Good teams find ways to win games, bad teams find ways to lose them. Right now the Washington Nationals are a bad team, and they are actively finding new ways to lose games every week.
Last night’s game against the New York Mets was a perfect example. The Nationals actually got a decent performance from Patrick Corbin, as the lefty worked out of trouble and pitched five scoreless innings. Washington had a 2-0 lead heading to the top of the sixth when once again they continued to find a way to lose a game they should win.
Recently promoted Carl Edwards Jr. struggled to consistently throw strikes and gave up three runs, surrendering the lead and making it a 3-2 game. Washington gave away another free run in the top of the ninth that scored via a Makiel Franco error, giving the Mets a 4-2 lead that ended up being the final score.
When you look at Washington’s early-season struggles, especially on the pitching side, a lot of it is self-inflicted. The Nationals have walked 127 batters in 31 games this season, that’s the second-most in baseball behind the abysmal Cincinnati Reds.
If the Nationals continue giving up free passes at this rate, they will end up walking roughly 650 hitters this season. To put that in perspective, below are how many hitters the Nationals have walked as a team in every full season since 2014. As you can see, Washington is on pace to exceed even their worst walk total of 548 in 2021 by over 100.
2014 – 352 BB
2015 – 364 BB
2016 – 486 BB
2017 – 495 BB
2018 – 487 BB
2019 – 517 BB
2021 – 548 BB
You cannot consistently win games when you are giving teams free passes, and it shows in the Nationals’ record. Washington has walked at least four batters in a game 16 times this season, more than half of their games played. During those 16 games, the Nationals are 2-14. When they walk less than four batters in a game, they are 8-7.
It starts with starting pitching, and all of the Nationals starters are walking batters at a far too high rate.
Patrick Corbin – 32.2 IP (17 BB) (4.7 BB/9)
Joan Adon – 28.1 IP (18 BB) (5.7 BB/9)
Josiah Gray – 31.1 IP (16 BB) (4.6 BB/9)
Erick Fedde – 30.0 IP (15 BB) (4.5 BB/9)
I don’t care how good your offense is, when four of your five starting pitchers have a BB/9 of 4.5 or higher, you’re not going to win many games.
Overall, if the Nationals want to turn things around and become a somewhat competent team, they need to start throwing strikes and stop beating themselves.