As much as the Nationals pitching staff struggled last season, there was always an underlying question in the back of coaches and front office members’ minds: How much did bad defense contribute to those struggles?
Statistically, the Nats pitching staff was the worst in the majors in 2022. So, too, was the team’s defense.
Until mid-August, that is, at which point things took a distinct turn in a positive direction.
On Aug. 15, the Nationals promoted CJ Abrams from Triple-A Rochester. One of the prized prospects acquired from the Padres in the Juan Soto blockbuster trade two weeks earlier, Abrams immediately was handed the starting shortstop job. And he immediately paid dividends.
On the morning of Aug. 15, the Nationals pitching staff sported a 5.30 ERA while also watching opponents score .45 unearned runs per game. From that day through the remainder of the season, the staff ERA dropped to a far more respectable 4.26, with opponents now scoring .39 unearned runs per game.