for a playoff run.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tom Coughlin: Victor Cruz not expected to practice this week

Report: Redskins ownership won't let coaches bail on RG3

D'Angelo Russell: 'There's a lot of spoiled Lakers fans'

Terry Collins didn't challenge double out of fear of HR

Has Tim Lincecum thrown his last pitch for the Giants?

Report: Three NFL head coaches were interested in Michigan job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Odell Beckham Jr. is not intimidated of Darrelle Revis

Chargers say Seahawks DE took cheap shot at Philip Rivers

Rex Ryan jabs Jets for passing on Martavis Bryant?

Jay Gruden backing down from support of RG3 as starter

Ukwuachu rape victim hires firm that prosecuted Winston

Leo Santa Cruz tops Abner Mares in slugfest

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

D'Angelo Russell zings Lakers fans

Every NBA division's most interesting rookie for 2015-16

Fantasy football round-by-round draft strategy

Ronda Rousey's Carl’s Jr. ad

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker