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Nats' rotation continues sterling start

Washington starters have submitted 10 consecutive quality outings
MLB.com @JamalCollier

NEW YORK -- The starting rotation is once again emerging as a strength for the Nationals, and has been one of the keys to their fast start. They have received contributions from all five starters that have helped carry the team to a 12-5 record, including six consecutive victories.

The latest outing came from left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who spun 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 3-1 victory against the Mets. Nationals starters began the day with the best FIP in the Majors at 2.83 and the most Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs, at 2.3. After Gonzalez's outing Saturday, they have now turned in 10 consecutive quality starts.

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NEW YORK -- The starting rotation is once again emerging as a strength for the Nationals, and has been one of the keys to their fast start. They have received contributions from all five starters that have helped carry the team to a 12-5 record, including six consecutive victories.

The latest outing came from left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who spun 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 3-1 victory against the Mets. Nationals starters began the day with the best FIP in the Majors at 2.83 and the most Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs, at 2.3. After Gonzalez's outing Saturday, they have now turned in 10 consecutive quality starts.

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"You've got to keep up. If you blink, one of these days one of them is going to have 200 innings before you even know it," Gonzalez said about being a part of this rotation. "It's a good thing, where you have one guy pushing you to get that -- 'I want to go out there and get six.' 'All right, well I want to go out there and get seven.'"

Gonzalez's outing improved the ERA for Nationals starters to 3.29 on the season. But removing Jeremy Guthrie's disastrous spot start -- 10 earned runs in two-thirds of an inning -- their rotation now owns a 2.46 ERA, which would rank second in the Majors.

And no starting staff in the Majors has produced more outings (nine) of at least seven innings while allowing three runs or less.

"Your starters are going deep in the game, it's fun," Gonzalez said. "These guys are just trying to piggyback off each other."

In an era where starters are throwing fewer innings than ever, the Nationals are countering the trend and getting their starters deep into games consistently. Perhaps that is why manager Dusty Baker was not so impressed with the early-season string of quality starts.

"My reaction is that's what you're supposed to do," Baker said. "I'm serious. That's what you're getting paid to do."

Through this run of division titles, the Nationals have built their teams on their starting rotations. It appears this one, if it remains healthy, could also be good enough to carry them toward the playoffs -- and potentially reach even loftier goals.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Gio Gonzalez