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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Out for a Week

August 13, 2010

I’m leaving for a cross (half) country drive tomorrow morning, so I won’t be updating the site until at least next Thursday, if not longer. I might update the Twitter a bit, but no computer means no blogging.

I expect when I get back, Bryce Harper will be signed. I’d be pretty surprised if he wasn’t. There will be alot of flipping out leading up to the Monday night deadline, but I won’t be the one doing it. My advice is to ignore most news on the subject until an official announcement. Anything else is pure speculation.

Marquis goes on Saturday, so I don’t expect to be missing too much by not being able to hear that one. I have no problem skipping down during his start.

Strasburg starts on Sunday, unfortunately I’ll be driving through Alabama at the time, and for some reason I don’t expect to hear that game on the radio. But it will be interesting, even for a Strasburg start, because we get to see how he comes back after his first real tough appearance in the majors. Read the rest of this entry »

Marquis and the Rotation

August 9, 2010

Jason Marquis is back in the rotation pushing Craig Stammen into the bullpen. Stammen, meanwhile, has actually been pretty good the last 2 months. Going back to his June 6th start, he’s started 8, thrown 45 1/3 innings, had an ERA of 3.97 and struck out 30 while walking 16. Of course, he’s only finished the 6th inning 4 of those 8 starts, which shows that even when he’s going well, he can’t get around the lineup that 3rd time effectively. Marquis hasn’t shown he’s gonna do any better. He gave up 2 ER in only 4 IP on Sunday, which would give him an ERA of 4.50. That of course brought his season ERA down from 20.52 to 15.32. If he’s mildly effective it should be in the single digits in a week or so.

This of course leaves the problem of who to remove next from the rotation. Marquis knocked out Stammen, Strasburg is going to knock someone out on Tuesday. Not to mention Yunesky Maya and Jordan Zimmerman perhaps before the end of the month. Marquis would seem to be the logical choice to leave, of course, I’m not sure that’s gonna happen. The good news is someone can take Detwiler’s spot, the bad news is it’s because he’s back on the DL. He’s feeling soreness in his hip, and with the glut of sub-average starting pitchers going, the Nats didn’t need to push him.

Assuming Detwiler takes a few weeks off, the rotation should soon consist of Livan, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Maya, Olsen, Lannan and Marquis. Wait, that’s seven people. That’s not a rotation it’s a quorum. So who does end up leaving? Read the rest of this entry »

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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A Night of Comebacks

May 7, 2010

Last night was a night of comebacks in a few ways. Well, the Nats didn’t quite come back, they were never trailing in the game. But they were certainly reeling, after watching their starting pitcher have a no-no broken up to see a seemingly comfortable lead disappear. They didn’t look good in the bottom of the 8th, and then Tyler Clippard looked pretty rough in the 9th. But he was able to get out of it, and the Nats came through in the bottom of the 9th in a few ways.

Scott Olsen’s Comeback

Scott Olsen hasn’t pitched well in, oh, a year or so. But the last three games, he has shown ace type stuff. He had three pitches working last night, and he was dealing. The no hitter would have been nice, but 7 1/3 IP with 8 K and only 1BB and 1 ER is another great performance by him. The first could have been flukey, the second was encouraging. But now, after three really impressive starts, where he has been making hitters swing and miss, where he isn’t just getting lucky, he’s getting outs, you have to start to wonder if maybe Olsen is making a comeback.

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Loco Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2010

It’s crazy here in Nats town, because contrary to what everyone expected, the team is winning. On Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that is major in the US but minor in Mexico (go figure) there are some things to be celebrated. Let’s go down the list:

  • The Nats have the 6th best record in the NL, 11th best in the majors.
  • Alot of what their success is based on clutch pitching and strong defense. Who’d have thunk it?
  • Dunn hasn’t even started hitting yet. But he will.
  • They have a pitcher that doesn’t wilt after throwing 41 pitches in the first inning. He also is second in the majors in ERA with 0.99, has a 4-1 record, and continues to deal. Livan has been a pleasant surprise this season so far, no doubt.
  • Zimmerman looks as good as he did last year. No, wait, better.
  • The defense has been good this year. Good! We saw flashes of it after Nyjer first came to town, but to see it in action from the start of the season is a welcome change. Read the rest of this entry »

Pitching – Now, Soon, and the Future

April 26, 2010

Thanks to a dominating performance by Scott Olsen and then the bullpen on Sunday, the Nats won a 1-0 victory for the first time since April 2, 2008. That’s a smidge over 2 years. I’m not ready to get too excited about Olsen, though. Last April he had a rough two start debut, then managed two quality starts followed by a 5 2/3, 1 ER outing. But it all blew up in May for him. The difference this time was that he struck out one more batter yesterday than he did in any single outing last year. And of course, he didn’t allow a run.

I don’t think anyone expects Olsen to have this kind of performance week in and week out, but if he can put together one of these every 3 or 4 starts, and just pitch quality starts of the definition kind (6 IP, 3 ER) the rest of the time, he’ll be a pleasant surprise, even if there’s a stinker thrown in once a month.

After Only Seven Years in the Minors

Some credit should also be sent the way of Luis Atilano, who made his major league debut on Friday night. Read the rest of this entry »