Nationals Arm Race

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

Congrats on 4th Title in 6 years and a mailbag to kick off discussions

37 comments

Can Harper come back from this unnatural-looking injury? PHoto via si.com

Can Harper come back from this unnatural-looking injury? PHoto via si.com

The subject says it all.  This is easily the earliest the team has ever clinched; normally its like the 2nd to last game of the year.   (Previous clinch dates in order: 10/1/12, 9/17/14, 9/25/16).  I will be adding the 2017 clincher to my running/ever growing list of notable Nats games, to be republished this off-season after we win the World Series ;-).

From a content generation standpoint I have started (after not doing them in 2016) the pitching staff reviews for the minor leagues … but they’re slow to develop because we ran through SO MANY pitchers in AAA and AA.  So those are coming eventually.  Its been a challenging couple of months for me personally, hence the lack of content.

Meanwhile, with the off-day comes a mailbag from Nats beat reporter Jamal Collier.  Since i’ve been struggling with content generation lately, lets do a response to kick off some conversation.


 

Q: What does your beat reporter’s gut tell you about Bryce & October? If Werth can’t get his timing either… OF is looking tough

A:  Well, this is the million dollar question isn’t it?  I read somewhere and will paraphrase someone’s research about the Nats offense with and without Bryce Harper … and its about a run/game less.  That’s significant.  His knee injury was worse than we originally thought and includes a calf strain too.  He’s got about 3 weeks left to get back.  My prediction is that Harper makes it back but is hobbled/not 100%.   Meanwhile Jayson Werth has fewer at bats in June/July/Aug/Sept combined than he had in April alone, and now he has a shoulder issue.  No wonder the team called up its #1 prospect Victor Robles.  I’m also beginning to think that Robles is part of the post season discussion, since these two guys are struggling and Alejandro de Aza isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire.

OF prediction for October: Werth, Michael Taylor and Harper starting but struggling, with the team turning to Howie Kendrick as needed and carrying Andrew Stevenson as its 5th/defensive replacement/pinch runner.  Robles comes into play if there’s another injury over de Aza or Rafael Bautista or anyone else we can think of.

Collier thinks Harper will be there in October but doesn’t speculate any further on the OF


Q: Right now, I have no faith Kelley won’t give up hard hit balls whenever he comes in. Odds he makes the playoff roster???

A: We may have to revisit our post-season roster predictions, published on 8/26/17, given what’s been going on.  At that time I went with Doolittle, Madsen, Kintzler, Albers, Glover, Perez, Grace,  Romero as the bullpen, leaving out Shawn Kelley.  However, it does not look like Koda Glover is making it back, so we need another name up there.  That could be a lefty like Solis, or one of struggling vets in Kelley/Blanton, or perhaps more likely Edwin Jackson.  Nonetheless, I think Kelley has pitched himself out of contention.

Collier agrees; he does not think Kelley merits a spot on the post-season roster either.


 

Q: Will @EJ36 be on the postseason roster?

A: Well, speaking of.  Yeah I think he makes sense as the 8th man in the bullpen right now.  He can spell a starter if they get into trouble early and he’s certainly pitched like he deserves it.  He also has experience relieving and could come in and throw middle innings if need be.  I like him as the Glover replacement in the above question.

Collier completely agrees.


 

Q: Based only on the Nats Park locations: what’s better, Ben’s or Mike Isabella’s?

A: I don’t know how anything can ever top Ben’s Chili Bowl for ballpark fare.

Collier is a huge fan of the subs at Mike Isabella’s.  Maybe he doesn’t like getting chili all over his game notes.


 

Q; Will some of the vets who don’t make the playoff roster still travel with the team?

A: Oh yeah, they’re still part of the team and will want to take part.  They know how things go; you can get onto the NLCS foster even if you’re not on the NLDS roster.  You aren’t going to just give up on your season’s accomplishments because you got squeezed out of the roster.

Collier says the same.


 

Q; Since Goodwin looks like he is not returning, who do you think will be our backup CF for the playoffs?

A: I kind of answered this above, but I do think its going to be Stevenson over Robles or others.  Primarily because I think he’s more of a CF than other options, he’s sufficiently fast to pinch hit, he’s older and more experienced, and he’s projecting to be a very good defensive CF (24.5 UZR/150 in his limited time there).

Collier goes with Stevenson too.

 

 

 

 

 

37 Responses to 'Congrats on 4th Title in 6 years and a mailbag to kick off discussions'

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  1. If you’ve never tried the Chicken Parm sub from G by Mike Isabella…you’re missing a little piece of heaven. Plus, there’s never a line there. Not even opening day.

    Granted, the sub has as many calories as a Chipotle burrito (maybe more), but holy hell is it good.

    Natsochist

    12 Sep 17 at 11:17 am

  2. “Chicken Parm you taste so goooood.”

    Todd Boss

    12 Sep 17 at 11:39 am

  3. From Jorge Castillo’s piece on Robles, posted on 9/11: “Goodwin has progressed in his recovery in recent days — enough for the Nationals to think he has a better chance to return this season than just a few days ago.”

    If they do end up having to pick from among De Aza, Stevenson, Bautista, and Robles, it would be an interesting choice. I had thought De Aza was the odds-on favorite, but he hasn’t hit at all. I would agree with Todd’s take that Stevenson is older than Robles and more experienced (and has played in both the CWS and the Little League WS), but he hasn’t hit much with the big club, either. So it’s definitely possible to see a path whereby Robles could make the postseason roster. He certainly had the biggest impact in the first open audition on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how Dusty parcels out the remaining audition time. “Victor, let’s see what you can do against Kershaw.”

    KW

    12 Sep 17 at 1:08 pm

  4. Bullpen:

    Locks: Doolittle, Madsen, Kintzler, Albers

    Near-lock: Perez, although shaky over the last couple of weeks (but Dusty loves him, for some reason)

    Very much in play: Jackson, Romero, Grace

    Getting back in the picture: Solis, Blanton

    Looking like toast: Kelley

    My guess as of 9/12: Doolittle, Madsen, Kintzler, Albers, Perez, Romero, Blanton, and Solis. I think you’re right that it’s down to Blanton vs. EJax, and Jackson hasn’t been great recently. I think they will take three lefties, one of them being Ollie, so it’s a three-man competition for two slots among Romero, Solis, and Grace. If healthy and on their games, Romero and Solis have some of the nastiest stuff in the entire ‘pen. But Grace has been more consistent than Solis, so we’ll see how they do over the next three weeks. Expect to see the lefties get some high-leverage looks over the weekend against the Dodgers.

    (Incidentally, as we well remember, the Dodgers were awful against LHP last season but are slightly better against LHP [.790] than RHP [.762] this year.)

    KW

    12 Sep 17 at 1:22 pm

  5. Looks like the Nats will be facing Wood, Hill, and Kershaw over the weekend, all lefties. Time to find out what Robles and Bautista can do!

    KW

    12 Sep 17 at 1:32 pm

  6. There are 19 games left. Who will get injured between now and then? Who will be effective.

    What I would submit is that playing people out of their familiar roles is a risk as well. Difo off the bench, EJax from the bullpen. Even if Goodwin returns, how well will he round into form? How easy will it be for Harper to play OF? For nine innings? Will Blanton gain momentum? Will Cole in the BP? Will Solis? Should Adrian Sanchez be part of this discussion, given his versatility and defense? If one has to make a decision between Bautista and Stevenson, how is that done other than reviewing their sample between now and 19 whole games? My answer to all is that I don’t know.

    Lots to look at and look for over the last 19.

    What a fun franchise to follow. Good times.

    forensicane

    12 Sep 17 at 1:35 pm

  7. I’ve joined the Robles Playoff 2017 train. I do think a healthy and effective Goodwin trumps him, but I don’t expect him to get there in time (healthy and rusty is the best that I foresee). Plus Rizzo likes to make a splash from time to time. I just worry about his potential recklessness.

    Pen – the big 4, plus Perez, Romero and Solis. They don’t need 8 for a 5 game series so no grace or EJax. They need strike outs and that’s Solis and Romero. Lot of lefties but they can press one of the starters into duty in a pinch.

    Wally

    12 Sep 17 at 1:50 pm

  8. Let me chime on on the issue of Robles being called reckless. He is not. He is a 20 year old player who started this year in A+. He is AGGRESSIVE, which means he runs full tilt and is unafraid on the bases. The Sunday play was his taking the extra base and getting it, not being TOOTBLAN. He needs to learn how to decelerate without being injured and that is what instruction is for. He has Davey Lopes teaching him how to steal bases and how to lead on the pitchers.

    He has elephant balls, which means he is unafraid to get hit, because he refuses to give up the inside of the plate. That does not make him reckless. That makes him fearless. It is his high baseball IQ and coachability that will impact potential mistakes that accompany any rookie.

    He has 19 games to outplay competition for the fall roster. One HBP could change that. Just like Trea Turner not stealing bases right now, one wonders whether the Nats reign in any aspect of Robles’ game before October, or just let him be himself and see how the team responds around him, including where he would play in an OF with Taylor, how he hits off the bench, and how determined he is to make his case now to be a starting player for the Nats in 2018.

    I’ll reserve judgment, but am very pleased to see him getting the chance. I’m one of the Expos fans on this board, going back to 1972. And I’ve endured moribund Nationals offenses for too damn long. I’ve been salivating at the prospect of Robles and Taylor in the same OF defensively. And, the idea of a lineup with the speed of Robles-Turner, not to mention players like Eaton and Taylor with Lopes on board.

    With Eaton and Goodwin around, and Soto churning through A+ and hopefully into AA by end of next year, it presents intriguing possibilities. I’m getting ahead of things, but Harper decision making will have to happen this off season. Nothing like some WS $$ to impact long term planning even as the MASN litigation stalls.

    forensicane

    12 Sep 17 at 2:15 pm

  9. Imagine if the Nats swept LA at home and over took them for home field advantage?

    Also … man the LA rotation is stacked up against us: Kershaw, Hill and Wood is basically their 1-3-4 right now (Darvish #2).

    It looks like we’ll throw Jackson, Strasburg and Gonzalez … so not quite as strong a showing vs LA but at least they have to face our lefty. LA gets our 2-3-5+.

    Todd Boss

    12 Sep 17 at 2:16 pm

  10. My reckless comment on Robles referred to his base running, not the HBP. His lead on 1B was so big he was inches away from getting picked off twice. Since I have heard the same thing about him on Luke’s site from his time in A/AA, I assume it is representative of how he plays generally. But I think this is mostly a maturity/experience issue, nothing more.

    The other positives that you mention are the reasons that I am on his playoff train. But if he were to get picked off in a key moment in the playoffs, when every play has heightened scrutiny, it could be pretty damaging. And from his perspective, it could also be the kind of thing that lingers on his reputation for a long time.

    On balance, as of now, I would still add him over the others, especially with Werth and Harp banged up. But I don’t think its wrong to say his current base running style is a consideration in the other direction.

    wally

    12 Sep 17 at 3:07 pm

  11. Final bullpen choices may come down to opponent. AZ is a very heavy RH-hitting team (which means they pound the Dodger lefties). If the Nats are playing the D-Backs, they may take a righty over a lefty for the final spot.

    The Cubs are a little more balanced in their lineup, but you certainly want a lefty available when Rizzo comes up (although he’s actually better vs. LHP than RHP in 2017). The Dodgers are fairly balanced as well, with the edge probably to the LH side vs. Turner and Puig as the guys who could hurt you RH. (Frankly, I really don’t want to play the Rockies, as the crap-shoot nature of the playoffs would be even worse with Coors and their slo-pitch softball hitters involved.)

    Speaking of the playoffs, don’t sleep on the possibility of Arrieta’s hamstring strain yesterday becoming a big deal.

    KW

    12 Sep 17 at 3:16 pm

  12. The ideal candidate for our 5th outfielder spot is a player that is a good hitter, good baserunner, good enough defender to play CF, and unlikely to make a bad mistake (not necessarily listed in order of importance), and hits left-handed (because our 4th OF is righty). Goodwin fits the bill best, but who knows if he’s going to be healthy? And the injury he has is a problem because his weakest factor at this point in his career is probably speed, which a groin injury limits.

    Stevenson has speed and range, though a weak arm. I am very skeptical of his bat for a few reasons. One, he’s looked terrible in MLB, although the sample is very small. Two, he has zero power, even at minor league levels where he’s hit well. Three, he hasn’t really hit above A-ball (and an SEC product really SHOULD hit well in in A-ball). He ran a 76 WRC+ in 65 AA games last year and a 72 WRC+ in 79 AAA games this year. This isn’t bad – it’s horrific. He did run a 143 WRC+ in 20 AA games to start this year but a) that’s just 20 games, and b) his BABIP during those 20 games was a completely insane .459. Stevenson may end up being an okay hitter someday. He’s terrible right now and very unlikely to be un-terrible in 2017. If he makes the post-season roster, it has to be because the Nats like his defense and baserunning a lot better than the alternatives. It doesn’t really matter that he hits left-handed because he can’t really hit at all right now.

    Bautista has a lot of the same issues – no power whatsoever and meh numbers in the upper minors. And he hits righty. EXCEPT, Bautista has been not-terrible at AA. He ran a 94 WRC+ in 136 games at AA last year. He posted a sub-Stevenson 67 WRC+ in 43 AAA games this year, though he had some injury issues. This isn’t great, but I like it a little better than Stevenson’s record.

    I’m not going to go through the numbers, but Robles’ minor league hitting stats are vastly superior to Bautista and Stevenson’s in almost every conceivable way without even factoring in that he’s much younger than they are. He has been a MUCH MUCH better hitter than they have been. It doesn’t matter that Stevenson and Bautista have AAA experience and Robles does not because Stevenson and Bautista did not hit all in AAA.

    In terms of deciding which of these guys is the best hitter, I think the hundreds of minor league ABs over the past few years are far more important than whatever they do at the plate in sporadic playing time over the next 19 games. Robles is the best hitter by far. Bautista and/or Stevenson hitting .450 over that time isn’t going to change that conclusion.

    HOWEVER, I do think the next 19 games could provide some useful information about whether Robles, Stevenson, or Bautista is best for the non-hitting duties of a 5th OF in the post-season. It may make sense to take an objectively worse bat if he has other advantages. There are good times and bad times to be aggressive on the basepaths and in the field. Robles could be the best defender/baserunner (FWIW, I have no idea), but if he dives for the ball at the wrong time/tries to throw a guy out instead of hitting the cut off man, it could have significant consequences in the playoffs. We might get some useful information in the next 19 games about which of these guys is good or bad at these risk/reward decisions.

    Anyway, lots to think about without even considering de Aza, who presents a ton more information to weigh.

    Derek

    12 Sep 17 at 4:20 pm

  13. Is Robles eligible for post-season?; he was called up on 9/7. I thought that, to be eligible for PS, one had to be on the roster by 9/1.

    BAS

    12 Sep 17 at 4:58 pm

  14. Yes Robles is eligible. Must be in the organization on 9/1 (he was). Need not be on 25- or 40-man roster if there is someone put on the 60-day DL (there are several such candidates, e.g., Raburn)

    Derek

    12 Sep 17 at 5:37 pm

  15. Man, what is Dusty thinking letting Max go this long. Who cares about this game. I don’t care what Max says to him. Limit these guys for crying out loud

    Even FP is trying hard not to criticize Dusty but can’t quite avoid it.

    Wally

    13 Sep 17 at 9:32 pm

  16. News this morning that Glover is officially out for season. That clarifies the pen a little bit.

    Todd Boss

    14 Sep 17 at 9:15 am

  17. FYI, Keith Law wrote up his visit to see Seth Romero’s last outing here: http://www.espn.com/blog/keith-law/insider/post?id=7653

    “Romero, the Nats’ first-round pick in 2017, was kicked off the University of Houston team for repeated rule violations. His makeup may be bad, but the stuff is pretty good. The lefty was 90-96 with a plus changeup (maybe double-plus) mostly 81-84 and incredibly deceptive. His breaking ball was mostly 82-84; he had a slurvy slider and had trouble even backdooring it to right-handed batters. Romero had his worst outing as a pro that night, giving up five runs in 4.1 innings, getting burned several times with the slider his second time through the lineup – but he still managed to strike out 10 of the 22 batters he faced.”

    So giving back of the envelope scouting grades on his pitches, it looked like maybe a 55 FB, 65 changeup, 45 slider. According to this look he needs to work on 3rd pitch and invent a 4th pitch or he may end up in the SAmmy Solis mold of high lefty starters ending up in the pen. Its just one look though, and I thought Romero’s last start was a weird one; how do you punch out 10 of 22 batters but still give up a bunch of runs? His short season stat line was definitely odd on the season too: 5.40 ERA but just a 1.13 FIP thanks to 32 ks and just 6 walks in 20 innings. I think he’s a clear candidate to start next season in at least low-A, probably should start in high-A but maybe the nats will slow-play him and look for a promotion after a month.

    Todd Boss

    14 Sep 17 at 9:21 am

  18. Do we know if he is going to instructs? It will be interesting to see what instructs and an off-season of legit workouts does for him next year. Is agree with an A ball assignment next year.

    They also mentioned a young SS named Pascal that I’ve never heard of. Presumably pet of that big IFA class.

    So what do people think of this Ohtani stuff? I get that he wants to come here, but it’s shocking how much money he is putting at risk. He’d get a $200m contract in two years, and is trading that for at most $10m signing bonus and $500k a year. I really can’t get my mind around it.

    Wally

    14 Sep 17 at 10:23 am

  19. Byron Kerr has the instructional league roster article out. It’s always the big early prospect news of September, because it’s the first clue of whom the organization truly sees as its best.

    Last year, three high end IFAs were part of the roster despite never having even played in the DSL and only being recently signed. Those were the high dollar Latin signees (Antuna, Garcia, and Sanchez). All ended up starting at the GCL in 2017, and Antuna and Garcia have certainly established their bona fides for being in my own organizational top 20 with their play at age 17 in a different culture.

    There are a few notables on the list. Our pitcher-heavy draft put 13 (primarily upper level) pitchers on the roster. And while there are four new catchers, including low draft picks, the position players do not include six higher profile players from the 2017 draft, all of whom played (and played meh>decent) at Auburn. None of the three Auburn all stars are on the roster, also notable. My read is that the graduation of players from the GCL first place team may include those five 17 year old position players. How many of them go right to Auburn remains to be seen. Garcia is my highest rated player, but I would call attention to Israel Pineda as well — excellent, excellent numbers for a 17 yo catcher with a first place pitching staff, while competing for PT with experienced college talent like Alex Dunlap.

    It’s also interesting to reflect upon the Instructional League in fall 2016, to be reminded of players who were absent this year and unable to make their mark, or were actually released.

    Notably absent were injured players like Andrew Lee and Tyler Mapes, and still others whose high pedigree did not translate on the field. So this is our frst look, really, at 2018.

    forensicane

    14 Sep 17 at 1:10 pm

  20. http://www.masnsports.com/byron-kerr/2017/09/2018-nats-instructional-league-roster-and-schedule.html

    The list also brings to mind a couple of curious footnotes to the draft. Anthony Peroni signed with the Nats early, as a 14th rounder they told they would take at 11. He was a Junior College All America catcher they started at Auburn, where he played three innings, went 1 for 2, and then was never heard from again. Now he is not even on the instrux roster, even as Adalberto Carillo, who played little at GCL, is. What gives.

    One guy who is on the roster is Eric Senior, whose collegiate accomplishments we all liked and called attention to — yet who played little at the GCL level.

    And in what seems to be happening again and again, nobody expected anything of Gabe Klobosits. Yet here we are with arguably the best draft showing from the the 36th round pick, who starred at three levels, with his most impressive showings as the closer at low A to end the year.

    forensicane

    14 Sep 17 at 1:28 pm

  21. I think there is a lot of wisdom to the Ohtani thinking. He was injured this year. If he were to get a serious injury there, it impacts his earning altogether. If he is comes over now, he starts his six year clock.

    I would imagine that this is an ideal opportunity for the Nats. But since they do not have a Japanese presence, one would think that teams like the Dodgers, Rangers, and Yankees would be at a tremendous advantage.

    Pascal is someone they clearly see something in who has shown nothing in the stat sheet, like De Los Santos. Often those players eventually grow up after awhile. The most notable of those waiting-for-Godot prospects IMHO is Armond Upshaw, but one could even say the same of James Bourque.

    forensicane

    14 Sep 17 at 1:41 pm

  22. Oh, I think Otani is making a huge, massive, 9figure mistake. I do not have the slighest idea why he is coming over now instead of waiting 2 years for full free agency. Yeah there’s the injury risk and he gets little to nothing versus what he’d get in a posting system … but what is his top end in this sytem? 8 million? That’s what a one year FA contract for washed up 5th starters goes for.

    If he waits 2 years and is healthy he’s looking at a 9 figure deal. now he goes into the arbitration system and gets paid MLB minimums for 3 years??

    I don’t get it. at all.

    Todd Boss

    14 Sep 17 at 2:44 pm

  23. Maybe he’s a little more hurt than we know. Like “forearm tenderness” hurt. Or, looking at things the way a college football junior looks at it. As a forensi(Cane), I naturally was a big Brad Kaaya booster. He had a great college quarterback career. He came out early. he thought he would be a round 3-4 pick who would play his way into a starting job and big contract. Some folks felt that with another year, Kaaya would be a first round pick. He left early. He was drafted in round 6 and was cut.

    Financially comfortable players in college football leave early because they know they are one injury away from losing the whole dream.

    There is something in his rationale, whether one agrees with it or not, that feels familiar to me that way.

    forensicane

    14 Sep 17 at 3:23 pm

  24. The only way his plans make sense is if he’s carrying a huge injury that nobody knows about and thinks it might be career ending. Like a torn labrum or a shoulder issue that generally derails people.

    Todd Boss

    14 Sep 17 at 5:05 pm

  25. A few quick hits on what I’ve missed here:

    — Ohtani: I sorta see both sides. I have a hard time seeing any MLB team giving a $200M contract to anyone without a proven record in MLB, no matter how good a “prospect” he looks to be. So maybe he’s been told that he’s got to come prove himself for a couple of years to get that mega-contract. One would think that he would probably sign initially with a team capable of giving him that big contract, though, which probably isn’t the Nats. Like everyone else, I’m curious to see whether he signs as a pitcher or a hitter, or if some team has the cojones to try him at both. My thinking is that a position player always tops a pitcher, unless he’s an outstanding pitcher and only an average hitter.

    — S. Romero: Not an auspicious start. He signed at the last minute, then took another month before making even a GCL start, seeming to confirm fears that he doesn’t take conditioning seriously. So much for all the pre-draft BS that this guy could be in a major-league ‘pen by the playoffs. I fear Todd is right that he may be trending toward being the next Solis, which is a lot less than you’d hope to get from a first-round pick. We’ll see. Obviously I hope he turns out better, but he’s done nothing yet to allay my long-held skepticism.

    — Instructional League: Fore, my understanding was that Senior was hurt early in GCL, injury unclear. Glad to see that they think he’ll be able to play in the IL. I was really high on him.

    A pitching name on there who catches my eye is Ryan Williamson, a 2016 TJ draftee. He had a sub-3 ERA as a starter in the ACC before injury. He’s the type of polished player who could move up quickly when he gets healthy.

    Very sorry to not see Andrew Lee there. He did pitch one inning in the GCL but then disappeared again.

    Daniel Johnson might have benefited more from AZ Fall League than IL, although he’s still thought of as fairly “raw” so could learn from IL repetition.

    KW

    15 Sep 17 at 8:36 am

  26. And Dodger time! No Kershaw on Sunday, so Nats miss both him and Darvish. It will be interesting to see how they do against the Dodger lefties. Looks like they’re expecting near-capacity crowds for all three games, which is great.

    I’m not concerned about catching the Dodgers, although obviously it would be good to take at least two out of three and sorta send a message. I’m just interested in how individuals are starting to look. Trea looks all the way back, which is exciting. Werth hit a couple of balls a long way last night. Roark was terrific for the first five. Bryce looked good running in the clip MASN showed. Robles seems to be seizing his opportunity. I’d love for him to get at least one start over the weekend, although the Nats also need to see how he can do cold off the bench.

    Bad news on Glover, although not surprising. In her piece about him, Chelsea Janes floated that the Nats may take only seven in the ‘pen to the postseason and a six-man bench. We’ll see. She also thinks Kelley doesn’t seem “right.” I hope Romero, Solis, Grace, and Blanton get some high-leverage looks this weekend. This series may be the last high-level test to which to subject postseason candidates.

    KW

    15 Sep 17 at 8:58 am

  27. Oh i think Romero’s start was just fine. ERA ugly but his FIP was phenomenal, highlighting the issues relying on ERA and his 32/6 K/BB in 20 innings is … well that’s pretty tough. His BABIP was .404 … if that BABIP was normalized I think you’d see his ERA in the low 2s (as evidenced by his xFIP of 1.93). Its just 20 innings, so want to be careful jumping to too many conclusions, but I have a feeling he’ll blow through April in Hagerstown next year and settle into high-A well.

    Todd Boss

    15 Sep 17 at 9:08 am

  28. On Ohtani: he is likely costing himself money, but that doesn’t mean it’s a mistake. It just means that he has different priorities. Dave Cameron at FG did a writeup on this (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/how-to-sign-shohei-otani/) showing that he’s going to be set for life regardless of what happens.

    I sincerely doubt there is a ticking injury time bomb in there, because any deal would be contingent on the player passing extensive physicals.

    Making pronouncements, or even reading tea leaves, on Seth Romero at this point is just silly. He has pitched 22 innings. Geez Louise. The only important thing about KLaw’s review is that the stuff is there.

    John C.

    15 Sep 17 at 9:24 am

  29. … and in this week’s version of “Giolito Regret” (and yes that’s a baiting comment :-) … he spun 6 1/3rd innings in 93 pitches, giving up just a solo homer for runs, and lowered his ERA to 2.56 on the season. He worked 92-93, seemed to throw both a 2 and 4 seam fastball in addition to change/curve/slider (so now he’s working 5 pitches) and seemed to really work the zone/pitch to contact instead of looking for Ks. I’d be really curious to see a bit more analysis on his adjustments; this guy at the Athletic reports that Giolito is workign up in the zone moreso than down: https://theathletic.com/100329/2017/09/13/lucas-giolito-white-sox-finding-success-playing-with-eye-levels/

    Todd Boss

    15 Sep 17 at 9:26 am

  30. I have NO “Giolito regret” — none, zero, zip. Good for the kid if he does well. The only “regret” I have is that Eaton got hurt.

    As for Seth Romero, the biggest problem here is that he should have been able to make 5-7 starts for Hagerstown this season. But he signed late and he wasn’t ready to pitch, so he puttered along in the GCL and Auburn, and he gave up a lot of hits at Auburn. I freely admit that I never liked the pick, but this is a case where I want to be “wrong,” meaning I want him to succeed. But I would be disappointed in this lack of progress even if he was a guy I loved. Yeah, he got a lot of K’s, so the “stuff” probably is there. But the bigger thing he needs to show is the “want-to,” and showing up not ready to pitch is a BAD look for a guy whose “want-to” is already is in question.

    KW

    15 Sep 17 at 10:01 am

  31. Key points on Romero are “effortless” and multiple plus secondary pitches. Those qualities give helium and staying power.

    Get that to Paul Menhart and Spin Williams in the instructionals and he will have everyone excited by next spring. It’s not like he’s Jake Johanssen.

    forensicane

    15 Sep 17 at 10:55 am

  32. Just looking at Otani’s stats:

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=otani-000sho&utm

    A few quick observations:

    — If a college pitcher had thrown had thrown 366 innings in his age 19-21 seasons, you’d refer to his college coach as a “shredder.” Not surprising to see that he hasn’t pitched much this year due to injury. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in him as a starting pitcher.

    — For a guy talked of in terms of a $200M player, where’s the power? In their age-22 seasons, which Otani is now, Harper hit 42 homers, while Trout bopped 36. I also see a strikeout percentage of 26% both this season and last. Anyone think Otani will K less in MLB than he does in Japan? I don’t. Heck, Ichiro hit 25 homers at age 22, stuck out less than half the time Otani does, and could run like the wind. (Otani has single-digit SB numbers.) Hideki Matsui also struck out a lot less in Japan. For HR translation, his peak was 50 in Japan, 31 in the U.S.

    Yes, I know that Otani has fewer ABs at the same ages than these guys did because of his pitching. But the power numbers, while good, don’t jump off the page enough to scream “superstar.” Is he worth a $10M signing bonus now? Heck yeah. Is he a $200M man? Come here and prove it.

    KW

    15 Sep 17 at 12:56 pm

  33. Otani will not be a National.

    He’s a more hyped version of Moncada. Or Hector Olivera. Or Masahiro Tanaka. Which means you can close your eyes and envision the Red Sox and Yankees throwing unimaginable dollars at him, only to watch him turn into yet another large flush down the commode, dragging the breathlessly self-conscious ESPN along for the ride.

    Another reason to appreciate Rizzo. Even when he goes all in on a player for whom he shouldn’t (Prince Fielder, Mike Leake, & Jason Heyward), God saves him from himself. And then every once in a while, he puts a Werth, Scherzer, or Murphy under the Christmas tree.

    If the Nats have pocket money, the lower risk options like the in house position players they have to renew, Harper-Rendon-Murphy, are better targets.

    forensicane

    15 Sep 17 at 2:17 pm

  34. there was a funny comment in one of the Fangraphs chats; someone asked (paraphrasing) to tell him why Otani won’t be a National and his response was like, “The Nationals would ask to backload his salary.”

    Todd Boss

    15 Sep 17 at 3:02 pm

  35. On Otani (which apparently he wants to be spelled Ohtani) and his workload: there’s not a real good track record of any Japanese pitcher showing longevity. And I think its because of their whole high school thing.

    There used to be great injury database data per player on Baseball Prospectus, but now its gone. Man i wish there was a back fill.

    Todd Boss

    15 Sep 17 at 3:05 pm

  36. I won’t completely dismiss the thought of the Nats getting into the Otani/Ohtani derby for one reason: he’s a high quality international talent for whom they wouldn’t have to bid nearly as high as someone like Cespedes to get, at least initially. (Does it count as deferred money if you don’t have to give him a big contract for three years?) At the same time, I mostly agree with Fore that the cash probably can be better used elsewhere.

    Another reason is that the Nats don’t have much particular “need” to overspend on young OF talent because of Robles and Soto. That brings to mind an interesting question: if Otani, Robles, and Soto were all available in a draft right now and the Nats had the first pick, who would you take? Despite all the buzz, I don’t think it would be Otani, in part because he’ll be 24 next year, in part because he doesn’t have the raw power of Soto or the speed-power combo of Robles and strikes out a lot more than both of them. If forced to choose, I would probably say Robles, although I’d think long and hard about Soto because of his power potential.

    Maybe there’s some “homerism” in that evaluation, but Robles is three years younger than Otani, and Soto is more than four years younger. There’s a lot less further development to project with Otani than there is with the other two.

    A lot of the fascination with Otani seems to be with his two-way status, but he’s just not going to stay a two-way player. It doesn’t happen. Just look at all the two-way studs at the top of the draft this year. Most are ending up as hitters. Maybe they don’t have the alleged 102 mph heater of Otani, but then of MLB starters, only Thor really throws that hard regularly. He’s built a lot sturdier than Otani and still can’t stay healthy.

    KW

    15 Sep 17 at 4:42 pm

  37. Edwin Jackson turns into, well, Edwin Jackson. His 2017 Nat ERA is now right about his career number. His postseason chances are diminishing.

    KW

    15 Sep 17 at 9:20 pm

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