Nationals Arm Race

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

Minor League Rotations Cycle #4: good/bad/inconclusive


Brad Peacock has been getting better and better in Harrisburg. Photo: Jenny Kane, The Harrisburg Patriot-News via

A better week for our minor league starters, several of whom put in fantastic performances during the last rotational-run throughs.  One of the best being put in by Brad Peacock, who was one of the last draft and follows done before the rule was abolished, and is looking like a complete steal for this team as a 40-something round draft pick.  Now he’s looking like a potential dominant starter as a 23-yr old in AA, putting him on the fast track for a potential 2012 rotation spot with the big club.

Here are the daily links from, for reference below:


  • Brad Peacock put in his second good outing in a row, throwing 7⅓ IP of 2 hit ball in his team’s 3-2 win on 4/22.  He had 9 strikeouts and no walks to go with his shutout innings.  A great performance, one of the best we’ve seen in the affiliates so far.  It was good enough to earn him Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Week.
  • Taylor Jordan was the beneficiary of a 17 run explosion by his Hagerstown hitters on 4/22, and he cruised to an easy victory.  Line: 6IP 4H 0R 1BB 3K.  It is difficult to normally give full credit to a pitcher on a night when he had such massive leads early (a 9 run lead after 2 innings is essentially insurmountable, even in minor league ball, to say nothing of a 13 run lead after 3, or a 15-0 lead after 4 innings).   However close examination of the gamelog shows that he retired the first 14 batters he faced.  That’s a pretty good performance.
  • Craig Stammen pitched a nifty 7-inning shutout in the nightcap of 4/23.  7 innings, 7 Ks, only 4 hits and 0 bbs for the victory.   He needed 94 pitches to complete 7 innings, a nice sign considering all the pitches he needed for those 7ks.
  • Brad Meyers put in a dominating performance on 4/23: 6⅔ IP 4H 2R 2ER 0BB 10K.  He’s got a very healthy 27 ks in 21 1/3 innings through his first four starts and may be getting a promotion before he knows it.
  • Yunesky Maya had easily his best outing of the year, going 7 complete innings (retiring the first 11 straight batters), allowing 3 hits, 0 walks (he did hit a batter though) and getting 9ks.  Unfortunately he managed to give up 3 runs on those 3 hits (a 2-run homer and a leadoff HBP scoring on a weak liner), showing why the ERA isn’t always the greatest indicator of a pitcher’s capability.  On a day he was relatively dominant, he takes the loss.
  • Ground-ball machine Paul Demny pitched 7 shutout innings, scattering 5 hits and 3 walks and getting 2/3rds of balls put into play on the ground.  Demny has been up and down so far this year, but is the youngest pitcher in Potomac and seems to be holding his own.
  • Fresh off of being named the South Atlantic Pitcher of the Week for his LAST start, Cameron Selik went one better, pitching 8 shutout innings against West Virginia on 4/26.  He only had 3 Ks on the night, but his go/fo ratio was a ridiculous 15/2.    It might be time to promote him; he’s a tad old for low-A (23 now, turns 24 in August) and we may be seeing him overpowering guys who are just younger than he is.  I’d like to see him in advanced-A.  A 23/3 k/bb ratio is nothing to sneeze at though, at any level.
  • Erik Davis had a nice little outing on 4/26 in Harrisburg, going 6 scoreless to get the victory.  Line: 6IP 5H 0R 2BB 6K.


  • Trevor Holder continues to struggle for Potomac, getting knocked around for 5 runs on 9 hits in 5 innings of work on 4/22.  Pundits have noted that Holder is only effective when he keeps the ball down, and clearly he wasn’t on Friday night.  His go/fo ratio was 5/5, and he gave up 6 straight fly ball hits (either for outs or for hits) in a 3 run third inning.  For now, I don’t think Holder is in any danger of losing his rotation spot, but he has to start putting in some quality starts soon.
  • Marcos Frias had an ugly outing on 4/23, getting lit up for 7 runs in just 3 innings pitched.
  • Bobby Hanson had an even uglier outing on 4/23, failing to get out of the first inning on the way to giving up 6 runs.
  • Spot Starter Alex Caldera got his 2nd chance to show he belongs in the rotation … and blew that second chance.  Line: 2IP 5H 5R 5ER 1BB 3K 2HR against the very strong hitting Salem AAA affiliate of the Red Sox.
  • One former 40-man roster member Shairon Martis has seemingly replaced another (Luis Atilano, who has gone on the AA DL) in Harrisburg, and the results seem to be the same; bad.  Martis’ 2011 debut on 4/25 was erratic: 4IP 8H 5R 5ER 1BB 6K 1HR. Six K’s is good, but this line from a starter who has 20 major league starts is disappointing.
  • Matt Grace had his third “bad” start in a row, getting clobbered by West Virginia on 4/26 for the loss.  The same team that was completely shut down by Selik the night before got to Grace for 6 runs (only 4 earned) on 8 hits in 4 innings of work.


  • Tom Milone was hit around pretty consistently by the Yankees AAA affiliate on 4/23, giving up 9 hits (and a walk) in 5 innings.  He did have 6 Ks, but gave up 3 runs in the loss.
  • Ross Detwiler‘s performance probably was better than just mediocre on 4/25: 6⅓ IP 8H 1R 1ER 2BB 5K.  His performance bar is higher, since he should be pitching in the majors.  8 hits to a AAA line up is not the dominating performance he needs to show he deserves to go to the next level.

Relievers of Note and other Thoughts

  • Shane McCatty pitched 4 1/3 innings of stop-gap relief rather effectively, and could be pegged as a spot starter in Hagerstown.
  • Blogosphere favorite Josh Wilkie had a nice 2ip, 3k outing on 4/25.
  • After Garrett Mock‘s latest meltdown in Syracuse, the club placed him on the 7-day DL.  I have not found a source to state exactly what “injury” he has, but this is not the first time the club has suddenly found a DL-able injury for a pitcher down on his luck.  JD Martin has taken his place for the time being in the AAA rotation.
  • As with Mock, Luis Atilano was placed on the DL in Harrisburg after his latest poor outing.  Atilano is legitimately coming off surgery and could be seeing residual effects.  At least he’s not holding space on the 40-man roster any more.


Here’s the trends for our starters in the 4 levels right now, to show whether they’re improving, had blips, or are constantly getting hammered.  Spot starters, guys now on the DL or guys demoted out of the rotation are in parentheses.

AAA trends:
Maya        bad,soso,soso,good
Detwiler    good,good,soso,soso
Martin     bad
Milone    good,soso,soso
Stammen    good,soso,great
(Mock        good,bad,really bad->DL)

AA Trends:
Meyers    good,bad,good,great
Martis     bad
EDavis    good,soso,good
Tatusko    soso,bad,bad
Peacock    soso,good,great
(Barthmaier    bad)
(Atilano    soso,bad->DL)

High-A Trends:
Rosenbaum    soso,good,good
Holder    soso,bad,bad
Frias        good,good,bad
Demny        good,bad,good
Clegg        soso,soso
(Caldera bad,bad)

Low-A Trends:
Selik        good,good,good,great
Grace        good,bad,bad,bad
McKenzie    good,bad,bad
Jordan    good,soso,good
Hansen    soso,good,very bad
(Applebee    bad,soso)

Written by Todd Boss

April 27th, 2011 at 11:20 am

5 Responses to 'Minor League Rotations Cycle #4: good/bad/inconclusive'

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  1. Good stuff, Todd.
    Alex Caldera was released after his last performance.

    Peacock is best story of the year so far down on the farm.

    As a proud minion, have to give a ‘shout out’ to Chris Manno @ Hagerstown. Not a starter, but as equally unhittable as Selik there.

    Mark L

    27 Apr 11 at 1:30 pm

  2. Caldera getting released prompted me to go look at all the transactions from all the leagues; turns out Arneson got promoted (probably temporarily) yesterday. Testa took Caldera’s place in Potomac, solving the mystery of where he was going to go.

    The Hagerstown rotation (outside of Selik and Jordan) has been struggling; i wonder how long we’ll go before seeing changes.

    Opinion: would it be easier to see the pitchers good/bad performances in some sort of affiliate or date order? I kinda take these notes as each day passes and realize it may be tough to follow along with the rotations.

    Todd Boss

    27 Apr 11 at 2:04 pm

  3. Hagerstown’s middle relief is more the issue, starters at that level go hot and cold. I’m not too worried about that, you have to figure there are some ready relief replacements in Viera waiting for a chance.

    Mark L

    27 Apr 11 at 4:31 pm

  4. Great review Todd.

    Might I recommend doing a chart on the starting pitchers at each level that would show a week-by-week trend of their performances? A simple line chart with the options of your bad/soso/good/great trends as the vertical access, and the start # as the horizontal would be a nice way of representing the trends.

    Or maybe if you want to geek out on more charts, you could do a similar chart with the vertical access being the k/bb ratio of the outing, or WHIP.


    28 Apr 11 at 8:23 am

  5. I have basic “trends” documented; graphs would be better. In the past I’ve only ever tracked the relative “ranking” per affiliate as the season progressed, trying to identify the guys who were going to get promoted versus the guys in danger of getting released.

    This is the first year i’ve tried to keep up with every rotation in such a detailed fashion. I’m already questioning whether or not the way I present the material needs improvement. I’m thinking perhaps to group the starters by affiliate instead of good/bad/medicocre. I’m thinking perhaps a letter grade (ABCDF) might be a better way to grade out performances. The milb stats charts specifically do NOT have whip or anything more advanced on the main stats page (and I really like whip over era as the most basic method of judging these pitchers … less baserunners means generally more dominance over their peers. I also like k/9 and to a certain extent k/bb.

    Great suggestions…. i’ll see what I can do. Thanks for reading!

    Todd Boss

    29 Apr 11 at 9:38 am

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