Through the first 21 games of the season, the Nationals have been outscored 44-12 in the first two innings of ballgames.
They’ve allowed at least three runs in the first inning six times. They’ve allowed at least three runs in the second inning five times.
All of that in just 21 games. Tough to come back from those type of early deficits.
Now, as we’ve discussed, the Nats have shown a propensity for battling back late in ballgames. They don’t give up, and they scrap. That’s all good stuff, and it certainly can generate into a team-wide mentality.
But the Nats would love it if they didn’t need to come back to win ballgames. Getting out to an early lead would be much preferred.
“Over the course of multiple games or a whole season, it’s difficult to come back that many times,” manager Matt Williams said. “And it wears on you a little bit. We’ve got to (do) a better job of getting out of the first or the second and letting our offense go to work a little bit.”
After notching two more errors last night, the Nats have now committed 23 errors so far this season. That’s nearly four times as many as the Astros, who have committed a league-low six.
“It seems like we’re not getting timely hitting. We’re not getting timely defense. We’re not getting timely pitching,” Jayson Werth said. “When that happens, it’s tough to win games.”
Last season, Taylor Jordan’s two-seam fastball averaged an even 92 mph, according to Fangraphs. This season, Jordan’s fastball velocity has dropped fairly significantly.
Entering last night’s start, Jordan had averaged just 89.5 mph. Per BrooksBaseball, Jordan’s top velocity last night was 92.2 mph, barely above his average fastball velocity from last season.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed it,” Jordan said of the drop-off.
So what do we make of the change from last season? Velocity isn’t everything, of course. Jordan’s biggest problem so far, according to Williams, has been location. But the faster you throw, the more mistakes you can get away with. And with Jordan’s velocity dropping, he’s getting away with fewer mistakes.
“I don’t know what the cause of it is,” he said. “But if I can get my sinker in the location that I want it then velocity shouldn’t really matter too much.”
Jordan’s ERA is now at 6.23 after last night’s outing. He’s allowed 31 hits and six walks in 21 2/3 innings and has an opponents’ batting average of .320.
Ross Detwiler has not allowed an earned run in 10 2/3 innings of relief (although he has surrendered four unearned runs). Detwiler has given up eight hits and five walks, has struck out eight and has an opponents’ batting average of .205.
That brought up a question about whether the Nats would consider moving Detwiler to the rotation.
“Would we ever consider it?” Williams said last night. “Of course we would consider it, but not because of tonight.”
Should his two upcoming rehab starts go smoothly, Doug Fister will likely be back in the Nats’ rotation in two weeks. We’ll see what happens rotation-wise until then.