If you read the headline to the tune of the classic Rolling Stones song “Satisfaction”, kudos to you for getting the joke. If you didn’t…oh well.
In all seriousness, folks, that should be the theme song for the Washington Nationals pitching staff. Whenever someone, whether it’s Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, or Dan Haren, gets off to a hot start and holds a team to two runs or less, the Nationals offense just can’t seem to help them out and score some runs.
The evidence is all in the numbers. 14 times this season, the Nationals have lost when their pitching staff gives up three runs or less. On the flip side, the Nationals have won 24 times this season when the pitching staff has accomplished the same feat. While a 24-14 record when your opponent scores three runs or less may seem good, it certainly isn’t the record of a team that gets to the World Series.
Here are examples of perennial MLB powers and their records this season when they hold their opponents to three runs or less:
You may argue that the Nationals have held their opponents to three runs or less more than these three teams (except for the Cardinals because they both are at 38 games), but that doesn’t bode well for the Nationals. The Nationals have been able to hold their opponents to three runs or less 38 times and 14 times they’ve still lost the game. The fact that the Cardinals have only lost three of those games is absolutely incredible.
Aside from their win-loss records in low-scoring ball games, the Nationals just can’t hit. They rank 28th in batting average with .233, which beats only the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets. Their on-base percentage is in the same spot as it hovers at .292.
The most important stat in this factor, however, is RBI. For the Nationals, they rank second-to-last in RBI. They may be able to get runners in scoring position, but they have a terrible time scoring them.
Despite the offensive struggles, the pitching staff continues to produce. They rank in the top-10 in ERA (3.61, seventh), Quality Starts (39, ninth), and WHIP (1.23, eighth). The Nationals currently rank 13th in BAA at .248, which isn’t all that bad.
While it seems that the Nationals pitching staff may be letting them down, the numbers and video evidence suggest that it’s the offense that has been putting them in the six-game hole to the Atlanta Braves. While it’s easy to point to the at-times spotty pitching, it’s even easier to point to their inability to win close ball games.
If the Nationals have any hopes at turning the season around and making it to the playoffs, they’re going to need to figure out a way to put some hits together and score some runs when they get the chance.