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Fister continues amazing stretch for Nats rotation

Jun 25, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT

Jun 25, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws to the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After the Nationals signed Max Scherzer in January, many predicted they would have one of the best starting rotations in recent baseball history. Then the season started and for months everyone not named Max dealt with either injuries or inconsistent results.

That was until this past week. With Doug Fister’s seven shutout frames on Thursday against the Braves, the Nationals’ starters now have a new franchise record with 41 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. It’s the best run for any MLB rotation since the 2008 Cleveland Indians, who had 44 1/3 straight.

“Guys aren’t really even paying attention to it,” Fister said. “I think that’s what makes it great. I really hadn’t heard about it. Guys are going out there and taking it one out at a time, one inning at a time.”

Scherzer is up next coming off a no-hitter and a one-hit, 16-strikeout performance, arguably the best two-start run in MLB history. And waiting for him is the Philadelphia Phillies, the lowest-scoring offense in baseball. The chances of their streak continuing seem to be very good.

“It’s impressive. It just shows how good they are,” Ian Desmond said. “On paper, they’re good but being out here, if you guys are watching at home, don’t take it for granted because this is a really special group of pitchers we have.”

“It’s been as good as it gets,” Clint Robinson added. “They’re just throwing up zero after zero, night after night and taking the pressure off the offense so we can go out there and put up some runs for them. When they don’t, they can’t win. So, they’re doing their job.”

Fister allowed just four hits and a walk through seven scoreless innings on Thursday, his longest start of the 2015 season. That followed eight scoreless by Jordan Zimmermann, five by Stephen Strasburg, seven by Gio Gonzalez and, of course, nine by Scherzer. Rookie Joe Ross began the streak on Friday night by ending his start against Pittsburgh with 5 1/3 scoreless frames.

“I think it’s a standard that every day as a starter you’re job is to go out there and get 21 outs. Whatever it takes, get your 21 outs and give the club a chance to win,” Fister said. “We don’t waver from that. We like consistency. I think that’s just a standard with all five of us. Whether it’s ‘you had a good outing, I want to have a good outing,’ it’s always a standard of let’s play good baseball and give ourselves a chance to win.”

Fister himself feels he’s very close to being in midseason form after missing over a month with a right forearm strain.

“I think I’ve still got some building I need to do. I wanted to push myself today and skip let me go back out there in the seventh. That’s huge for me is being to go back out there and prove to teammates and prove to myself that I can go out there and finish an inning. I hadn’t done that this year, so that was a positive note for me personally,” he said.

Wilson Ramos caught five of the six games during the Nationals’ pitching streak. He was asked after Thursday’s game if Scherzer can keep it going on Friday.

He grinned and gave a simple response: “We’ll see what happens.”

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 25, 2015 at 8:52 PM

    “Doug Fister on 41 1/3 scoreless innings streak for #Nats starters: “I really hadn’t heard about it.” http://t.co/jxZcGqkbGn

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 25, 2015 at 8:58 PM

      Of course not. Neither had we. That’s the story and we’re sticking to it.

    • veejh - Jun 25, 2015 at 9:04 PM

      He sounds genuine in the article, but I don’t buy it. No way he doesn’t always know the score.

  2. veejh - Jun 25, 2015 at 8:58 PM

    “I think I’ve still got some building I need to do. I wanted to push myself today and skip let me go back out there in the seventh. That’s huge for me is being to go back out there and prove to teammates and prove to myself that I can go out there and finish an inning. I hadn’t done that this year, so that was a positive note for me personally,” he said.

    Sounds like Fister is starting to feel it again. I was genuinely worried. If he gets it going, along with Dez, that would be a HUGE boost.

    The backups have done a pretty good job of filling in so far. I almost feel like the team will take a hit once Zim and Werth are healthy. Weird.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 25, 2015 at 9:05 PM

    “It’s the best run for any MLB rotation since the 2008 Cleveland Indians, who had 44 1/3 straight”

    Great, but what’s the record?

    • natsguy - Jun 26, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      RZIM has not been important to this team since 2012 when he gave his shoulder to the team. By the time Werth gets back and ready MAT might have cemented his role. Span, Harper, and Rendon are the guys that make this team click on offense.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2015 at 10:57 AM

        The jury isn’t out on them but neither has been healthy and both are near Mendoza while both occupy the 2 prime defensive positions where you normally want your Big Boppers, and they haven’t produced much Bop.

        RZim at least has given stellar defense but they’re looking “bench” quality.

  4. NIWatcher - Jun 25, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    From my post in the previous thread, the 1903 Pirates had six consecutive shutouts between June 2 and 8, 1903. Back then, starters usually finished. Especially shutouts. I read somewhere that the total consecutive scoreless innings for that streak was 56. I think that is what we need to shoot for.

    • Section 222 - Jun 25, 2015 at 9:44 PM

      Thanks. I heard someone say that this was the 5th longest streak in the modern era, before they passed the 1981 Expos. But it’s weird how MASN didn’t have a graphic of all the streaks longer than the Nat. Do they think we just care about post-2000 baseball?

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jun 25, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:06 PM

        There we go!!!

      • Section 222 - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:59 PM

        thanks! So Scherzer can pass the ’95 fO’s and Tribe. Then we’d need probably two more good starts to pass the ’74 Os.

        Now what about the pre-expansion era? 🙂

  5. Bruxtun - Jun 25, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    what do people think of Trea Turner being promoted to AAA?

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 25, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      A bit surprisingly quick, even considering the time he spent at San Antonio, but Rizzo’s benchmark seems to be seeing the player have sustained success at a level before proceeding, and he did seem to be acing AA. Makes me wonder if he won’t be up this year, contrary to my own expectations. Not that those matter.

    • senators5 - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:45 PM

      A good friend of mine who will go nameless has scouted in this region for many years says TT is absolutely the real deal and he believes he will be a National before this season ends and that he is definitely the SS in the near and long future. Excellent defensive instincts ,above average arm, excellent foot speed and the ability to become a consistent 300.plus hitter for years to come is what he told me, He said he was stunned that SD gave him up and that trade will eventually be a benchmark for Rizzo.

      • Bruxtun - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:33 AM

        thanks sens, that’s some great insider info. really excited for the kid.

  6. Candide - Jun 25, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    Updating earlier post in which I threatened to go to my first game since Friday, the game where Joe Ross gave up the last run by a starter, if nobody came through with a Paypal payment for me.

    Well, nobody came through with the payment, but I elected to stay home anyway and do the laundry between innings.

    So the streak’s intact, thanks to me.

    I’m still open to receiving Paypal payments. Don’t make me do something we’ll all regret.

    • stoatva - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:12 PM

      You must use your powers for good, not evil!

    • virginiascopist - Jun 26, 2015 at 6:16 AM

      Not planning on going to Philly tonight, are you?

      • Candide - Jun 26, 2015 at 6:45 AM

        Have to think about it… A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

        Even when it’s stupid.

  7. stoatva - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:02 PM

    I don’t get the fractional scoreless inning thing. If you get a guy out after giving up a grand slam I don’t think you pitched one third of a scoreless inning. It’s either a scoreless inning or it ain’t. And get off of my lawn!

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:14 PM

      The 1/3 of a scoreless inning comes about because this streak is for scoreless innings pitched by starters. Joe Ross was pulled after he got one out in the 8th inning Friday night. No one scored in that inning, so Ross gets credit for 1/3 of a scoreless inning there.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:18 PM

        ETA that as streaks go, this one is kind of bogus. How can you have a scoreless innings “streak” that is interrupted by periods of relief pitching?

      • stoatva - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:24 PM

        There’s been some impressive pitching, but as a statistic it’s kind of silly.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 26, 2015 at 6:35 AM

        Eh, a position player’s continuous-games-played streak can be extended by 1/2 inning on defense or one at-bat where he either reaches base or is put out.

        Likewise, a player’s individual consecutive-game hitting streak is determined by the consecutive games in which the player appears and is not determined by his club’s games.

        http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/about_mlb/rules_regulations.jsp

      • stoatva - Jun 26, 2015 at 7:11 AM

        The explanation by natsnatsnatswoo that the fraction is the result of Ross’ having been removed after one out of a scoreless inning (as opposed to retiring a batter after a run) makes the statistic makes more sense to me.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:50 AM

        I note that there’s no MLB official rule or regulation regarding a streak like this. That’s because it’s more of an interesting bit of trivia than an actual “record”. There are individual record streaks, there are team record streaks, and this is neither of those. This is just an arbitrarily selected position on a team streak, like “what’s the most consecutive games that a team has had a hit from the catcher position?” Good fodder for bar arguments, nothing more than that really.

  8. stoatva - Jun 25, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    Joe Ross touched up for three runs in five innings, taking the loss for Syracuse. Giolito only got in two innings, scoreless and hitless with 2 Ks and a walk before the rains hit Potomac.

    • tcostant - Jun 26, 2015 at 7:28 AM

      You can forgive that. He was pitching well in the bigs, huge letdown. Not to mention the extra rest. He’ll be great for us again next DH.

      • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:44 AM

        I don’t know about that … judging from tomorrow’s forecast it looks like the next DH might be Sunday in Philadelphia

      • tcostant - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        If there rain on Satueday and DH, the Saturday/Sunday starters would pitch. Implied was next double hearder where at starter was needed, becuase a current starter wouldn’t be on full rest. Oh boy.

  9. rayvil01 - Jun 26, 2015 at 7:50 AM

    The best part of this sweep is that it shut down Braves’ Nation who had started stirring from their coma. They thought they were coming in here and getting into the Division Race. Now they’re headed to Pittsburgh and are mercifully quiet. Go back to sleep…and stay there.

    This may not be a big deal to some, but I have in-laws infected with “Chop-itis.” They were chirping after they swept the Mets. Now we can have a delightful 4th of July.

    • ehay2k - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      Classic!

  10. Theophilus T.S. - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    No point to bringing Turner up — at least before September — unless he’s going to start. Desmond took a step toward preserving his job last night. And I’m not completely sure why he was promoted to Syracuse. Supposedly, the overall quality of talent is higher at AA than at AAA and, certainly, the better arms and “stuff” are at AA. I’ve heard that more experienced AAA pitchers have better “command” and greater selectivity is required of hitters to succeed at AAA. I don’t know if that can be proven.

    What does seem clear, however, is The Brain Trust has penciled Turner into next year’s starting lineup, at least early in the season a la Harper if not on Opening Day. Folks who foresaw Difo at 2B (before the resurgence of Espinosa) and Escobar at SS will lose that bet.

    • ehay2k - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      With Escobar and Espi playing so well, where’s the room for Turner or even Difo? Assuming Desi walks, it seems like next year’s infield is set, at the moment, with Zimm, Espi, Escobar, and Rendon. That is based on contract status and where guys have historically played. Epsi and Esco could swap positions, of course, because Espi can play SS, but Esco may have been promised SS if/when Desi leaves. Personally, I really like Espi’s range/arm which give him the ability to play very deep at 2b and still gun people down at first. Just ask Scherzer if he thinks that works well!

      So, if Turner comes up, is he a bench guy? Seems like guys that young, you want to get them AB’s. Still, too much talent is not a bad problem to have. I suppose Rizzo could trade someone to the Dodgers for Kershaw, to “strengthen a strength.” 😂

      • Danny - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:41 AM

        Turner would never be a bench guy. The answer is easy. Espy starts the year at SS, Turner can be brought up early on and Espy goes back to super utility.

    • alexva6 - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:41 AM

      typically there are more true prospects in AA but the pitchers in AAA have more ability. often veterans that have pitched at the MLB level. it will be an more difficult test for Turner at this level

  11. ehay2k - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:35 AM

    In Boz’ column today, he says this was the first five game stretch this season featuring all 5 of the members of our “Rotation of Death.” That hadn’t occurred to me. Tonight’s game will be fun to watch. I wonder if the Philthies will come up hacking to try to end the streak? That would seem to play into the hands of a guy like Scherzer.

    By the way, whither the Marlins? A lot of people thought they would be a lot better this year than they are, and quite a few people, including “experts”, thought that besides the Nats, they were the team to beat in the NL. (They sort of are, because everyone seems to beat them.) José Fernandez should help them, but they need a LOT of help. Who knows, if they keep losing games and fans and TV ratings, Loria (I should have left that as the auto-corrected Gloria) may yet trade Stanton to dump salary yet again!

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:03 AM

      Perhaps that hadn’t occurred to you because Boz was wrong in saying that this was the first five game stretch featuring the planned OD rotation. Look at April. Four straight turns through the rotation before the A.J. Cole debacle in game 21.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:10 AM

        From the context, it’s pretty clear that Boswell meant all 5 started in turn and performed as they were expected to.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        Really? Then why didn’t he say that? He said “That’s the first time all year that the Nats’ projected starting pitchers have been intact for a turn through the rotation.” Which ones of them pitched in April without being intact? Is Boz extending the “Stras is a head case” meme here?

      • ehay2k - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:19 AM

        I thought that sounded wrong, but I seemed to remember Roark getting the loss against the Phillies early. Just checked and I was right, just that Roark came out of the pen after Foster went 6. Not exactly sure what Boz meant by “…first time all year that the Nats’ projected starting pitchers have been intact for a turn through the rotation.”

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 26, 2015 at 9:29 AM

        Woo

        It’s clearer in a reference further down in the story where he says this is the first time the “Rotation of Death” showed up.

        But you’re right – that first reference is ambiguous at best, and just flat out wrong if Boz really forgot about April.

  12. ehay2k - Jun 26, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    So re-reading it, I think he means this is how starters were “projected” to pitch, not who the “projected” starters were. But the confusing part, for me anyway, was that he follows up his “…first time….” comment with “Coincidence?”, which would seem to imply that is was the people, not how they were projected to pitch, that the “projected” refers to. (Why would it be a coincidence if they were projected to pitch that way?)

    At any rate, it certainly got people to read and re-read his column.

    • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2015 at 1:14 PM

      Right — they “showed up” as in . . . “showed up”, not merely just “showing up”.

      (Hmm, that makes sense to me!)

      • ehay2k - Jun 26, 2015 at 6:32 PM

        They showed up to play. As opposed to say, showing up to take in the sights.

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