Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats Rotation Cycle #32: good/bad/soso

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After Wang's latest gem, perhaps he'll be in a Nats uniform a bit longer? Photo via the team.

Good

  • Tommy Milone efficiently worked his way through a Ryan Howard-less Philadelphia lineup in the first half of  9/20′s twin-bill (box/gamer) for the easy victory.  Line: 6 scoreless innings giving up just 4 hits and no walks.  He was matched by Philly’s spot starter Kyle Kendrick so he got a no-decision on the day.
  • Brad Peacock looked pretty durn good on 9/22 (box/gamer) to help the team sweep the Phillies away.  5 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit (on a somewhat questionable scoring call giving Ruiz a hit and an error on a diving stop but errant throw from Ryan Zimmerman).   He absolutely dominated the lineup through 5, finishing those 5 innings on just 50 pitches.  He gave up a ton of fly balls (small quibble: as with last week he had 9 flyball outs versus just 2 grounders), but lots of the fly ball outs were pop-ups on balls where he simply overmatched the hitter.  He struggled in the 6th, seemingly trying to aim the ball versus Oswalt and ending up with a 4-pitch walk.  He couldn’t be tired; he was only on about 55 pitches at that point.  After giving up a second walk (losing the at-bat after having Rollins down 0-2), he got a flyball out before getting yanked on just 69 pitches on the night.  Had he been left in, he could probably have gone 8 complete, but Davey decided on a lefty-lefty matchup and brought in Gorzelanny to finish off the rally.  I’m still taking the “glass is half empty” analysis here, but Peacock looked pretty good.
  • Chien-Ming Wang put an exclamation point on his comeback season, getting the win on 9/24 (box/gamer) and dominating the Atlanta Braves, who (unlike the Phillies) were certainly playing a full-strength roster.  Final line: 6ip, 4 hits 1 run (on a solo shot in the 5th) and 4 strike-outs versus zero walks.  He was only sitting on 85 pitches and could probably have gone at least one more inning easily.  He had a 9/3 go/fo out ratio, showing his sinker working well.  I wonder how negotiations are going to go with Wang in the off season (per this report here … maybe we won’t even get to the off season if the team and Wang are already talking an extension.  Great news if this is true).
  • You can’t ask for much more than Ross Detwiler did on the game’s final home game of the year on 9/25 (box/gamer), just pitch 6 scoreless innings and give a shutout to his bullpen.  Line: 6ip, 4hits, 2 walks and 4ks against a Braves team that is hanging on to the playoffs for dear life.  His day was highlighted not by dominance, but by his getting out of a bases-loaded, 0 out and 3-0 count jam without giving up a run.  He got a bloop, a flyball and a grounder out of Chipper Jones to finish off the threat and preserve the victory.  Another great statement game for Detwiler going into 2012.

Bad

  • Stephen Strasburg really struggled to be comfortable on the mound in the first inning on 9/23 (box/gamer), getting touched up for 3 runs on 4 hits (all singles but a couple hit on the nose) and facing 8 hitters before getting his 3rd out of the game.  He was missing spots, fiddling with the mound, fiddling with his landing spot, shaking his hand and going to the resin bag over and again before getting out of the inning.  He then cruised through the next three innings, facing just one over the minimum before getting yanked.  His rough first inning cost him his 5th inning; he was sitting at 75 pitches through four.  He was somewhat controlling his speed, averaging 95.5 and humping it up to 97.6 on several occasions.  His change-up was fantastic on the night, if his four-seam control was off.

Mediocre/Inconclusive

  • John Lannan got the win on 9/21 (box/gamer) on somewhat of an off day for him; 5ip, 8hits, 3runs.  Not a great outing, but enough to get his 10th win of the season.

Starter Trends; Its hard to give some of these starts just a “good” rating, especially when you give the team 6 scoreless innings (as Milone and Detwiler did).

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

Relievers of Note and other News

  • I love the fact that 9/21′s win over Philadelphia guaranteed at least a season-split with them, and then we went and took the season series the next day.  That’s right; the Nats won the season series against the best team in the majors.
  • Likewise, 9/25′s win over Atlanta split the season series with them 9-9.
  • Is anyone else worried about the Nats losing a protected 1st round pick with this late season surge?   Here’s your reverse standings (normally a point of extreme interest for Nats fans looking to wrap up the first overall pick).  I guess its a good problem to have, but it will give the team some pause if they go after a type-A free agent.
  • I havn’t always been the biggest Henry Rodriguez proponent, but I’ll give credit where credit is due.  His 7th inning appearance on 9/25/11 was perhaps the most dominant 3 outs I’ve seen a reliever throw this season.  He was dialed in on his fastball, in complete control and absolutely overpowering hitters.  He punched out Jason Heyward on a pitch that was in the glove before he swung, then got the opposing catcher to actually attempt a bunt with 2 strikes.  He then put two 101-mph pitches on Jack Wilson before throwing an 88-mph hook to end the inning that had me saying “holy cow” to my TV screen.  JP Santangelo said it best; “that may have been the best inning i’ve seen a reliever throw all year.I concur.

Overall Summary

Here’s an “arbitrary endpoint” statistic; since Livan Hernandez‘s last start on Sept 4th, the team is 14-6.  Livan and Jason Marquis‘ starts have been replaced by guys who are making pretty good statements for 2012′s rotation, and the team is doing this without Jordan Zimmermann‘s stellar #2 starter capabilities.  Maybe 2012 is going to be more than the last transition year for this team.  I’m starting to believe in these up and coming starters.  Masn put up a graphic that showed our starters having the #1 ERA in the majors for the past few weeks and it has shown.

2 Responses to 'Nats Rotation Cycle #32: good/bad/soso'

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  1. It’s funny how it’s taken almost a full year for Henry Rodriguez to get an inning like this. If he can build on this with maybe one or two more showings like this before the season ends, he could end up being that 7th inning guy that effectively turns the baseball game into a 6 inning game.

    TheYellowSlant

    25 Sep 11 at 7:54 pm

  2. Detwiler could have gone back out, and probably would if this was June and not September (when you’ve got 15 guys in the bullpen).

    But yeah, I agree with you. The more confidence and the more good outings this guy gets, the better of a 7th inning guy he is. 2 of every 3 days if he can put in a lights out 7th or 8th inning and get the game into the hands of Clippard/Storen or both (as with tonight), he becomes a pretty durn valuable member of the 2012 bullpen.

    Todd Boss

    25 Sep 11 at 8:22 pm

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