Nationals Arm Race

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

The Rotation is worse than even I thought possible


Hey, at least Grey’s looked decent. Photo via WP

Small Sample Sizes, arbitrary endpoints, its only April, yeah yeah.

As of 4/24/22’s game, in reverse order, here’s our rotation’s last week:

Only Grey managed to have a decent week, throwing half the 4/19/22 DH in fine fashion (5 1/3ip, 3hits, 1 run). Still not a QS though; he got yanked after retiring the first guy in the 6th on just 87 pitches.

As for the rest of the rotation? Come on.

In our last 5 starts, our starters have given us a grand total of 17 1/3 innings and given up an astounding 27 runs along the way. That’s just 17 1/3 innings out of a required 45 to be pitched, meaning our bullpen is absolutely, completely shredded right now and its … April 25th. Every game for the last week looks like a spring training game, where every reliever in the pen gets an inning until the game is over.

We’re only 3 weeks into the season and the team has already called up SIX (6!) arms who weren’t on the opening day roster (Rogers, Sanchez, Clay, Perez, Ramirez, and Harvey).

And they’re going to have to scramble for coverage going forward; there are just TWO remaining arms on the 40-man who aren’t on the active roster or the MLB DL: Carrillo (who just went onto the AA D/L with a “sore shoulder,” uh oh), and Evan Lee, who’s made 3 starts but has only gone 9 1/3 total innings, giving up 8 walks along the way. Not exactly the bullpen innings eater we need. So get ready for any one of the slew of MLFA arms we have sitting in AAA to start getting called up to replace ineffective arms who suddenly have soft tissue injuries. I’m talking guys like Verrett, Edwards Jr., Clippard, Garret, Manoah, Weems, Baldonado, and Rodriguez.

After today’s debacle we’re 6-11, in last place in the NL, and have the 2nd worst record in the league. And we’re going to struggle to do better from here.

I feel like we’re in for a long season.

8 Responses to 'The Rotation is worse than even I thought possible'

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  1. The rotations ERA is now 6.72.
    This was avoidable, there was a lot of starting pitching available this offseason. The question is, who to blame. Were Rizzo’s hands tied by the Lerners as they sell the team?
    I don’t know the answer.

    Mark L

    25 Apr 22 at 8:22 am

  2. we’ve talked about it a couple of times … but the off-season planning for this team was not coordinated.

    If you’re going to try to compete:
    – … why did they not attempt to sign one of the big FAs, a 3B, or augment Starting pitching?
    – if you’re going to compete, why go into the season with $68M in cap space w hen the last several years have all been at or near the limit?

    Or, if you’re going to tank
    – why spend a DIME on new players?? Why buy Cesar Hernandez, or Adrianza, or Doolittle, or Cruz?
    – Why isn’t every possible prospect at the MLB level, playing every day and getting their lumps? I’m of course talking about Garcia primarily, but there’s other guys in AAA who could be playing. Noll, Casey, Barrera,

    i dunno. Either way, they’re spending $168M on the season ($58M of which is going to Strasburg and Corbin) for a really bad team.

    Todd Boss

    25 Apr 22 at 8:43 am

  3. You’re singing my song, brother. They were delusional if they thought they could compete with this rotation. One can only assume that they hoped on magic pixie dust that Corbin would rebound, Stras and Ross would be healthy, Fedde would suddenly not suck, Adon would miraculously be better at the MLB level then he was at A+, and Cavalli would be ready by June.

    The reality: Stras and Ross are still hurt, Corbin still looks like 2021, Fedde still looks like 2017-21, Adon is proving beyond a doubt that he belongs in AA, and so is Cavalli, who is sporting a 9.00 ERA at AAA. An. Sanchez has yet to come off life support, and Aa. Sanchez and Rogers look like the AAAA bodies that they are. First round picks for ’17, ’18, and ’19 are all injured (still).

    But hey, Gray looks good! And Henry may be MLB-ready before Cavalli is (which I’ve said since the draft).


    25 Apr 22 at 10:19 am

  4. I think the offseason plan here is effectively an acknowledgement of how bad the farm system had become. We’re not in rebuild mode but what I call prebuild mode. Because we don’t have enough talent to even start rebuilding. So they have to play mediocre veterans like C. Hernandez and Adrianza this year in the hopes that one or two of them catch fire and you can trade them at the deadline for more prospects, and then start the rebuild…


    25 Apr 22 at 11:32 am

  5. NG is probably right. The team literally couldn’t field a team from the players it had on hand this off-season. We tried such an exercise but it would have required a ton of 40-man roster adds.

    Prior to any moves this off-season, if you wanted to make an active roster of entirely internal options, it would have looked like this:
    – C: Ruiz, Adams
    – Inf: Bell, Garcia, Escobar, Kieboom … and that’s it. They did not have another infielder on the 40-man until they started picking up guys like Fox, CHernandez, Franco, Adrianza, and Strange-Gordon.
    – OF: Soto, Robles, Thomas, YHernandez.
    – SP: Strasburg, Corbin, Ross, Adon, Grey
    – SP Depth: Fedde, Rogers, Espino, Romero, Carrillo, Lee
    – RP: Rainey, Finnegan, Machado, Perez, Clay, Thompson, Klobotis, Harris, Voth

    So, you look at this and you say; ok they needed to buy infielders. They needed to augment the rotation knowing that Stras wasn’t going day 1 and Ross was hurt. And they always need relievers. So, yeah i guess at hte end of the day you can make cogent arguments that they got what they needed and not much else. Once DH was clear, they bought Cruz.

    Todd Boss

    25 Apr 22 at 10:20 pm

  6. Wasn’t most of the $168M allocated before free agency? I think we’re talking ~$20M for free agent signings (most of which went to Cruz).

    There was no viable path to contention in 2022 given what was in the cupboard (and the distance between the Nats and the Braves/Mets was too large to make up via free agency). I refuse to believe anybody in the FO thought otherwise.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the team should have spent more with one of two goals in mind: (1) sign good FA players at positions of need to longer term contracts toward the end of competing in 2023 or 2024; and (2) sign good FA players to one year deals toward the end of trading them at the 2022 deadline.

    I think (1) is just unrealistic. The Seager/Correa/Bryant types would need to be overpaid to sign with the Nats. I think most teams would do the deal Correa signed with the Twins – but that means Correa could choose among many similar offers. Why would he choose the Nats? And look what it took for Texas and Colorado to win the Seager/Bryant auctions. That’s what it would have taken for the Nats. Those guys are good players – but would the Nats’ outlook for 2024 be better if we signed them to the same deals? I kinda doubt it.

    I agree completely that, if they’re going to be spending $160M, they could have spent $180M and signed more guys with the intention of trading them (e.g., more Cruz-like deals). It seems like a fast way to rebuild the farm system b/c you can deal the FAs for players closer to the majors. And the Nats’ recent weakness is player development – rebuilding the farm system this way lets other orgs do some share of the developing.

    So, they mostly half-assed (2). I continue to think signing Cruz was good strategy, but they should have done a lot more, and the reason they didn’t has to be because of the budget. Seems foolish.


    26 Apr 22 at 9:57 am

  7. There seem to have been parts cognitive dissonance, denial, and hubris involved in the offseason, among other things. Plus, like several teams, the Nats weren’t aggressive before the lockout, and it’s possible that Rizzo’s post-lockout plan mostly got scrapped by the apparent ownership change of heart over the last few months. Yet he still came up with the $$$ for Cruz.

    I certainly agree that I had no interest for the Nats for the big-bucks QO guys right now. Just doesn’t make a lot of sense. And frankly, there weren’t a lot of decent mid-level contract options this season among hitters. There were among pitchers, and that’s why it irks me that they didn’t get any of them. You have to think that they were convinced that they’d have Stras and Ross.

    Not much is gained by trying to figure out the real story of how they got into this hole, though. And too depressing! The bigger question is how do they get out. It isn’t going to be easy. The free agent class next winter isn’t good. Their quality trade chips are limited, unless they’re really willing to do a Soto super-blockbuster. It probably would be good if they can extend Bell at a reasonable rate . . . unless they’re hoping to get something for him as a deadline dump.


    26 Apr 22 at 12:14 pm

  8. Fun fact: through the first 19 games/4 turns through the rotation … we have exactly one Quality Start from our staff. That being Joan Adon’s 6ip 0r outing on 4/19/22 (also, our last win).

    Todd Boss

    27 Apr 22 at 12:30 pm

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