The Washington Nationals won their 87th game of the season on Monday night against the New York Mets, which matched my preseason win prediction with 21 games remaining on the schedule. They put it together behind another nice start from their starter, Gio Gonzalez, and an offense that can’t seem to stop hitting home runs. With the 5-1 victory, the Nats extended the Mets losing streak to four games.
Gio Gonzalez deserves the bulk of the credit in the latest Nats victory. He pitched six innings of one run, three hit baseball and struck out six. It was the third time this season that Gio walked five batters. His command was clearly off, and he didn’t have his best stuff even though his curveball was extremely impressive, but he did his work as the Nats number one pitcher to help them get the win.
The victory gives Gio his major league-leading 19th win of the season, and he’s now looking at a 2.93 ERA. He’s tied for the NL’s best 4.9 WAR with Clayton Kershaw. He’s top five in NL ERA and number two in NL FIP behind only Stephen Strasburg. He makes a stronger case for the NL Cy Young Award with every outing while playing for the best team in baseball.
The Nats lumber made noise again with three more home runs. Kurt Suzuki led off the third inning with a home run to left field, his fifth on the year and third in the last eight games. Ryan Zimmerman went down in the strike zone to line a home run to deep center field later in the third inning, his 21st on the year even after missing time with a shoulder injury and going through one of the worst slumps of his career. The home run also scored Bryce Harper, who walked. Ian Desmond hit his 22nd home run in the sixth inning, a two-run shot that scored Michael Morse.
Drew Storen got into a bit of a jam as he worked in the eighth inning. After giving up two singles to start the inning, Storen’s sinker really started working, hitting between 94 and 96 mph on the radar gun. He eventually got Ike Davis to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. I'll say this, when that sinker is working, it's one of the best in baseball.
Tyler Clippard had one of the best ninth innings of his season, and even though it wasn’t a save situation with a four-run lead, he was able to make the three Mets hitters look silly on six total pitches to end the game. One thing to keep an eye on: Clippard’s average fastball velocity is 92.8 mph this season. Last night, he never reached 92 mph on the gun. He’s pitched in five of the last 10 days, and he threw 20 or more pitches in three of those games. I’d imagine he may be a bit fatigued with the combination of that and the push to the end of the season. If he gets some rest, I expect to see the velocity tick back up.