Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats Rotation Cycle #28: good/bad/soso

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Welcome to the Majors, Tom Milone. Photo: Tom Priddy/Four-Seam Images/

The big news this cycle is that the Nationals will be welcoming a new starter for his MLB debut.  Tom Milone, 2010 Nats minor league pitcher of the year and owner of a rather consistent set of minor league stats as he’s progressed up the system.

  • 12-5, 2.91 era in high-A in 2009
  • 12-5, 2.85 era in AA in 2010
  • 12-6, 3.22 era in AAA this year

So you’d think he has high hopes of continuing to pitch at that level.  What’s going against him?  The jump from AAA to the Majors is the biggest of course, and the scouting reports on him say he’s a soft-tossing lefty that relies on guile to get hitters out, and thus has a potential ceiling of #5 starter at best.  I can’t wait to see how he does.


  • Livan Hernandez cooly pitched his 50,000 career pitch while easily controlling the powerful Braves lineup on 8/30 (box/gamer).  7ip, 5 hits, 2 runs.  Meanwhile the team’s 3-4-5-6 hitters all went deep against the Atlanta’s best pitcher Jurrjens.  A good night for the team.


  • Chien-Ming Wang had another poor outing on 9/1 (box/gamer) where his sinker wasn’t sinking, resulting in fly balls and home runs.  End result: 5 2/3, 4 runs, 7 hits and 3 base-runners for nearly a 2.00 whip on the night and a loss in Atlanta.  More concerning; 0 strikeouts.  On the season now; 38 2/3 innings, NINE strikeouts.  I’m sorry; i know the beat reporters are saying things like “well he wasn’t a big strike-out pitcher before” but he’s at 2.1 k/9, nearly 50% less than his career K/9 rate.  His walk rate is way up as well.  Yes he’s still coming off injury and likely isn’t 100%.  But i’m getting less and less inclined to recommend re-signing him as his starts pile up.
  • Not the best outing for Ross Detwiler on 9/2 (box/gamer): 6 runs on 7 hits over just 3 innings, highlighted by a 3-run homer given up in the top of the 1st.
  • Tom Milone‘s debut on 9/3 (box/gamer) started out well, but ended badly.  See here for an in-depth look.


  • John Lannan didn’t look that effective against the Braves early on 8/31 (box/gamer), giving up a bomb to Chipper Jones and another homer to his counterpart, but he got things back together and put in 7 solid innings.  3 runs (2 earned, the unearned run coming via Lannan’s own throwing error), 6ks and just 1 walk.  It was one of those outings that “seemed” worse than it ended up being.

Starter Trends.  Livan gets back on the good side but the rest of the rotation struggles, contributing to a 2-3 rotation cycle.

2nd half
Lhernandez    bad,good,bad,good,bad,good,bad,soso,good
Lannan    good,good,bad,soso,good,bad,bad,good,soso
Wang        bad,bad,great,soso,soso,good,bad
Detwiler    soso,soso,good,good,bad,bad
Milone    bad

Relievers of Note and other News

  • (repeating this from the last post b/c of the timing) I saw a blip in the paper today about how Livan wants to stay a Washington National, and that he’s willing to become a long reliever understanding that he may be forced out of the rotation by the rise of young arms.  That’s good news for the team frankly; if he stays at or near his current salary ($1.25m base, roughly $2m with incentives) then he’s a very good, very cheap insurance policy in case one of our younger arms has a meltdown.  Livan may be finishing a frustrating on-again/off-again season, but he does put in a number of quality starts when given the chance.
  • Look at our AFL roster: Harper, Rendon, Solis, Martin, Lehman and likely Purke.  Wow.  Talk about the future of this franchise.
  • Twitter feeds from teammates seemed to indicate before any official press releases that both Milone and Peacock are indeed getting 9/1 callups.  Tatusko then retracted the tweets and apologized for starting rumors.  Ahhh the modern media world.
  • Adam Kilgore thinks the Nats are calling up no less than 5 players in addition to Milone; Peacock, Severino, Bernadina, Lombardozzi, and Maya.  Honestly I have a hard time believing they’re going to call up Bernadina or Maya.  What is Bernadina going to do as the 6th outfielder on this team right now?  Maya is a starter; we have at least 3 too many starters on the traveling team as it is.  Severino makes some sense, to spell a tired bullpen, but he’s been up twice before and has never thrown a pitch in anger.  Its about time they figured out if he’s worth the 40-man spot he’s been occupying for 2 years.  9/2 update an injury to Nix probably means Bernadina’s call-up for cover.
  • Strasburg‘s final rehab start was pretty good; he allowed just one hit through 6, pitched 5 perfect innings and departed on 70 pitches.  I guess he’s ready.  The Nats announced that he’ll only pitch at home, possibly enhancing the repeated criticisms that the team is “baby-ing” him.  Per Goessling’s article the home dates will be roughly the 6th, 11th, 16th, and 23rd.  Personally I hope its the 24th; those are my last season tickets of the season (a 105 saturday game).

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