Nationals Arm Race

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

Minor League Rotations Cycle #3: good/bad/inconclusive

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Cycle 3 through the Minor league rotations began with a number of double headers on Sunday 4/17.  Which means we’ll get lots of spot-starter opportunities later this week for guys not necessarily in the regular rotations.

Here are the daily links from NationalsProspects, for reference below:

Good

  • Brad Peacock‘s effort in the night cap of the 4/17 doubleheader made fans forget about the debacle in the first game.  Line: 5IP 2H 2R 1ER 1BB 9K.  He held the same lineup that battered Atilano for 7 runs to just 2 hits over 5.  Peacock is the youngest member (by two full years) of any starter in AA yet is pitching the best so far in the young season.
  • Hagerstown’s Bobby Hansen improved on his so-so first outing with a better outing: 6IP 5H 1R 0ER 4BB 4K.  A bit to many walks and baserunners in general, but Hansen got a couple of double plays along the way and worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the 5th.
  • Harrisburg ace Brad Meyers rebounded from his sub-par outing with a clean 5 innings of work for the win.  Line: 5IP 4H 1ER 0BB 3K.  His one earned run was on a solo-homer.  He remains the #1 candidate to be moved up if Syracuse needs a starter.
  • Marcos Frias put in his 2nd excellent start in as many attempts, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless in the Potomac win on 4/18.  Line: 6⅔ IP 4H 0R 2BB 5K.  Its great to see him rebounding from his mediocre season in high-A last year.
  • Cameron Selik is living up to his “ace” status in Hagerstown, putting in his 3rd straight dominating performance on 4/18.  Unfortunately his counterpart from Lakewood (Ervis Manzanillo) did him one better, going 6 scoreless innings and leaving the game to the bullpens to determine.   Final line: 5IP 1H 0R 1BB 11K.  He struck out the side in the 1st (inbetween a single and a walk) and the 5th (in order) before departing.
  • Danny Rosenbaum got the win in Potomac with an outing that just makes its way into the “good” category.  Line: 7⅓ IP 6H 2R 2ER 5BB 2K.  We don’t have pitch counts in the Milb.com box score, but i’m assuming the team wouldn’t have let Rosenbaum go into the 8th if he was pushing 110 pitches.  5 walks implies lots of pitches.  Rosenbaum worked through one difficult inning (the 3rd) and then effectively scattered the rest of the hits and walks until the 8th.  His 2nd earned run was inherited and allowed to score by reliever Olbrychowski.

Bad

  • Luis Atilano did his Nationals career no favors with his 4/17 outing: 1IP 8H 7ER 1BB 1K.  He couldn’t make the AAA rotation out of spring, and he’s put in two mediocre-to-bad outings in AA.  On the bright side, we got to see demoted starter Erik Arneson put in 5 innings of 1-run ball in long relief.  (Note: he has been placed on the minor league DL as of 4/21 per nationalsprospects.com; I wonder if the injury is a “bruised ego.”).
  • Late spring training acquisition Lee Hyde has struggled thus far in AAA, and he added fuel to the Carr fire on 4/17 by giving up 2 hits and 3 walks in just a third of an inning to add a bow-tie on a game already gift wrapped for Lehigh Valley.  He’s yet to have a 1-2-3 outing in 5 appearances.
  • Not the best outing for Trevor Holder on 4/17: 5⅔ IP 8H 6R 6ER 0BB 4K.   He came undone in two innings, giving up 3 hits in each inning for the majority of the runs scored.
  • Alex Caldera could not take advantage of a spot start in the 2nd half of 4/17′s double header, only lasting 3+ innings.  Line: 3IP 5H 4R 4ER 2BB 2K.  Two of the five hits were homers.
  • JD Martin was hit around badly in his spot start on 4/18, going for 3⅓ IP 9H 5ER 2BB 1K 2HR.  He only threw 35 of 68 pitches for strikes.  Some observers thought he’d be the “ace” of the AAA staff, but now its questionable if he’ll even get another shot at spot-start or rotation spot.
  • Paul Demny had an off night in the first game of a 4/20 double-header in Potomac, getting battered around for 7 hits and 3 walks in just 4 innings (plus one batter in the 5th).  He gave up two homers and had a 4-6 go/fo ratio.  Not a good night for Demny.
  • Matt Grace put in his 2nd sub-par outing in a row, getting battered around for 9 hits in 5 innings+, and took the loss.  Final line: 5IP 9H 4R 4ER 1BB 3K.
  • Garrett Mock‘s 4/21 outing for Syracuse was so bad, the Masn Nats beat reporter Matt Goessling felt the need to post about it.  And I agree with Goessling’s sentiments; Mock probably has reached the low point of his professional career with this outing.  2 innings pitched (plus 5 additional batters in the third); 4 hits and SEVEN walks to account for 8 runs.
  • Ryan Tatusko continues to struggle in Harrisburg, putting in his 3rd straight concerning outing.  This time around: 5⅓ IP 7H 3R 3ER 3BB 4K 0HR.   He threw 82 pitches (49 for strikes).  His line could have been worse: he had two hits erased for double plays, got a tag-out at home to eliminate a 4th possible run, and his bullpen eliminated all his leftover baserunners.
  • Chris McKenzie couldn’t improve on his last outing and got hammered for 6 runs in just over 3 innings in the opening game of a day/night DH.  Line: 3⅓ IP 4H 6R 6ER 4BB 3K.  This outing was especially egregious considering that his team had given him a 5-2 lead prior to his calamitous 4th inning.

Mediocre/Inconclusive

  • Craig Stammen‘s 4/17 start just trailed into the mediocre status for me.  Final line: 6⅔ IP 5H 3R 3ER 2BB 6K but he only threw 62 of 104 pitches for strikes.
  • Taylor Jordan‘s 4/17 start could probably be viewed more positively than I have: he only gave up 6 base-runners in 6 innings for an excellent WHIP, but 3 of those runners scored to give him a pedestrian 4.50 ERA on the day.  Only 1 punchout on the day but he got 12 of his 16 balls in play to be grounders.  It isn’t the worst start we’ve seen this week and isn’t too bad considering Jordan’s youth.
  • Yuniesky Maya‘s third start in AAA was as mediocre as his second, taking the loss in a game where he got little offensive support.  6IP 7H 3R 3ER 3BB 4K.  10 base runners in 6 innings, and he threw 118 pitches to get there.  The game-log is kind of interesting; he gave up all 3 runs in the first two innings, then settled down with a 1-2-3 3rd inning, then scattered 3 doubles in each of the next three innings.  He threw in a balk in the 1st, which more or less cost him one run that likely wouldn’t have scored otherwise (is it just me or does Maya balk nearly every appearance?   In 5 major league games last year he had 3 balks and 2 wps.  Usually a pitcher can go an entire season without a balk).
  • Ross Detwiler‘s mind was probably on a possible spot-start in the majors, but instead went 6 complete on 4/20.  He got the win but didn’t look nearly as dominating as his first 2 starts.  Line: 6IP 9H 3R 3ER 1BB 3K.
  • Erik Davis went 5 1/3 for Harrisburg and got a ND.  He gave up 2 runs, but also had 4 walks to go with 4 hits allowed.  He clearly struggled with control all night; 81 pitches but only 46 for strikes.
  • Mitchell Clegg knew he had to go deep into the 4/20 nightcap, and he did; pitching 6 complete innings and getting the win for his efforts.  His line wasn’t fantastic: 6IP 7H 4R 4ER 2BB 2K, but he kept the ball down (11-4 grounder/flyball out ratio) and kept his team in the game.
  • Paul Applebee got another spot-start in Hagerstown by virtue of all the rainouts, and this time put in a halfway decent line.  He gave up 4 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits through 5, but didn’t walk anyone.  He gave up two leadoff singles in the first, and his defense conspired to allow one of them to score.  He had an awful 2nd inning, giving up 3 runs on a single and 2 doubles, but then calmed down and set down 9 straight before exiting after 5.  The Hickory team was running wild with Applebee on the mound; 4 stolen bases out of 6 baserunners.  He may have a mechanical glitch or be incredibly slow to the plate.  I don’t think Applebee has earned his way back into the rotation yet, but the other starters in Hagerstown are struggling, and he may see more starts.

Relievers of Note and other Thoughts

  • Adam Carr got absolutely shelled on 4/17; 2/3 of an inning, 5 hits, 5 runs and two homers.  Hopefully it is a one-off as his first three appearances were relatively clean.
  • Erik Arneson (as noted above) pitched 5 relatively clean innings in a long-relief situation.  It is always tough to figure out if teams let up when they’re up by 7-8 runs, so it is with a slight grain of salt that we give full credit to the pitcher in a situation like this.
  • Chris Manno continues his hot streak in Hagerstown, getting the win 4/18 with a 2k scoreless inning.  He was the unlucky loser on 4/21, getting a blown save and a loss despite not giving up an earned run.  The recap reads like a comedy of errors; a leadoff single turns into a run on a 3-base throwing error by the 3rd baseman Nichols, who then counfounds his error by somehow allowing a runner on third score on another grounder he fielded (were they not playing infield in?).  Then he throws the NEXT ball away as well for his 2nd error (but 3rd miscue) of the inning.  Ahh, low-A baseball.
  • Henry Rodriguez‘s rehabilitation appearances are looking better and better.  He went 2 complete innings on 4/20, throwing 37 pitches in all.  This is good news for the big club.  His walk rate is still a bit high, but his K rate balances it out.
  • Chad Jenkins had an ugly outing on 4/20, giving up 3 hits, a walk, a stolen base and 2 wild pitches en route to a 3 run inning.  Lets hope this isn’t the norm for Jenkins, who seems to be moving further and further down the depth chart in Hagerstown.
  • I’m beginning to question whether or not Lee Hyde will continue to be employed by the Nats by the end of April.  He allowed all three of Mock’s inherited runs to score on 4/21, then proceeded to give up another four runs of his own over the next two innings.  He’s yet to have any semblance of a clean outing (his best outing was a 2/3 of an inning appearance where he still managed to walk one guy).  Through 7 1/3 innings pitched he’s given up 14 hits, 9 walks and 9 earned runs.

Summary

Not a lot to be happy about in the system this time around.  It shows in the sub-.500 records of our affiliates.

6IP 7H 3R 3ER 3BB

Written by Todd Boss

April 20th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

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  1. [...] Hyde: see my commentary in my latest minor league pitching review for why Hyde may be on the chopping block.  He was a late spring waiver acquisition from Atlanta [...]

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