Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Operation Ewing Theory nearly complete: Nats to the World Series


Kendrick deservedly wins NLCS MVP. Photo via

Kendrick deservedly wins NLCS MVP. Photo via

So, I chose a rather inopportune time to take a 6-day vacation.  In those 6 days, the Nats managed to absolutely obliterate the NL Central champs to complete a pretty improbable sweep and make the World Series.

(by the way, if you didn’t know what the “Ewing Theory” is … see this link.  The theory basically is that a team that sees a dominant star player depart immediately performs better than they ever did with said player for a variety of reasons.)

I mostly “watched” the series on my MLB-app, pulling it up again and again and being in shock at the scores I was seeing.   Seven runs in the first in a clincher?  Get out!  Four runs against the Card’s Ace Jack Flaherty in game 3 to knock him out?  Amazing.  Two near-no hitters on foreign soil, one of them by our fourth starter?  Yeah.

Here was some of the more amazing take-aways for me in this series:

  • Nats pitchers struck out 48 guys in 36 IP.
  • Nats starters struck out 40 of those batters in 27 IP.
  • The staff gave up just 5 earned runs in those 36 innings for a nifty 1.25 NLCS ERA.  Even more impressive: a .639 WHIP for the staff.
  • The offense slashed .274/.327/.415.  That’s a pretty big improvement from series past, when they (for example) hit .186 against the Cubs in 2017 or .164 against the Giants in 2015.

Talk about locked in.  Our “worst” start of the series was one where Patrick Corbin struck out 12 in 5 1/3 inning.  I’ll take that.

Now we wait.   The World Series doesn’t start for a week (!).  The Yankees and Astros will battle it out to see who faces us, with a week to get people healthy, rested, and our rotation lined up precisely the way we want.  Is that too long?  This is one of those “narrative” driven arguments that only becomes self-fulfilling once the result you expected come true.  In reality (and we’re talking SSS here), the only research I could find one way or the other was on an Athletic story where they found that 7 of the 13 teams in the Nats situation (who swept then had to wait a long time for the next series to start) won the subsequent series.  So in otherwords, a coin flip.  No advantage one way or the other.

One of my friends asked me if I’d prefer the Nats rotation or the Astros.  I said, “Astros, but the Nats rotation is outperforming them this postseason.”  Assuming that the Astros make the series, we could be seeing an absolute all-time pitching series.  Can our guys keep it up?  We’ll see.

Go Nats!


Written by Todd Boss

October 16th, 2019 at 9:05 am

4 Responses to 'Operation Ewing Theory nearly complete: Nats to the World Series'

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  1. Talk about being hot Right Now! These were two evenly matched teams; which makes it more stunning that it turned out the way it did.

    Definitely nervous about the 6 day layoff.

    Let’s hear it for old farts playing baseball!

    Mark L

    16 Oct 19 at 10:31 am

  2. I actually favored the Nationals over the Cardinals. The Cardinals were playing over their heads a bit this season. Their pitching was OK, not great, outside of Flaherty. Their lineup was a real problem. They were below league average in old school numbers (runs, BA, HR) and new school (OPS+). I was surprised that they got by the Braves. I certainly didn’t expect a sweep, though!

    Being nervous about the six day layoff is being nervous for the sake of being nervous. Which I get, because I’m a fan, too! But as Todd noted, there’s nothing in terms of actual results to indicate that it should be a problem. It’s a narrative waiting to be activated to provide a simple explanation for a complex result

    John C.

    17 Oct 19 at 8:01 pm

  3. It’s 1-for-9 with teams who’ve swept the LCS in four games since it was expanded to a best-of-seven in ’85 (’95 Barves):

    Now that the Astros are in the driver’s seat, do we root for them to take it in five so that Houston’s pitchers/hitters won’t have momentum? Or do we root for three straight games with, say 19-20 runs scored combined so whoever wins will be gassed?

    Luke Erickson

    18 Oct 19 at 6:35 am

  4. new posted.

    Todd Boss

    21 Oct 19 at 11:11 am

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