Nationals Rotation On Cusp Of ERA History
After a highly successful 2014 season, one in which they won ninety-six games, the Washington Nationals have the chance to make history in 2015.
With a starting rotation that won a total of seventy games, second in major-league baseball only to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team from the Capitol added the top free-agent of the offseason, and perhaps the best pitcher in the game today.
The Nationals were able to lead the entire league with an unprecedented 3.03 team ERA last year and, with the addition of Max Scherzer, they have the chance to eclipse the 3.00 mark for the first time since the Dodgers did so in 1989.
In an era where pitchers have dominated hitters, there have been close calls all the way back since 2011, when the likes of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt helped the Philadelphia Phillies post a 3.02 mark.
ERA’s have gradually decreased over the past decade and a half, and 2000 was the last year when no team possessed an ERA under four at the end of the regular season. In comparison, all but nine teams had an ERA of below four in 2014.
But is ERA really a sign of how well a team does?
Not in 1989, as the Dodgers scraped together a 77-83 record, 14 games behind the eventual National League champions San Francisco Giants. As the Nationals enter their 2015 campaign however, they’re certainly giving themselves the best chance of going all the way to their first World Series in team history.
Looking at their opening day roster, the promise of being the first team to own an ERA under three goes beyond just the addition of Scherzer. It’s the fact that they also have one of the best bullpens in the game, one that includes a pitcher who won fifteen games as a starter last year.
Tanner Roark was the odd one out when the team announced the Scherzer signing, and his 2.85 ERA and 1.09 WHIP will be in the ‘pen to start the year. That means that if, for any reason, any one of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez or Doug Fister can’t go beyond seven innings, manager Matt Williams has a bona fide starter to carry them the rest of the way.
That’s not all.
Should Roark be unavailable, Williams has a relief corps at his disposal, which contains five pitchers who owned an ERA of below three a year ago to see things out, including closer Drew Storen who posted a 1.12 mark.
It’s simple. While fans in the capital may not necessarily be buying their ‘world champions’ memorabilia just yet, one thing is for sure: their team is about to be the first team to post an ERA under three for the first time in twenty-five years.