Nationals Arm Race

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

Would you rather have Houston or Durham’s rotation?


My Pitching Rotation Rankings post (published on January 7th 2013)  ended up with poor Houston ranked as the 30th best rotation heading into the 2013 season.  They’re heading into the 2013 season with this rotation of guys:

Rank Name Age 2012 Stats
1 Bud Norris 28 (MLB Hou) 7-13, 4.65 ERA, 1.37 whip, 86 ERA+, 4.23 fip
2 Lucas Harrell 28 (MLB Hou) 11-11, 3.76 ERA, 1.36 whip, 106 ERA+, 3.75 fip
3 Philip Humbel 30 (MLB CWS) 5-5 6.44 ERA, 1.54 whip, 68 ERA+, 5.77 fip
4 Erik Bedard 34 (MLB Pit) 7-14, 5.01 ERA, 1.47 whip, 74 ERA+, 4.07 fip
5 Brad Peacock 25 (AAA Sac) 12-9, 6.01 ERA, 1.58 whip, 4.26 fip

There’s a couple of decent possibilities here: Norris looked pretty good opening day and Harrell’s numbers last year weren’t bad.  The other three though?  Phew.  Even Nats favorite Brad Peacock isn’t that convincing right now as a starter, based on his numbers in the PCL last year.

Now, here’s Tampa Bay AAA affiliate Durham Bull’s opening day 2013 rotation:

Rank Name Age 2012 Stats
1 Chris Archer 24 (AAA Dur): 7-9, 3.66 era, 1.258 whip, 3.25 fip
2 Jake Odorizzi 23 (AAA Oma): 11-3, 2.93 era, 1.35 whip, 4.19 fip
3 Alex Colome 25 (AA Birm) 8-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.37 whip, 2.91 fip
4 Mike Montgomery 23 (AAA Oma): 3-6, 5.89 ERA, 1.67 whip, 4.95 fip
5 Alex Torres 25 (AAA Dur): 3-7, 7-30 era, 1.93 whip, 4.56 fip

Tampa’s AAA rotation includes Keith Law‘s #53, #68 and #81 top prospects for 2013 in Archer, Odorizzi and Colome respectively.  Montgomery was Kansas City’s #1 prospect for quite a while and has struggled in AAA, but he reached AAA as a 21 year old in 2011.  Torres may switch places with a 6-year ML FA signing (the Bulls do have former Nat favorite J.D. Martin on their roster among other candidates) but the strength of this group is the first four guys.

Given that Tampa is notoriously slow in bringing along its starting pitcher prospects, its safe to assume that most of these guys would have already matriculated to lesser team’s rotations (of them only Archer has MLB service time; he got 4 starts and 30 innings late last year).   As it stands now, none of them can crack Tampa’s MLB rotation of David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Roberto Hernandez.  And this is all AFTER the big Tampa-KC trade which sent two other starters (James Shields and Wade Davis) to Kansas City.  And this doesn’t include former rotation stalwart Jeff Niemann, who just had season ending shoulder surgery. Man that’s a lot of starting pitching depth.

(Side note: Roberto Hernandez is officially “Roberto (Heredia) Hernandez,” the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona.  He is also the first Free Agent to start a game for Tampa Bay since 2005!  Just an amazing statistic frankly, and an amazing tribute to Tampa’s pitching development staff).

So, honestly, which of these starting 5 would you want right now?  Not on potential, but on the ability to get major league hitters out in 2013?

6 Responses to 'Would you rather have Houston or Durham’s rotation?'

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  1. I’d take the Astros for 2013, although it took longer than it should have to think about it. As bad as the Astros are, and I have to believe that they aren’t quite this bad, their rotation is their strength. Norris and Harrell are league average-ish SPs, and I doubt any of the Durham guys would give you a league average season right now. Maybe Archer, but it would be less likely, I think.

    I’ll bet you could find a minor league lineup that i’d swap for, though. Hell, I might have taken Harrisburg before Skole got hurt.


    9 Apr 13 at 3:35 pm

  2. That’s one sad state of a team, if their “strength” is this rotation 🙂

    They’ve widely circulated Bud Norris’ name in trade rumors (he is after all their highest paid player); if Norris got replaced by a AAA hurler, would that turn the tide for you?

    Todd Boss

    9 Apr 13 at 3:54 pm

  3. Yeah, if you replaced Norris with some AAAA guy, I’d probably take my chances that Archer and Odorizzi could combine for 350 IPs of 4.00 FIP.

    FLA is almost as bad. Nolasco is average, but after that, Fernandez may be their 2d best SP right now.


    9 Apr 13 at 4:40 pm

  4. Yeah but Fernandez is a stuuuuud. Great stuff, one of the top SP prospects in the game. He was filthy first night out. Still, I think I had Florida ranked 28th or 29th (along with Colorado; phew they are bad).

    Speaking of Fernandez; his appearance on the opening-day roster is just ridiculously curious; why would you POSSIBLY call up your #1 prospect for opening day in a season in which you know you’re going to finish dead last, instead of just punting a few of his potential starts for a few weeks and then call him up in late April so you gain another year of service time on him?? Dumb, dumb. I can understand not caring about super-2 (the trend lately is to sign guys pre-arb before super-2 even matters, unless of course they’re represented by Scott Boras), but not getting that extra year is just the latest in a series of very unintelligent moves from that organization.

    Todd Boss

    9 Apr 13 at 4:46 pm

  5. Yeah, I find the whole Loria thing pretty fascinating. I mean, the guy is a pure carpetbagger, yet seems legitimately hurt that people are pissed off. It seems like something out of a pysch textbook on delusion.

    My guess is that it was a combination of no good alternatives plus a PR move that let’s Loria say ‘see, we are trying to win’. Plus, I would bet $1000 that they will send him down at some point this year or next to pick up that extra year of control. I mean, is there really any doubt that Loria would do that?


    9 Apr 13 at 9:32 pm

  6. Loria’s full-page ad in the Miami newspapers read like an insulted fan-boy blogger defending his favorite team’s moves. I’ve never read anything like it from an owner (who usually just says “no comment” or stays in the background). But something just doesn’t add up; he’s always gotten revenue sharing and has had to be “nudged” in the past to expand payroll in response to union complaints about his pocketing revenue sharing dollars. And then he vastly expands and guts payroll in one half of a season. If it wasn’t Loria and you looked at the dismantling of last year’s team you could make an argument for it (see Boston and Houston for similar gutting situations that no body is complaining about). But its Loria and his weasel of a son-in-law president/side kick. Its the sliminess of the franchise acquisition, its the gutting of the Washington franchise with the tacit acceptance of Selig, its the leaked books showing 10s of millions of profits while crying poverty. It just is too much. I believe Selig needs to force a sale in his “best interests” powers.

    This is the same Loria who demoted Logan Morrison basically because they didn’t like what he was tweeting. So yeah it wouldn’t surprise me to see him jerk around a prospect. Boy, does a legitimate free agent sign in Miami in the next decade?

    Todd Boss

    10 Apr 13 at 8:42 am

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