Nationals Arm Race

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

Minor League Rotations Cycle #7: good/bad/inconclusive


Brad Peacock won his 2nd Pitcher of the Week award after his performance on 5/13. Photo: Jenny Kane/The Patriot News

Here are the daily links from NationalsProspects, for reference below.  I’m going to put in starter names per day review to help keep track.


  • All we can say about Brad Peacock‘s 5/13 outing is, “wow.”  7IP 5H 1R 1ER 1BB 14K.  14 Strikeouts in 7 innings and he was at 106 pitches when pulled.  His performance earned a writeup at, earned him a second pitcher of the week award in a month, and gives him a gaudy 56ks (versus only 7 walks) in 42 innings on the year.  He’s proving again and again to be a massive steal of a 41st round draft pick and will be pushing for a promotion soon.
  • Brad Meyers picked up right where he left off from his AA days on 5/14, going for 7IP 4H 0R 0BB 8K.  After a mediocre first start, this was one of the cleaner outings the AAA staff has seen this year.  Meyers wasn’t the story of the day though: his first baseman Michael Aubrey hit FOUR homers in the game.
  • Is it too early to call for Robbie Ray‘s promotion?  In his 2nd pro start on 5/14 he was as dominant as in the first: 6IP 2H 0R 1BB 7K.  I don’t call too many starts “great” but Ray’s got two of them in a row.  So far, he’s looking like a fantastic piece of drafting and signing by Mike Rizzo (he was a 12th rounder HS kid who was signed away from his college commitment to U of Arkansas for $799k last summer).  Update: Ray was also named pitcher of the week for his start.
  • Mitchell Clegg had a redeeming start in Potomac on 5/15: 5⅓ IP 5H 1R 1ER 1BB 2K.  Not dominant, but pretty clean.  Its arguably his best start of the season.  Good for him, because it comes at a time when Potomac is looking for someone to replace in the rotation for Solis.
  • Bobby Hansen had a nice outing on 5/15 in Hagerstown: 7IP 4H 2R 1ER 1BB 5K.  He’s now 5-1 on the season with decent anciliary numbers considering he’s yet to turn 22.
  • Despite taking the loss, i’ll give Trevor Holder a “good” for his 5/16 outing in Potomac: 8IP 6H 3R 3ER 0BB 5K.   Through 7 innings, he had completely shut down Fredrick to the tune of 2hits and a hit batsman on 73 pitches.  He shouldn’t have tired in the 8th, and perhaps a reliever could have stemmed the flow of the inning, but not being there its hard to make that judgement.


  • Not a good outing for Ross Detwiler on 5/13: 6⅔ 11H 4R 4ER 1BB 3K 2HR.  His season era now stands at 4.76 and he’s not getting nearly the K/9 rates that one would expect out of a guy who was threatening for a MLB rotation spot.  He’s the worst of the 5 starters in AAA right now at a time that Brian Peacock is pushing for a promotion.
  • Cameron Selik isn’t experiencing the success at high-A that he did in low-A thus far, getting hammered on 5/13 for Potomac.  Line: 4⅓ IP 10H 9R 8ER 1BB 4K.  Well, at least he had 4 Ks.
  • Tanner Roark‘s return to AA on 5/15 wasn’t pretty: 3⅓ IP 10H 5R 5ER 2BB 3K.  Lets hope he’s just rusty from whatever ailment kept him in extended spring training.


  • Yunesky Maya put in a so-so start 5/12: 7⅓ IP 7H 4R 3ER 1BB 3K 1HR.  A solo-homer, then a leaked run after a lead-off double in the 6th and another leadoff double led to his runs allowed.  Maya’s lesson: don’t give up leadoff doubles, since the likelihood of them scoring is something like 85%.
  • Weird night for Ryan Tatusko on 5/12: he only gave up one earned run but couldn’t “get out” of the 5th inning.  Line: 4⅔ IP 6H 2R 1ER 2BB 3K.  6 hits, a couple wild pitches and 2 walks conspired for his early hook.
  • Contrary to my previous post, Matt Grace has NOT yet lost his rotation spot and went for Hagerstown on 5/12.  Result: mediocre at best.  4⅓ IP 7H 4R 3ER 2BB 3K.
  • AJ Cole‘s second professional start on 5/13 ended before we could really pass much judgement.  4IP 2H 1R 1ER 2BB 4K.   The one run he conceded was a lead-off walk (lead off walks kill), but otherwise he was solid.  He was lifted before the 5th, oddly.  Was he at a pitch count limit?
  • Denny Rosenbaum had a soso night on 5/14: 7IP 10H 4R 3ER 3BB 5K.  Per Sue Dinem’s take, he worked his way out of jams well, and consistently got the leadoff hitter to mitigate the effects of 13 baserunners in 7 innings.
  • Taylor Jordan kept his team in the game on 5/16, going 6IP 7H 3R 3ER 2BB 5K.

Relievers of Note and other Thoughts

  • The big news of this cycle was going to be the assignment of Sammy Solis to Potomac on 5/11.  But then they immediately stuck him on the 7-day DL.  I’m sure there’s a reason for this procedurally but it doesn’t make much sense (perhaps they want him to start traveling with the team?  Working with Potomac’s excellent pitching coach Paul Menhart?)
  • Perhaps 2nd biggest news item; the promotion of Cole Kimball, one day after I called for the move in this space.  No word yet on the corresponding move but perhaps we’ll see a wholesale shifting upwards of our closers (Mattheus, Lehman, and Manno), all of whom are excelling at their various levels so far this season.
  • A slew of moves on 5/15 resulted in Erik Davis going to the DL (he limped out of his previous start), Tanner Roark replacing Davis in the AA rotation, and (curiously) Ryan Tatusko getting promoted to AAA to replace Kimball.  Roark more or less dominated AA last year; i’m hoping that this move is a temporary one before he moves up to the AAA rotation where he belongs (though his 5/15 outing didn’t help his cause).  Meanwhile, i’m guessing Davis’ DL stint is just for a few days (can you make 7-day DL moves retroactive to the day they got hurt?) since AA still needs a 5th starter.  Finally Tatusko’s promotion certainly wasn’t earned; he has an ugly 5.73 ERA and an even uglier 1.94 whip and i’m guessing is more a function of his age (he is too old for AA).  It also may be indicative of his end as a starting pitcher in the system and he’ll be tested as a reliever in AAA.
  • Is Hagerstown going to a 6-man rotation for the time being?  I would have thought Grace would be the natural guy to make way for the Jordan return plus the Cole/Ray promotions, but he threw on 5/11.  McKenzie‘s spot was skipped in the rotation this cycle, so perhaps that is the answer.
  • It may be a few days before we figure out who makes way for Solis in the Potomac rotation.  My previous guess was either Holder or Clegg.  I’d lean towards Clegg since Holder got so much draft bonus money.  Perhaps a topic for the next version of this post.
  • Collin Balester‘s 5/13 outing didn’t speak well of his season: 4 batters faced, 4 unretired to put Syracuse’s game completely out of reach.  For someone whose promotion I was advocating, this outing didn’t help his chances.
  • Hagerstown reliever Matt Syndenberg had a nice relief outing on 5/16, going 3 shutout innings to help extend the game into extra innings.   His numbers on the season aren’t great though, and this reformed starter probably needs to step it up.


AAA trends (in rotation order)
Maya        bad,soso,soso,good,great,good,soso
Detwiler    good,good,soso,soso,bad,soso,bad
Meyers    soso,good
Milone    good,soso,soso,bad,great,good
Stammen    good,soso,great,bad,soso,good

AA Trends:
Martis     bad,bad,soso,soso
Roark        bad
Peacock    soso,good,great,good,very good,bad,great
Arneson    soso

Rosenbaum    soso,good,good,soso,good,good,soso
Clegg        soso,soso,soso,unbelievably bad,soso,good
Holder    soso,bad,bad,soso,soso,soso,good
Demny        good,bad,good,good,soso,soso
Selik        soso,bad

Low-A Trends:
Jordan    good,soso,good,good->dl,soso,soso
Grace        good,bad,bad,bad,good,soso,soso
Cole        soso,soso
Ray        great,great
Hansen    soso,good,very bad,very good,soso,soso,good

Top 3 starters deserving promotion: Peacock, Milone, Jordan
Top 3 starters whose jobs are in jeopardy: Martis, Grace, Detwiler

Written by Todd Boss

May 17th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

9 Responses to 'Minor League Rotations Cycle #7: good/bad/inconclusive'

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  1. The Tatusko move was a paper transaction, making a space for Roark, and then putting him back in time for his next start without having to use the DL.

    Sue Dinem

    17 May 11 at 3:29 pm

  2. I think it is time to unleash Detweiler 2.0 the reliever, he did well out of the bullpen last season, no need to clog the rotation at Syracuse with his medicore starting stuff, promote Peacock!


    17 May 11 at 3:45 pm

  3. Yeah … i will say as much in the next post iteration :-) Bad timing of the transaction announcement calling for his return.

    Todd Boss

    17 May 11 at 4:04 pm

  4. Its amazing how quickly your luck changes isn’t it? At the end of spring training people were calling for his being in the rotation, now after 6 weeks he’s the 5th best performing starter out of 5 in Syracuse.

    In reality, he’s not in any danger of losing his rotation spot, or his status as a starter. I think the team would dump Stammen back to the bullpen first. In order of “franchise investment” both Detwiler and Maya are far more valuable than the other three guys (Meyer, Milone and Stammen) in Syracause’s rotation. That’s not to discount by any means the possible value of Meyers or Milone; its just saying that both those guys were relative draft steals, are not on the 40-man and won’t even need to be added until Nov of 2011 for protection’s purposes.

    (by the way, is it hard to believe Meyers was NOT protected on the 40-man this past november? He was rule5 eligible but the Nats made the smart/risky move of leaving him unprotected knowing that nobody would take him based on the previous year’s injury. This has allowed the team to save that roster spot for a guy that they probably have always known will be moving up).

    Todd Boss

    17 May 11 at 4:08 pm

  5. Todd, this your most vital work. It’s about time you sat up a line of communication with Paul Menhart for multiple interviews.

    A bit of bad timing with your post, as Mattheus has since been promoted and Tatusko sent back down since.

    I think you need to look more closely at this Hansen kid. He’s had 7 starts so far; 1 terrible, but the other 6 were good to ‘lights out’.

    I can only imagine what happens when Robbie Ray gets to Potomac and gets to work with Menhart, the ‘Magic Man’.

    Mark L

    17 May 11 at 6:09 pm

  6. Yeah, as I told Sue, as soon as i hit “publish” the announcements came with the Tatusko/Mattheus/Perez moves. It’ll get mention in the next iteration.

    I definitely like Hansen’s capabilities. Young for the level, doing pretty well. Without his one blowup start, he’d have 8 ER in 35 innings (that’s about a 2.00 era). Lefty too. 18th round draft pick (though we paid him like an 8th or so). There’s definitely room for promotion too with a couple of starters on the hot seat in Potomac right now.

    Todd Boss

    17 May 11 at 7:14 pm

  7. I forgot to add in the part that Hansen’s just a puppy.
    I haven’t been to a live ballgame since 2009 because of a bad car accident and now that things are better, I look around to find where to go first and the most compelling stories right now are in Hagerstown.
    Not even mentioning Harper, look at the arms that are there to check out. You have ‘Lights out Ray’, A.J. Cole, and Hansen. And a closer who doesn’t even let the other team get a whiff of home plate.
    I mean, Wow!

    Mark L

    17 May 11 at 7:22 pm

  8. Hansen may be young but he’s got the talent to hang. I’ve seen him play and like his athleticism and effort. He’s one to watch.

    Jake Smith

    6 Aug 11 at 4:10 pm

  9. You’re looking at an awfully old post :-) Actually Hansen is the subject of somewhat of a mystery amongst those of us who follow the minor league teams. He was cruising along, putting together a number of good outings in May, then suddenly he stopped being used. It tooks weeks but now he’s on the 7-day DL, though I’m not sure what exactly happened. If you have more insight i’d love to hear it.

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 11 at 10:38 am

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