Who would have thought?
While the Nationals struggle offensively, their starting rotation keeps them in the game. Their rotation does not boast elite pitchers or even big name starters, and their most well known pitcher, Stephen Strasburg shies away from the spotlight.
The Nationals may be under the radar, but they boast the best starting rotation in the league with Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Chien-Ming Wang. Here are some stats to show why the National's rotation is the league's best.
Currently, the starters of the Nationals hold a league leading 2.88 ERA, the only team under 3.00. The starters also hold hitters to a league leading .223 BAA. Their starters also lead the league in hits allowed (256), home runs allowed (22), a WHIP of 1.10, and an 8.61 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings).
These are astounding numbers for a team that was supposed to compete this season, not dominate. Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmerman have already recorded eight quality starts each, with Strasburg and Gonzalez in the top 10 for most pitching categories.
It's safe to say the Nationals currently have the best rotation in the league, but just how good are they?
Great rotations have depth from their ace to their fifth starter. Once Wang gets back on track the Nationals will look like serious playoff contenders. They aren't known nationally because they don't boast the aces or receive the publicity that good pitching teams like the San Francisco Giants or Tampa Bay Rays. This lack of publicity is what I believe makes them better. They perform better when they're under the radar.
While it's possible for them to maintain their excellent performance, don't expect it. I don't believe they are one of the top rotations in the league when compared to the Giants, the Philadelphia Phillies when healthy, or the Rays. I do believe however, that the 2012 season is their breakout season where they will establish themselves as a top rotation, similar to the Rays in the 2011 season.
By the end of the season, I expect the Nationals rotation to be in the top five in the league, maybe even top three. The potential of this rotation is tremendous, especially with Strasburg and Gonzalez on the mound.
The 2012 season looks to be special for the National's rotation. Two months have been a small sample size, but the sky looks to be the limit for the Nationals and their young rotation.