The Faltering Bullpen Uplifted
It is always tough to tell how a reliever is doing. Their entire season is a small sample size. The best relievers pitch less than half as many innings as a starting pitcher. So, breaking it down further to one month could be even more foolhardy. One bad outing can ruin a reliever's ERA. Look at Tom Gorzelanny. He had one rough outing in the beginning of the season against the Astros where he gave up six runs, but that one outing is enough to make his 3.64 ERA enough to not fully explain how good and how important Gorzelanny has been to the Nationals bullpen.
Small sample size or not the Nationals bullpen was not good in July. They have the seventh worst bullpen ERA over that time at 4.73. Clippard, H-Rod, and Mattheus all have ERA's over 5.00 while Storen and Stammen both have ERA's in the 4.00. The most innings pitched in July were the 15 1/3 of Stammen but if the Nats bullpen continues to falter like this, things might get even tighter as the Braves are starting to roll.
To show the exact importance of a bullpen when compared to starting pitching and offense the Nats had the third best starters ERA for July at 2.82 and are tied with the Angels for the most runs scored in the month at 132. All of this combined to lead to the Nationals best month of the season despite the outcome of this evening's game. The Nats will either finish the month 17-9 or 18-8 and continue their streak of not having a losing month in the 2012 season.
As far as how the Nats offense has done this season here is a comparison of their stats to league average. Below are two charts the first is NL average for positions and below that is the Nationals average for those positions.
|as PH for DH||10||9||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||.222||.300||.222||.522|
|at Def. Pos.||1636||24844||3151||6458||1241||186||599||2701||599||210||2178||5074||.260||.323||.397||.720|
|at Off. Pos.||1636||25044||3317||6604||1430||152||862||3369||408||174||2410||5449||.264||.331||.436||.767|
Report from Baseball-Reference.com.
|at Def. Pos.||101||1579||191||413||92||10||45||171||44||14||116||391||.262||.316||.418||.734|
|at Off. Pos.||101||1597||215||413||85||4||64||215||20||7||155||343||.259||.324||.437||.761|
The Nats are well above league average at first base, pitcher, bench, and short stop for the season, around but above league average at third base and center field, are below but around league average at second base, and are below league average for left field and right field. Some of those positions are dragged down by early season struggles though. If Ryan Zimmerman's post cortisone surge were included at third base then the numbers would be much different as would left if Michael Morse had been healthy and playing there all season. As of right now the Nationals have overall above average offense and once Werth and Desmond return they will be above average at as many as seven positions.
That counts on a lot going right and while that has rarely been the case for the Nationals this season their depth has shown. When a line-up consists of as many above average pieces as the Nats does then if one isn't preforming to expecations then someone else will. That is the way it has gone all season for the Nationals and why in the worst month for the Nationals bullpen other parts of the team were able to step up and lead them to their best month of the season so far.