PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals' catchers -- Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon -- are having a much better year throwing out runners. Entering Thursday's action against the Pirates, the trio had cut down 37 percent (10-of-27) of would-be basestealers.
It helps that Washington's pitchers are doing a better job holding runners on base. Manager Matt Williams emphasized during Spring Training that the team had to improve in that area after the club's catchers threw out just 14 percent of basestealers in 2013, which ranked 29th in the Major Leagues.
"It's a product of a plan," Williams said. "It something we concentrated on during Spring Training, but it also involves the pitchers with their ability to be quicker to the plate. So that's important. They worked hard on it."
Stephen Strasburg is a prime example. The right-hander often said during Spring Training he wanted to improve on the little things on the mound like holding runners. In the past, it was a timing issue with Strasburg when it came to holding the ball or checking the runner. Strasburg was too slow and the runners had an easy time of stealing a base. Now, he does a better job holding runners and is always quick to the plate.
"The catchers are doing a great job, but it revolves around holding the baserunners and varying the times," pitching coach Steve McCatty said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.