The Unnoticed Starter

Maybe it’s because we’re too shocked that Jason Marquis is 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA. Or maybe it’s because we’ve been so busy lamenting the disappearance of offense, both from the entire team, and from individuals we were hoping would improve this year like Morse, Desmond and Espinosa. Whatever the reason, one person that hasn’t gotten alot of credit so far this year is Tom Gorzellany.

Gorzelanny is a little different than the other starters. He’s not an older vet trade bait like Livo or Marquis. He’s not as young as JZimm or Lannan, who might be considered prospects (ok, that’s probably a stretch for Lannan). He’s somewhere in the middle – a relatively young pitcher at 28, that the Nats are hoping they can use as a starter for the next few years (I believe they can control him through 2013). As an in between guy, most fans aren’t holding their breath for him to be great, but the indifference that some may feel for the vets (other than eyeing some trade potentials) should be there either. Gorzelanny has looked quite good in his first 1/4 of the season, and looks like the kind of pitcher that could be very helpful.

He is currently leading the Nats starting pitchers in ERA, K/9, H/9 and WHIP. Despite giving up some walks, he still has allowed fewer base runners than the other starters while striking out more. He’s always been good at striking hitters out, but he often has control issues that limit his effectiveness. This year, while he’s walked a few, the K/BB of 2.50 is good enough to make him a strong starter. It’s also quite a bit above his career K/BB of 1.65. If he can sustain that, he’ll continue to be strong.

His only real weakness this season has been a big one – the long ball. He’s given up 8 HRs, more than 1 per start, so far this year. Luckily, since nobody is on base when that happens, he hasn’t given up alot of runs. That will change – he probably can’t continue to have a 1.016 WHIP. But he probably won’t keep that HR rate as high either. So when those numbers get back to where they should be, he may be a pretty similar pitcher, as long as he keeps striking out 7.4 hitters per 9 innings.

It is promising to watch him come out and be effective for this team. He has swing and miss stuff that no other starter, expect Zimmermann, can claim. And he’s young enough that he could be around for a while to use it.

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