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Breaking down another bad day of Nationals pitching

The good news is that Stephen Strasburg is pitching tomorrow. The bad news is that in his maiden performance in a major league uniform, he'll be serving as the staff's stopper.

Here is your daily tabulation of the horrid black-and-white numbers: The Nationals have been outscored 67-30 in six games -- all losses -- this spring. They have surrendered 91 hits, 28 walks and 12 home runs in 50 innings. Seventeen pitchers have an ERA of 9.00 or higher. Their team ERA is 10.98

"We're not pitching good, but we're not pitching to a 12.00 ERA, either," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "It's not as ugly as the numbers indicate. But we got a long way to go.

"You don't like to see your guys get knocked around. You hate to see your guys giving up runs. We're trying to win the ball game. Nobody's trying to give up hits. Nobody is satisfied that we're not winning ball games. We're trying to win the ball games. There's some things you got to take care of, as far as letting guys get their work in. You don't do the things to stop a rally that you do in a normal season. It's just uncomfortable to watch guys give up runs and give up hits. It's part of what we got to go through to get through these first couple weeks of spring training. Our guys are just taking it on the chin a little bit."

At some point, particularly for a team trying to break an ingrained culture of losing, the lopsided losses could begin to matter in the team's pysche. Still, as ugly as it's been, March 8 is no time to panic. For the first time through for pitchers, the team views six-up, six-down performances like they do five-run debacles. The pitchers are getting their work in. If it continues past mid-March, by all means start to worry. Six games, no matter how brutal, is too small a sample size from which to base any kind of judgment.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 8, 2010; 5:29 PM ET
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Next: The wait is just about over to watch Stephen Strasburg


"Your Washington Nationals. Good Hitting, Good Pitching, Good Defense: Take Your Pick."

Posted by: MikeH0714 | March 8, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Its going to be a really really bad day when I read on the journal that it is in fact now time to panic.

Posted by: Stu27 | March 8, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@MikeH: That would be "D - None of the above".

> Five errors in 42 innings, with three of those from 2B & the other two behind the plate.
> Team pitching 'slash line' of 2.44WHIP/.342BAA/10.98ERA, 12HRA & 31BB/HP in the same 42 innings.
> Team hitting (w/o pitchers) carries an extended 'slash line' of .246/.315/.402/.717, with 46K's in 219PA's.

That's just ugly across the board.

Posted by: BinM | March 8, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

My initial reaction:
It may not be time to panic as a team YET, but some of these guys are not gonna be around much longer. Eddie Guardado I'm looking at you. Oh, and also you Gonzalez.

Posted by: autobits | March 8, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

The bats will come around, history on the bulk of the guys is good and health is pretty much there for them, so it is not unreasonable to think they get it together.

I can only hope that all of this simply terrible pitching might be a God-send, if it nudges management to make a move for someone who can reasonably be expected to throw 180 innings of decent ball for the club. Rizzo, you watching? Lerners, still think going cheap is the only way to play? Is the improvement to maybe 95 losses going to place arses in the seats and coins in your pockets? Take on some salary and get another real SP for this club now.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 8, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

The cycle and culture of losing IS the cycle and culture of losing. Other than starting pitching and middle infield that had to be a high priority item on Rizzo's list to attack. Even the great and powerful Epstein and Bosox apparently went for defense and better pitching instead of spectacular offense. So, have to assume there is enough hitting at this point.

You aren't going to attract and/or keep good players unless it gets addressed. The sooner the better ...

Posted by: periculum | March 8, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

At least we haven't had stories and pics of Leatherpants on his Segway this spring! :)

Posted by: derwink | March 8, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

"At some point, particularly for a team trying to break an ingrained culture of losing, the lopsided losses could begin to matter in the team's pysche." at which point the team would catch up with many of its hyperdfefeatist fans on NJ...

Posted by: a-littlebird-ptolemy | March 8, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't object to the goal, but it's a little late. What are they going to do now, trade base metals for gold?

I can only hope that all of this simply terrible pitching might be a God-send, if it nudges management to make a move for someone who can reasonably be expected to throw 180 innings of decent ball for the club.
Posted by: dfh21 | March 8, 2010 6:44 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 8, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

If the goal for the season really is 75 wins, then they could get off to a slow-ish start in April and still recover that, provided Wang and Strasburg are as hoped for, and nobody else completely craps out.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 8, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Closing in on 70 runs in 6 games, that my friends is just plain bad.

But don't worry Phil Wood says we are all crazy to be concerned with March records. Thanks Phil I'm not on the payroll but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

No one can throw stikes, hold leads, keep the ball down, balh, blah,blah. Funny thing if this keeps up they know deep down that they will have to bring SS and Storen north. With that first 42 game killer schedule the 2010 season will be over by Tax Day!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 8, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

There's plenty of reasons to believe Lannan, Levo & Marquis will come around. There's no such history to support Stammen, Martis, Martin, Mock, etc. Chico & Olsen are wounded ducks, so their past track records mean squadoosh in 2010. Wang & Zimmermann are beyond wounded.

Memo to Dr. Rizzo: you can shop at WalMart your entire career and never find a Brooks Brothers suit. In the end, you always get exactly what you paid for.

Posted by: howjensen | March 8, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

"What are they going to do now, trade base metals for gold?"

Sec3: They would trade gold (money) for gold (talent). The Nats do not have to give away the (questionable) farm to get a MLB SP. They can take on a big contract and get an actual healthy MLB SP who can hurl 200 innings without it being a miracle recovery or a finally it all came together for the kid moment.

They could add $10M in annual payroll and STILL be anchored easily in the bottom third.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 8, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

If there were such, yes. Who dumps salary in March?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 8, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Your pessimism, Tippy, is good in that it lowers the bar a bit. But to say "no one'' has pitched well ignores the facts: Mock, Martin, Chico, Clippard all have done well. Lannan's performance wasn't great, but wasn't horrid, either, and just to get Olsen out there was a plus.

For all the hand-wringing, are we going to give up on Burnett and Capps already?

I'm with Kilgore. Give it some time.

Posted by: nats24 | March 9, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Just suppose that Strasburg pitches today and gives up no runs, 1 hit, and strikes out 2 with no walks in 2 innings of work. What would people say then? Would they be clamoring for him to start the season with the big club? I'm just sayin' ...

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | March 9, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Just read a great review of Chapman's first start for Cinci. He would have been a HUGE help to the Nats' staff, which looks every bit as horrible as in years past. Penny wise, pound foolish. True, it's too early to panic, but very discouraging, all the same.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | March 9, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

You have to wonder if pressure will build for Strasburg and Storen immediately if this continues.

Posted by: CJArlington | March 9, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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