Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After two rough starts to his season, John Lannan rebounded Friday night.
Not that this doesn't apply to just about every team in baseball, but it's been particularly significant to the Nats thus far. With no real exceptions, this club's fate on a given night can be tied directly to the performance of its starting pitcher.
Let's look at each game, with the starter's final line and the end result...
So, the Nationals have gotten three quality starts so far in 12 games (two by Livo, one by Lannan) and won all three of those games. Their three other wins came when their starter went at least five innings and allowed four earned runs or less (not exactly the definition of "quality," but they've been good enough).
DATE STARTER LINE RESULT Apr 5 Lannan 3.2 ip, 5 er L, 11-1 Apr 7 Marquis 4 ip, 6 er L, 8-4 Apr 8 Stammen 5 ip, 4 er W, 6-5 Apr 9 Mock 3.1 ip, 2 er L, 8-2 Apr 10 Lannan 5 ip, 3 er W, 4-3 Apr 11 Hernandez 7 ip, 0 er W, 5-2 Apr 12 Marquis 4.1 ip, 6 er L, 7-4 Apr 14 Stammen 1.1 ip, 7 er L, 14-7 Apr 15 Olsen 5.2 ip, 4 er W, 7-5 Apr 16 Lannan 7 ip, 2 er W, 5-3 Apr 17 Hernandez 9 ip, 0 er W, 8-0 Apr 18 Marquis 0 ip, 7 er L, 11-7
Now, look at the six losses. In every case, the starter failed to go at least five innings. It's been that simple: When the starter goes at least five, the Nats win. When the starter doesn't go five, they lose.
Will that trend hold up all season? No, you can't consistently win allowing four runs over five innings. But it does show the Nats have enough offense and (so far) enough relief pitching to win when their starter does at least the bare minimum asked of him.
So what's the key to tonight's game against the Rockies? Craig Stammen better go at least five innings.