WASHINGTON -- Nationals starters finished Saturday with a 2.80 ERA, compared with a 6.06 mark for the bullpen, which has allowed six runs over the first two games of the series against the Braves.
But even though Davey Johnson has been conservative with his starters' workload thus far, he said he isn't in a rush to push them harder.
"They're going to go deeper as the season goes on, but by and large, I'm real pleased with what I've been getting out of the starters," Johnson said. "My only consideration is that guys in the 'pen, their command hasn't been as good as the starters. Last year, we really attacked hitters, and this year, we're throwing more pitches than normal."
In the first two turns through the rotation, only two hurlers hit 100 pitches, and those were two of the team's least-effective outings. Jordan Zimmermann had thrown 89 and 90 pitches while allowing three runs in 13 innings; Ross Detwiler had thrown 82 and 90 pitches while allowing two runs in 13 innings; Gio Gonzalez had thrown 91 and 99 pitches while allowing one run in 11 innings; and Stephen Strasburg left his season-opening start after throwing 80 pitches in seven scoreless innings.
Strasburg tossed 112 pitches Saturday, his second consecutive game of at least 112 pitches thrown.
"Early on in the season, most of them, the most pitches they've thrown coming out of spring is 80, and the stress on those 80s in spring isn't near as much as it is at the start of the year," Johnson said. "The effort goes up along with the pitch count, so you want to build that good base without overdoing it, and also have some guidelines if a guy has a positive outing. I don't want to put him in situation where it can turn into a negative outing."
Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.