Rotation Kept in a Somewhat Suprising Way

After I wrote an article discussing who should be moved and who should be demoted with the impending promotion of Scott Olsen, I was pretty proud of myself. After all, I found out that the Nats had indeed moved Stammen to the bullpen. This was my idea exactly, I was just waiting for them to decide whether to move down Hanrahan (my idea) or Colome. Then the job offer from the front office, I assumed, would arrive in my e-mail inbox.

So much for that, they instead decided to take Stammen back out of the bullpen, and he gets to stay as a starter. And as if to rub salt in the wound, they suggested to move Martis down to the minors. I was kind of surprised, considering I assumed he was the #2 of the 4 rookies in terms of performance. Yes, as the Nationals Journal points out “…since his May 13 victory against San Francisco, Martis is 0-3 with a 6.34 ERA. In those eight starts, he’s walked 22 and struck out just 13,” but that’s not the whole story. He has a better ERA than the other guys and started out so strong.

Of course all this doesn’t mean the Nats aren’t readying The Nationals Review religiously. After all, yesterday, reader neato_torpedo (if that’s your real name) wrote in:

I think Martis is the weak link. His K-BB ratio just makes me terribly uncomfortable – he’s barely above water at 0.87. I’m just not sold on the guy yet, and that’s a big piece of why. Plus (and admittedly, I don’t have the ability to track this down) – how does Martis’ BABIP compare with the rest of that rotation? Is he getting lucky?

I’ll address both point together. He has a low K-BB and a low BABIP – he’s at .258. If he’s a sinkerballer is makes sense, although you’d like to see less walks. As for BABIP, Lannan (.268), Zimmermann (.331), Detwiler (.331), and Stammen (.289) are all higher. But I first thought that didn’t matter too much. In fact, Lannan’s low BABIP probably has alot to do with the fact that he is a ground ball pitcher – sinkerballers should have low BABIP numbers. And Lannan’s groundball/flyball (GB/FB) ratio is 1.68, which is pretty good. It’s not extreme – true sinkerballers like Webb and Wang had numbers above 2.5 or even 3 when going well. In fact Lannan was just above 2 last year, which is more what you’d expect from him.

So you look at Zimmermann, and he’s at 1.39, not bad, and not surprising from a big strikeout guy like him. Stammen is at 1.62, and Detwiler is 1.25. None of these, including Lannan’s, indicate true sinkerball levels, but whatever. Then, when you look at Martis, you see that his GB/FB ratio is 0.91. Which means, he’s not striking out enough people, he’s walking to many, he’s getting lucky with the low BABIP… and he’s not even giving up grounders! So for someone who is supposed to be a sinkerball pitcher, it’s a little disturbing. After looking at all of these numbers, I don’t have a problem with what the Nats did. It seems like he does need some work.

Meanwhile, down in AAA where Martis will be headed, once and perhaps future star of the rotation Collin Balestar has pitched very well. He’s 5-3 with a 3.07 ERA and a K/BB of 33/18 in his last 10 games. Also pitching very well at AAA are old pal Garrett Mock (last 10: 3-1, 3.75, 37/12) and 26 year old J.D. Martin (last 10: 6-2, 1.96, 39/6).

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