We knew the Nationals rotation was deep, talented and capable of doing some special things this season. But did we expect all of that to become so obvious so early in the year?
With one week in the books, Nationals starters have already established themselves as one of the sport's best. Gio Gonzalez's seven-inning gem during yesterday's home opener was only the latest stellar performance by manager Davey Johnson's rotation.
Combine Gonzalez's outing with the ones authored the previous two days by Stephen Strasburg and Ross Detwiler, and then throw in Edwin Jackson's final inning on the mound Monday night in New York, and the Nationals rotation is currently riding a 19-inning scoreless streak.
Yes, that's 19 consecutive innings in which the opposition has failed to score against a Nats starter. Can't ask for much more than that.
And there's been nothing fluky about this streak. Detwiler, Strasburg
and Gonzalez all earned it, overpowering hitters with their stuff, location and movement. Check out the final pitching lines for those three guys...
STARTER IP H R ER BB SO PIT/STR
Detwiler 5 2 0 0 1 6 71/50
Strasburg 6 2 0 0 3 9 108/63
Gonzalez 7 2 0 0 0 7 97/64
TOTAL 18 6 0 0 4 22 276/177
Yep, the last three Nationals starters have allowed only six hits over 18 innings, have put an average of only .56 men on base per inning and have posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 22-to-4.
Oh, and did we mention the guy who will take the ball tonight against the Reds (Jordan Zimmermann) is coming off a brilliant, seven-inning start of his own in which he allowed just one earned run and didn't walk a batter?
With each passing day, you come to appreciate more and more how good this rotation can be. And you come to appreciate what a difference that makes for a club that still has its flaws, most notably an inability to produce clutch hits with men in scoring position.
Even if they continue to struggle at the plate, though, the Nationals have to like their chances on a nightly basis because of the quality and depth of their rotation. There isn't a true weak link in the group, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Think about it this way: How many long losing streaks do you expect this team to endure this season? Given the fact Johnson is always going to be able to hand the ball to a top-notch starting pitcher every day of the week, it's hard to imagine the Nationals losing four or five straight games.
Yes, there's a long way to go. And yes, you can never count on an entire rotation to remain healthy through a full season.
But one week in, the Nationals don't look like they have a good starting rotation. They look like they have a great starting rotation.