The Washington Nationals have been a steady force in the National League East for the better part of the past decade.
They won a World Series in 2021, they’ve made the playoffs seven times in the past 10 years, and their two playoff series victories in 2017 were their first postseason appearances in 20 years.
All of that made for an excellent starting rotation, but what about a starting staff?
For some, that’s the key to winning in the big leagues.
For others, the team they hope to replace as their starting pitcher has a chance to be the best team in baseball.
For those who aren’t sure, the NL East is comprised of the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and New York Giants.
The teams are separated by a distance of a full 100 miles (160 kilometers) and a combined home field advantage of 20.2.
The Giants, however, are only a half-game behind the Nationals, so they should be in the driver’s seat.
But that’s not to say they’re any better or worse than the rest of the league.
The Philadelphia Phillies are led by closer Zach Britton, who has thrown more than 1,200 innings over the past two seasons.
Britton has been the Nationals starting pitcher since mid-August and has a 2.73 ERA in his last five starts.
The Washington Post’s Zach Buchanan writes that “the Nationals’ bullpen is the Nationals’ best reliever.
The Nationals have relied on a three-man rotation with two of those relievers, Nationals reliever Brad Brach and reliever Matt Wieters, since midseason.
Brach, who pitched in the bullpen for the Phillies this season, is 6-1 with a 3.14 ERA in five starts.”
The Boston Red Stars, meanwhile, are led, of course, by star closer Tanner Roark.
Roark is the first pitcher in the NL to win a Cy Young Award and has thrown the final six innings in every game of his major league career.
He’s also the only pitcher in Major League history to win both the Cy Young and NL Cy Young Awards in the same season.
He has a 4.28 ERA in 26 games, which is tied for the best ERA among pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched.
The New York Yankees, meanwhile are led not only by their ace Jose Bautista, but also by the young phenom Aaron Judge, who is a second-round draft pick out of California.
Judge is 4-1 in six starts this season and has pitched well in his limited appearances.
Judge has thrown 100 or more innings in six of his eight starts this year and has earned a 3:0 record in his past four starts.
He’s only 23 years old and is only one year removed from being a Cy, and he’s not exactly a lock for a Cy either.
But he’s been a revelation since being acquired in July, and the Nationals could be looking at an All-Star candidate if he continues his hot start.
Judge’s 4.35 ERA in 18 games against the Yankees is his second-best mark in a season, behind only Mark Buehrle’s 5.39 ERA in 2009.
The Mets have the most starting pitching depth in the league, led by veteran right-hander Dillon Gee.
Gee is 1-2 with a 4 (1.63) ERA in six games, but he has faced the Yankees three times and is 2-1.
He is one of two Mets pitchers to have pitched in all but one game this season.
And Gee has a 3-1 record in two starts this month.
The Yankees have the second-most starters on the roster behind the Red Stars.
Gee has also faced the Nationals three times, and has one no-decision this month in three starts against them.
The Red Stars have the fewest starting pitchers on the team, with the other three starting pitchers facing the Yankees.
Gees ERA of 4.40 this season is tied with Chris Sale’s 4-2 record with the Yankees in 2017, which was also the first season he won both the AL Cy Young award and NL MVP award.
Geez, why the Mets?
Gee is one year away from being the first Mets starter since the 2009 season to win two Cy Young awards.
The Phillies are also two years away from the same.
The Mets have a history of being the best pitcher in baseball, which might be why they are one of the best teams in the country.
But is Gee the best?
Yes, he is.
The most important player on the field is the one on the mound, and that’s exactly what Gee does.
He gets his outs on the bases, gets his strikeouts, and pitches strikes.
His repertoire is wide, but Gee’s arsenal is deep.
He relies heavily on his fastball and slider, two pitches that are a combination of changeup and curveball.
He uses them to create an opportunity