After bring out of the country for a week, I’m back and ready to take a look at what is going on with the Nats.

First of all, Ryan Zimmerman got hurt right after I left, and it appears that his injury isn’t that serious. To call it completely minor would be to ignore the fact that he was put on the DL, but it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Abdominal strains can be tricky, as they often look to be healed then pop back up. But, if given the time to heal, he should be no worse for the wear.

Meanwhile, the Nats managed to go 5-2 in those games where Zimmerman hasn’t played, not that anyone would say they’re better off without him. The offense has been a big part of this run – they scored 7 runs on Sunday, 7 on Tuesday, 8 on Sunday and 5 on the 2nd Sunday game. You’re gonna win most of your games where you score 5 or more runs.

But Seriously, the Starting Pitching

Let’s not forget about what the pitching has done over this period. It hasn’t been spectacular, but it’s been quite good. Tom Gorzelanny debuted as the fifth starter on Saturday, and didn’t look very good. But he redeemed himself Friday, going 6 IP with 2 ER. At this point we can be hopeful that the first game was from lack of game time pitching this year, and we’ll see more of the second start types than the first. Livan had a very good game against the Phillies on Tuesday, going 6 2/3  IP and giving up only 1 ER. He then went 7 with 1 ER on Sunday to bring his ERA down to 2.88.

Also nice to see – Marquis, after giving up 3 singles and 1 ER in the first inning on Sunday afternoon, managed to allow only 1 hit per inning and 1 ER total in his remaining 6 IP, for a quality start – 7 IP, 2 ER. Perhaps surprisingly, he’s now 3 for 3 in quality starts.

The younger guys have also looked good. Jordan Zimmermann gave up only 1 ER against the Phillies on Thursday. He gave up 1 HR, and a few errors did him in. He was brought out to pitch the 8th, and gave up two singles, an error in the next AB kept him from being responsible for the runs, but the two singles didn’t help. Still it was a very good start. He now has a 2.45 ERA, and while he only has 10 K in 18 1/3 IP, he also has only walked 3 people so far. He’s looked very good, and may be the best pitcher on the team at this point. John Lannan also had a strong start this week, a quality start where he dueled Halladay for 6 innings, giving up 2 ER (3 total) before being taken out. He’s also got a pretty ERA number of 3.38.

All in all, the starting pitching has been a big key to the success of the team. The pitching ranks, perhaps surprisingly, as the best in terms of ERA in the National League. They’ve kept opponents to the 3rd lowest batting average in the NL, all this despite being 12th in strikeouts. Say what you will about retreads or old guys, for right now, this starting staff is delivering.

By Charlie