The Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night, and once again their starting pitching was at the forefront. A 7-4 victory at Nationals Park behind Patrick Corbin propelled them into their first World Series appearance. They will face either the
The Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night, and once again their starting pitching was at the forefront. A 7-4 victory at Nationals Park behind Patrick Corbin propelled them into their first World Series appearance. They will face either the Astros or Yankees.
Washington’s starting pitching has been a big part of the club’s success in 2019, and rarely more so than in the NLCS. Four Nationals starters combined to go 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA, allowing just four earned runs over 26 2/3 innings, with only 13 hits and six walks allowed. They struck out 40 Cardinals batters along the way and helped their club advance without ever trailing.
Here are 10 facts to know about the dominant NLCS by the Nats’ rotation:
1) The 1.35 ERA of the Nationals’ starters in the series is the sixth best ever produced in a best-of-seven League Championship Series. They trail only the 2012 Tigers (0.66), 2016 Indians (1.23), 1990 A’s (1.23), 1995 Indians (1.28), and 1995 Braves (1.29).
Before Corbin surrendered three runs in his fifth and final inning Tuesday, Nats starters had a 0.35 ERA in the series.
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2) Cardinals hitters went 13-for-92 (.141) against Nationals starters, which is the lowest batting average allowed by a rotation in any best-of-seven postseason series, beating out the .144 mark set by the 2012 Tigers in the American League Championship Series.
3) Corbin came out firing in Game 4 and, according to STATS, became the first pitcher in postseason history to record 10 strikeouts in the first four innings of a postseason game. He ultimately struck out 12, tying the record for the most strikeouts by any pitcher in a potential series-clincher. Jim Palmer also struck out 12 in ALCS Game 3 in 1970 for the Orioles, when the LCS round was still best-of-five.
4) Corbin’s 12 strikeouts came in his second career postseason start, after his first featured nine strikeouts in NL Division Series Game 1. His 21 strikeouts through his first two career postseason starts are tied with Sandy Koufax for third most by any pitcher in his first two postseason starts of his career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only Tim Lincecum and Bob Gibson had more, with 22 each.
5) With Corbin’s 12 Ks following Stephen Strasburg’s 12 in Game 3 and Max Scherzer’s 11 in Game 2, the Nationals became the first team in postseason history to have a starter strike out at least 11 batters in three straight games, according to STATS.
6) Corbin's 12-K game in the clincher was the fourth 10-K game from a Nats starter this postseason. That's the second most individual 10-K games in a postseason, trailing only the 2013 Tigers, who had six. And, of course, the Nationals are now guaranteed at least four more games this postseason -- that’s four more chances to add to that total.
7) In Games 1 and 2 of the series, Aníbal Sánchez and Scherzer each had no-hit bids of at least six innings. It was the second time in postseason history that two pitchers held the same team hitless through at least five innings in back-to-back postseason games, according to Elias. The other instance? Sánchez and Scherzer in Games 1 and 2 of the 2013 ALCS for the Tigers against the Red Sox.
8) In the first three games of the series, Sánchez, Scherzer and Strasburg each got the win while going at least seven innings without allowing an earned run. That made Washington the ninth team in LCS history to have three such starts in a series, and the third in the past 23 years, after the 2012 Giants and 2017 Astros.
9) In Game 3, Strasburg became only the third pitcher in postseason history to strike out at least 12 batters in a game without walking anyone. The others were the Astros’ Gerrit Cole in Game 2 of the 2018 ALDS and the Mets’ Tom Seaver in Game 1 of the 1973 NLCS. Of the three, Strasburg is the only one to not to allow an earned run.
10) In Game 2, Scherzer became only the third pitcher in postseason history to go at least seven scoreless innings, allow no more than one hit and strike out double digits. The others were the Yankees’ Roger Clemens in Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS and the Orioles' Mike Mussina in Game 6 of the 1997 ALCS.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.