It has been so long since I did one of these, that I nearly forgot that I used to do them
For the uninitiated, I try to do a quick recap of our starters each turn through the rotation, culminating in 33 “rotation cycle” posts that can be seen if you click on the “Nats Rotation Review” category tag to the right. If I’ve seen the game, I’ll give more detailed analysis based on my observations. Otherwise I’m recapping the box score and interpreting the stats to come to a conclusion. The focus is on the starters, but there is a section for relievers and the offense.
The classifications are not very scientific; usually good, bad or mediocre/soso. If someone is great or awful, we’ll note that as well.
- Stephen Strasburg looked healthy and in command on opening day 4/5 (box/gamer), getting a no decision after 7 complete innings. His line: 7ip, 5 hits, 1 ER, 5K and 1BB. More importantly he was only on 82 pitches through 7 innings, a very efficient work day. A couple of these hits were relatively weak (one an infield pop fly that fell between 4 infielders, another a scoring issue that probably was a hit). Its not difficult to look unhittable when its 41 degrees and the wind is blowing in, but Strasburg seems to be adopting the same strategy as his compatriot Jordan Zimmermann: pitch efficiently, pitch to contact, and keep your pitch counts down so you go deeper into games. It may not be as flashy as a 14-K effort, but if it leads to wins everyone is happy.
- Jordan Zimmermann’s first start on 4/8 (box/gamer) was just as effective as Strasburg’s; unfortunately for Zimmermann he went up against a buzz-saw in Jeff Samardzija and his offense couldn’t help. Zimmermann took the loss on a day when he went 7 complete innings on just 80 pitches, giving up 6 hits, 0 walks and one earned run. This is the classic adage of why W/L records are misleading; if Zimmermann pitches this way all year as our #3 starter we’re going to go far.
- Ross Detwiler’s rotation spot won’t be going away any time soon if he continues outings like 4/10 (box/gamer). 5 innings, 2 hits and a walk with 6 Ks to earn the win. Detwiler picks up where he left off last summer and gives immediate validation to the Lannan- demotion decision.
- Yes, its bad when your marquee off-season acquisition Gio Gonzalez fails to get out of the 4th inning in his debut start. Gonzalez struggled with control and with effectiveness on 4/7 (box/gamer) and gave up 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. He did have 6 strikeouts in his 3 2/3 innings, so there’s that. His fastball was hopping; 95mph in the first two innings, averaging about 93 on the day. He threw mostly fastballs but wasn’t getting the swing-and-miss effect like he needed. Of course, an outing like this isn’t helped in the analysts’ minds when Tommy Milone (the 4th best prospect sent the other way in the trade) pitched 8 shutout innings in his debut. Lets hope this is first-start jitters.
- Edwin Jackson’s 4/9 start (box/gamer) wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as effective as we would have liked. He was a victim of the long-ball, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk in 5 innings. He did have 6 punchouts on a night where he threw a ton of off-speed stuff (only 42 of his 78 pitches were fast-balls; he threw a ton of sliders on the night). The homer he gave up ended any chance of his getting a W on the night on a game that was more or less thrown away by replacement starter Henry Rodriguez.
MLB Trends (through Detwiler 4/10 Cycle 1)
Relievers of Note and other News
- So far its looking like Brad Lidge may be the steal of the FA market. He’s throwing well, his slider is back and he’s closing out save opportunities for just $1m.
- So far, its looking like the “bad” Henry Rodriguez from 2011; a 0.00 ERA but a 2.25 whip and a loss by virtue of his own throwing error.
- Ryan Mattheus isn’t doing himself any favors right now and may not be long for this bullpen. Of course then again its looking like Drew Storen is closer to Tommy John surgery than returning to the field, having visited Dr. James Andrews this week. Meanwhile, surprise 25-man roster includee Craig Stammen is performing decently in a swing-man role and looks to stick.
Thoughts on the offense
- Adam LaRoche comes out on fire, a shock considering he’s usually a slow starter and the fact that he looked beyond awful in the first game, waving weakly at curveballs in the dirt. Ian Desmond looks like the Desmond of September, which is great news.
- Meanwhile, in a completely unsurprising development Roger Bernadina has started out the season 3-for-20. Why aren’t we looking for a CF again?
- Too bad Chad Tracy doesn’t have any OF flexibility; he’s looked great off the bench so far.
Can’t argue with an away series win, despite the weakened nature of the opponent in Chicago. We could get a second away-series win tonight if one stud young Ace (Strasburg) can beat one come-back Ace (Johan Santana). That’s the way to go in baseball; play .500 on the road and play .600 ball at home and you’re a 90 win team in an era where 90 wins almost certainly guarantees post-season play.