Nationals Arm Race

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

Sorry for Radio Silence/its the Over-reaction Season!


Cole: over reaction to his first start or not? Photo AP

Cole: over reaction to his first start or not? Photo AP


First off, welcome to the 2018 season.  Sorry for the lack of material here; its been a heck of a spring.  Shifting priorities and a job transition that included basically four months of overlapping tasks has sapped all my spare time.  Thanks for keeping the conversation going.  Today marks the official end of the main source of time issues … so perhaps starting in the coming weeks i’ll be able to return to all the “fun stuff” that I like to talk about.  Minor league pitching staffs, opening day trivia, starter rankings, nats prospect rankings/farm system rankings analysis, etc.  We’ll get there.

In the meantime, inspired by Keith Law’s frequent answer to questions in his chat yesterday,  lets have some  Over Reactions to the first few games of the season.

  1. A.J. Cole‘s first start debacle; disagree with me if you want, but was anyone really, really that surprised by his dud of a first start?  If you want to tell me that its just one game, SSS, yadda yadda … then what in his previous time in the majors gave you any impression that he had turned a corner?  I didn’t get a chance to post about it, but the signing of Jeremy Hellickson to me was a sneaky awesome move .. i absolutely think he can and will slot into that 5th starter spot and give much more competent starts for the big league team going forward.
  2. Ryan Zimmerman‘s slow start.  I have literally never heard of a player who “took off” the entirety of Spring Training like he just did.  Now he’s just 3 for 22 and has gotten sat twice in the season’s first week.  WTF is going on?  I am firmly in belief there’s some unannounced injury issue there that the team for whatever reason is being silent about.
  3. Koda Glover‘s shoulder.  Is Glover the new Christian Garcia at this point?  He’s now on the 60-day D/L… is he gonna come back off?
  4. Adam Eaton‘s ankle.  Hmm … considering the irony that the Nats traded not one, not two but eventually three guys who could have eliminated the entire A.J. Cole situation to acquire Eaton … and that he’s played a grand total of 29 games in a Nat’s uniform … any injury, even if minor, seems like a cause for concern.
  5. Catchers.  our three catchers are now a combined 3-22.

I realize its easier to focus on the negatives (above) than the positives (Bryce Harper‘s monster start, the other four starters excelling thus far, Eaton’s great production early).  But hey, its also conversation starters.

So which of these 5 issues above is really something you’re worried about at this stage?  Are you worried about nothing because its 7 games in and nobody should over-react to anything?    If I had to rank my 5 issues in terms of worry for me right now, not even being realistic and acknowledging that its still early, blah blah, i’d probably go 1,2,5,4,3.

How about you guys?  Anybody go to opening day?  We had SRO tickets but bailed when it looked like the wind chill was going to be in the 30s.  🙂

Written by Todd Boss

April 6th, 2018 at 1:42 pm

20 Responses to 'Sorry for Radio Silence/its the Over-reaction Season!'

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  1. Average 4 seam fastball speed 2018

    Reynaldo Lopez 96.38
    Lucas Giolito 91.47

    We’re gonna miss Lopez. Is anyone surprised Eaton left injury related yesterday? He’s looked gimpier than RGIII playoff game out there.

    The disaster that was the AJ Cole start was a momentum killer for the whole team it seems. Martinez smart to bat Turner 6th. He hasn’t deserved to bat 1st for a while with his approach. I don’t think Zimm is hurt. He’s just slumpy. But this approach put extra pressure on him, which is not always good for Zimm.

    Marty C

    6 Apr 18 at 2:02 pm

  2. Welcome back, Todd.

    Eaton’s injury has me the most concerned. If Zim is hurt or in serious decline, I think they have options to compensate for his loss.

    Cole isn’t a quality major league starter, but I don’t see them giving him much more leash anyway. hellickson won’t be great, but between him, EJax and Milone, they’ll be acceptable performance for a 5th starter. The real concern is the lack of depth for an injury to one of the top guys, but nothing to do there.


    6 Apr 18 at 3:09 pm

  3. Welcome back, Todd! Hope life will be settling down for you.

    As I said on the last post, I don’t want to crow too much about being right about Cole. But if he’s going to be bad, I want him to go on and be very bad so we can just be done with it. Hellickson was very good in 2016, so there’s some reason to hope that he can get his mojo back.

    I was apparently more PO’d than most about the Zim deal in the spring. If he was healthy, he needed to play, at least some, to face MLB pitching, to be a part of the team, and to not put his new manager in such a difficult position by requesting what seemed like extreme veteran preferential treatment. Maybe it was a non-issue . . . but if you do something like that, you darn well better hit in April. We’ll see.

    Glover turns 25 next week. He’s still got time. Don’t rush and get right.

    I’m trying not to worry about Eaton. He’s sure looked like a guy worth the price we paid for him when he’s actually played. I was a little uncertain about him at the top of the order over Trea, but the Eaton-Rendon combo has been great thus far.


    6 Apr 18 at 3:12 pm

  4. Welcome back, Todd.

    Rip Van Winkle had nothing on you. 🙂

    Mark L

    6 Apr 18 at 4:48 pm

  5. Enny DFA’d. As bad as he’d been, he may make it through waivers.


    8 Apr 18 at 8:12 am

  6. Robles scored from 2b on an overthrow on a steal. Pretty cool


    8 Apr 18 at 9:25 am

  7. Curious pick to DFA … he wasn’t even in my top 5 of DFA candidates. For me right now: Solano, Sanchez, Voth, Bautista, Cole.

    Todd Boss

    8 Apr 18 at 7:29 pm

  8. Marty: i know you can’t help but try to continually convince yourself that Lopez is the better pitcher than Giolito. And taking a one-game sample size of velocity seems even more than a little fishy.

    Its notable that the CWS rotation has Giolito ahead of Lopez. reports I read on the CWS pre-season had Giolito as their #1 … but that they went with Sheilds on opening day as a favor to the vet.

    Its also notable that Giolito’s performance last season at the MLB level eclipsed Lopez… but a decent margin.

    And then there’s this: Giolito’s first start box score: . Notice the weather? At Kansas City, 45 degrees with an 18-mph wind. Which means that the wind chill that night was probably somewhere in the 27-degree range. Not exactly ideal conditions to “air it out.” Meanwhile Lopez’s first start was in Toronto … in a dome … in perfect conditions (68 degrees, no wind). So first game velocity comparisons as a means of judgement is even worse than the fact that … its one frigging game.

    All that being said … I will not be surprised if Lopez shows a couple digits more in avg FB velocity than Giolito when this season is done. So what? Giolito also has two other plus pitches where Lopez barely has one other grad 50 pitch right now … and I’ll bet dollars that at the end of the season Giolito has superior numbers. Again, the scouting reports i’ve readon Lopez are all consisent; great fastball, poor control, poor mechanics … likely eventual reliever. I mean for fcks sake, in nearly identical workloads last year Giolito’s ERA was two and a half points lower than Lopez’s!

    Todd Boss

    8 Apr 18 at 7:39 pm

  9. I knew that would get you fired up Todd. Just my way of saying welcome back. Had to press your buttons to get you in midseason form after your break : )

    Marty C

    8 Apr 18 at 10:17 pm

  10. The Nats had to DFA Romero because he was out of options. They did it to be able to replace him, not create 40-man space. The only other thing they could have done was put him on the DL with a badly bruised ERA. (Kintzler may need some DL time due to a similar malady.) I haven’t seen anything about Romero being claimed, so I guess he has passed through waivers and should be able to be outrighted to Syracuse.

    Speaking of Syracuse, Chris Smith, who nearly made the big club in the spring, currently sports an ERA of 108.0. Tim Collins’s is 40.50 (based on three runs surrendered on only one hit). Suero is still on the DL. I would think that Collins and Austin Adams would be the best available help they have to offer right now. Adams wouldn’t require a 40-man move.

    We’re not anywhere near crisis level yet, but early returns on Davey’s incredibly lax spring training are not good. The Nats made so many mistakes in the Sunday night game.


    9 Apr 18 at 12:48 pm

  11. I don’t think Kintzler has been hit too hard, and has been a little bit unlucky. And I don’t really see the connection to ST for anyone other than maybe Zim. I put all of this in the small sample, sh!t happens category.

    Robles got hurt in SYR, left shoulder on a dive for a ball. At least one thing I saw from a guy purportedly there was that it looked bad. But stay tuned.


    9 Apr 18 at 6:44 pm

  12. Zim right now is a totally sucking black hole. The “new” approach to ST is a miserable failure. He started hot last year. Why was there a need to reinvent the wheel? But beyond that, he can’t keep hitting cleanup. Harper won’t see another strike for two months.

    Max, on the other hand, is a Hall of Famer and gave the team the significant boost it needed on Monday night.

    Kendrick is really impressing me. When Murph comes back, he may be at 1B, with Kendrick still starting at 2B.

    Hope Robles isn’t hurt too badly, but he won’t be coming up until around the All-Star break anyway.


    9 Apr 18 at 10:29 pm

  13. Well, a shutout from your Ace heals all maladies. But its notable that literally the only team in the division that seems like it should be within 20 games of the nats for the Division just swept us at home. So that’s worrisome. Just like last year, if the Mets rotation stays healthy and lives up to expectations, they’re going to be a tough team to beat.

    Todd Boss

    10 Apr 18 at 9:01 am

  14. “. . . if the Mets rotation stays healthy . . .” Um, I don’t know that even Vegas would give any odds on a bet that long. Even though the Nats didn’t get to Harvey, he didn’t look good, wasn’t missing bats. His velo is down a mile and a half from his already-declining number last year. deGrom has already had back problems. Matz is as fragile as Glover. Thor is an idiot who doesn’t pay attention to taking care of himself.

    Look, if everything goes right for the Mets — and I don’t think it will, as their lineup is ancient — their absolute upside is a win total in the low 80s. If the Nats can’t top that number with the team they’ve got, Martinez and Rizzo should be fired.

    I’m not “concerned” about the Nats yet. I’m frustrated with their sloppy play, which reflects poorly on their spring preparation. I think in some ways the team is still feeling its way as far as leadership is concerned, although Max sure stepped up and “spoke” loudly on Monday. Zim, Bryce, and Rendon aren’t really leader types, so I’m looking more toward Eaton, and Murphy once he gets back in the lineup. Eaton sure has “set a tone” when he has played.


    10 Apr 18 at 9:27 am

  15. Look, if everything goes right for the Mets — and I don’t think it will, as their lineup is ancient — their absolute upside is a win total in the low 80s

    That’s too strong, I could see low 90s easily if they stay healthy.

    Any news on Robles?


    10 Apr 18 at 2:45 pm

  16. The Mets have a lot of guys on the downsides of their careers. Personally, I don’t think they make it to .500. But as Boz pointed out in his chat today, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for the Nats to be pushed. In most of their playoff years, they’ve coasted into the postseason and weren’t exactly sharp.

    The scuttlebutt about Robles on Nats Talk seemed to be that they’re bringing him to DC for further testing, including MRI. It makes a lot of sense to have the team’s main medical staff making these decisions, not the trainer at AAA.


    10 Apr 18 at 3:26 pm

  17. This Cole start seems ill advised. Could wreck the bullpen for a while. I’d have gone with Hellickson w/ Cole as long man.

    We’ll see shortly, I guess.


    11 Apr 18 at 10:37 am

  18. I’d rather have Cole against the Barves than the Rox, even though the Barves lit him up last week. Plus the bullpen has essentially had two days off, other than Solis and Madson. There’s never an “ideal” time for Cole to pitch, but this is better than most.

    I see three potential outcomes: 1) he pitches well and rates another start (which I think would require him to go at least 6 IP while allowing 3 ER or less); 2) he gives up four or five runs, is typically mediocre, is probably deemed decent enough to keep, and he becomes the long man while Hellickson makes the next start; or 3) he repeats last week’s utter failure and it’s DFA time. If he gets bombed again, it’s likely no one would claim him.

    Speaking of such things, I haven’t seen a report of Enny getting claimed, so I assume he can be outrighted to Syracuse. I assume they brought up Solano specifically because they know he won’t be claimed when DFA’d, while S. Kieboom might have been at risk.

    Also, it’s pretty telling that they’re supposedly bringing up Sierra, which requires a 40-man move, over Stevenson, who is currently hitting .105.


    11 Apr 18 at 1:02 pm

  19. Well, not bad. 5+ innings and two runs. I didn’t watch it, but stats were acceptable.


    11 Apr 18 at 2:48 pm

  20. The Wednesday loss was on the offense. If you can only score one run in eight innings off Braves pitching, you don’t deserve to win.

    I don’t know what to make of Cole. I guess he earned another start. But do they/should they trust him longer term as a starter? I don’t. I could see them keeping him over Gott, though.


    11 Apr 18 at 8:43 pm

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