Gio Gonzalez had his best start of the season on Thursday night against the New York Mets, posting a Bill James Game Score of 85 by striking out 12 in seven innings while giving up just one hit. Gio’s performance was just the latest example of how the Washington Nationals starting pitchers are peaking at the right time with just one week until Game One of the Nationals League Division Series in D.C.
If you sort National League pitchers by WAR over the course of the season, Nats pitchers are prominently featured. Clayton Kershaw obviously leads the pack, but Jordan Zimmermann is second. Stephen Strasburg is fourth. Gonzalez and Tanner Roark fall just outside the top 10 at 11th and 12th, respectively.
Over the last 30 days, the numbers paint an even more impressive picture of the Nats top three pitchers. Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmermann are fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively, in WAR among NL starters. All three have ERAs below 2.50, and Strasburg is sitting at a minuscule 1.34 ERA. If you sort by FIP, all three are in the top 10 in that period, with Gonzalez leading the Nats group in fourth behind Jacob deGrom, Jake Arrieta, and Kershaw.
What do all of these numbers mean? The Nationals starters have been superb all season long, but they’ve been nearly untouchable over the last month. On top of that, the three pitchers with the best stuff have shone above the rest. Gonzalez’s and Strasburg’s walk numbers are way down from career averages while maintaining impressive strikeout rates, while Zimmermann is striking out more batters than usual.
Their season stats are all impressive, but they’re peaking their already impressive performances just as they head into October for their toughest tests of the long season. A healthy, deep offensive lineup compliments among the most elite pitching staffs in the league, hoping for a better result than their last trip to the postseason. Their performances lately certainly bode well for this year’s push through October.
All stats from FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.