Stephen Strasburg’s 15 strikeout gem on Saturday helped the Nats to a 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres for their fourth win in five games in the team’s current home stand.
In this week’s edition of “Nationals by the Numbers” we look at, among other items, outstanding efforts by the team’s two aces, strong months of May for two key components of the Nats’ lineup and the team’s unique position at this relatively early stage of the season.
When Adam Eaton went down with a gruesome knee injury on April 28th, Michael A. Taylor was given the opportunity to take over the job. And while no one expected Taylor to fill Eaton’s role completely, there was hope that the talented youngster could at least be a positive force in the Nats’ outfield. So far, especially in games before the home crowd, Taylor is filling that bill.
In 58 at bats at Nationals Park this year, Taylor is hitting .379 with two doubles, a triple, four home runs and 11 RBI. His two run home runs in each of the last two games have helped propel Washington to back to back victories over San Diego, and a more aggressive approach at the plate seems to be paying off for the Florida native.
A big test awaits Taylor as the Nats head out on the road for a nine game western swing to San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. In road contests so far this year, Taylor is hitting only .164 in 55 at bats with no home runs and only two RBI.
Throw strikes and work fast…..that manta has been repeated by countless pitching coaches to their charges at all levels of baseball for years and years.
Over the past four games in which he’s registered three saves, Nats’ closer Koda Glover has taken that message to heart. Of the 40 pitchers he’s thrown in those outings, Glover has been in the zone 32 times for an 80% strike percentage. On the year, Glover is throwing 66% of his pitches for strikes, slightly behind Shawn Kelley’s 67% mark among Nationals’ relievers.
Nats’ third baseman Anthony Rendon is a talented all-around player, who regularly appears on highlight reels showing baseball’s best defensive plays. If the Texan keeps up the pace he’s setting at the plate so far this month, he might be featured on those shows for more than just his glove.
In 75 at bats so far in May going into Sunday’s game, Rendon has put up a 1.095 OPS with a .317 average,. six homers, 17 RBI, seven doubles, a triple and three stolen bases. The month has been the best of Rendon’s career so far, eclipsing the .935 OPS he put up in September 2014.
In Tuesday’s 10-1 thrashing of the Seattle Mariners, the Nats registered their seventh 10 plus run game of the 2017 season. With 113 games left to play in the campaign, the Nationals have already posted more double digit run games than the 2005, 2010 and 2011 teams did in a full season.
The Nats’ record for double digit run games in a season is 14, set last year. The 2012 and 2015 squads had 11 such games each.
The Memorial Day weekend is traditionally seen as a a time where the contenders and pretenders are starting to separate from each other. Washington’s 8.5 game lead in the National League East over Atlanta puts the Nats’ squarely in the “contenders” category, and in a much better position than a Nats’ team has ever been at this stage of the season.
Following games on the last Saturday of May in 2012, the Nats were 28-18 and had a 2.5 game lead over second place Atlanta in the division. The only other Washington team to be alone in first place at this stage of the season was the 2015 squad, whose 28-21 record had it on top by 1.5 games.
Max Scherzer’s 13 strikeouts against San Diego on Friday gave him a 11.7 SO/9 figure so far in the 2017 season. If that record holds, it will beat Scherzer’s career best of 11.2 set during his Cy Young Award 2016 campaign. The determined righthander also is on pace to set a career best in WHIP. His .937 mark in that category is ahead of his previous best of .968 set last season.
The one thorn in Scherzer’s side over the past few years has been giving up the long ball, and he’s surrendered 1.3 per nine innings pitched so far this year. That equals his career high, set in 2011 while Scherzer pitched for Arizona.
So far in his career, Stephen Strasburg has dominated his home town team of San Diego the way that Southern California winter weather dominates the climate in the northeast.
In 43 innings pitched against the Pads, Strasburg has fanned 58 including a career best 15 on Saturday. The talented righty is 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA lifetime against San Diego.