Predicting Second-Half Stats for Each Washington Nationals Starting Pitcher
The Washington Nationals have been one of the standout teams in 2012. Throughout the season their greatest strength has been their stellar starting rotation. The Nationals have been the leaders in terms of team ERA in the MLB for the majority of the season.
The Nats' starters will be looking for the same success in the second half of the season. The staff will have to be better than ever with Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit that is quickly approaching.
Gio Gonzalez and the rest of the surprising Nats' staff are looking for continued success but can their statistics top their first half numbers?
Stephen Strasburg entered the All-Star break as the National League leader in strikeouts with 128. More importantly to some, Strasburg has worked 99 innings entering the second half. With a speculated 160 innings limit on Strasburg this season, it leaves him with 10 to 12 starts left.
Assuming that Strasburg gets 11 starts, averaging six innings per start. That would put him at 165 innings on the season. Expect Strasburg to pitch with something to prove in the second half. His 2.82 ERA will be lowered by season's end and he will finish with 200 strikeouts despite the innings limit. At his rate through the All-Star break, he would accumulate 213 strikeouts through 165 innings.
A 7-2 record in the second half would give him a 16-6 record overall.
Gio Gonzalez has been on par with Strasburg all season and both had similar numbers entering the All-Star break. Gio will likely get about 15 second half starts and I expect him to still be strong but not as overpowering as he was in the first half.
Gonzalez has struggled throughout his career post-All-Star break. His ERA after the break throughout his career is 4.33, a high number considering he has a 3.28 ERA before the break.
The wild card in this is his comfort level in the NL. Will it be enough for him to stay sharp all season?
Look for Gonzalez's ERA to raise a bit with a second half ERA of 3.20 while earning around eight wins to bring his season total to 20. I would expect him to drop four games and finish at 20-8 while recording more than 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career.
Jordan Zimmermann brings a streak of eight quality starts into the second half of the season. Despite not having a winning record, Zimmermann had a first half comparable to Gio and Strasburg.
Zimmermann was overlooked last year and continues to be in 2012. Despite being the quiet pitcher in the rotation, Zimmermann is poised for a great second half.
He has not received wins in outings that he has been deserving of them. Look for the wins to begin to pile up in the second half. An 8-3 record in the second half will bring his season record to 14-9 as his ERA will stay fairly close to where it was at the break, 2.48.
The Nationals offense is clicking and Edwin Jackson and Zimmermann will be the recipients of more wins because of a higher offensive output. Jackson was a .500 pitcher entering this season and entered the break with a 5-4 record.
Jackson watched his ERA balloon from 2.91 to 3.73 in his final two appearances of the first half. He now has the highest ERA of the Nationals starters, which is saying quite a lot to the quality of the Nats' staff.
It would not surprise me if Jackson's ERA increases in the second half as his WHIP and BAA tend to be higher in the second half, leading to an increased ERA. Jackson is on pace to have a career low WHIP and career low BAA and I still think he will achieve these feats.
I expect Jackson to pick up six more wins in the second half to give him 11 on the season with another four losses.
Ross Detwiler has fluctuated between the fifth starter and the bullpen this season. Detwiler has proved that he is an effective starting pitcher and has been valuable to the Nationals with Chien-Ming Wang falling victim to injury multiple times this season.
Detwiler has pitched to an impressive 3.43 ERA. Not bad for a fifth starter. The question now becomes how effective can the Nats expect Detwiler to be in the second half?
Although Detwiler only started 10 games in 2011, his numbers are similar to his numbers this season. That makes me believe that he can keep respectable numbers for the rest of the season. A sub-four ERA and a winning record in the second half of 6-4.
He will never blow people away with his stuff so do not look for an overly impressive strikeout rate but it will remain respectable.
Chien-Ming Wang is currently on the DL but will likely be the replacement to Strasburg when he is shut down.
I would not expect the 19-win Wang from the New York Yankees, as injuries have haunted him for years and made it hard for him to remain sharp. An ERA around 4.00 and a 2-2 record would be a positive for him in the starts that he makes in Strasburg's place. As always, strikeouts will not be a big part of his game but the ground-ball rate will be.