Nationals Arm Race

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

Spring Training Games Week 4: Nats Pitcher good/bad/inconclusive

leave a comment

Week 4 is “moving week.”  Management will soon need to make all the decisions on who makes this team, and the candidates need to make statements in their appearances this week.  Bullpen members, Center Field, backup outfielders and backup infielders seem to be the four competitions yet to really be decided upon.

As with the previous 3 weeks, here’s links to Kilgore’s running game-day blogs (when he does them), Bill Ladson’s game wrap-ups and the official box score on

The Good

  • Tom Gorzelanny: Pitched effectively on 3/20, 5 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 84 pitches, 47 strikes.  The 2 runs were on a wind-aided homer that wasn’t that bad of a pitch.  Gorzelanny needed 84 pitches to complete 5 innings but he threw a LOT of balls.  He was getting squeezed (on one of the BBs he clearly had him for strike 3) by the umpire and he was more effective than his line shows.  One area of concern though is velocity; the MASN broadcast only had him in the upper 80s on his fastballs.  He followed this up with a similarly good 3/25 performance vs the Cards: 6ip with only 77 pitches, 4 hits and a walk, getting 5Ks.  Perhaps my earlier concerns about him will be proven unfounded.
  • Brian Broderick: seems to have effectively won his spot in the bullpen by continuing his nearly scoreless spring training.  He could be a major find for this team.  The more interesting question becomes this, “who makes way?”  Because we’re also hearing that Chad Gaudin is making this team too, meaning that TWO guys who were favorites to make this team at the beginning of spring training are heading to Syracuse.
  • John Lannan: a great start on 3/22 (albeit against the weak Astros) puts him in line to be our #2 starter when camp breaks.  Final line: 6IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s, 66 pitches, 42 for strikes.  66 pitches for 6 complete innings is fantastic, even against the awful Astros.  Lets hope we’re getting the post-minor league banishment version of Lannan (6-3 record with a 3.42 era and 1.24 whip in his 10 games after returning) versus his first 14 games of 2010 (2-5, 5.76 era and 1.85 whip).
  • Colin Balester continues to prove he belongs by throwing great middle relief.  He may lose out in the options dance come April 1st, but he should force his way back to Washington.  Kilgore described his curves as “untouchable” on 3/22 and says he’s easily one of the 7 best relievers in camp.
  • Jordan Zimmermann: his 3/24 start was pretty good; 5 scoreless innings, giving up 5 hits and a walk, striking out 6.  He only needed 90 pitches through 5 and his fastball was sitting 94, reaching 96 (despite what the stadium radar gun was showing on TV…).  He looks like he’s slotting into the #3 starter role.

The Bad

  • Stammen: optioned on 3/25 as expected.  I say this is “bad” because I feel Stammen is better than he’s shown.  His fip and xfip last year were 2nd best on the team to Strasburg (whose advanced numbers, by the way, were the best in the league by a fair margin for starters).  I think he can still be an effective back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.  Now it seems he’s being converted to middle-relief and will enter a very jumbled mix of players in the AAA bullpen competition.  He may very well be out of a job before we know it.

The Concerning

  • Most of the Bullpen: As Zuckerman notes here on NatsInsider, our supposed strength is turning into a scary liability.  Clippard, Coffey, and Storen all pitched 3/20, all three looked less than stellar and all three now have spring ERAs that would not merit their 25-man roster spots.  Storen picked in up on 3/22 with a nice 1-2-3 9th and followed it up with a really nice 1-2-3 9th on 3/25.  Clippard rebounded on 3/24 but Coffey did not.  Perhaps Coffey will be our 2011 version of Brian Bruney, a veteran reliever on a reasonable contract who gets cut very quickly into the season.  We’ll see.
  • Livan Hernandez: 5 ip, 6 h, 2 er, 3 bb, 1 k, 83 pitches, 50 strikes outing on 3/21 against the STL varsity.  Zuckerman described it as a solid outing and that Livan faded a bit late.  He only threw 5 innings and he was fading!?  I know that this is what we get out of Livan generally; lots of baserunners and him pitching out of jams based on guile and experience.  But I’d like to see a bit more competence from our opening day starter.  He threw again on 3/26 and was efficient in 4 innings but left due to a neck issue (from sleeping on it wrong).

Written by Todd Boss

March 27th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Majors Pitching

Leave a Reply