Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Storen's first hiccup, Olsen's schedule

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Drew Storen allowed his first runs of the spring last night.
VIERA, Fla. -- Good morning from Space Coast Stadium, where following last night's loss to the Braves everyone is experiencing the first of what will be many quick turnarounds this season. Everyone seems to drag a little bit in these cases, especially in spring training, where your body gets used to the early-morning routine and then gets thrown off when the rare night game hits the schedule.

The Nationals are playing split-squad games today -- home against the Marlins, on the road against the Cardinals in Jupiter -- and in a rarity, the manager and top starting pitcher are making the road trip. So John Lannan, Jim Riggleman and several other regulars are currently on a bus somewhere on I-95. Meanwhile, back here in Viera, bench coach John McLaren is leading the rest of the guys (including starter Craig Stammen) against the Marlins.

(Question: If the home team wins today but the road team loses, does Riggleman still get credit for managing the Nats' first win of the spring? I'm thinking no.)

This kind of got lost in the shuffle last night, but Drew Storen experienced his first hiccup of the spring. Gave up two runs and three hits to the Braves, the first time he's been scored upon this month and the first time he hasn't looked dominant.

I talked to Storen this morning about it, and as he pointed out, he really didn't do much different in this outing than in his previous three.

"I just made one bad pitch," he said. "I hung an 0-2 breaking ball [to Martin Prado, who drilled a two-run single up the middle] and that was really kind of the turning point."

This is something Storen is coming to realize about life in the major leagues. In college and in the minors, he could get away with one ill-thrown pitch. Here, not so much. "You can't make a mistake," he said. "Or you'll pay for it." ...

Meanwhile, the starting rotation is beginning to take some shape. We know Lannan (who starts today in Jupiter) and Jason Marquis (who starts tomorrow at the Astros) are the top two guys. And Riggleman all but anointed Garrett Mock another lock both before and after the right-hander's outing yesterday.

The other two spots? Well, it sure looks like it's set up for Livan Hernandez and Scott Olsen, provided of course both are healthy and somewhat effective this spring. Livo has been pitching on the same day as Stephen Strasburg so far, and that lines up perfectly with the season's third game (April 8 against the Phillies). Mock is lined up to start the fourth game (April 9 at the Mets).

If Olsen winds up the fifth starter, he'll need to have his schedule adjusted somewhat, though that shouldn't be much trouble. He's currently slated to pitch on Thursday, the Nationals' lone off-day of the spring, so he'll throw four innings in a minor-league game.

"That's all right," Olsen said. "I don't want to get off my schedule at all. That's more important than facing big leaguers."

It should be noted that Matt Chico also will throw Thursday behind Olsen, just as he did Saturday in Kissimmee. If Olsen somehow is not deemed healthy and doesn't make the squad, Chico could easily slide into that spot.


Anonymous said...

Until Olsen can reach 90MPH on his fastball, I'm fine with going with Chico.

Anonymous said...

Can Chico hit 90?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Neither Olsen nor Chico has hit 90 in a game yet. Both topped out at 88 mph last time out. Both feel like they can add another notch or two to that by the end of the spring.

Richard said...

Why don't anyone mention J D Martin? He's pitched as well as anyone this spring. He had a lot of quality starts last year, and his w/L record was not bad for a rookie with a team that sure didn't score a lot of runs for him. What's up with him Mark?

peric said...

JD Martin has pitched well and he will pitch well as a starter for the Nats. Even if he has to start in the minors he will be back.

This team seems to be taking a huge risk starting a guy like Olsen in majors in April. Its seems silly since they aren't going anywhere. Why not let the guy make rehab starts down in AA Harrisburg Hospital? The same with Chico? See if they can get some arm strength back first.

The only "attention" Kasten may get is for being stupid ... which will not look good.

Anonymous said...

Where is Stammen in the discussion about starters? He had one start and missed the next due to rain. In his two innings he pitched as well as Mock. And he certainly pitched better than Mock (or Olsen) last year.

Seems odd that he could be left in Syracuse due to rain.


alexva said...

Olsen will get a couple more starts, if he is not ready I'm sure he'll start in AA or AAA until he is.

Follow-up on Mock, if this is his best he is a 4/5 starter. He just misses the glove too much to be any better.

Unknown said...

Am I the only reader of this blog who is not excited at the idea of J.D. Martin starting for this team? The guy was 26 last year (27 now) so he's not getting much better than what you saw last year. He had an ERA of 4.5 at the MLB level. His WHIP was high, he doesn't strike out many and walks too many batters for not being able to get K's. He is a AAAA player in my mind who wouldn't get more than a few spot-starts a year on a team that could win more than 62 games. The Nationals simply were not a team with that high a ceiling last year. He's not the kind of player I would be excited to have in the opening day rotation.

peric said...

Stammen is pitching today in Viera. He is definitely still on the list last I looked.

Sasskuash, JD Martin was 5WINS against 3 losses last year. When pitched the team that lost 103 games was 10WINS and 5 losses.

Before looking at JD Martin why not check out Mock's stats from last year? How about looking at Hernadez's ERA and WHIP? He will likely make the rotation at the ripe age of 40-ish. With the exception of Lannan and JZimm he was the best pitcher in that rotation last year.

Oh and I think Jason Marquis's ERA was about the same ... and he is slated to be #2.

If you categorize JD as AAAA then by your criteria so is Mock, Hernandez, Marquis, Stammen, Olsen, Chico ... you know the "soft tossers".

Steve M. said...

I am seeing Desmond and Bernadina doing the little things and not too many others.

The outfield Batting Average overall is real bad. Maxwell looked off balance and looked bad when he was ahead 2-0 in the count as he went on to strikeout (again). Dukes got a walk which was promising and didn't do much else.

natscan reduxit said...

... Rosenthal said today (yesterday?), "Among the teams that could use another starter: the Diamondbacks, Mariners, Mets, Twins, Dodgers and Nationals. Sonnanstine has pitched well this spring but may be Tampa Bay’s No. 7 starter ..."

... so Mark, it hasn't appeared that M. Rizzo is making trade sounds lately. Do you think he would still be prepared to add another guy to the mix at this point in ST? And who might the Rays accept in return?

RQB said...

1) Martin goes to Syracuse. It's obvious that the club doesn't see him as improving and being part of The Plan. The see him for what he is, competent inventory to fill-in if another starter goes down with injury.
2) It's obvious that everyone in the Org thanks Mock has "great stuff" and has a much higher ceiling than Martin.
3) Stammen gets moved to long relief
4 and 5) Olsen or Chico (whoever is healthier) gets the fifth spot. The loser of that battle may be gone. Chico is out of options and would need to clear waivers while Olsen is not guaranteed and can be Pattersoned.
6) Livan makes the rotation because he's a savvy vet who eats innings so our bullpen isn't gasping for air by May 1.

Mark Zuckerman said...

As far as the J.D. Martin discussion goes, it appears at this point he's either going to start in Syracuse or perhaps be a long man in the majors. He's just not being mentioned in the same breath as guys like Mock, Olsen and Chico.

Stammen, meanwhile, is starting the split-squad game today in Viera and will throw four innings. He's also in the mix for that long relief role and could possibly squeeze his way into the rotation if the other guys falter/aren't healthy.

Richard said...

peric--Totally agree with you on Martin.I think he should be regarded as much more than "inventory".The team won almost 70% of the games he started! Who else did that? Olsen? Stammen? Any of the people going north? Hello!

Deacon Drake said...

JD is being "blackballed" for his age, injury history, and having not been hand-picked by the club (Garrett Mock counts, since he came through Arizona while the FO guys were there). If the Nats were in contention, they may gamble and go with Martin and hope that he could continue to nickel and dime his way to double-digit wins. But since they are not in contention, they may want to figure out which of the injury recoveries (Olsen, Stammen, Chico, Wang, etc) can actually pitch before kicking them to the curb.

Martin will be back at some point, because injuries do happen, and Livan can't be trusted... his skill set and probability of success is much easier to identify than these other guys. It sucks, because the Nats started last season with a similar situation, running out an injured Olsen and worthless Cabrera for two months.

jcj5y said...

I didn't get to watch the inning, but I actually thought that Storen's strikeout to end the inning with the bases loaded showed exactly why he should be on the team. Every pitcher can get into trouble; not many (at least not on this team) can get out of trouble with strikeouts.

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