Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats Pitching depth to now be tested…


It sounds like its Fedde-time. Photo via

It sounds like its Fedde-time. Photo via

Well, we can’t really seem to go a season without a Stephen Strasburg injury … and this annual affair hit us over the weekend, with Strasburg looking ineffective, getting pulled, going for an MRI and quickly hitting the 10-day D/L with “right shoulder inflammation.”

This comes on the quick heels of two other SP issues for this team:

  • miracle MLFA off-season signing Jeremy Hellickson yanking his hamstring and exiting precisely one batter into his friday start, also hitting the D/L.
  • Off-season SP depth re-signing Edwin Jackson opting out of his minor league deal and departing the team (he signed with Oakland soon after).

So, it seemed like we could stand the absence of Hellickson thanks to the schedule over the next week and a half (plenty of off-days and no need for a 5th starter), and since his injury is listed as “mild” meaning he may only miss the minimum time … but with the loss of Strasburg we’ll need to reach into our depth.  So who’s getting the call?

(oh, btw on top of this, on 6/9/18 Brandon Knitzler strained his forearm and seems likely to be at least unavailable for a bit, if not on his way to the D/L too, so they’re needing reinforcements stat.  He was officially put on the D/L just after posting this on 6/10/18, resulting in both Trevor Gott and Wander Suero getting their tickets for a DC return…).

We’ve now seen all three of our non-active roster 40-man starters get MLB action this year … and they looked promising enough to have the loss of Jackson or even the presence of Tommy Milone in AAA seem like after-thoughts.  So who gets the call to cover for Strasburg?  Options:

  1. Erick Fedde: got one spot-start this year and looked solid: he gave up 3 runs in 5 2/3rds but pitched a lot better than his stat line.  He hasn’t looked as great for Syracuse; a 4.76 ERA and a 1.48 whip showing how he’s giving up too many base-runners.  Do you believe what you saw in the majors, or look at his AAA line for the year?  His most recent start: in Gwinnet, 5 1/3, 2runs, 9Ks but 10hits allowed.
  2. Austin Voth: has turned his career around, going from “next guy to get DFA’d” to a MLB call-up earlier this year (he did not appear).  His AAA ERA of 4.35 is a bit inflated; he’s giving up less than a hit/inning.  He had two bad outings in a row just after his call up/send-back, giving up 12 ER in 2 innings … but his last out ing (6/6/18) was stellar; 7IP, 4hits, 6Ks, 0 walks, 0 runs.  That’s the kind of stat line GMs like to see.
  3. Jefry Rodriguez: he was thrown into action when Hellickson went down and did awesome: 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his MLB debut.  Can’t ask for more than that.  He’s been good for AA Harrisburg this year; 12 starts, 3.57ERA, a bit wild though (24 walks in 63 innings).  Its interesting that he’s gotten MLB time but has yet to get pushed to AAA; perhaps they’re waiting for the typical Nats mid-season shuffle.  His most recent outing?  6/9/18: 5ip, 1 hit and just 65 pitches thrown (a hint?  why would he have gotten  yanked so quickly?)

You have to think it’ll be Fedde first.  Maybe what they do is promote Fedde, move Rodriguez to AAA.  Then if you need a second starter … it seems like Rodriguez has jumped Voth in the pecking order and is next in line.

It isn’t a very opportune time for this sudden loss of their second ace; their next nine games are AL East interleague play … which will be tough games even though both Toronto and Baltimore are struggling.  After that they get 6 games versus Philly interspersed with five more AL East games (including three at home against Boston) … so this might be a pretty crucial stage for this team.  Lets hope our depth stands up.

8 Responses to 'Nats Pitching depth to now be tested…'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Nats Pitching depth to now be tested…'.

  1. Something to note: In 2016 & 2017, Strasburg went on the DL not long after throwing over 100 pitches 7 and then 8 consecutive games. When he returned last year, Dusty allowed him to go over 100 only twice in 8 games and he responded by going 7-1 with an ERA of 0.84.

    Even more pertinent, in 2014–Strasburg’s only fully healthy season, which was also his only 200+ inning season, Williams let him go over 100 pitches no more than 3 consecutive games. So what happened this year? Strasburg threw over 100 pitches 8 consecutive games before Friday night. It’s amazing that meathead Williams is the one manager who seemed to recognize that Strasburg’s pitch counts need to be tightly controlled.

    Karl Kolchak

    10 Jun 18 at 6:18 pm

  2. Great observation karl. Lets just hope its nothing more than a sore shoulder and he gets some time off. Honestly … if he can take a month off his arm and the nats can still take the division … we’ll be better off for it in the playoffs.

    Todd Boss

    10 Jun 18 at 7:07 pm

  3. […] Nats’ pitching depth to now be tested (Nationals Arm Race)With Strasburg and Hellickson down for the count, and Edwin Jackson opting out right before everyone got injured, the Nats now have three guys on the list of potential replacement starters: Erick Fedde, Austin Voth, and Jefry Rodriguez. […]

  4. Fedde’s ERA and WHIP in AAA aren’t great, but his 2.72 FIP certainly is. He’s striking out 9.69/9 and walking 2.38/9. The ERA and WHIP numbers are completely driven by a .393 BABIP. It’s certainly possible Fedde is a guy who runs a higher-than-normal BABIP (his BABIP has jumped around a bit in the minors but tends to the high side), but .393 is much too high for him.

    I would absolutely be comfortable running Fedde out there every fifth day. If he starts on Wednesday in Yankee Stadium, however, people need to prepare themselves for thinking that a line of 5IP 3ER and a homer or two is a good line against that lineup in that ballpark.

    I think Fedde can get major league hitters out on a consistent basis. The questions I have about him relate to durability: how deep into games can he pitch and can his arm hold up over 150+ innings. He has the stuff/repertoire to succeed, and I think that is obvious when one looks at the more predictive minor league numbers.


    11 Jun 18 at 10:12 am

  5. Kind of reminds me of his debut last year … first against Colorado … then at Wrigley. Not exactly two easy opponents to start off with.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jun 18 at 10:53 am

  6. Well, at least they didn’t spend $57M on Alex Cobb!

    I think Fedde is the only real option at the moment. Is he good enough to be a major-league starter for a contender? It’s time to find out. If he’s not, it might become necessary to acquire one if Stras is going to be out for an extended period. Hellickson talked like he didn’t expect to be out long. (And wow, what a bargain he’s been thus far.)

    Voth was great in April, terrible in May, but has had a couple of good starts in June. Milone really hadn’t been good at all until his last couple of starts, looking more like a release candidate than an MLB one. Is it terrible to point out how much better J-Rod has been since his PED suspension? Probably so! Anyway, whether from the juice, the career wake-up call, or perhaps a bit of both, he’s shown some real improvement in ’17-’18. I’ve never been completely sold on him, but in an organization so short of starter “prospects” in the mid-to-upper minors, we need to hope he’s legit.

    Alas, I’m still not sure whether Fedde is . . .


    11 Jun 18 at 12:32 pm

  7. The conversation, beyond those three, should include John Simms, at least as a 60 pitch option to get through 5 innings. He’s a smart pitcher who can miss bats and works well with what he has. Just because he is not on a list, well, neither was Roark.

    JRod was promoted from AA after a good year that was hardly dominating. For that reason, McGowin can be considered in this thread.


    11 Jun 18 at 1:03 pm

  8. McGowin has remarkable numbers this year. At age 26.5, he’s not going to be in any “prospect” conversation, but he does seem to have figured something out.


    11 Jun 18 at 2:04 pm

Leave a Reply