Re: The Nats’ Astounding Pitching

by Jason Epstein

Not only is it early in the season, Ed, but this season the Nationals’ starters have faced three teams expected to be bottom feeders — Cubs, Mets, and Astros — and a fourth, the Reds, whose supposedly high-octane offense has posted a mere 21 runs in its eight games against teams away from Washington.

The staff is about to have its mettle tested. Following tonight’s series finale against Houston, the Marlins show up for a three-game weekend series. Next week they head out to Southern California for three games with the lowly Padres but then have another three with the more potent Dodgers. The Nats then welcome May with six at home, divided equally between the Diamondbacks and Phillies.

In short, the rotation will almost certainly regress in the coming days so it is incumbent on all position players not named Adam LaRoche (.392 wOBA) and Jayson Werth (.406) to step up to the plate.

And speaking of great pitching, how about a few cheers for Matt Cain, Cliff Lee, and Bartolo Colon?

The first two faced off against one another at AT&T Park last night. Lee pitched 10 stellar innings, expending a mere 102 pitches. Cain, who had pitched a complete game one-hitter in his last outing, hurled another nine innings of awesomeness, allowing only two hits while throwing only 91 pitches. The Giants ultimately prevailed over the Phillies, scoring the only run of the game in the bottom of the 11th inning.

Farther down the coast, A’s starter Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes to Angel batters in a 6-0 victory.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle points out:

The data so far goes back to 1988, and Colon’s streak is the longest in that 24-year stretch. The next highest total in that time: 30 in a row by Tim Wakefield in 1998.

Colon, who turns 39 later next month, signed a $2 million free-agent contract with Oakland in late January.