The Washington Nationals have one of the best pitching staffs in MLB. That pitching staff even includes a closer with 29 saves on the year and over 200 in his career. But Rafael Soriano has lacked focus in recent weeks. The team relies on him to win close games, and he has shown a lack of consistency since the All-Star break.
In the last 30 days, Soriano’s ERA has spiked to an unprecedented 7.71. The high ERA spans 13 appearances made up of 11.2 innings where he gave up 15 hits and 10 runs. Those kind of numbers are not a good sign going into the final stretch of the season.
Soriano has appeared frustrated to the point that it is impacting command over his fastball. On the whole of the 2014 season, his ERA is a solid 2.05 to go along with a WHIP of 0.99. Those numbers are far from his last 13 games, however. In the stretch, Soriano’s WHIP is the second worst on the pitching staff.
The Nationals need Soriano to ground himself and rediscover command over his pitching. If teams are figuring out ways to hit him, Soriano must be able to adapt if the Nationals intend to make a run in the playoffs.
The Nationals are the current favorite to win the NL East, but as a team that wins a lot of close and low-scoring games, the role of the closer is crucial. Soriano must step up in the final weeks of the 2014 season.