First disclaimer: I may have subconsciously ripped off this title from Peter King.
Second disclaimer: What follows will be an attempt - though hopefully a measured attempt - to draw conclusions based on 4.3 percent of the season.
If you're still up for reading this after that, let's go:
- The Nationals have the worst average in the National League (.218), but their walk-to-strikeout ratio (0.56) is the seventh-best in the league. That's a big reason why they're 3-4 despite their third, fourth and fifth hitters having a combined seven extra-base hits: they're getting on base and working counts. After Roy Halladay on Opening Day, no opposing pitcher has gone seven innings against the Nationals, and only Mike Pelfrey has lasted six innings. That group includes Cole Hamels (twice) and Johan Santana. Adam Dunn, for example, is hitting .111, but has a .448 on-base percentage because of his league-leading 10 walks. The Nationals made a big leap in pitches per at-bat last season, and should be among the league's best teams in that category again.
- In four stolen-base attempts, the Nationals have been successful every time. Now, we'll see more players run as more players get on base, so it's too early to say how careful this team will be on the basepaths. But Nyjer Morgan is 2-for-2, and has only run twice when he's had seven attempts to do so. A more cautious Morgan that steals 40 bases and gets thrown out 10 times is more valuable than a Morgan who steals 55 bases and gets thrown out 20 times. We'll see how that plays out over the course of the season, but it's another way the Nationals can make up for their big boppers not hitting.
- Remember how bad the Nationals' situational hitting was early last year? It hasn't been great early in the season. In 15 plate appearances with a runner on third and less than two outs, the Nationals have scored just six times, posting a 40 percent rate that's well below the league's 51-percent average. That's another stat that will change once Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman get going.
- Thirty percent of Tyler Clippard's strikes are swinging. That's mostly courtesy of his three-inning, seven-strikeout performance on Saturday. But that game was a glimpse of a key development in the Nationals' bullpen. Clippard's fastball tops out in the low 90s, but his gangly physique adds some deception to his delivery. His swinging strike percentage last year was 24 percent, well over the league average of 15 percent, and the percentage of balls in play against Clippard last year was also below the league average. He's tough on lefties, as well, with his changeup, and thought the Nationals drafted him as a starter, he's become a major cog in a bullpen that's protected three leads, two with Clippard working a combined 4 2/3 innings in those games. All this from a guy the Nationals got from the Yankees for Jonathan Albaladejo. That's a sneaky good trade from former GM Jim Bowden.
- The Nationals will have to make a roster move on Thursday, sending a pitcher to the minors to make room for a starting pitcher (presumably Scott Olsen). Based on a few things I've heard, I don't think it will be Miguel Batista. He's pitched respectably in his last two appearances, allowing one run in 3 2/3 innings after a disastrous Opening Day appearance, and the Nationals like the options he gives them in the bullpen. He could be what they were hoping to get from Julian Tavarez last year - a reliable veteran with a rubber arm, only with better stuff than Tavarez had. Jesse English would be the easy choice to go to the minors, but that might put Clippard in more situational roles than he's pitched in lately. Jason Bergmann and Tyler Walker would be the other options, and the guess here is the Nationals could get either pitcher through waivers and to the minors.
So there you go - a few random thoughts on an off-day. Got any more of your own? Post them in the comments section and we can bat them around.