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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Time to Bring Someone Up?

July 21, 2010

When Luis Atliano came up to the Majors this year, not that much was expected of him. He had pitched well in AAA, but he wasn’t a real prospect. Yet his first two starts looked good, and after 9 GS he was 5-2 with a 4.24 ERA. Not bad, but not meant to last. In those 51 innings he had only walked 22, which isn’t bad, expect that he had also struck out only 22. The ratio was a hint, as was his 6% of strikes from swinging. People didn’t miss his pitches.

Since that 9th start, things have really tailed off for him. He’s gone 1-5 (the team has gone 1-6), his ERA has been 6.49 in the last 7 games, and while his K/BB ratio has improved to 18/10, its because people are swinging and hitting him more. The opposition has gotten 44 hits in only 34 2/3 IP off of him in that time, and over the whole season, his ERA has gone up to 5.15, rising in all but 2 of his last 7 starts, those two against Baltimore and Kansas City.

It may be time to find someone else to fill Atilano’s role, at least for the moment. This isn’t to say he can’t be a decent 5th starter, or find a constructive role in the bullpen, but that right now it appears his starts are set up to be losses. So if they do make a switch, is there anybody out there to take his place? There sure is, and you’ve probably heard of a few of them:

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Livan Making Nats History

April 28, 2010

Livan Hernandez continues to dominate every time he goes out there. Not through striking anyone out, mind you, he only has 10 of those in 31 IP. But he’s third in the majors in starter ERA sitting pretty at 0.87. He’s also 7th in WHIP at the same number – 0.87. His start to the season, which many thought would be a typical up and down year for him with a final ERA between 4.50 and 5.50 (at least I did) has been, to say the least, impressive. He’s pitched at least 7 innings in all 4 appearances, hasn’t only given up more than 1 ER once so far, when he gave up 2. He lost 2-1 that game, so he’s sitting at a record of 3-1. Off to a great start, sure, but it’s downright historic for this franchise.

In the history of the Nationals, a start like this has happened once, and only once before. Any guess who started out the season ALMOST this well, but not quite? I’ll let you stew on it, you can click the link to read more and get the answer.

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Before Looking to Tomorrow

March 8, 2010

Today could be interesting as well. Yeah, Strasburg goes tomorrow, but Scott Olsen pitches today. I don’t expect the 95 mph fastball from 3 years ago, but I want to see a healthy guy who can throw the ball. So even if he gets rocked, or strikes out the side, I’m really interested in seeing what he has. Will he be a veteran that can be relied on every 5 days?

If you like the Marquis signing, and think that it was wise to have a guy who has some innings behind him sitting in the rotation this year, then Olsen should be as important as anyone. Will he be able to go out there and throw 150+ innings this year? Will he be good enough to keep them in games and have a league average ERA? The interesting thing about Olsen as opposed to Marquis is there is more upside with Olsen. He may or may not be good at all, but if he is, you can start wondering if he’ll get that heater back as the spring goes on.

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Not Livan Us Alone

February 25, 2010

If it was anyone else with his numbers, I’d be surprised the Nats signed him. What do the Nats need from a 35 year old starting pitcher who had a 5.44 ERA last year, a 6.05 ERA the year before? It’s not like he’s a recovery-from-injury project, someone with upside to do something much better. Those numbers are probably around what you’re gonna get from him, so why? Because the person we’re talking about is Livan Hernandez, and he apparently signed a lifetime contract with the Expos that this franchise still can’t get out of. Whenever he’s out of a job, someone here brings him back.

The problem with bringing Livo in to round out the rotation, in every sense of that phrase, is that he’s completely unnecessary. I know that people will say his numbers are a bit deceiving. His 5.28 ERA over the last 4 years doesn’t reflect the number of quality starts he had. The combination of very good games and very bad games inflate his numbers. To them I say, if he had enough good games, it would balance out. Instead, the last few years have been just plain bad:

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