Yeah, that’s right, who would have guessed that Tim Redding would be the one of the best pitchers the Nationals used this year. Of course, when you use 23 pitchers, it isn’t hard for anyone who’s actually pitched in the majors before to be in the top 1/3 of the group. Unless you are a washed-up ex-major leaguer who hasn’t had a winning season since you were a rookie and went 3-1. Ok, well both “washed-up” and “ex” are a bit unnecessary, especially considering how he’s done so far. As far as the age, Redding is actually only 29, something that surprised me a bit and gave me hope that he could actually be decent.
Redding is an intersting case. His K/BB ratio, which is really a key indicator to a pitcher’s FUTURE performance (remember ERA is great to tell you how good he has been, but there’s enough noise in that stat that it isn’t very predictive), had been scary. He had 8 walks and 5 strikeouts in his first four starts. Well, he must have realized this, so he decided that he would up his percentages, and he struck out 8 batters in each of his last 2 starts, and now his K/BB is up to 21/14, which isn’t spectacular, but it’s much better. Another set of numbers that aren’t predictive of effectiveness (and any Nationals fan whose watch the team this year should have figured this out by now) are wins and losses. Redding is a ho-hum 1-2 at the moment, except his last 3 games have been no decisions, and he’s given up a total of 2 runs in those games, pitching 19 innings. He got a loss in a 3-ER, 7 inning outing, which was a decent enough job, but you’re gonna lose some of those. His only really poor performance wasn’t even terrible, it just wasn’t good. His first start this season in the majors he went only 5 innings and gave up 3 ER. By the way, that non-predictive ERA is down to 2.43, and he’s really pitched well enough to be 4-2. Actually probably 5-0. But if the Nationals are averse to scoring runs, they’re religiously against it when Redding pitches. In those last 3 starts, you know, the ones where he didn’t get a decision, the team has scored a total of 7 runs, only 2 of them before the 7th inning.
What’s most surprising about his success is how poorly he pitched in AAA before being called up. He did have a good K/BB ratio, the kind that could make you succeed in the majors, but his ERA was 5.32 and he gave up 110 hits in 89 2/3 innings. A few weeks ago I would have said look for his major league performance to regress to the mean as he got shelled. Now I say, with his increased ability to strike people out without walking too many, watch for a correction, but it might not be as severe as I originally thought. I also think its great that the picture I found of Redding was him wearing a throwback Homestead Grays uniform. Even looking way back to teams from the 1800s, it’s obvious that the Grays were the best baseball franchise to play in DC, even if they weren’t there full time (so far, eh Nats?), and they definitely should be honored.
Nats win streak goes to 6
The nice thing about this win streak is the way they are winning. Good pitching and timely hitting have combined to allow this team to win 6 in a row. Ryan Zimmerman has been leading the charge. He is batting .300/.343/.498 in his last 50 games, with 9 HRs. This last week he’s really turned it on, which is just plain fun to watch. Ryan has also managed to bring his numbers up to .274/.324/.455, which is still slightly off last year’s totals, but not but a huge amount. Also, his HRs are up to 17, 3 off last year’s total for the season. I have a feeling the consensus (non-Washington) sportswriter’s opinions that he is a 25-HR at best guy may be blown out of the water next season when they leave RFK for good. Felipe Lopez is starting to hit as well, he’s not on a tear, but in his last 100 PAs, he has an OBP of .360, which leadoff-hitter quality. His 4 SBs in that time is under what you’d expect, that kind of pace would put him at around 20 a year, but it is better than what he had been doing. Nook Logan is hitting surprisingly well, actually walking a bit, and of course without power, he needs to walk, bat above .300 and steal bases to be valuable. This month he has done just that. Dmitri Young continues to hit incredibly well, despite a poor week after he singed the extension, and Belliard is doing the same he’s been doing. Church has hit well over the last week or two, .282/.349/.487 in the last 11 games, but let’s see if that is just a short term thing. Kearns continues to disappoint, what the heck is happening with him is hard to know. He is actually not far below his normal numbers in batting average and OBP, it’s his slugging that has been pitiful this season. An ISO of .123 is not gonna cut it for a starting RF, even for the Nats.
Enough about the hitters, the pitching has been great. Not more than 3 runs allowed during this win streak, and with that kind of pitching, you win alot of games. Hopefully they can keep it up. Good luck to the rookie Lannan and the other guys facing Barry in SF… at least you’ll be remembered forever. And finally, speaking of Bonds, Dmitri Young was quoted in the Washington Post as saying “He’s chasing history. Whoop-dee-doo.” He was also quoted by the very same periodical as saying that if he somehow got his hands on the Bonds 756 ball, he’d keep it and he’d “double-dog dare a fan to come get it from me.” This all makes me think, if we get more quotes like that, he’s definitely worth $5 m a year.