Nationals Arm Race

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

Do the Nats have a LOOGY problem?


Can we count on this guy in October? Photo via getty images

Can we count on this guy in October? Photo via getty images

We’ve clearly seen some middle relief issues lately, despite nearly sweeping a 4-game set in Atlanta this past weekend.  And one of the issues we’ve been continually discussing is our left-handed relief options.

We traded Felipe Rivero.  Oliver Perez has a 5.61 ERA.  Sammy Solis just had an MRI on his left shoulder.  Matt Grace has nice looking AAA numbers, but got shellacked last year (2.00 whip in 26 innings) during a brief call-up.  Nick Lee was so ineffective this year that he passed completely through waivers when we DFA’d him off the 40-man.  We just paid cash for twice-TJ survivor and ex Nat Sean Burnett, whose AAA numbers look good but is now on his fourth organization of 2016.

Do we have a LOOGY problem?

Well, maybe.

I constantly have to remind myself of this sentence: “You don’t have to be left-handed in order to get lefties out.”  That and this sentence: “If your lefty splits are good … then you’re still a good LOOGY option.”

Here’s the 2016 versus lefty splits for every reliever on our 40-man, RHP or LHP.  And then lets add in some of the call-up candidates just for fun… (all numbers as of 8/21/16’s Atlanta game via

Right Handed reliever options

  • Melancon: .202/.253/.274 for an .527 OPS; as you’d expect, an elite closer gets both lefties and righties out.
  • Treinen: .211/.357/.351 for an .708 OPS.  Not bad.
  • Kelley: .250/.294/.609 for an .903 OPS.  Not good.
  • Petit: .261/.327/.511 for an .838 OPS.  Again, not really that good, but then again that’s not what we’re asking him to do generally.
  • Belisle: .150/.203/.267 for an .470 OPS.  Wow; that’s better than any of our lefties.
  • Glover: minimal stats in MLB; for 2016 he had a .161 BAA in AAA, .250 in AA and .143 in High-A for lefty splits (which are kind of hard to come by at   That looks promising, but he seems to be more effective against righties.

Left Handed reliever options

  • Perez: .217/.321/.377 for an .698 OPS.  Its his rightly split that’s killing him.
  • Solis: .200/.279/.273 for an .551 OPS.  Awesome … if we can get him back healthy.
  • Sean Burnett: Again, minor league splits are harder to come by, but Burnett had a .150 BAA against in 12 IP in his longest AAA stint of the year.
  • Bryan Harper: .161 BAA in AAA this year, even better .091 while in AA.  And it’d be cool to have him on a roster with his brother.  But he’s on the D/L right now.
  • Matt Grace: .207 BAA in AAA this year … but as noted above he struggled in his 2015 audition.

Rivero, by the way, has this for a lefty split in 2016: .325/.424/.429 for an .852 OPS.  A .325 BAA; no wonder they were willing to part with him.  He was a lefty who couldn’t get lefties out.

What if we thought outside the box a bit?

  • Reynaldo Lopez: .180/.250/.340 for an .590 OPS.  Interesting; we’ve already talked at length about Lopez being a fire-baller out of the pen for a post-season team and his lefty splits are good.
  • Lucas Gioilto: .269/.406/.462 for an .868 OPS; not nearly as impressive.
  • Aaron Laffey: just a .254 BAA in AAA this year in a swing-man role.
  • Nick Lee: the aforementioned struggling lefty is the only other lefty in the minors above High-A; he’s got a decent .214 BAA against lefties in AA … but his overall ERA/Whip is ugly; 4.73 and 1.77,
  • I didn’t go to High-A, where we have a couple of  lefty prospects but they’re no where near consideration for a call-up.

So, we need Solis back; he’s the closest thing we have to a matchup lefty who we can count on.  But clearly Belisle’s numbers make him a matchup option too, despite his being a rightly.  It reminds me of when we had Tyler Clippard, who always had stellar lefty splits.  Perez’s split line isn’t great; I feel like we should be pushing him almost all the way to the mop-up/Petit role right now.

Are you concerned though?  On a whole, the Nats bullpen has been one of the best in all of baseball.  Are the falterings lately just due to a too many innings thanks to a couple of bad starter outings?


74 Responses to 'Do the Nats have a LOOGY problem?'

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  1. I’d say yes, I’m concerned.

    I all need to think hard about what stats I trust when valuing bullpens. The Nats don’t feel anywhere near like one of the best in all of baseball.

    When the playoffs come, I’d like to see Ross and Looez added to Melancon, Kelley and Treinen. I don’t care who the other 2 are.


    22 Aug 16 at 12:29 pm

  2. All = also


    22 Aug 16 at 12:30 pm

  3. A good discussion; what is the playoff roster construction? Assuming you drop a starter and add an 8th reliever:
    – Scherzer, Strasburg, Roark … and then who? If both Ross and Gonzalez are healthy, do you pick Ross and mothball Gonzalez? Or (and maybe I should have put this in the article) do you turn Gio into your loogy? Here’s his vs LHP splits: .214/.290/.321 for an .612 OPS; not to shabby. I think i’d make Ross the 4th starter and Gio a bullpen guy.
    – If Gio’s in the pen, you don’t need a long-man. So maybe you lose Petit and carry a better arm.
    – Melancon, Treinen, Kelley, Belisle are givens. Solis if healthy. Add in Glover. That’s 6. Gio makes seven. Now you’re looking at a choice between Perez, Petit, Lopez or Giolito for the last spot. I’m with you; i like Lopez there.

    My ideal playoff construction, assuming everyone is healthy and nobody’s feelings get hurt:
    * Scherzer, Strasburg, Roark, Ross
    * Melancon, Treinen, Kelley, Belisle, Glover, Lopez, Gonzalez, Solis

    That’s a good looking bullpen. Lots of velocity there. Using fangraphs average-max pitch fx velocity; Treinen 95-98, Kelley 92-95, Glover 97-99, Lopez 96-98

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 16 at 1:03 pm

  4. Yeah, because Petit’s never produced in a tight situation in the playoffs . . . at least not that we allow ourselves to remember. And Gio’s never had any trouble keeping leads in the playoffs, either. But I’ve chosen to forget all of that and move on with life, after years of therapy (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    A little concerned, but no regrets at all in getting Melancon for Rivero. I’ve never been a big fan of one-batter loogy use, though. I understand it, but I’m not a fan. I’d much rather have full-inning guys I trust against either side.

    It will be interesting to see just how open Dusty, Maddux, and Rizzo truly make the auditions in Sept. Glover is already getting a look, and getting tossed into some tight situations. Gott, Grace, and Martin are on the 40-man and should be up in Sept. Not sure they want to make a 40-man move to add Bryan Harper, but we’ll see. He’s been on the DL for a couple of weeks now; haven’t heard anything about what’s ailing him.


    22 Aug 16 at 1:37 pm

  5. Anonymous: Fair points on Gio and Petit. You’d rather have Petit than Gio … but would you rather have Gio than Perez right now?

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 16 at 1:39 pm

  6. Posting this here instead of the Giolito-Lopez thread.

    I think if you were to poll scouts and ask who had the better stuff between Giolito and Lopez you’d get a lot of different answers. Lopez appears to sit 97, which is where Giolito appears to max out. I think Giolito has the better breaking ball, but Lopez’s is still good. Neither appears to have a plus changeup, though to my eyes Lopez’s has been a bit better. So the stuff is comparable, and there are good reasons to like Lopez’s better.

    There are two reasons scouts uniformly prefer Giolito as a prospect: (1) body, and (2) delivery. Giolito has 6 inches and probably 60-75 lbs on Lopez. As for delivery, Keith Law says Lopez is “max effort” “all arm” and “doesn’t use his lower half.” This, and not stuff/repertoire, is why he thinks Lopez is a reliever in the future.

    Scouts look at Giolito and see Roy Halladay or Chris Carpenter – a pitcher with enough velocity, a wipeout curve, and the body/delivery to pitch 220 innings year after year. There just aren’t a lot of comps for guys like Lopez who stay starting pitchers. Keith Law would probably say he’s not surprised that Lopez dominated Atlanta the other day, and he woudln’t be surprised if Lopez keeps pitching well. He has great stuff. The surprise would be if Lopez is able to stay in the rotation without blowing out.

    This, in a nutshell, is why Giolito is the better prospect.


    22 Aug 16 at 1:44 pm

  7. Sorry, Anon was me, on a different computer.

    I don’t trust Perez. I know he’s got the Maddux-Ranger secret handshake, but if the season ended today, no way he’s on my postseason roster, even if Solis isn’t available. Dusty seems to be trusting him less and less as well.

    Boz is talking about the bullpen, and postseason bullpen construction, in his chat today:

    He still thinks that Gio would be a Game 4 starter.


    22 Aug 16 at 2:41 pm

  8. Todd Boss

    22 Aug 16 at 2:41 pm

  9. Boswell takes Gio over a healthy Ross? I can’t wait to read his reasoning.

    Derek; great summary of the Lopez vs Giolito argument. Let me ring up MartyC to get his take 🙂

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 16 at 2:45 pm

  10. OUCH on Stras. Better now than later.

    Size comp for Lopez: Pedro Martinez (5’11”, 170). Seems to me he did OK. Or Bob Feller (6’0″, 185). There are plenty of hard throwers who weren’t 6’5″. I understand the logic that Giolito could be “a horse,” but I don’t know that Lopez has to be discounted in comparison.


    22 Aug 16 at 2:47 pm

  11. Bob Feller made his debut in 1936. I don’t think he’s a useful comp.

    Pedro is a great comp. (although Pedro always had three great pitches and Lopez now just has two; of course, Lopez can be 66% of Pedro and we’d be thrilled). The problem is that he’s the exception that proves the rule. I’ve read scouts write that 99/100 diminutive starting pitching prospect with great stuff who get compared to Pedro get hurt and flame out or end up in the bullpen. Just look at the composition of MLB teams: the starters are 6’2+ and weigh 220+. Bullpens have a lot of variation – some huge guys and some small guys. There just aren’t many small starters, and there REALLY aren’t many small starters that throw 95+.

    But it’s not all about body. Delivery matters too (and I’m definitely out of my depth trying to write about MLB pitchers’ deliveries). I read a chat in which Keith Law was asked why he thinks Carlos Martinez can stick as a starter and Lopez can’t despite similar body types and Law said Martinez has a much “easier” delivery, meaning he thinks Lopez is going to get hurt having a starter’s workload.


    22 Aug 16 at 3:06 pm

  12. Also, the “body” issue relates to performance as well. Max effort guys like Lopez not only get hurt, they have command issues as well. “Easy” delivery guys like Giolito have an easier time repeating mechanics, which translates to better command.

    It is undeniable that Lopez’s 22 MLB innings have been better than Giolito’s 11. Lopez should keep starting, especially with Strasburg on the shelf. Right now he’s clearly a better choice than Giolito, and may be a better choice in 2017. I still would rather have Giolito overall than Lopez, but am glad the Nats don’t have to choose.


    22 Aug 16 at 3:11 pm

  13. I’m a big Keith Law fan … but I have to admit, his “concerns” on Lopez’ mechanics versus (say) Carson Fulmer’s are way different.
    Consider: here’s video in slo-mo of Carson Fulmer’s mechanics: . Almost no lower half, massive head snap. All arm action.
    Here’s another vanderbilt starter with very similar mechanics:

    Now here’s Reynaldo Lopez:

    I mean, you have to admit its more arm than body. His mechanics are definitely smoother than the two guys above (Keith Law’s poster children for future relievers). But he doesn’t seem to have the head snap that is indicative of over throwing all-armers. Put it this way; I’ve been reading his comments on Lopez’ mechanics for years … but when i first saw him on the mound I was kind of like, “ok where’s the problem?” I think his mechanics look ok.

    And since we’re talking about Giolito; here’s his windup in super slomo: . just inarguably better use of lower half and back.

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 16 at 3:22 pm

  14. I brought up Feller because of the concern for Lopez’s durability. Feller threw 100 mph, threw 371.1 innings in one 154-game season (no, Dusty wasn’t his manager), and pitched until he was 37.

    All in all, Lopez has a pretty “easy” delivery in my eyes. I’m sure the Nats have tried to get him to use more lower body, but the larger issues likely have been balance and repeatability.


    22 Aug 16 at 3:29 pm

  15. Playoffs – I think it’s just about over to compare a ‘healthy’ Ross v. Gio. Ross hasn’t even started a rehab, so I doubt that there is time to get him stretched out again unless he started NOW. So I think Ross all but certainly goes to the pen for the playoffs. And like I said ear.ier, after adding him and Rey Rey to Treinen, Kelley and Melancon, I don’t think the last two matter much because they aren’t going to pitch much. I’d probably take Perez for a change and Solis if healthy. Petit or Belisle if he isn’t.

    Lopez v Giolito – I think Derek has it right, then statistics would favor Giolito based on physical profiles. It doesn’t mean it will certainly happen in this instance but it is the more likely outcome. But we should be able to give both plenty of chances and let their performance dictate.


    22 Aug 16 at 7:23 pm

  16. KW

    22 Aug 16 at 8:41 pm

  17. Not a bad outing by Cole, in a small ballpark against a team of bombers. I’ve thought all along that he could be in a major-league rotation this year. Perhaps a couple of more good showings will resurrect interest in him. He could also get himself in the mix of the postseason bullpen competition as well.


    23 Aug 16 at 8:45 am

  18. If you told me Gio gave up 4 in 7ip and took the loss, i wouldn’t describe it as a “good outing” in the same way Dusty was effusive in his praise for Cole. Yeah i get it that Baltimore is a tough out, and its a bandbox. But it was still a loss. At least he went 7 instead of giving up 9 in 2ip the last time he got a start out of the blue.

    But i guess its all about context. Answer this: in 5 days time (since Giolito is on the same schedule) do we really think Cole is making the start, or is he heading back to AAA?

    Todd Boss

    23 Aug 16 at 9:57 am

  19. Gio has only gone seven full ONCE in his last 13 starts, and only three times in 25 starts this season. He’s a bullpen killer.


    23 Aug 16 at 10:08 am

  20. Fair point. Who still wants gio in the post season rotation?

    Todd Boss

    23 Aug 16 at 10:11 am

  21. Latos had a good start for Syracuse last night, perhaps not coincidentally lined up with Cole’s start/Stras’s rotation slot (although I think Cole had been previously scheduled to the start for the Chiefs). I would wager that Latos going to be in the mix with the big club soon, particularly if Ross and Stras continue to be on the shelf. He’s a head case, but Dusty has ridden herd on him before. If I’m remembering correctly, they haven’t filled Pap’s spot on the 40-man, so there may still be an open slot.

    In looking at the Syracuse box score, Taylor is only hitting .232, den Dekker .216. Not good, fellas.


    23 Aug 16 at 12:32 pm

  22. Yeah it seems like Latos only started b/c Cole got called back, and it was a day early for Giolito, but now Giolito is set to go tonight, which means he couldn’t go again until Sunday; which means Cole pretty much has to go again this coming saturday at home versus Colorado.

    den Dekker has to be disappointed at the turn of events; he’s now basically 8th out of 8 on the OF depth chart of our 40-man roster. And 1st on my “next to make way” list. Nats are at 39/40 on the 40-man roster, so could add someone quickly.

    Todd Boss

    23 Aug 16 at 2:17 pm

  23. Gio got seven innings worth of outs in his last outing, but the defense coughed up four of them into errors so he was only credited with 5 2/3. It’s hard to see how that’s Gio’s fault.

    John C.

    23 Aug 16 at 6:57 pm

  24. Obviously, I’m on record stating my belief that the Nats have both a LOOGY and middle relief problem going into the playoffs. Taking Todd’s proposed pen, there is no guarantee Solis will be able to return this year, Glover is horribly inexperienced, Gio has never shown that he can handle pitching in big games (I think Wally is right, however that if Ross returns it could well be as a reliever with Gio in the rotation), Belisle is an aging journeyman, and Lopez has been far too inconsistent and has no real bullpen experience. That leaves them with exactly three trustworthy relievers.

    On the flip side, Gott had another good outing tonight as did Burnett, for whatever that’s worth. Replacing Glover with Gott (assuming the latter pitches well in September) and Perez with Burnett might make for a marginal improvement, but they really need Solis to return fully healthy, which given his history is a very iffy proposition at best.

    Karl Kolchack

    23 Aug 16 at 11:04 pm

  25. Gio in the playoff rotation–they may not have a choice. If it is Gio vs. Cole, Latos or even Lopez assuming they don’t shut him down, Gio has to be the guy.

    The fact that it would even be suggested that Gio not be in the rotation reinforces my point about Rizzo’s horrible roster management. How can a team with World Series aspirations be positioned in late August with exactly zero reliable and healthy left handed pitchers?

    Karl Kolchack

    23 Aug 16 at 11:09 pm

  26. Giolito only threw one inning last night (Tues.). According to the game story, he was “removed to remain an option to start for Washington on Saturday.” Why not have him make the full start and remain an option to start for the Nats on Sunday? Lopez was shakier than Cole.

    The whole team has been playing ugly baseball for a week or so. Good thing they’ve got somewhat of a cushion.

    On a positive note, Ross is throwing again.


    24 Aug 16 at 5:23 am

  27. I do think Gio is the #4 starter in the playoffs, but it isn’t that big a deal because he probably only gets 2 starts throughout, if they go all the way to the WS. The lack of lefties in the pen is a problem, but they’ve had some injuries so it is kind of on Rizzo, but not 100%, because some of it is just bad lick, which can’t always be planned for (the part on him is the failure to get another guy at the deadline).

    The last few games have been bad but the lead is big, and they just need to get to Sep and add 5-6 pitchers, plus Ramos needs a week off. They should be able to coast from there


    24 Aug 16 at 7:34 am

  28. Agree with above: clearly Ross isn’t going to get stretched out for Oct since the minor league seasons are ending, so yeah it seems like Gio is the 4th and Ross is in the pen.

    At this point i’d probably be more concerned about Strasburg. He’s been hurting since the all star break? Not good. Cole may have gone 7, but Lopez just doesn’t look like he can beat a good offensive team and if there’s no Ross and no Strasburg, then one of these rookies needs to be pitching in oct. Ugh.

    Agree with criticism of giolito’s handling; totally agree; why not have him pitch on regular rest sunday to replace Lopez, who got bombed last night? I’d rather give Cole another start, at home, against an NL team that can hit but not as much as the Oriolie’s stacked middle of the order.

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 16 at 8:35 am

  29. Few people seem to be talking about him, but I think we’ll see Latos get a shot with the big club soon, perhaps as early as this weekend. If he has something left in his tank (he’s only 28), he may turn out to be one of Rizzo’s bigger strokes of genius. His career MLB ERA is 3.57, with 70 wins.


    24 Aug 16 at 9:23 am

  30. Latos: i’m just not convinced. He completely fell off a cliff out of the blue between his age 26 season and age 27 season: .

    2009-2014: 60-45 in 153 starts with a 3.34 ERA, 1.16whip, 3.41 fip, 8.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 113 ERA+ playing in a bandbox in Cincinnati.
    2015-now: 10-12 in 32 starts with a 4.84 ERA and worse ratios for whip, fip, K/9, etc.

    What the heck happened? Its night and day. You just don’t turn into a different pitcher overnight unless there’s an injury or a specific issue. I know there was a knee injury in there and allegations of malpractice (see this link: but that’s a year and a half ago.

    I mean, yes I get the virtue of trying him out, but I always saw his signing as a favor to dusty for one of his former players. Latos has a history of being a clubhouse cancer and we just went to great lengths and costs to rid our selves of Papelbon … so why bring in another problem child?

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 16 at 11:49 am

  31. I don’t know whether Latos has anything left or not. But it cost the Nats virtually nothing to take a look. He has better career numbers than nearly every (awful) starter who was traded at the deadline.

    As for the nut-job reputation, at least some of which seems well deserved (and, I admit, pretty much what I’ve always thought of him), all I can say is that the Nats should have pretty good intel on that with Dusty, Heisy, and Bob Miller. Latos had two of his best seasons, and his last good season, under Dusty.

    We’ll see. I think he’ll get a look. It may just make us pray harder for Stras and Ross . . .


    24 Aug 16 at 12:46 pm

  32. I agree with Todd on Latos. Yet I do think the Nats bring him up, especially if Stras isn’t back quickly. There may be some interesting 40 man decisions.

    No Stras in the playoffs would be a big blow. If he can go, I do think the bullpen could look fine if they take their best and are smart about it. They don’t need long men and Ross, Giolito and Lopez could be good middle guys. Maybe Cole too.

    But I really hope Dusty uses the expanded rosters to get guys ready for the postseason, not eek out every win.


    24 Aug 16 at 12:51 pm

  33. Dusty does seem to have a good understanding of the long view, giving guys days off all through the season. He has ridden Ramos hard, though; he doesn’t really seem to trust Lobaton, certainly not his bat.

    To reiterate, I’m not in the tank for Latos, but what’s it doing to hurt to give him a look. As for the clubhouse cancer rep, here’s another thought: Dan Jennings also works for Rizzo. This isn’t a Pap situation where the organization didn’t have much previous experience with a player. They’ve got plenty of people who have seen the Latos show up close. They know what they’re getting.


    24 Aug 16 at 1:48 pm

  34. I think Dusty is better at the long view for position players than pitchers. I think he overworks the hot hand, in a ‘win today, and worry about tomorrow later’ mentality.

    Barring a total collapse combined a white hot stretch by either MIA or NYM, he doesn’t need that approach for Sep and should take advice from Maddux or the pitchers themselves.


    24 Aug 16 at 1:59 pm

  35. I keep an XLS trying to project out the season and i’ve got them at 96 wins (their W/L projects them to 95 wins). Its assuming they take 3 of 4 against Philly and Arizona in upcoming home series but otherwise is very reasonable in its expectations the rest of the way out.

    If the Nats just got .500 the rest of the way they’ll be at 91 wins … in order for Miami or NYMets to get to 91 wins, they’d have to go 26-11 and 28-9 the rest of the way respectively. Just don’t see it happening. So, yeah, without poking the karma bears, it does seem like the team has the division pretty well sewn up.

    Its now down to whether you get the #1 seed (pretty much impossible), or the #2 seed (they’re 3 games ahead of the Dodgers)

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 16 at 2:35 pm

  36. I’m so surprised that the Dodgers are still in it, considering their near-total starting-pitching meltdown. SF’s everyday lineup isn’t that good, though. It seems nuts to say “we want the Giants,” all the more so in an even-numbered year, but the Nats have played much better against them this season than they have the Dodgers.


    24 Aug 16 at 3:06 pm

  37. I cna’t believe that LAD is still in it either. 27th D/L player was just done this week.

    Here’s the starters they have on the D/L right now: Kershaw, Ryu, Wood, McCarthy, Hill, Anderson and Kazmir. That’s 7 starting pitchers! And likely 4/5ths of the rotation they envisioned when the season started (Kershaw, Ryu, Wood, Anderson)

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 16 at 4:48 pm

  38. OK, this is getting ugly. Is it part of the MASN deal for the Nats to just throw the Balto games to keep the O’s in the playoff hunt? It sure looks like it at times.

    On the bright side, Glover sure has the look of a closer. He’s certainly making a strong bid to be on the postseason roster. Meanwhile, Perez seems to have entered the witness protection program, or at least the doghouse.

    I keep expecting Turner to stop hitting, or at least slow down. He is indeed the real deal. If he could only figure out how to outrun the replay guys . . .


    25 Aug 16 at 5:09 am

  39. This is an ugly stretch. On top of fatigue and playing through injuries, they always fold against the O’s. Just looks like they are intimidated by them, comeback notwithstanding. They need to get the Barves back.

    Dusty is killing Ramos by playing him every day. He’s 8 for his last 58 and at this point, I wonder if they can even get him rested by the playoffs. His past shows that if he gets worn down, he doesn’t recover quickly.

    I keep waiting for Zim to start hitting, but I wonder if he just needs the offseason to clear his head. The guy is more frustrated than I’ve ever seen him, yet still not nearly as frustrated as fans watching him.

    Turner is the Wonder Dog.


    25 Aug 16 at 7:00 am

  40. I’m going to have to eat crow at some point and admit that I was underrating Trea Turner’s capabilities. In just 37 games he’s now delivered 1.9 fWAR, most of it on offense. He’s got a 20 UZR/150 in center field … which is patently amazing considering the fact that he had about 5 minutes of game time at the position before getting thrust into that starting role. Only thing that gives me pause is his inflated babip (above .400); he’s due for some regression. The defensive stat is SSS but trending towards what we already see with our eyes; he’s super fast and has taken to the position.

    I’m sure Ramos starts getting more time off as soon as rosters expand. Lobaton going down didn’t help.

    Todd Boss

    25 Aug 16 at 8:55 am

  41. Loogy alert: Nats have traded prospect Max Schrock to the A’s for loogy Marc Rzepczynski. I’ll save everyone else the time:

    Postseason experience with the Cards and Tribe. FA at the end of this season.


    25 Aug 16 at 11:11 am

  42. Hmm… I like Schrock, was hitting well this year … but his prospect ceiling was rather limited. Undersized even for a middle infielder and a 13th round pick. Good piece of business I guess.

    But hey, our loogy situation has been solved!

    Todd Boss

    25 Aug 16 at 11:13 am

  43. Rizzo and Beane strike again! here’s a list of their trades together now:
    x 2016: Marc Rzepczynski for Max Schrock
    x 2015: Yunel Escobar for Tyler Clippard
    x 2013: Cash (?) for Corey Brown
    x 2013: Jerry Blevins for Billy Burns
    x 2013: John Wooten for Fernando Abad
    x 2013: Dakota Bakus for Kurt Suzuki back.
    x 2013 AJ Cole, Blake Treinen, ptbnl (turns into Ian Krol) for Michael Morse (who goes to Seattle)
    x 2012: Kurt Suzuki for David Freitas
    x 2011: Gio Gonzalez, Gilliam for Milone, Peacock, Norris, Cole
    x 2011: Corey Brown, Henry Rodriguez for Josh Willingham

    Todd Boss

    25 Aug 16 at 11:28 am

  44. There’s great weeping and gnashing of teeth over at Nats Prospects. I don’t want to get into it over there. While I was intrigued by Schrock’s run at Potomac this year (and not yet 22), I just never saw him as an MLB regular for a contending team. He’s not much bigger than Renda, and his defense even at 2B was said to be suspect even when they drafted him.

    I’m not too concerned about org depth in the infield with the drafting of Kieboom and Neuse, Franco’s return from his mysterious ailment, and all the international INFs they signed this year. They’ve got a lot of depth coming, and of course Trea controlled for a long time to come . . . if he doesn’t end up staying in CF.

    The only thing that bugs me about the trade is that Marc R. (nickname Scrabble!) is only signed through this year. They gave up a decent prospect for two months of a loogy. But they needed a loogy, whole point of this post . . .

    The trade also raises my concern a bit about Solis’s condition.


    25 Aug 16 at 12:43 pm

  45. Great news for Schrock… He will be starting games in MLB by early next season. Dude can hit. All our traded blocked prospects somehow make it to the show at alarming speed. i.e. Renda, Burns, Ray, Norris, Purke etc…

    All of them would probably still be stuck in the minors here as our management overvalues our .220 hitting big league players. But wants perfection out of a minor leaguer. to promote him.

    Skole probably wishing it was him.

    Marty C

    25 Aug 16 at 1:13 pm

  46. Pretty steep price, actually, but I think it is the kind of trade a team in the Nats position makes.

    Like I felt with Melancon, steep but I am ok if the guy performs. So far MM has, and hopefully scrabble does too.


    25 Aug 16 at 1:14 pm

  47. I wish it was Skole, too


    25 Aug 16 at 1:14 pm

  48. KW… I totally see Schrock as a regular for a contending team. What is the difference between his profile and by far the best player on our team, Daniel Murphy? Consistent hitting skills to me is the most valuable tool a player can have.

    You would not have liked Murphy as a prospect. I would not have traded even the younger version slap hitting pest Murphy for a rental loogy.

    This team needs consistent hitters like Murphy so bad, I hate when we trade one away. I would much rather have guys like this drive pitchers nuts than our regular profile of highly athletic K machines. i.e Espi, Desmond, Taylor…

    Marty C

    25 Aug 16 at 2:37 pm

  49. Murph is 6’1″, 220 (and also a 13th rounder, by the way). Schrock is listed as 5’8″ but probably isn’t. He’s bigger than Renda, but not much. He’s not Murphy, even the earlier slap-hitting version.

    I was never on the Taylor bandwagon and thought his K’s would catch up to him in the bigs, which they did. He currently doesn’t know whether he’s going or coming, but at least he’s not trying to find himself on South Capitol.

    Yes, I wish they had better options for Zim, and that Drew was around to give Espi an extended rest. And yes, I wish the Nats paid more attention to contact, which they tried to do this year by adding Murph (pass) and Revere (fail).

    We’ll see. I said above that I don’t love giving up Schrock for just two months of a loogy. But I’m going to sleep better the next two (or three) months with another loogy on board.


    25 Aug 16 at 2:54 pm

  50. I’ll bet $5 that Schrock isn’t in the majors next year. Yes he’s hitting .340 in A ball … but he’s a midget (5’8″) with no power and positionally limited to 2B (a position where now adays you kinda need to hit with some pop, see Murphy, Daniel) who lasted nearly 13 full rounds of the mlb draft before getting picked. It isn’t as if we’re trading a top prospect here; he was ranked 15th-19th by those that even bothered to rank him when studying the system.

    Todd Boss

    25 Aug 16 at 3:02 pm

  51. Ugh.


    25 Aug 16 at 3:24 pm

  52. I trust my own rankings more, and I had Max at a rising 8.

    This guy is not Andrew Miller. Max is a guy you package in a deal for a big fish. For all we know, he could be mediocre. Guess the scouts will be proven right or wrong on scrabble.


    25 Aug 16 at 3:36 pm

  53. Okay let’s mark that $5 Todd…. A’s don’t mess around like we do with holding guys back that are crushing their level. He’ll be AA or AAA early next year and will get a call up before September. And we’ll cringe when he gets those beautiful slap hits to keep the line moving, while our taller better athletes swing at pitches 10 inches off the plate.

    There is nothing wrong with a slap hitter hitting .300+ everywhere he goes. Murphy has proven you can be very valuable over his career playing below average defense and hitting the ball. I hated facing him even before he developed the power as he stressed our pitchers with alot of clutch singles. Only problem has been Murphy has been left standing on base at the end of many innings as Harper and Zimm flail away this year.

    Do any of you agree that Werth had about the emptiest 50 game on base streak in history? It’s just over and he’s batting sub .250 and still has only the 5th best OBP on the team. Must have averaged 1.1 on base per game. Rendon shoulda been back in that 2 spot as soon as he got warm.

    Todd.. why are you harping on where people got drafted? Doesn’t matter once they lace up the spikes and play. Didn’t Giolito empty your hype bucket? Schrock drafted lower than Wiseman, and it’s not especially close on performance.

    Marty C

    25 Aug 16 at 4:42 pm

  54. I’m OK with the deal, even though I liked Schrock. He’s small and skinny, and doesn’t really have a frame that looks like it will fill out much (I saw him in Potomac last weekend). For those concerned that he is Billy Burns II:

    (1) He probably has a slightly better hit tool than Burns did … but he’s not a good defender and not nearly the baserunner that Burns was. Schrock is also position limited to second base or (maybe) LF. And

    (2) Burns himself has come to Earth with a resounding thud. The A’s ended up dumping him for another struggling player with a better draft pedigree.

    John C.

    25 Aug 16 at 5:19 pm

  55. I would think he probably has a much better hit tool. As not many infield hits etc…

    You can’t can’t label a guy just an A ball phenom if that’s the only place he played. That’s like labeling Turner a AAA player when all he was allowed to do was dominate AAA.

    I’m betting Schrock continues to rake at AA and beyond. He just hasn’t had the opportunity yet. I’m not sure he’s had even a cold whole week in the minors yet.

    I don’t care if Shrock is skinny or slowish. We have and have had plenty of fast guys and strong guys who can’t touch the ball in clutch situations when we needed to keep the line moving. What seem like insignificant singles actually lengthen the game to get your boppers another valuable AB late in the game, when they otherwise may have been stranded in the on deck circle or in the hole.

    You don’t need 8 hairy chested monsters in a line up. How many times have we been begging for a lousy single or even just contact to move a guy over? Are there 3 better hitting prospects in our system?

    Marty C

    25 Aug 16 at 6:05 pm

  56. I’d be okay with the Schrock deal IF Rzepczynski was any good, but his WHIP is 1.722 and his BB/9 is 6.0, fer chrissake. And for those who were chiding me about Rivero saying his splits against lefties weren’t good, Rzepczynski’s OPS split against lefties is 80 points HIGHER than it is against righties. That is SOME kinda great LOOGY they just acquired. 🙁

    The Nats are reaping the whirlwind of trying to rebuild the bullpen on the cheap last offseason. Had they been more aggressive they wouldn’t have been put in a position to be held over a barrel by the Yankees, and would not now be giving up a promising young hitter for the privilege of taking out Billy Beane’s garbage.

    Karl Kolchack

    25 Aug 16 at 6:54 pm

  57. Just for the heck of it, let’s count the bullpen management errors Rizzo has made just since the 2014-15 offseason:

    1. Traded Tyler Clippard instead of Drew Storen despite subsequent events (Papelbon trade) making it pretty clear he had no confidence in Storen to be the closer in the playoffs.

    2. Traded Jerry Blevins to the Mets for Matt den Dekker. Yes, Blevins got hurt a year ago, but he would sure look good in the Nats’ ‘pen right now.

    3. Paid $5 million to Casey Jannsen for 2015 (includes 2016 buyout).

    4. Sent Tanner Roark to the ‘pen despite his fantastic 2014 season as a starter, only to have Williams fail to use Roark in anything resembling a consistent role.

    5. Waived lefty Xavier Cedeno, who owns a 1.195 WHIP and a 9.4 SO/9 ratio this year.

    6. Placed promising 22-year old Abel de los Santos on the 40-man roster early and called him up for TWO appearances, then was forced to DFA him in 2016 (de los Santos has been dominant for the Reds’ AA team since they acquired him).

    7. Traded for Jonathon Papelbon, then guaranteed his contract for $11 million this season, effectively preventing the team from acquiring a better closer this past offseason.

    8. Signed Oliver Perez to a TWO year contract, despite Perez’s unsightly 6.75 ERA down the stretch for Houston last year.

    9. Traded Rivero (the team’s then-4th best reliever) for Melancon instead of dealing other prospects.

    10. As a result of dealing Rivero, is then forced to trade a promising prospect in Schrock for a garbage lefty reliever in Rzepczynski after Solis (who hasn’t pitched 60 innings in a season since 2011) almost immediately and predictably lands on the DL for the 2nd time this season.

    Every GM makes occasional bad moves, but collectively Rizzo’s bullpen management the past few years borders on malpractice–which is particularly strange given how good he is in most other areas.

    Karl Kolchack

    25 Aug 16 at 7:29 pm

  58. The whirlwind that’s being reaped is more from the bad drafts up until 2015. They’ve loaded up on lefties, and reliever types in general, in the middle rounds in 2015 and 2016, the kind of guys you need to be getting every year to have a few matriculate to the majors. But they completely whiffed on these types of guys for three or four years (including the high pick on Johannsen). The guys like Solis, Grace, and Barrett are all from much earlier drafts.

    Anyway, when you’re not getting those guys coming up from your system, then yes, you’re left overpaying for retreads like Perez. And you’re left using good picks like Schrock to make up for the bad ones earlier.


    25 Aug 16 at 7:32 pm

  59. The Nats are swimming in pitching prospects, and they trade one of their best hitting prospects for a pitcher who’s career numbers are the definition of ordinary.

    Only this year his numbers are below ordinary.
    Couln’t they at least have tried Grace before making a move this bad.

    Mark L

    26 Aug 16 at 8:40 am

  60. I’m sure Grace and Burnett will get a looks with the big club in September, but a player has to be with the organization by August 31 to be eligible for the postseason roster. Marc R. may or may not be on that roster, but at least he’s eligible for it.

    Just a reminder on all of this, too, that the Nats’ bullpen isn’t terrible. It’s in the top five statistically in just about every major category. It’s just gotten unusually overworked over the last couple of weeks, in part due to an unusual degree of starter meltdown. The fill-in starts for Ross in particular have taken their toll, as they’ve generally lasted less than five innings, leaving the ‘pen to cover half the game.

    They’ll be OK. They’ll also probably end up leaving a well-paid vet or two off the postseason roster. Glover is well on his way toward bumping someone. They’ll be a posse of Syracuse call-ups doing their best to get into the conversation as well, including Gott, Martin, Grace, and maybe Burnett and Latos, both of whom would have to be added to the now-full 40-man, as would guys like Bryan Harper and Nick Lee.

    With 40-man manipulation coming soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if a waiver deal pops up before next Wed. for someone like den Dekker or Goodwin (although Goodwin made a good impression during his cup of coffee).


    26 Aug 16 at 9:39 am

  61. The whirlwind? Even after snapping the four game losing streak the Nationals are on a pace to win 94-95 games, and have the third best record in MLB behind the Cubs and (by a half game) the Rangers. And it’s not that they “can’t beat the good teams.” The Nationals have a winning record against teams with winning records.

    That’s not much of a whirlwind.

    John C.

    26 Aug 16 at 9:45 am

  62. I mention the draft round because there’s a direct correlation of draft round to likelihood of making the majors, even if Schrock got paid like a 4th rounder. He got picked in the 13th round. that means that he was passed over more than FOUR HUNDRED times by teams who chose to pick other players. He was picked 404th. If he was THAT GOOD of a prospect, he would have gone 10 rounds earlier. That’s my point. Yes every once in a while there’s a crazy miss where someone drafted in the 20th round makes it (like a Tanner Roark, drafted in the 25th), but you don’t often see guys rocketing up the minors and matriculating within 2 seasons who were picked so low. Roark took years in the minors to get his shot.

    but, just to make my point, i went back through the 13th round of every draft for the past decade. is the direct link to the 2016 13th round and you can just pull down the year. You have to go back to 2012 to even find a player drafted in the 13th round who has appeared in the majors. From there, here’s year by year with players who ever even appeared in the majors and then mention of those that actually have positive war:
    – 2012: 8 players, just two with any significant contribution; Matt Bowman and Devon Travis
    – 2011: 3 players, none with any significant time
    – 2010: 6 players (though really 5 since Jon Grey was drafted here out of HS but went to college): AJ Griffen only major contributor though to be fair Tyler Austin just arrived for NYY and looks good.
    – 2009: 8 players; Matt Carpenter a significant contributor
    – 2008: 7 players, none with any significant bWAR
    – 2007: 3 players, the most significant of which is our own Shawn Kelley, who despite his successes this year has a CAREER bWAR of just 2.9.
    – 2006: 5 players including Daniel Murphy ironically and Mike Minor with a career 3.9 bWAR
    – 2005: 4 players, none with any significant career
    – 2004: 5 players, again none with even a career bWAR above 0.3
    – 2003: 5 players, none with even a positive career bWAR.

    Ok, so to summarize, lets skip down past the four most recent drafts giving the assumption that none of them are realistic candidates to be considered for MLB squads. From 2003-2012, you had:
    – 10*30 = 300 players drafted in the 13th round
    – Of those 300, 54 ever made it to the majors. That’s 18%.
    – Of those 54, just eight (8) had any significant bWAR of a career. Thats 2.6%.

    So, basically you have an 18% chance as a 13th rounder of ever making the majors just for a cup of coffee, and a 2.6% chance of having a CAREER that is worth more than 1-2 bWAR.

    So yes, I’ll continue to point out that he was a 13th rounder and thus the odds of him ever having a significant impact are really, really small. Smaller still since (fair or not) he’s 5 8″ in a sport where you’re considered “undersized” if you’re not at least 6’1″ and where he is stuck at a position (2B) that has morphed to become a position where teams expect power production. If you want to pull the inevitable Jose Altuve comparison as proof that an undersized player can make it … i’ll point out that Altuve has power. He’s already hit 20 homers this year. To go with his fantastic hit tool and his speed.

    Todd Boss

    26 Aug 16 at 9:50 am

  63. The Nats did precisely what I thought they’d do with Baltimore: lose 2 away and spilt at home. By W/L they’re on pace for 94 wins and by my projections I’ve still got them at 96. I’ve got them going 16-9 the rest of the way against the division and 6-4 in remaining non-divisional games. Maybe slightly optimistic … if they go 2-2 instead of 3-1 in two remaining 4-game home series against Philly and Arizona, they’ll be at 94 wins.

    Todd Boss

    26 Aug 16 at 9:54 am

  64. John C – when I say they are reaping the whirlwind, I am talking about the playoffs and having to blow a decent hitting prospect for crap because the are stuck for decent lefty pitching. Obviously they would have to have an epic collapse to fail to make the postseason.

    Todd – wherever Schrock was drafted, he was a decent hitter in a system that doesn’t have many. Agreed that his size indicates that he likely will never be an MLB regular, but the price for such a crappy LOOGY was still WAY too high.

    Karl Kolchack

    26 Aug 16 at 3:50 pm

  65. KW – as I have said repeatedly, the Nats gave away Abad, Cedeno and Blevins for practically nothing. Any two of those three would be FAR superior to what they have now and would have made the Schrock trade unnecessary. The way Rizzo casually gets rid of them, he seems to think good lefty relievers grow on trees.

    Karl Kolchack

    26 Aug 16 at 3:54 pm

  66. Prediction: the Nats will take two lefty relievers to the postseason. Solis is a lock to be one of them if he’s healthy. That leaves one slot open among Perez, Marc Scrabble, Grace, Burnett, and perhaps Bryan Harper if he can get healthy. It’s a wide-open competition. I would expect to see Grace show up on Sept. 1 and get right in it. Burnett is more problematic, as I don’t think they’ll want to make a 40-man move to add him unless they’re really convinced that he’s better than the others. So he may not get an MLB shot unless the others really tank and/or he’s totally lights out at Syracuse.

    My guess, as of 8/26, is Solis and Scrabble on the postseason roster, with Perez left off. Dusty clearly doesn’t have confidence in him right now, for good reason. His recent meltdown combined with the Solis DL stint to force the Nats to make a trade.

    It will be interesting, though. Dusty doesn’t seem fond of using true one-batter loogys, and that’s what Scrabble seems to be.

    But who do you want facing Anthony Rizzo with a WS trip on the line??? (If it’s me, I’m bringing Max out of the ‘pen to face one batter!)


    26 Aug 16 at 4:17 pm

  67. Karl, I know the Cedeno thing was an option issue. I think Abad may have been as well but don’t remember exactly. I’m sure Rizzo would have liked to have stockpiled both of them if he could have. But those were the years of all-but-guaranteed bullpen spots for most of the guys, with only one open spot in the spring. It was a tight competition.

    I never understood the Blevins thing, over something like $100K in arbitration. Perhaps there was more to it in the background, but you never know. The return of den Dekker looked good, and he played like it at the end of last season, but as Todd keeps saying, he’s probably at the top (or bottom?) of the DFA list right now.

    I’ll add another MIA here in Nick Lee, who the Nats thought enough of to add to the 40-man and not expose to Rule 5. That was somewhat of an admission that they were short on quality lefty relievers in the upper minors, but Lee has faltered this year, and Bryan Harper, who has never been considered a top prospect, moved ahead of him in the pecking order.


    26 Aug 16 at 4:27 pm

  68. My prediction: the Nats will have to take two bullpen lefties to the playoffs (they will almost certainly have eight relievers after all), but I don’t think one will be Solis. I hope I’m wrong, but ominously there has been no word about how he’s doing since he went on the DL. Shoulder issues are always worrying, but even if he is able to pitch he’s only looked dominant in fits and starts. He’s a better option than anything else they have, but that doesn’t mean I want him in there against A. Rizzo clinging to 3-2 lead with two runners on.

    As for the others:

    Grace – 1.368 WHIP and 6.4 SO/9 ratio in AAA. Ugh.

    Burnett – couldn’t even crack the staff of the worst pitching team in baseball (Minnesota). My guess is that despite good numbers his velocity must be way down.

    Harper – 4.6 BB/9 ratio at AAA and there has been no word on his recovery either.

    You know who would look good in a Nats uniform? Boone Logan–he’s in his contract year, is owed over $1 million for September and the Rockies are not realistic WC contenders. If I were GM, I’d offer up Austin Voth for Logan assuming he is able to clear waivers. Sucks to lose a decent starting pitching prospect for a month of a reliever, but that’s the box M. Rizzo put himself in by not doing more to beef up the bullpen last offseason.

    Karl Kolchack

    27 Aug 16 at 11:14 pm

  69. KW – sorry, I don’t buy the options issue on Cedeno & Abad. The latter in particular was perfectly fine when he was here and there way no reason to dump him. It’s the GM’s job to evaluate who is worth keeping and who isn’t, and when it comes to relievers, as my 10 mistakes comment above demonstrates, Rizzo has made error after error after error in assembling the bullpen.

    I also don’t understand why a team that has over $400 million invested in its top two starters has for the past two seasons insisted on assembling its bullpen at K-Mart.

    Karl Kolchack

    27 Aug 16 at 11:16 pm

  70. Karl, here’s one thing on which we can agree: I’d love to have Boone Logan. I’m sure that Rizzo asked, and the price was too high. Either that, or he also had to get cash as well.

    We haven’t commented on it, but it seems he has been held once again to the annual Lerner canard of not adding any salary mid-season (despite Werth’s $10M deferral!!!). Melancon came with cash, as did Scrabble. I’m sure cash was a big part of the reason they had to give up a Schrock-level prospect. And yet they then agreed to eat the rest of Pap’s contract?!?


    28 Aug 16 at 8:31 am

  71. I think we’ve entered the postseason bullpen auditions, and Perez and Petit have put themselves on the bubble. Could someone like Latos bump Petit as the long man? He had another strong outing at Syracuse on Sat. Gott (3Ks in 2IP) and Martin also looked good and should certainly get a look since they’re on the 40-man, as is Grace (who I agree hasn’t been great overall).

    The Nats now have a fairly tight 40-man situation, as you would think they wouldn’t want to willingly expose a quality player like den Dekker or Kieboom. Difo and Goodwin would seem to have solidified their 40-man spots. I had Martin on the 40-man bubble at one point, but he’s been good recently. Anyway, they’re going to have to be pretty convinced that someone like Latos, Burnett, Voth, or Bryan Harper would be a good bet for the postseason roster to take the step of DFAing one or two guys.

    As for den Dekker, he’s fallen to .209, with Taylor down to .211. Not good for those old high school teammates. The Nats certainly can’t count Taylor into their 2017 and post-Werth OF plans. Hey Wally, is Charlie Blackmon still available?


    28 Aug 16 at 8:41 am

  72. den Dekker and Taylor were HS teammates? how could i miss that? Sorry KW, i think Blackmon is not available until the offseason. maybe straight up for Gio, since the Rockies could probably go for established pitching.

    i think 1 more 40 man coming, probably Martin or dD, for Latos. after that, i think its all internal candidates for the pen.

    Sim just looks really bad. i don’t think is washed up yet, but I do think there is a real chance that he doesn’t contribute this year (meaningfully). he looks to need the offseason to clear his head.


    28 Aug 16 at 11:59 pm

  73. Yeah, same HS for den Dekker and Taylor, and I think one year overlap on the team before dD went off to UF.

    I was trying to figure out as I watched on Sun. whether the Nats would be better off with Zim as a regular (with Trea in CF), or with Revere in the lineup (with Trea at 2B and Murph at 1B). As bad as Zim has been, Revere has been worse and is a rally-killer near the top of the order. And as much as we may think CRob has been better than Zim, he hasn’t, as their OPS is the same, and Clint’s defense is much worse. So I think Zim is what we’ve got for now.

    As for Trea, I hate to parrot F.P., but as he said of Turner a few days ago, “I knew he was good, but I had no idea he was THIS good.”

    Also, a shout-out to the Fish and Mets for doing very little while the Nats have stumbled along for the last couple of weeks. Time to right the ship and get back to clobbering some people. We’re currently only two games ahead of the Dodgers for home field in the first round.


    29 Aug 16 at 5:24 am

  74. Maybe. It feels like Revere offers more, but at a minimum, they should be platooned against RH/LH pitchers come playoff time.

    Turner probably isn’t this good. As fast as he is, that .400+ BABIP isn’t sustainable, although the large amount of errors against him is probably a function of his speed, at least somewhat, and not counted in the normal stats. But long term, he needs to walk a little more and maybe cut his strikeouts a bit. That is quibbling, for sure, right now. He is a very fun player to watch


    29 Aug 16 at 7:03 am

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