Friday, February 24, 2012

The pitching plan

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg throws in the bullpen yesterday morning.
VIERA, Fla. -- We're approaching the one-week mark of spring training, which means a couple of things: 1) Position players are about to join the mix (the first full-squad workout takes place tomorrow), 2) The coaching staff is starting to put together a pitching game plan for the exhibition season.

Davey Johnson and Steve McCatty were mapping out that pitching plan yesterday and appear to have a system in place (though they aren't revealing specific details yet, like who will pitch on what day).

This much we know: The Nationals have 10 starting pitchers in camp who need to be stretched out over the course of the spring. Those 10 starters: Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny, Craig Stammen and Yunesky Maya.

How will the Nats make sure all 10 guys get enough work to build up arm strength and stamina entering the season? Johnson said he'll pair them all up in groups of two, then have them "piggyback" off each other through the first few weeks of exhibition games.

For example, let's say Strasburg and Detwiler are paired up. Strasburg would start a game and pitch, say, three innings. Detwiler would then come in and throw three innings himself before handing the rest of the game over to the bullpen.

That system can work for a little while because Johnson doesn't plan to use his relievers more than every third day in the early portion of the Grapefruit League schedule. Eventually, those relievers will need to start appearing more often. At the same time, the starters will need to extend themselves to the point they're throwing five or even six innings.

So there will need to be some finagling of the system later on this spring, either by sending some of those starters to minor-league camp to pitch in "B" games or by sending them to the minors altogether.

One thing to keep in mind: Don't read too much into the order of the rotation during the first portion of exhibition play. Johnson said yesterday he doesn't plan to really start lining guys up for the first week of the season until mid-March.


MicheleS said...

Actual real baseball stuff.. Woo Hoo!

Ryan said...

Mark, are you in Viera to stay until the end of March?

natsfan1a said...

If memory serves, Mark is there through March 6 and then again from March 20 to the end of ST. Wish I was going to be there sometime this spring but I don't think that will happen. Le Sigh.

natsfan1a said...

Oh well, it's a marathon, not a sprint. (pops a bon-bon)

Sunderland said...

Not a sprint (pop)
Best 25 Go North (Gulp - Bang)

Friend of all the World said...

Don't forget that Espinsoa appears to be in the best shape of his life.

RaleighNat said...

Wow what an exciting time! How fun is it to have pitching. We will not have many innings this year thrown by guys that are not quality major leaguers. Certainly true of the rotation where we have 7 legit starters and an eighth in Gorzellany. If Gorzo is your eighth option, that's pretty good depth. Something tells me that Det and Gorzo make the bullpen as they are best suited for swing roles. Lannan is the 6th starter but I think it makes sense for him to start in the minors unless Wang isn't ready / 100%. Tough medicine for a guy like Lannan to go down but if it is with the understanding that he is actually 6th starter on the depth chart that might take some of the sting out given he'll have plenty of starts given Stras innings limit and unlikelihood that a need doesn't pop up somewhere else in the mean time.

I think Det fits the mold of a future starter that can swing from the pen to the rotation pretty seamlessly.

Raleighnat said...

And that's not to mention the bullpen. Incredible depth and talent. If Mattheus proves the odd man out and the first reserve called And unlike others, I like Rodrigues...yeah he has control problems but his power not only creates strikeouts but limits hits and the long ball. A guy like that can get by with walks. And a Lidge, Clippard, Storen trio to get the last 9 outs. Yikes that's strong.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Better pace yourself on those bonbons, 1a. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.


DaveB said...

Lots of people like H-Rod. He had one bad month last season (July), every other month his ERA was under 3.00. That perfect 7th inning at the last home game was the most dominant single inning of pitching that Wash. DC has seen since the return of baseball. The highlight clip of that inning is on his bio page on the Nats website (On a personal note: At the very end of that clip you can see Ramos toss the ball from the third strike-out to the front row as he went into the dugout, but it cuts-off before you can see me snatch it out of the air. I might try to get H-rod to sign that ball someday) :)

HHover said...


Those ERA #s for HRod are kinda deceptive. His peripherals (K/BB, WHIP) were pretty consistently awful because he was giving up tons of walks for everything but the last 4 weeks or so of the season.

JaneB said...

HHover, I predict HRod gets it going on way before September. He used to scare the bejezus out of me. Now I love when he comes in. We real
ly have a great bullpen, and exponentially the best pitching we've ever had. I can't imagine Yunesky making it very far, but maybe he'll surprise us.
Bon-bon popped, gulp-bang! GYFNG!

sjm308 said...

Maya was not a good sign but I understand at the time why it was done. Seems to me he is an afterthought and I guess he will be a starter in Syracuse but if we are going to get anything out of him, it will be in the bullpen.

Put me down as another HRod lover. He is so much fun when you are at the park. Yes, his walks drive you crazy but his speed and stuff are some of the best I have ever seen and I love watching batters try and put the ball in play (or not). Is there a stat out there that let you know how many batters actually hit a fair ball against this guy? I am sure its not worth anything since he does walk a ton of people but it might be interesting.

Les in NC said...

Dave B, you must not remember that J. Zimm pitched an Immaculate inning last season. That, would be the best inning pitched that Nats have ever seen, and quite possibly will see.

natsfan1a said...

mmmmm, bon-bons...d'oh!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Better pace yourself on those bonbons, 1a. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

February 24, 2012 9:55 AM

Theophilus said...

Anybody who thinks Rodriguez's walks are entertaining should be condemned to watch film of Don Stanhouse w/ the Orioles in the '80s. Or manage him.

sm13 said...

Let's hope they send Maya to minor league camp ASAP. He needs to get out of the way of the "real" starting pitchers!

realdealnats said...

I like H Rod as well. Sometimes you just have a good feeling about someone, even though it defies common sense or facts. I feel the same way about Detwiler, understanding why he'll probably start in the pen.

Re: shoulders. LaRoche caught me off guard despite the fact we all know how long shoulders can take to come around. And now pacing Wang every third day to be safe, one not only figures he is set for DL come OD, but it makes me worry a bit for the third shoe to drop with Rendon. I really really hope his shoulder is healthy, b/c he's another guy I have a real good feel about.

I think we'll see Wang up in mid-season to fill in for someone--somebody always needs to hit the DL. And by September, when Stras sits, which I think he'll do even in a pennant race, we're going to see a stable of pitchers working at very high efficiency, including the pen.
Hitting is another story. But maybe we'll pull the trigger on a July 31st deal for Upton. And maybe Upton, with a change of scene, starts to develop into his beastlike potential.

Next year, I don't think as early as this September, it's Zimm-3B, Desi-SS, Rendon-2B, Morse 1-B, Werth-LF, Upton-CF, Harper RF, Ramos-C. And that is a healthier club than one w/Fielder on it--who pushed everyone out of position just enough in place and time, like Arenas did with the Wizards.

Post a Comment