Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Nats Rotation Cycle #4: good/bad/mediocre

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Livan continues his mastery of the National League.

The team fights through two doubleheaders in a weeks time with continued great starting pitching.  As of the time of this posting, the Nats rotation is the only rotation in baseball that has yet to see a sub-5 inning outing.  Our team ERA is 5th in the NL and is keeping the team in games (our team batting average has been either last or 2nd to last in the NL most of the season).

(Note; because of the double-headers, Jason Marquis‘s turn got skipped in the rotation.  Honestly, I would have thought Riggleman would have figured out a way to get him a start and skip Gorzelanny in the rotation instead of the other way around.  He’ll go against Pittsburgh this coming weekend).


  • Livan Hernandez pitched the 2nd game of Sunday’s double header (blog/gamer/box) and seemed to enjoy pitching in and out of the shadows cast from the stadium in the later afternoon.  He continues to put in effective performances despite not having lights-out stuff, going 7pm, 6hits, 1r, 3ks and no walks for his 3rd quality start out of four and his 2nd win on the year.
  • I liked Drew Storen‘s 2 inning save against Milwaukee on 4/17; I like having relievers who are comfortable going more than one inning when called upon.  He earns the save on a day where supposed closer Sean Burnett gets the day off.  On 4/20, he bailed out Burnett’s bad outing and got a 4-out save in St Louis.
  • Third straight scoreless outing for Brian Broderick in St. Louis.  Hmm; perhaps his initial struggles were just nerves.


  • Chad Gaudin‘s 2BB, 1hit appearance in the first half of Sunday’s twin-bill rightfully has some observers calling for his head.  He’s just putting too many guys on base (his WHIP sits above 2.00 now; in 7 innings pitched he’s given up 10 hits and 7 walks) for a late-inning reliever.  He appeared again on 4/20; 2/3 of an inning, 2 hits and a walk.  He may have pitched great in the spring, but he may be making way once Henry Rodriguez completes his rehab assignments.
  • John Lannan‘s effort in the top half of their St Louis DH (blog/gamer/box) was enough to get the win on a day where he didn’t really pitch that well.  7 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings but he only managed to give up 2 runs (on two solo homers to Pujols and Rasmus).   He threw more pitches than he normally needs (101 pitches for 5 innings and a batter) and struggled to find the plate (59 strikes).  I’m listing this as a “bad” outing because he failed to go deep into a game where the bullpen needed a break.  His offense gave him a SEVEN run lead and his short outing forced the team to burn 5 of their 7 relievers.
  • Jordan Zimmermann struggled in the nightcap on 4/20, giving up 5 runs in 6 innings to take the loss.  He didn’t have much of a safety net from his bullpen and knew he had to go deep.  He struggled with his spots most of the game but couldn’t get Lance Berkman out.  He looked good early, but took his third loss of the season.


  • Tom Gorzelanny demonstrated yet again one of my primary concerns with him as a starter in the St Louis series finale (gamer/box).  He just throws too many pitches.  His final line wasn’t egregious: 5ip, 2runs on 2 hits, 4 walks with 3 ks.  However, it took him 108 pitches to complete the 5th inning.  By way of comparison, the opposing starter Kyle Lohse (who is not exactly a Cy Young candidate), needed just 111 pitches to pitch a complete game.  Gorzelanny walked a batter in each of the first 4 innings.  He only threw 63 of those 108 pitches for strikes.  The 2 run homer that he gave up to Matt Holliday came on an 0-2 mistake, and he only gave up one other hit in 5 innings.  That may sound good, but the ancillary evidence is against him.  This outing lowered his ERA to 4.96, but his FIP is 6.20.  By way of comparison, the HIGH FIP for qualified 2010 starters in either league was Rodrigo Lopez‘s 5.21.  Gorzelanny needs to learn how to pitch more efficiently and not be a complete bullpen killer every time he takes the mound.
  • Collin Balester‘s poor outing in St. Louis did him no favors with the team.  It wasn’t as if the team was threatening to win that game  hitting as badly as they have been, but your job as a reliever is to pitch shutout innings.  Balester needs to show lights-out stuff to prove to management that he’s a better alternative going forward than Chad Gaudin.

Thoughts on the offense

The offense is going through highs and lows.  They pounded Milwaukee’s Ace and hung 7 on St. Louis’ Westbrook.  But then they meekly allowed the very mediocre Kyle Lohse to put a complete game 2-hitter on them.  A quick look at the hitting stats shows some alarming stats; only one regular right now shows an OPS+ above 100 (Espinosa).  We know Werth and LaRoche are slow starters, but enough is enough.  Meanwhile Morse has exactly 1 extra base hit in 46 at bats and may be due for a demotion.  I’d like to see Laynce Nix full time in left field for the time being.  I know the theory is that he can’t hit lefties so you platoon him, but at this point I’d rather see him full time out there.  So far the Ankiel experiment is failing too; good for the Nats to be scouting CFs.  And why are we giving MORE at bats to Pudge?  I realize he’s a hall of famer and all, but the man is clearly a once-a-week starter now.

Overall Summary

Amazingly, the team sits at .500 after the series loss in St. Louis.  I’d like to see at least two wins in Pittsburgh.  That would be a sign of progress.

Written by Todd Boss

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:06 am

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  1. […] Nationals Arm Race "…….Nobody likes to hear it, because it's dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver « Nats Rotation Cycle #4: good/bad/mediocre […]

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