Nationals Arm Race

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

Turner good, Romero bad, Treinen ugh


Nice start for Turner. Photo via WP

Nice start for Turner. Photo via WP

Well, the title sums it up.

On the plus side, great to see a quality start out of Jacob Turner.  Good velocity (average of 95.8, peak of 97.6) even if most of the 96-97 heaters were early, decent strike ratio (59 of 84), not a ton of swing and miss (just 5 whiffs out of 84 pitches).  But he walked nobody, got a K/inning, and kept his team in the game.  And he was up 4-1 in the 6th before finally giving up a long ball (an inevitability in Denver).  You can’t ask for much more from a spot starter.

Certainly better than what Jeremy Guthrie gave this team earlier this month

And once again I bring up the obvious; between Turner’s arm and stuff, and what Vance Worley is now doing for AAA New Orleans after his very serviceable 2016, what in the heck were the Nats thinking in giving Guthrie the first crack at spot starts for the big league team?

Enny Romero gave up the go-ahead homer to another top-notch slugger … but the nit is that as a lefty, he should have had the advantage against Charlie Blackmon.  Instead Blackmon golfed one into the 2nd deck to put his team in the lead.  Pitchers give up homers, sure.  But Romero now has a 1.8 WHIP on the year.  You just cannot have a middle reliever that puts on nearly 2 baserunners every time he gets the ball.   I’m guessing Turner sticks around and Romero gets the DFA heave-ho once Strasburg catches up on his sleep and re-joins the team.

Meanwhile, is it obvious for me to say that of all the relievers in the bullpen, that Blake Treinen‘s stuff most poorly translates to the thin-air environment of Coors?  Why would he be the choice out of the pen when his whole schtick is movement on his sinking fastball?  Why was he left in a one run game and allowed to give up 6 hits and basically put the game completely out of reach?  I guess you could excuse a couple of the hits (the Story single was a jam job that a better LF might have caught, Wolters RBI single was sharply hit but well placed past Rendon, who was playing up), but you can’t excuse 6  hits and 3 runs.

What’s the solution?  Maybe you just say “oh its Coors.”  Fine.  But Treinen needs to find his way and fast.  Our most effective reliever right now seems to be an NRI that we picked up off the street on Feb 1st (Matt Albers).  That’s not a good thing … because its just a matter of time before he regresses to the mean as well.  No wonder the Nats are “sniffing around” on bullpen help.  Maybe something they should have done a better job at doing this past off-season.

I think Treinen might be one more blow-up from an option to AAA to clear his head.  Keep Turner up; if he’s throwing 96-97 during starts, he’ll be fine in middle relief.   DFA Romero and bring up Adams to see if his 2017 AAA numbers are legit.  Can’t be any worse, right?


42 Responses to 'Turner good, Romero bad, Treinen ugh'

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  1. There’s no dispute that Turner pitched better than Guthrie, but I don’t really think he pitched well. There were a number of crushed balls that ended up caught – MAT made a great play on one, another was right at Eaton, and another right at Zim. In an alternate universe, Turner threw the exact same pitches in the exact same spot and gave up 6 runs.

    Treinen was both bad and unlucky. At least 3 of those 6 hits were not well struck, but of course that leaves the other 3 that were. And the fact that he doesn’t strike a lot of people out makes him vulnerable. Right now he’s sporting a ridiculous .517 BABIP, which is going to come back to earth. He needs to get the BBs under control too. I’d prefer to see him in mop up duty going forward, and for the team to use Glover-Kelley-Blanton as the A-team bullpen.


    25 Apr 17 at 12:18 pm

  2. Great point about Treinen’s babip. Turner’s on the night was .294 … or right about league average. I wonder if a bad inning like last night isn’t enough to put him on the mental D/L though.

    Todd Boss

    25 Apr 17 at 12:23 pm

  3. The best news is that Turner is 25, not turning 26 until next month. He’s only seven months older than Cole, who we still sorta think of as a “prospect.” (Sorta.) Also, FWIW, Turner is a Boras client.

    Even if the Nats manage to have great health with their starters, they’re going to need others sooner or later. Ross pitched 107.2 innings last year, including the playoff appearance. He’s only going to go 130-135 innings (20-25% increase). That’s just what the Nats do (and why Boras sends pitchers to them). I could see them giving Fedde an extended run if he keeps dominating at AA, but he’ll be limited as well (about 150 IP max), particularly with a TJ in his background. But Turner has now stamped himself as a possibility as well. (He will be limited at ~160 IP.)

    FWIW, Turner was a 1/9 draft pick and was a consensus top 25 prospect when he came up. The Nats are his sixth organization.


    25 Apr 17 at 12:31 pm

  4. With his AFL time last year, Voth is stretched out to where he could go 200 innings. The organization doesn’t seem to have any particular love for him, but they may have to turn to him sooner or later.


    25 Apr 17 at 12:35 pm

  5. Incidentally, assuming a 20-25% buildup per year, Ross won’t be able to go ~200 innings until 2019.


    25 Apr 17 at 12:41 pm

  6. Treinen is the definition of The Peter Principle. Pronmote him to a job his skills aren’t suited for, then he crumbles in confidence and performance in all positions.

    He was in his perfect position last year. When men are on base to sling that wildly moving sinker, and hope to get a double play from aggressive hitters hoping to drive in some runs.

    Now that walks were so much more catastrophic in the closer role, he was aiming it instead of winging it and became more hittable and just as inaccurate.

    I don’t get how our team seems to strike out a ton against the really hard throwers, but our hard throwers except Strasburg & Max never seem to strike many guys out?? Maybe the true stats are different than what I think I’m seeing. (As Todd often points out to me.) But on that count, Kelly seems like the only reliever who can actually swinging K a guy when he needs one.

    Marty C

    25 Apr 17 at 1:06 pm

  7. Ross threw 150 innings in 2015 and was above 120 last year when you include his rehab assignments. I don’t think they’ll peg any innings limit this year to last year’s total after he threw more innings the year before.

    So I don’t think he’ll be limited to 130-35 innings this year. I expect they’ll let him get to 175-180 if he’s healthy all year.


    25 Apr 17 at 1:06 pm

  8. You’re right, Ross did have rehab assignments last year, getting him to a total of 120 IP. But he’s coming off an arm injury last year. I really don’t think they’ll push him beyond 150-160, coming off injury and in his age-24 season.


    25 Apr 17 at 1:11 pm

  9. The problem with keeping Turner and DFA’ing Romero is that it leaves them with Perez as the only lefty in the pen. Meanwhile, Neal Cotts has righted the ship after one horrendous outing. He has allowed only one baserunner (a walk) over his last 4 outings (5.2 IP). I don’t know if Cotts has an opt-out date on his contract, but given the shortage of MLB quality lefties in the organization they probably don’t want to lose him. If Turner stays, maybe Treinen will get sent to Syracuse for awhile to clear his head.

    Karl Kolchak

    25 Apr 17 at 2:50 pm

  10. Karl, not a bad idea. maybe Romero’s fate is not sealed until Solis comes back.

    Where is Matt Grace? Why do we not consider him as an option? Right now his ERA in 8 innings is bad but he’s got a 10/1 k/bb in AAA and his 2016 numbers were solid for AAA. What does he have to do to get a shot?

    Todd Boss

    25 Apr 17 at 4:36 pm

  11. Solis went on the DL on 4/19 so could come off on Saturday.

    Romero had two good outings against the Mets over the weekend so won’t feel the axe right away. Treinen has struggled more consistently than Romero has.

    In general, I agree that Treinen isn’t as bad as he’s looked, he just got put in a role he’s not wired for and it short-circuited him.


    25 Apr 17 at 5:25 pm

  12. Have not heard any word on how Solis is doing, though he hasn’t been in any rehab games yet. Given his history, we might not see him again for months.

    Karl Kolchak

    25 Apr 17 at 6:35 pm

  13. The way Dusty was talking they’re going to keep Romero around.
    Rizzo loves these type of guys and a pitcher, any pitcher, looking bad in Colorado is not news.

    Let’s see what kind of shape the bullpen is in when they get back home to play NY. Sure glad we’re getting this lone trip to Colorado out of the way early.

    BTW- Kudos to Todd for this post, Turners start ctried out for a Todd Boss post!

    Mark L

    25 Apr 17 at 7:39 pm

  14. Forget the bullpen, just outscore ’em! Yep, *very* good to get the trip to this funhouse of pitching horrors out of the way now.

    Nats are now 7-1 on what looked on paper to be a dangerous early-season road trip.


    26 Apr 17 at 7:05 am

  15. As is traditional, jumping to conclusions is what we do best. The answer to most every expression of hope (Zim! Jacob Turner, Neil Cotts) and concern (Rendon, bullpen) is “April.” I would hope that, for the Nats’ management, a handful of at bats or innings pitched is the last, least data that they consider in making their decisions.

    I distrust people who psychoanalyze from the sofa/stands. I’ve noticed that it tends to be highly results driven. Treinen’s BABIP is over .500? He’s fragile and his confidence has crumbled – or he’s “not wired” for the job and has “short circuited.” When it reverts, wait for the solemn observations that he’s “worked out his issues.”

    FWIW, Kelley gets a ton of whiffs.

    Albers might turn into a pumpkin (insert fat joke here) – but we thought the same thing about Belisle last year, and he was really effective in that role.

    John C.

    26 Apr 17 at 8:40 am

  16. JohnC: well, what else are we going to talk about? 🙂

    Todd Boss

    26 Apr 17 at 9:29 am

  17. Seriously. The team is 14-6. They just swept their only divisional rival in their house, beating two of their three best pitchers. We’re seeing (so far) a very promising bounce back to 2