Gio Gonzalez is pitching tonight and the Nats will stop their five-game skid. This season Gonzalez is 16-7, with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. He is tied for second in the league for wins with R.A. Dickey. They need to win tonight to have momentum going into their series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals control their own fate with 13 games left against the NL East. The Nationals also have the advantage that 18 of their last games are at home.
Once everyone stops worrying again if the Nats will make the playoffs, the question becomes do they have enough talent to win the World Series?
Simply put, the answer is yes. The Nationals have something every other team desires—the best pitching staff in baseball. Pitching wins the postseason, not big bats. Hitting can't win a game if players can't get on base because of dominant pitching.
Stephen Strasburg will be shut down. But the Nationals lead the majors in ERA with a 3.28. Gio Gonzalez can be the ace to the pitching staff during the postseason. A rotation featuring Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson would give any manager confidence. Zimmerman is second in the league with a 2.38 ERA and also second in the league in quality starts with 20.
It's not just the starting pitching that is outstanding. The Nationals are second in MLB with 43 saves. Having a reliable closer in Tyler Clippard is a tremendous asset to the Nationals. Drew Storen's recovery from elbow surgery makes the bullpen even stronger with his ability to be the setup man and get a save if needed. With this combination, Davey can be confident the Nats will win if leading after seven innings.
If starters can go six or seven innings, Storen and Clippard can hold down the eighth and ninth innings. That only leaves one or two innings that Davey needs to rely on the rest of the bullpen.
Nationals pitching has also allowed the fewest home runs in the national league, 99. Home runs can change an entire series on a single pitch. Limiting the home runs they give up will be a huge advantage to the Nationals if they face big bats like the New York Yankees.
While the Nationals offense was slow to start—and in their latest losing streak, almost non-existent—they've proven they can score runs. Ever since the team went out to Colorado, their offense has been on the rise. Washington's offense is improving, as the Nationals are currently hitting .244, which is fourth in the league.
Since the All-Star break, they are fifth in runs scored (203) and home runs (45). They are sixth in average, slugging percentage and OPS.
They are tied for first in hits (423) and are fourth in times they touch base (643), which doesn't always translate, but in the postseason, the ability to get on base can make things happen.
The Nationals have enough talent to win the World Series. Davey Johnson couldn't ask for a more reliable and dominating pitching staff. While the Nationals won't overpower anyone with their hitting, their pitching will shut other teams down.
Expect a lot of close low-scoring games from the Nationals. If everyone on the team performs, there is no question the Nationals have the potential to be crowned world champions for the first time in franchise history.
Note: All statistics were gathered from ESPN before tonight's game.
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