It’s the pitching, honey :)

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The top four Nats starters are (as a group) the best top four in baseball!  Stated another way, of the top 20 ERA (earned run average) pitchers in baseball, the Nats have four.  No other team has more than two.  Adding Doug Fister in the off-season was arguably (according to FanGraphs) the best trade in all of baseball. On the other hand, last season’s Nats pitchers (with a couple of exceptions) were downright terrible at holding runners on base.  So it was refreshing to see that new manager Matt Williams had them working on that detail right from the start of Spring Training!  And this is a skill where Fister excells; he has only allowed 15 runners to steal off him IN HIS CAREER!  So his teammates can learn from watching him at work.Covering first is another area where the pitchers need to improve.  I remember seeing Jason Werth getting on Gio Gonzales in the dugout over this last year on nationwide TV. Gio looked like he forgot to cover first on grounders to the right side numerous times last year.  This can’t happen in professional baseball; kids learn it in high school!

In another bit of good news the team has hired former Nats starter and fan favorite Livan Hernandez to work with the pitchers during Spring Training.  I’m hearing that this has been a very popular move with the players, especially the younger guys.

The bullpen needs some work still;  1-2 slots are yet to be decided.  Spring Training will be interesting for this part of the team.

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