Maybe the big story last night was Tyler Clippard’s 11th win. Not because it’s a big deal (and not because it highlights how W’s don’t necessarily show you that much) but because it’s so flukey. Clippard is now tied for 3rd place with most wins in a season on the Nats. While that is certainly interesting, I thought there were a couple of competing stories that deserved notice.

The first is the performance of Joel Peralta. Peralta, picked up off the scrap heap earlier this year, has now pitched for more than half of a season,  45 innings (90 would be considered a heavy workload for most, Clippard’s sitting at 85 2/3), and has done so with real success. The first number that jumps out is the ERA of 2.00. 44 strikeouts in those 45 IP also jumps out, but how about the WHIP of 0.80? That’s right, he’s averaging 4 baserunners every 5 innings. And he’s barely allowed any walks, only 9 total. How good is this WHIP?

Of all pitchers in the NL with 40 or more IP, he ranks #1. That’s right, nobody that has thrown 40 or more innings has allowed fewer runners on base. Baseball Prospectus gives him a WXRL (reliever’s Win Expectation above Replacement) of 1.507, second on the team only to Clippard, going in to last night’s game. In terms of WAR, he’s the third best reliever on the team, behind Clippard and Burnett.

I have no idea whether or not this will translate into performance in 2011. And he has given up 5 HRs, a few too many for 45 innings, but not horrendous. But the K/9 of 8.8 and the K/BB of 4.89 are both career highs, and they look mighty impressive. He’s had K numbers approaching this before, but he’s never had a K/BB better than 3.47. In his last two seasons, the walks really jumped, and that’s probably the biggest difference right now.

Maybe it’s a Steve McCatty thing, but Peralta has figured out a way to reduce his walks. Just like the rest of the team. The Nats have allowed 484 walks, 5th least in the NL, an impressive feat considering what often passes for starters around here. In 2009 they ranked 15th in the NL in walks. Not that they haven’t done well in that category in the past, but this year is quite different than last, at least on that front.

By Charlie