- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

NEW YORK — Throughout his career, Chad Cordero has shown a penchant for fading as a season wears on. The Washington Nationals closer, for all his success in the big leagues, traditionally has fared worse in August and September than he has in April and May.

So as he made his career-high 75th appearance of 2007 on Tuesday night, Cordero admitted to being a bit fatigued. Whether that contributed to a ninth-inning meltdown against the New York Mets — in which he failed to retire any of the three batters he faced and was pulled in favor of setup man Jon Rauch — is up for debate.

“Yeah, my arm’s a little tired, but that’s not an excuse for what happened last night,” Cordero said yesterday as the Nationals prepared to face the Mets at Shea Stadium. “Every year, I get tired towards the end. I remember two years ago, I had a 10.00 ERA in September or something like that. This year, yeah my arm’s tired, but that’s not something that’s going to affect me on the field.”

History does suggest Cordero’s performance suffers as the season plays out. His career ERAs for April, May, June and July are all below 2.75, but his ERAs for August and September are both above 3.24.

In Cordero’s last six appearances, he has a 9.00 ERA, though manager Manny Acta said he hasn’t detected any signs his closer is tiring.

“I don’t know because the stuff is still there,” Acta said. “It’s the same stuff. I haven’t seen him the last couple years, but I think Cordero has been handled tremendously by [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire]. I don’t think he’s had two two-inning saves the entire season.”

Cordero’s overall numbers for the season (36 saves in 45 chances, 3.41 ERA) remain strong, and he will head home this winter comfortable with his performance.

“I struggled the first couple months, and yeah, I’ve struggled the last two weeks or so,” he said. “But overall, I thought I was all right. I wish I could have done a lot better, but I’ve still got 36 saves. I didn’t think I’d have a chance to get 25.”

Incomplete season

With only three games left to play this season, the Nationals still have not gotten a complete game out of their starting rotation. And barring a dramatic development this weekend, they will make history.

According to retrosheet.org, no team in modern major league history has finished a season without a complete game. Nine teams, including the 2006 Nationals, have gone a full season with only one. All of those have occurred since 1995.

Further evidence of a changing trend around the game: Washington isn’t the only club without a complete game. The Florida Marlins and Texas Rangers also have zero heading into the season’s final weekend.

Fun with numbers

Before acquiring Wily Mo Pena from the Boston Red Sox, the Nationals averaged 3.88 runs a game, hitting one home run every 51.1 at-bats. Since Pena arrived Aug. 18, Washington has averaged 5.17 runs a game while hitting one homer every 23.1 at-bats. …

The Nationals are 10-1 this season when Tony Batista starts at first base.

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