Rotation Starting to Set Up, 5th Spot Still Open

With the cutting of Shawn Hill, I’m no longer sure that Jordan Zimmermann is the 5th man in this rotation. I’m thinking he’s the FOURTH man. Want to know how the rest of the world feels about Zimmermann? Here’s a few quotes from this week’s chat rooms

  • Kevin Goldstein – Baseball Prospectus (3/17): “He’s been nothing short of excellent, with the scouting reports matching the numbers… If I re-did the top 100, I’d move him up a bit.”
  • John Manuel – ESPN (3/18): “He’s probably ready. I haven’t caught him this spring yet, but I did our Eastern League prospects list last year and he was the NO. 2 pitcher in that league, behind only Chris Tillman. He’s athletic, he has good size, arm strength, gaining experience. He has a higher ceiling than any pitcher the Nats have, major or minor league side.”
  • Keith Law – ESPN (3/19): [When asked for NL rookie of the year candidates]: “Maybin, Rasmus, Zimmerman”

Alright, enough of that. What I’m trying to say is that he has impressed people besides us, you know, us people who WANT to be impressed by him. I figure he’s gotta be a starter, behind the top 3 guys.

Who is going to be the #5 Guy?

With no real veterans to throw in the mix, I guess that Shairon Martis and Collin Balester are going to duke it out for the 5th spot. Balester started quite a few games last season, and while he wasn’t terrible, he wasn’t very good either. Some of that can be attributed to youth. Martis had some time in the bigs last year, as well. He wasn’t the great himself. So what does the team have to go on? Probably what these guys do in Spring Training will determine who gets first crack at the rotation.

Yesterday, Martis pitched against a bunch of unknowns on the Orioles. And I mean, if you know the Orioles, these guys are still unknown. But he pitched well, except for a 2 run HR he gave up. He ended up with 2 ER in 5 IP. Only 1 BB but only 1 K

Martis: 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 3 ER, 9 H, 4 BB and 9 K
Balester: 11 IP, 6.55 ERA, 8 ER, 11 H, 6 BB and 6 K

Now, I’m guessing the team isn’t going to get too excited about Martis’ numbers. It’s spring training, after all. They face some players that will never be in the majors. But that also should make people wary of Balester, at least for the moment. It doesn’t mean he won’t pick it up once he’s thrown more than just 11 competitive innings. And to his credit, he pitched well in his last outing, most of that bad stuff happened in his first 8 innings. So we’ll see. At this point, I’d have to guess that Martis has the job to lose, for the time being.

Edit: Balester actually pitched today, after I posted this. Unfortunately he didn’t do very well. He went 4 innings and gave up 5 ER. The new comparison makes the answer even clearer, at least for April

Martis: 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 3 ER, 9 H, 4 BB and 9 K
Balester: 15 IP, 7.80 ERA, 13 ER, 20 H, 7 BB and 9 K

Remember, the season’s long, and Balester has plenty of time to figure things out in AAA.

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