Maybe it would be different, they thought. Maybe in the National League, facing pitchers and #8 hitters that are unimpressive compared to those in the AL, Daniel Cabrera could show his stuff. You remember that stuff? It allowed him to have 150 or more Ks 3 years in a row. The kind of stuff that gave him a CG shutout with 10 Ks against Toronto in 2006, or take a no hitter 8 1/3 innings against the Yankees to finish off that same season. But in 2008 he struck out less than 100, despite a full season, and walked just about the same amount. A change of leagues, they thought, would do him good.
Despite not allowing any major explosions of earned runs, he was pitching during a sloppily-fielded loss to the Mets on Saturday, and the 4 BBs he gave up in less than 3 IP certainly contributed to the mess. His ERA hasn’t yet taken the hit, sitting at a just about league average 4.42. In the 18 1/3 innings he’s pitched so far, he’s walked 12, only struck out 7, and has been hit – 22 hits in that time. His WHIP is an appaling 1.855. He can’t throw as hard as he did, and the Washington Post says it’s due to mechanics. Maybe there is something they can do to make him strike out more guys, but this isn’t exactly a new problem.
He couldn’t strike anyone out last year, and the year before was lower than ’05 and ’06. When he’s striking out alot of guys, his ratios are better. Last year when he couldn’t strike people out, and he was still walking lots of guys. I’m not sure what they can do, but if they can figure out a way to make him strike out alot of people again, he may be valuable. I’m skeptical though.
Who’ll be the next in line?
…goes the Kinks song. (Vote in the poll at the bottom). If they decide Cabrera isn’t worth sending out there every 5 days, they’ll have to pick on someone else. There are a few obvious choices. Jay Bergmann is up, and he’s started 50 games in his MLB career. He didn’t look very good on Friday, walking the bases loaded, but he didn’t give up any runs. Then on Saturday he got the Nats out of a jam, but did give up a few runs later on. Kip Wells, meanwhile, has a few starts under his belt – 205 in the majors. His last good season as a starter was way back in 2003, and he’s looked alright with the Nats so far. But he hasn’t pitched more than 1 1/3 inning at a time, and he may not be ready to start. Hinckley and Mock have both been starters relatively recently in the minors, but they really seem to think they’re more effective as short relievers, and I can’t disagree.
Down in the farm system, Colin Balester was struggling in AAA, but he’s picked it up lately. His first two starts were awful, but in his last 2, he’s had 12 IP (6 each), 11 H, 2 BB, 9 K, and 1 ER. Thanks to starts 1 and 2, though, his ERA is up at 4.98. Hopefully after a few more starts, he’ll look more like the guy from starts 3 and 4, and he’ll be ready to come help. But I doubt they’re ready to bring him up yet.
Also pitching very well in Syracuse – Craig Stammen. He’s 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 3 starts, striking out 9 but only walking 3 in 18 IP. The 25 year old has seen some success at lower levels, but this is his first stay at AAA where’s he’s look good. Tyler Clippard has pitched great – 9 1/3 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 14 Ks, and a 0.96 ERA - but hasn’t been starting games.
Meanwhile down in AA, a familiar face has looked pretty good (stats wise, I’m not sure how his actual face is looking) in Mike O’Connor. The 2005 Nats sensation is now 28 and presumably injury-free. He’s started 3 games so far, and while he’s 0-1, his ERA is 2.45 and he’s struck out 13 while only walking 4, in 14 1/3 IP. His last game was particularly nice – 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks and 1 ER – and the Loss. Potential stud Ross Detwiler has not looked good in AA so far, although that may be more due to one outing. He’s went less than 3 IP and gave up 5 ER in his second start, but the other two have been decent. Those two (starts 1 and 3) totaled 9 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 6 Ks and 2 ERs, better although not great. He’s clearly got some more work ahead of him before he’s ready to come up, but as I’ve mentioned 17,000 times, I’ll be keeping an eye on him.
Am I missing anyone? Probably… let me know.