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Legends On Deck

What You Probably Didn’t Realize About the Nationals Rotation

BREAKING NEWS: THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS HAVE THE BEST ROTATION IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE. Some of you are thinking “Yeah, obviously”, but most of you are probably thinking “Jake, haven’t you watched the Dodgers this season?”

Let’s start here. Max Scherzer is really good. Insightful, I know. I won’t say he is the best pitcher in the National League, because as long as Kershaw keeps being Kershaw I will likely never say that. However, what I will say is that Scherzer has been a dang close second this season while managing to avoid a lengthy DL stint. Shop NutrologyOnline.com Today!

The Nationals don’t get much national coverage, they haven’t had a rookie phenom bashing home runs in the juiced ball era. What makes it even tougher is the fact that they play in the worst division in baseball.

While the majority of the National League focus has been on how good, and then bad, the Dodgers have been, as well as how tight the central race has been, it’s important to note what has been going on in the East.

The Nationals just nonchalantly walked away with the division. Sure, we all expected the Nats to win the NL East, albeit with a little more competition from the Mets, but they had a lot more adversity than the division foes’ records would show.

While the position players and the stacked lineup were dropping like flies with injury and the bullpen was getting absolutely demolished by opposing teams, the Nationals kept winning games, mainly because of their starting rotation.

I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, Scherzer is Cy Young worthy, but when was the last time you took a deeper look into the Nats rotation? Now you’re thinking Strasburg. Any baseball fan would be ecstatic to have Stephen Strasburg join their team’s rotation and I think he is an adequate and prominent piece to the team’s success, but still, look a little deeper.

The Nationals have a guy that many would consider a number three in their favorite team’s rotation, but he has been the most “valuable” guy on the mound for his team this season. Gio Gonzalez has been worth 6.6 wins according to baseball reference pitcher WAR in 2017. Not only has he been worth more wins than any other pitcher on his team, including Scherzer, but he has been worth more wins than any pitcher in the National League. (In terms of mound performance, not overall WAR)
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In fact, Gonzalez only trails Corey Kluber, who in my opinion should walk away with the AL Cy Young, in pitcher WAR. Gonzalez has 15 wins in his age 31 season while posting a career low ERA of 2.68. The two time all star is on track to toss 200 innings for the first time since 2011 and has managed a career high ERA+ of 164. That mark that is substantially higher than the previous career high of 138 which he posted in 2012, the season he finished third in Cy Young voting.

While WAR tells us that Gonzalez has been the most “valuable” man on the mound for the 2017 Nationals, we all know he isn’t the best pitcher on the roster. Gonzalez’s FIP is 3.88, not terrible, but certainly not what you would expect from the National League’s most “valuable” pitcher. His .254 BABIP points to a little bit of luck, but as long as Gonzalez continues to shut hitters down to a .211 average and a HR/9 rate of 0.93, he will present a challenge in game three for whatever team the Nationals face in the divisional round.

Featured Image Courtesy of: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jake Berry
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Jake Berry

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Jake resides in Carrollton, GA and loves everything baseball. He is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan and enjoys traveling to watch their Minor League teams. He graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Management. Jake is also a certified personal trainer and has a passion for fitness and weight lifting. You can find his personal site at berrysbaseball.com

You can also reach out to Jake at jberry@legendsondeck.com
Jake Berry
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