For starters, the Nationals are on the right track
The Nationals' bullpen, led by Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps, has in many ways become the thrilling, dominant face of the Nationals' winning April and rapid team turnaround. Their 0.77 ERA over the past eight games has helped the Nationals polish off games and win two series, against the Dodgers and the Cubs.
There is no question, though, that the Nationals' starters have helped the bullpen in an important way. At the start of the season, Nationals starters consistently could not last into the fifth inning, at best. With Jason Marquis on the shelf and Luis Atilano's unveiling, the starting rotation has been responsible for setting up the Nationals bullpen, not wearing it out and leaning on it.
Over those last eight games, Nationals starters have pitched at least six innings and allowed four runs or less; only once did a pitcher allow four, and that was John Lannan at the start of the stretch. The Nationals have had quality starts for a week straight. Nats starters have a 2.72 ERA over that span, which also showed what kind of staff it is -- they've only struck out 3.7 batters per nine innings.
FROM THE POST
The Nationals are guaranteed to have a winning April after their 3-2, series-clinching victory over the Chicago Cubs. The last time the Nationals were two games over .500 this late in the season? Sept. 30, 2005. They were 81-79.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Toldedo 3: Chuck James allowed three runs on five hits and no walks in five innings. James, coming off of surgery, has won his first two starts and has allowed three runs in 10 innings. Chase Lambin went 3 for 4 with a double and a home run and now has a 1.080 OPS.
Harrisburg 5, Reading 2: Leonard Davis went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBI. Matt Chico allowed one earned run in five innings on one hit and three walks. Erik Arnesen pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
Myrtle Beach 10, Potomac 5: Edgardo Baez went 2 for 4 with a walk. Cory VanAllen allowed one hit and one run while striking out four in two innings of relief.
Hagerstown 7, Augusta 2: Francisco Soriano went 3 for 5 with two doubles. Marcus Jones went 2 for 4. Mitchell Clegg pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking one, allowing two hits and striking out five.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Even though the Nationals are winning, they still think there's room to improve, says Nats Insider.
Pitching and defense are the reason for the Nats' starts, says Goessling Game.
Ryan Howard's extension brings to mind a comparison to Adam Dunn, says FJB.
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