Jayson Werth has struck out 5 times in 2 games. (US Presswire)
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Some of you are new to intently watching baseball playoffs, and that's fine.
But by now you should have figured out how baseball in October changes: home runs are hard to come by.
Going into Tuesday afternoon, eight MLB divisional series games have been played and there's been a grand total of 14 home runs. That's just an average of 1.75 homers per game. Here are the totals.
St. Louis - 4
Cincinnati - 3
Oakland - 2
Washington - 2
Detroit - 1
New York - 1
San Francisco - 1
Baltimore - 0
Runs are harder to come by in October because of the tough pitching matchups. Pitchers treat each at bat like an artist would a masterful painting. Generally every team is loaded on the mound, and that's proven to be the case for the Nationals and their matchup with the Cardinals.
As a result, something kind of alarming is going on in the batters box for the men in the curly 'W' hats.
In the two games at Busch Stadium, Washington struck out 24 times, which is the most any of the eight playoff teams have posted following the first two games. In comparison, the Cardinals have struck out only 14 times.
The weird thing? During the regular season, the Cardinals weren't known as a strike out pitching staff -- St. Louis finished ninth in the National League in total strikeouts. Two games is a small sample size, but the Nationals themselves have admitted they've underperformed in the dish.
Luckily for Davey Johnson and the Nats, there is a solution to their strikeout problem. As you've seen throughout the past two days getting runners on base during the postseason can completely alter the opposing teams psyche, which acts like a frozen pond: the more people you get standing on that pond, eventually it's going to collapse.
If the Nats start striking out less (especially looking), their offense will be less jerky, and it will force the Cardinals defense to make more plays. It sounds like simple baseball knowledge, but the key for the Nationals will be changing their mentality at the plate: strikeouts are no longer acceptable.
The second part of making that frozen pond collapse is how well a team performs with runners in scoring position. Washington is 3-for-15, thus far with four RBI. St. Louis is 5-for-22. Because they are striking out significantly less, the Cardinals have been able to have several more at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Who are the biggest strikeout culprits so far? Bryce Harper has six, Jayson Werth has 5, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki have each have 3. Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse are at least giving the Nats a chance at the plate, each boasting just one strikeout apiece.
So you get it now. There's less runs produced by home runs in the playoffs, so you need more base runners. In order to have base runners, you can't strike out.
The friendly confines at Nationals Park should theoretically help Washington's offense be less jerky at the plate. But if the Nats continue to strikeout out at this kind of pace, they'll need a lot of luck to advance to the NLCS.