Nats Needs in 2013 – Starting Pitching Depth

January 15, 2013

The Nats currently have what may well be the best rotation in the entire Major Leagues. Nobody is going to rank them any worst than 3rd or 4th in MLB, and even that might be considered low by everyone. However, if there is one knock on the group, it’s the lack of depth. They have 3 studs in Strasburg, Gio and JZimm, but there are questions after that.

It would be great if Detwiler is as good in 2013 as he was in 2012, but in reality all he has to do is be good enough to be a #4 or #5 guy and start most of the year. We don’t really know if he can do that, although I suspect he will be that and more. As for Haren, that move is exciting for the potential to have a top flight guy at the bottom of the rotation. But it is also a little scary due to injury history and a poor 2012.

Regardless of the health of the rotation in general, and even if Haren starts 30 games, it is highly unlikely that they will only use 5 starters the whole year. John Lannan was their first backup plan, but now that he’s gone, who do they have?

The first choice might be Zack Duke, who started 26 games in AAA last year and has been a starter all of his career. Unless he ends up being their only reliable lefty relief man, in which case he’s going to be needed elsewhere. Christian Garcia is another option – a converted reliever who was successful in a limited 2012, but hasn’t recorded a start in 2 seasons. Of course, there’s Yunkesy Maya, who had a decent 2012 in AAA, but was nothing special there. Almost all of his MLB appearances have been pretty rough. Jeff Mandel started some games and did well in AAA, so could get a shot as well. That’s about all I see from the obvious choices. Another route would be to go after a free agent.

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The Starting Rotation, So Far

March 10, 2011

The rotation keeps on spinning, and will continue to do so throughout the spring. I think it’s a bit premature to name anyone as a definite starter, except for probably Livan and Zimmermann. Let’s take a look at how everyone’s done so far.

John Lannan – Alright, if there’s another guy already in the rotation, he’s it. He’s only started one game this spring, he looked good early on but did surrender a few runs in the third and final inning. He only struck out 1 guy, which is low compared to what he was able to do last year. It’ll be interesting to see if those K numbers do come up.

Jason Marquis – People have him as an “already in” guy, thanks to experience and salary. In two starts so far, he hasn’t let up a run only gave up 3 hits and 1 BB, while striking out 4 in 7 IP. It’s early, but that’s at least a promising sign of a recovery to the league average type pitcher they were expecting last year. He’s been quoted as saying that he likes how his sinker feels, and that’s real important for him.

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Assessment of The Gorzelanny Deal

January 18, 2011

Yesterday I wrote a chronicle of the major league life of Tom Gorzelanny, new Nats starter(?) just acquired from the Cubs. What I didn’t know at the time was who he was traded for, so I couldn’t make an assessment of whether or not I liked the trade. Let’s again look at what the Nats got in Gorzelanny.

They got a relatively young lefty, under control for 3 more seasons, who profiles as a starter. He has been a strong pitcher at times, but when his control disappears so does his ability to get people out. Last year, as a starter, he was pretty successful. He was very good until he got nailed with a liner in the finger, that’s when he got shifted to the bullpen and barely appeared. Coming back on June 30, the rest of his season wasn’t as good, and he had a few really rough outings to go with the good ones. Despite all that, his numbers, in terms of ERA and WAR, would have made him the 3rd best starter on the Nats last year, behind Livan and Strasburg.

In exchange, the biggest NAME the Nats gave up was Michael Burgess. Burgess hits the ball very far, and has a very good arm out in right field. When he hits the ball, he shows 30 homer potential. He also did well in limited time in AA this year, and is only 22. Those are his positives. Negatives are that he is a below average outfielder, and he doesn’t hit the ball very much. Keith Law’s take on him is interesting. Here’s what he said:

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Minor Leaguers We Might See in 2011

January 12, 2011

The Nationals’ roster is relatively set going in to spring training (pitchers and catchers report in less than 6 weeks!), with a few possible exceptions. We don’t know if they plan on keeping 3 catchers assuming Flores can play. We think that Livan, Lannan and Zimmermann are penciled in as starters, and that Detwiler, Maya, and Marquis get to fight over the remaining two spots. There are some questions about the bullpen, but it was strong last year and most of those guys remain.

All this being said, there are some holes remaining in the lineup. The middle infield positions are solid but not occupied by guys who have yet proven themselves to be great players. The outfield has questions outside of RF, including whether the center fielders can hit, and whether the left fielders are full time players. Even at first base, the new acquisition is thought to be solid, and he’s a late season hitter, but he’s coming off a bad year, and his assumed slow start will bring questions of decline.

Meanwhile, the starting staff is rather fluid at the moment. I can’t be assured that anyone is guaranteed after a month or two of poor performance. So the rotation, while relatively complete for this season, is not on solid ground. All of this means that there is a chance for guys to shine in the minors and get a chance in the big leagues.

Here are a few that might fit the bill:

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Winter League Stats

November 4, 2010

Just wanted to give a little heads up. As you may know, the winter leagues are in full swing. Not just the Arizona Fall League, either. There is the highly regarded Venezuelan League, in addition to the Mexican Pacific League, the Dominican League, and the Puerto Rican League. The folks at MLB.com are doing something very nice to us fans this season, they are recording the stats in ALL of these leagues. Not only that, they even have a page that shows you all Nationals’ players stats in the winter leagues.

Keeping in mind that some are harder than others, here are a few players of note from the league so far:

Danny Espinosa (.282/.343/.343, 38 PAs) Arizona Puerto Rico (thanks, Nate!) – He’s hit well and he has taken a few walks, which is encouraging. He could use a few extra base hits, but power is the one thing we know is there.

Michael Burgess (.222/.265/.311, 48 PAs) Arizona – He’s struck out 15 times and just doesn’t appear to be ready to play at this level. He is still only 21 so try not to get too worked up., but this isn’t a good sign.

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Nationals Needs in the Offseason

October 12, 2010

If you’re looking for work, the Nationals have some open positions going in to next season. Who are they going to get to fill in the spots? Let’s first go down the list and see who’s going to play where

The Infield

At least part of this infield is complete. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond appear to be locks to start next year, as does some combination of Wilson Ramos and Pudge at catcher. Right now it appears that Danny Espinosa is the starting 2B, but I am not convinced he is enough of a full time hitter to have a strong grip on the job. If there was another second baseman on the market, even for a short term signing, I wouldn’t put it past the team to go after him. As for first base, that is the gaping hole in the infield needs to be addressed.  Nobody is ready to step up from the minors, although Chris Marrero may not be far away, there is little thought that he’d be on the major league squad this summer.

The Outfield

The Nationals have 3 outfielders that will all play next year – Josh Willingham, Roger Bernadina, and Mike Morse. Nyjer Morgan may or may not be on the team next season, and if he’s not, it is assumed Bernadina would be moved to center.

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The Pitching Staff is Depressing Me

September 20, 2010

This weekend was not very good for the Nats, and not just because they lost. Jordan Zimmermann now has 5 starts in the majors this season, only one can be considered truly good. It was way back on August 31st, when he allowed 1 ER and struck out 9 in 6 IP. Since then, he’s only been past the third inning one out of three times, and has given up a total 10 ER.

It hasn’t been pretty, and there are no excuses to be made for him. The control is usually what takes the longest to return after Tommy John, and he doesn’t look like a strong control pitcher out there. In his last 3, he’s walked 8 and struck out 6. He’s also given up 5 HRs in those 10 innings.

Yunesky Maya has yet to turn in a quality start, but this weekend he looked a bit better. He gave up 2 runs in the 4th, and left in the 5th with a runner on, who ended up scoring. The 2 run 4th inning was tough to call a meltdown, he gave up three straight hits but one was a grounder that found the hole. Of course, giving up a long double to Brian Schneider is not impressive. But he got out of it without spiraling out of control and continues to build. Read the rest of this entry »


28 More Starts, Who Pitches?

September 3, 2010

The Nationals have exactly 28 games left to play this season and according to their website, the rotation is:

That means, assuming the rotations stays the same, Livan, Lannan and Marquis will get 6 more starts each, the other 2 get 5. Of course, we know, that this isn’t the case. For one thing, Yunesky Maya will be getting some starts. So how should the rotation actually go? Here’s my take on each guy, and whether they should remain a starter for September.

Livo – Re-signed for next year, he is the elder statesmen of the group, and has been the best pitcher on the team this year. His 3.7 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) is not only the best by a pitcher on this year’s team, it’s the best since John Patterson’s 4.9 and Esteban Loiza’s 3.8 in 2005. He won’t catch Patterson, but he has the opportunity to go past Loiza this month. Regardless, he will and should continue to start, if only to bring some stability. STARTER

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September Call Ups

September 1, 2010

According to Ben Goessling, the Nats are calling up a trio of players today with the expanded roster. Danny Espinosa will be on his first major league stint, 22 year old Wilson Ramos will likely make his longest appearance – in May he was up for a week with the Twins, followed by a 1 game appearance after he was traded to the Nats, and, of course, Collin Balester will return to the bullpen. Meanwhile, Yuneksy Maya is starting in Syracuse tonight, but is expected to start for the Nats some time next week. Syracuse’s season is over early next week, so more callups, including Maya, are expected after that. You’ve no doubt seen Balester this year, but here’s a little bit on the others:

Danny Espinosa – Sometimes he’s portrayed as the opposite of Desmond: less rangey, more sure-handed, weaker arm, not as powerful with the bat… more powerful with the bat.. the list goes on. This comparison is probably unfair to both players. The truth is, in the field, Espinosa has a very good range, and a cannon arm. And he is a very solid defensive player. He’s more similar to Desmond than different, which is why there will be arguments about who should play where. But at this point, Espinosa will play 2B as Desmond sticks at SS. With the bat, Danny has been able to take walks in the past, although this year he wasn’t as patient. 74 BB in 2009 was good, only 41 in 2010 wasn’t as impressive.  His numbers, other than the walks, have been similar over the last two years, .264/.375/.460 last year and .268/.337/.464 this year. He also hit 22 HRs this year in the minors, but enough about the numbers. He is going to be a potent member of a strong middle infield combo, and whenever his bat is major league ready, be it today or next year, he shores up what’s been a gaping positional hole in the lineup for many years.

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Notes on a Few Players

August 23, 2010

I was at the Nationals game in Philly yesterday, and had a chance to see their ballpark. I don’t love it, it’s not awful but I am surprised at how cramped the concourses seemed. Parking was great though, $15 and I was like 100 feet from an entrance. There were 6 of us together at the game, and we weren’t harassed or mistreated, so I suggest making the short trip up to Philly next year and bringing a few fans to their park.

Strasburg

Alot of chatter about Stephen Strasburg out there, but much of it is no news at all. What I’ve gathered from everything I’ve read is that he’s had this problem before, in college, and has pitched right through it. They also haven’t yet shut him down for the season, or technically ruled out his next start. He had an MRI yesterday but haven’t made the results public. I’ve seen rumors that he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews. There were rumors that Strasburg was to be shut down for the season, Mike Rizzo has denied that any sort of decision has been made.

Zimmermann

Strasburg’s next scheduled start is Thursday, but there is enough to think he may not go, and that may be the time that Jordan Zimmermann makes his first major league start this year. He pitched another great game in AAA on Friday night. He made one bad start in low-A, his first start of the year. Since then he’s pitched 4 games in high-A, 1 in AA, and 4 in AAA. In those 9 games and 34 2/3 innings, he’s given up exactly 1 ER, while striking out 28 and walking 5. Altogether, including the poor start right off the DL, he has a 1.59 ERA. He seems ready, so he may be called up this week, and Thursday seems to make alot of sense.

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