The Nats accomplished something trivia-worthy last night, in the midst of their 1-0 loss to the Cardinals. In the 8th inning, after Jhonny Peralta was called out, Jordan Zimmermann‘s season ERA slipped below 3.00. It’s noteworthy because 3 other Nats starters already were sitting there with a sub-3.00 ERA – Strasburg, Fister and Roark.
How common is this? Let’s go with “not very.” Nobody this year can say that 4 of their top 5 or 6 starters have done that. In fact, while plenty of teams have 2 pitchers there, I couldn’t find one with 3, let alone the 4 that the Nats have.
And if we go back over time, at least in recent baseball history, it’s pretty rare. How many teams have done it relatively recently? Well, in the last 25 years or so: one. Only one team has really done it. But here are the closest ones:
2011 Phillies – They actually didn’t pull it off. But Halladay, Hamels and Lee all have ERA’s in the 2’s and Vance Worley finished with a 3.01. Super super close. They finished with a 102-60 record and won the NL East, but lost in the NLDS to the Giants
1997 Braves – They didn’t do it either. Glavine, Maddux and Denny Neagle all had sub-3 ERAs, but Smoltz spoiled it by posting a shameful 3.02, for a measly ERA+ of 138.
1992 Braves – Our winner! 4 of the top 6 pitchers made the cut: Smoltz, Glavine, Mike Bielecki and Pete Smith. Smith only started 11 games, but that’s double digits, so I’ll say it counts.
1988 Dodgers – This one is a toughie. The World Series Champs had 4 guys who started for the team and had an ERA under 3: Orel Hershiser, Tim Leary, Tim Belcher and John Tudor. But Tudor only had 9 starts, making him the 7th in the rotation… I’ll say no.
It’s certainly an accomplishment that is quite uncommon. The Nats aren’t there yet – they’ve still got more than half the season left. But the place they’re in now is pretty special, and their starters are putting together some amazing numbers.