Monday, December 26, 2011

Lannan vs. Wang vs. Detwiler

US Presswire photo
John Lannan led the Nats in wins and innings but must compete for a job in 2012.
One of the significant domino effects of last week's Gio Gonzalez trade -- as has been pointed out -- is the logjam it suddenly creates at the back end of the Nationals' rotation.

Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann may be assured of the top three spots come Opening Day, but there are now only two remaining jobs and three more-than-viable candidates in John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler.

So what do the Nationals do? There's no clear-cut solution. Wang is already signed for $4 million (plus incentives). Detwiler is out of options and thus can't be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers (something that would almost certainly never happen). And Lannan (after leading the staff in wins, starts and innings pitched) is due to earn roughly $5 million through arbitration.

When asked about this dilemma Friday night during his conference call announcing the Gonzalez trade, general manager Mike Rizzo reiterated the importance of stockpiling as much pitching depth as possible and suggested there would be a way to keep all six of his current starters.

"We know over the course of the season we're going to need more than five starting pitchers," Rizzo said. "Everybody does. We feel we're still very deep in starting pitching. We like the talent level of our starting pitching, and it's going to be great competition to see who comes out of there as our starting five."

OK, so it would appear Lannan, Wang and Detwiler will engage in a spring training battle royale, with the two two finishers earning rotation spots and the other ... landing in the bullpen? Is that fair to say?

"I think so," Rizzo replied. "I think it'd be fair to say. They're three quality pitchers, so I don't see them not being on the big-league club. But there's going to be competition, so we'll see how that all pans out during spring training. But they're three quality pitchers, and if they're not three of our best 12 when we leave camp, we're doing pretty good, because they're three quality major-league pitchers."

Good luck deciphering that quote. Rizzo managed to talk his way around this issue, offering no concrete answer. Though it's probably safe to say he considers Lannan, Wang and Detwiler all "quality, major-league pitchers."

Even if Rizzo totally committed to the bullpen scenario, it doesn't seem an especially plausible outcome. None of those three has ever worked out of the bullpen for any length of time, and none particularly profiles well as a reliever. Wang is coming back from two years of recovery after a major shoulder injury. Lannan's lot in life is as a starter; he doesn't have the dominating stuff to face a couple of batters per night, and he's no more effective against lefties than righties. And Detwiler, still only 25, did not look comfortable during his brief bullpen stint last summer.

There is one long-shot scenario worth mentioning. Lannan does have one option remaining, so he could in theory be sent to Class AAA Syracuse to open the season. But doing so would leave the Nationals paying $5 million to a minor-league pitcher who (as pointed out earlier) led the staff in wins, starts and innings this year and has done nothing himself to merit a demotion other than watching his team acquire an All-Star left-hander.

What about a trade? Well, any one of three certainly could be shopped around, though it's tough to say what any of them might bring back to the Nationals. Detwiler remains a promising young starter who possible fetch something in return. Lannan is a reliable, back-of-the-rotation lefty with two remaining years of club control. Wang had those back-to-back, 19-win seasons with the Yankees but has yet to fully re-establish himself since the injury.

In fact, Wang's injury may be the No. 1 reason against the Nationals making a trade. If Rizzo and Co. were absolutely positive he's healthy and ready to make 30 starts in 2012, they could afford to part ways with either Lannan or Detwiler. But there's really no way to know that. Which of the Nationals' six current starters is least likely to hold up over the course of an entire season? Without question, it's Wang.

So do you really want to trade Lannan or Detwiler this winter, only to realize you needed both of them come June or July?

This is indeed quite the conundrum, and it may be a while until it sorts itself out. There are still 55 days until pitchers and catchers report, then another 46 days after that before one of the Nationals' six starters takes the mound at Wrigley Field on Opening Day.

Sometime between now and then, Rizzo will have to figure out how best to finalize a five-man rotation while also keeping the best stable of reserve arms he can.


NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feel Wood said...

And Detwiler, still only 25, did not look comfortable during his brief bullpen stint last summer.

To be frank about it, Detwiler has never looked comfortable as a starter either.

NatsLady said...

(a) Really, this is not a hard problem.
(b) Maybe we could have a better picture of Lannan?? He doesn't look intimidating.

OK, correction for spelling.

Wang has to start, he has a very long warm-up routine, as long if not longer than Livo's.

Lannan--start, trade if possible.

Detwiler--bullpen, but spot starter, there will be PLENTY of rain delays in the spring. You will need someone when the starter only goes a couple of innings.

Positively Half St. said...

It is nice to have the problem of too many arms, but that is a bit superficial, in this case. Since Rizzo traded away Milone and Peacock, and the Yankees snagged Meyers, the Nats can't back up with much from Syracuse. If Lannan or Detwiler were to be traded, that seems to make the situation worse (depending on whom they receive in return).

It seems that the Nats should consider a decent posting fee for Hisashi Iwakuma to rebuild some depth, since they could send him to Syracuse as necessary. It doesn't seem like it would take crazy money.


Theophilus said...

A sad consequence of the Gonzalez acquisition is that the Nats now have no ML-qualified starters at AAA. Hence, they are forced to keep Lannan, who is useless in the bullpen (he has no put-em-away pitch, and gives up too many base runners), and to put Detweiler in the bullpen as the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency starter.

Assuming (without proof) they improved the team by adding Gonzalez, they could have improved just as much by palming Lannan off on someone.

Maybe even worse, they'll be in contention at the trading deadline and feel they have to give away the farm (what's left of it) in order to acquire a brain- and arm-dead pitcher like Marquis (not Marquis but someone like him -- I don't think they're that stoopid) in order to stay in the pennant race.

Every silver lining has a dark cloud.

NatsLady said...

1/2-- good points, but I suspect Meyers will be coming back to us. Also, we now have plenty of spots on the 40-man, and can afford to trade or pull someone off waivers.

Theophilus said...

Picture of Lannan looks like anthropomorphized Angry Bird. 'Bout right.

Steady Eddie said...

Half St. -- Even better, Iwakuma is a free agent this year. The A's paid a posting fee for him last year but couldn't reach a deal. OTOH, Iwakuma has been injured in recent years so he's maybe not the most reliable choice as a backup starter to stash at AAA.

Too bad Rizzo couldn't slip in Detwiler as part of the Gio trade and keep Milone at Syr as better insurance (and more seasoning), but it seems Beane wouldn't take anyone without options.

NatinBeantown said...

I could definitely see Lannan traded for prospects to refill the cupboard, as well as a few waiver claim acquisitions during ST for AAA pitching depth. Still need a Miss Iowa type, too. It is interesting that Gorzy didn't figure into this context at all. He certainly seems the most likely candidate for the lefty long man/spot starter slot.

Sunderland said...

I would prefer we not trade one of them away. We will need them all.
Most likely solution - Scenarios like this often just work themselves out. Get to spring training, one of the 6 starters strains a groin, 15 day DL with a couple rehab starts. Problem solved / deferred until May.
And as long as you defer it, natural and obvious solutions often come along.

whatsanattau said...

Detwiler can and likely will start the year in the bullpen, but he will be in the rotation before the All Star break. They do no significant harm to him as a player or to the team by putting him in the bullpen until the first replacement is needed. Not Davey's first choice - according to Davey - but I would think he could manage his way around that one for a few weeks/months given the strength of his bullpen.

Some fans believe in Detwiler, others not so much, but he is still left-handed, throws hard, is capable of going at least five-six innings, cheap, and is young. Given the pitching market in the majors today, someone is going to want him at some point and the Nationals are not going to give him up lightly. Wang - if healthy - is the perfect counterpunch to the hard throwing youngsters. Lannan is too good to give away and not good enough to sign to a multi-year deal (maybe 2 at the right price).

Lannan gets lots of knocks for his 'good enough' performances, but if he delivers those same performances out of the back of the rotation, he becomes one of the better back-end starters in the league.

They might trade one of the lefties before the start of the year, but I think it more likely that Detwiler starts in the bullpen until someone pulls up lame.

Tim said...

Agree with Sunderland. Keep them all at this point. This issue will almost certainly sort its self out in the spring.

Anonymous said...

Sunderland, that was my first thought. Legitimate or phantom injury that lets us stash one guy until needed.

SonnyG10 said...

I'll join the "keep them all" side on this issue as well. I really would like the chance to see Detwiler blossom for the Nats and I think Lannan would be a nice #5 starter. It will be interesting to see how this playes out.

DaveB said...

@NatinBeantown: Rizzo actually did name Gorzy and Stammen as his starting pitching depth after the top 6.
Regarding trading Lannan for prospects to restock: Lannan has two years of club control left, but he's not cheap anymore, The A's just did a salary dump with Gio and he was making roughly the same salary, but Gio is roughly a #2 starter, and Lannan is only a #5, so he's wouldn't bring much in return like Gio did, maybe one back-end ML-ready guy with more options.

NatsLady said...

Need to hold on to Lannan and trade him to a team later who has an injury and needs a Lefty--if we don't need him because we have injuries. No rush to trade him now, won't get good value.

So I am in the "keep them all" but "don't get emotionally attached to them."

DaveB said...

The Nats didn't need a 6th starter until mid-May in 2011, that's unusual. I'd love to see Detwiler have a full camp like his first 3 weeks of Grapefruit League action in 2011, when he was easily the best pitcher in camp, that could push Lannan to AAA since he has that one option left and isn't suited to the 'pen. He'll likely be needed before mid-May. Bowden bringing-up Detwiler to pitch that one inning in Sept. shortly after he was drafted (and burning one of his options in the process) has come back to bite the Nats.

Anonymous said...

One thing that gets mentioned once in awhile is what about a 6 man rotation, which will keep Stras, Zim and Wang's innings down and protect them. It also allows for the competition to continue and depending on how the season goes the lowest production goes to the bullpen. It doesn't have to be a pure 6 man rotation, let gonzo get his regular turns, skip a pitcher (Stras, Lannan, Wang or Detwiler) once in awhile. We are going to need 6, it is a long year.

Wally said...

Lannan has to be the clear #4, I think. But whether to trade one, to me, depends on what you could get for Det or Lannan (I assume Wang is untradeable). I think either is an acceptable backend rotation piece, but neither is a critical guy. If you could get a quality OF piece, I would go ahead and trade one of them. If not, keep them. (Seth Smith, Kalish or Reddick from BOS, even Span if they felt good on the meds). My gut tells me neither one gets that kind of return, but Detwiler has the better chance among the two, and that suits me fine, since I see Lannan as the more reliable innings guy, which could be very important in 2012 given Wang and Stras.

If they trade one, I would (a) try to sign a vet with some age or injury issues to a minor league deal (Millwood, Penny, Owings, Piniero, even Livo fit here, Nats just have to wait it out), (b) hope to get Brad Meyers back at the end of ST, and (c) hope someone like Rosenbaum surprises and could make a few starts if needed. It isn't ideal, but their OF still has real holes and it is a trade off that I would make. Plus, assume Maya gets 5-10 starts (gasp). If I was really the GM, Stammen would be my first guy into the rotation but I don't think the org sees him that way. His peripherals have always been better than his standard stats, and he looks to me like a guy on the verge of figuring it out, but I suspect I am in the significant minority on him.

We don't have a back up plan for an injury to any of the Big 3, but not many teams do and this is where luck plays a role.

Todd Boss said...

Prediction; Detwiler suffers a "soft tissue" injury on March 30th and goes onto the 15-day DL to remain in Viera for the first several weeks of the season.

Then he goes on rehab ... which still doesn't blow his options. And he's ready to join the club just in time to either spell a starter with an injury or to join as the 7th man in the bullpen.

As said above, we have precious few starters now to cover for injuries; Milone and Peacock were the entirety of our 2012 rotation insurance. Maya, Stammen really aren't legitimate long term options. So we're going to keep Detwiler.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

@DaveB, I think Sept. callups don't count against options; I could be wrong.

Feel Wood said...

Giving Detwiler a September callup in 2007 placed him on the 40-man roster in 2008, meaning he had to be optioned down when he didn't come north with the team that year. Had he not been called up in 2007 he wouldn't have been on the 40-man roster in 2008, so no need for an option. As I recall, he was not given a major league contract when he signed (unlike Strasburg, Harper, Purke and Rendon) and the September callup was a handshake agreement Bowden made with his agent. Clearly a mistake on Bowden's part.

Wally said...

According to MLBTraderumors, Rockies In Contract Talks With Cody Ross

I think that he makes a lot of sense for us. He could be a solid 4th OF, spot starter and PH. He can handle CF, although he isn't great there. Plus defensively at the corner spots. These are the kind of bench roles that are mostly costly but could be really beneficial for us, and I hope Rizzo goes for it.

BinM said...

In my mind, it's easy at this point; Wang is the #4, Lannan is the #5, and Detwiler is in the bullpen as a LR/SpS going into spring training. The only thing that could alter that thinking would be if a trade involving either Lannan or Detwiler for a CF opened up.

Losing both Peacock & Milone in the trade for Gio was damaging to the SP depth, so retaining Detwiler, Gorzelanny & Stammen offers some replacement depth to open the season. Don't forget, Maya had an injury in the DWL, so he might be off the depth charts come spring.

Jim Kurtzke said...

Rizzo has little respect for Lannan. Here's a guy with a track record of going deep into games and posting a (sub) 4 ERA. Now he has to keep his job by winning a Sping Training competition with a question mark recovering from shoulder surgery and another who has not lived up to expectations? Geez...

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

FeelWood, thanks for the clarification on Detwiler.

Anonymous said...

But doing so would leave the Nationals paying $5 million to a minor-league pitcher who (as pointed out earlier) led the staff in wins, starts and innings this year and has done nothing himself to merit a demotion other than watching his team acquire an All-Star left-hander.

Sometime between now and then, Rizzo will have to figure out how best to finalize a five-man rotation while also keeping the best stable of reserve arms he can

And reserve arms belong in Syracuse pitching every fifth day do they not?

Lannan ended up statistically worse than Livo. Innings pitched and wins is the same logic that led to having soft-tossing Livan Hernandez at 35+or minus 5 years leading the rotation last year? Livo ended up pitching the 2nd most number of innings. YOUR LOGIC FAILS because Livo would have pitched over 200 inning if Riggleman were still managing. Because Johnson took over and decided to let the AAA rotation of prospects get some starts Livo finished 2nd to Lannan?

You could use Lannan's age as an argument but he was statistically the worst starter of all starters the Nationals used last year! Really miserable, and in fact perhaps the worst yet. Lannan is in fact declining as we watch.

Lannan belongs in AAA just like JD Martin did because like Martin Lannan can't get past the fifth inning. Its why he didn't end up with over 200 innings as Gonzalez did just because he is solvable the second or third time through the rotation.

Anonymous said...

Its likely Lannan goes to AAA and IS NOT traded. Even the most rabid Lannan fan will have to admit that no MLB team would be willing to pay Lannan 5 million unless they are desperate. Really desperate. Which could happen sometime during the season.

@Todd Boss Detwiler is a power starter like Gonzalez. If he has really learned his craft and can demonstrate he can consistently get to 7 innings or beyond like Gonzalez do you actually believe he will be put in the bullpen or suffer from a "soft tissue" injury? The only way this happens if Detwiler gets bombed in ST. If he looks like the guy they saw last year in St 2011 Johnson brings him north IN THE ROTATION as the fourth starter. Wang could conceivably end up in the bullpen with Lannan in the fifth starter role. Or Gorzelanny might beat them out for the role.

BUT Lannan is the only one who has options. And Rizzo will use the option if Lannan doesn't make Johnson want him in his rotation. Lannan didn't do it in ST 2011 and I sincerely doubt it will happen in 2012.

So, the likely scenario is Lannan, Stammen, Maya, Matt Buschmann, and probably Erik Arneson in the Syracuse rotation as starting rotation depth.

Next prospects will likely be soft-tosser lefty Danny Rosenbaum and power pitcher lefty Sammy Solis (if healthy) in Harrisburg. Next will be lefty Matt Purke who will likely start in Potomac and work his way to Harrisburg.

Anonymous said...

Rizzo has little respect for Lannan. Here's a guy with a track record of going deep into games and posting a (sub) 4 ERA. .

Lannan DOES NOT have a track record of going deep into games. Just the opposite. Why do you think they went out and got Gonzalez? Tried for Buehrle? Lannan like most of the starters in the 2009-2010 rotations COULD and CANNOT get past five usually. Most of those pitchers in those rotations are now gone. Lannan is the last left.

Anymous said...

Mr. Anonymous (and prodigious I might add), you make it tough, but I manage to keep ignoring your rude and arrogant posts tone it down join in "conversation" and stop the "lecturing" Leave some room for disagreement
If we all agreed with you then there would be no reason to have any dialogue at all instead we could just subscribe to your podcast
Allow some small tiny bit of space for the slim possibility that you may not be 110% right.

Anonymous said...

One thing that gets mentioned once in awhile is what about a 6 man rotation, which will keep Stras, Zim and Wang's innings down and protect them.

Actually, it was by Rizzo. He stated categorically that it was not going to happen period. You can't set up starters in A/AA/AAA to work in a five man rotation and then jump them to six. It's too risky.

Section 222 said...

I realize there are games that can be played early in the season with off days, and with phantom injuries that put people in the DL, but one thing to remember is that for most of the season the Nats are going to have no more than 12 pitchers on the roster. That really doesn't allow them to have three long relievers/spot starters (Gorzo, Stammen, Lannan/Detwiler) in the bullpen. Perhaps Stammen is the odd man out here, but if so, that's an awfully lefty-heavy bullpen, even for the NL East. I still think Lannan/Det/Gorzo will be flipped for prospects or an outfield/PH bench guy before the season starts. If not, Lannan and Stammen does seem to be destined for some time in Syracuse until someone gets hurt. Thanks, Mark, for confirming that Lannan has an option left.

What an irony that the guy with 750 major league innings could end up getting sent down because the guy with 170 innings has no options.

What a great problem to have!

sjm308 said...

The two keys here are that Wang and Detwiler need to prove they are ready in ST. If they do that its a slam dunk that they start Lannan in AAA $5 million or not. This is about taking your best 25 men north and if Detwiler throws like he did in Sept and Wang proves he is healthy, Lannan is the #6 starter and like others have said, he does not project well as a reliever (hell, he really doesn't project all that well as a starter except that somehow he manages to hang in there). I am a bit worried about Detwiler because as I remember, Davey gave him more than 5 days rest on mulitiple occasions. He can probably get away with that in the beginning of the season with the weather and schedule but obviously not the entire season.
I do not trade any of them until I am sure Wang and Ross have shown they are capable of going every 5 days. We know Lannan can do that so he either beats them out in ST or starts in Syracuse.

I also think Meyers will be back and that we are not that pitching poor since Gorzo also has the ability to start as well as Stammen.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous (and prodigious I might add), you make it tough, but I manage to keep ignoring your rude and arrogant posts tone it down join in "conversation" and stop the "lecturing" Leave some room for disagreement

Okay, there's room for disagreement. Looks like the pot calling the kettle black where I am sitting? if you carefully read your own post. If you don't like what someone says then you are welcome to ignore it. I'm sure many do ... and that's fine I do the same quite often.

Perhaps you should take your own advice and let other people have their say? My posts are not as 'prodigious' as more than a few posters here.

You might consider getting a life since your Christmas appears to have been less than bright?

sjm308 said...

Amazing, we have arguing Anons! How does anyone know which Anon is the rude one! I might be an idiot but at least my idiotic thoughts have a name with them.

Anonymous said...

I also think Meyers will be back and that we are not that pitching poor since Gorzo also has the ability to start as well as Stammen.

Good point. With Lannan, Stammen, Buschmann, Maya, Meyers would complete the rotation. Making Arneson the spot-starter long man. That would actually be pretty good veteran depth.

One thing to consider if they can leave Yunesky Maya there with what they paid him they can send Lannan to AAA as well.

Anonymous said...

I might be an idiot but at least my idiotic thoughts have a name with them.

What's the difference between sjm308 and anonymous since there is no link to a profile? Or even a handle like fooey? You could be anyone right?

Wally said...

Re: Lannan in AAA - I think it is a possibility. If there is one thing that Rizzo has shown over the years, it is that he'll utilize those options to the fullest extent possible in order to avoid cutting loose a guy he thinks has even a 5% chance of turning into a major league contributor, even to the detriment of going with a subpar team.

I appreciate what Lannan has given the team over the years, even though I have never thought that highly of his talents, personally. But it is kind of a shame for the kid, because unlike Anon, I think he has demonstrated enough success for long enough that he'll be in a rotation for some team for the next several years. But he looks caught in the options game this year, and I cannot see the team giving away his innings-eating abilities, especially with such few obvious alternatives right now. And honestly, I don't want them to.

Does Stammen have options left? I thought that he was out, too. Also, what is the Maya injury that was mentioned earlier?

Wally said...

Mark - have you changed how you are posting articles? I notice the Desmond article above that is only at CSN: I thought previously you always posted here, and then sometimes they were also posted at CSN.

If that is changed, please let me know so that I know where to check for your articles/blogs.


Anonymous said...

What an irony that the guy with 750 major league innings could end up getting sent down because the guy with 170 innings has no options.

Part of that is Bowden's incompetence. But in the end its well past time to see what Detwiler has ... and if he proves he is up to the task, unlike 5 million dollar pitcher Lannan, Detwiler would provide the flexibility of a starter you keep in the rotation for the long-term or one that you trade for prospects or perhaps even a major league starter. His ceiling is higher.

So, it makes far more sense to put Detwiler in the rotation at the beginning of the year and Lannan as a hot standby in Syracuse.

whatsanattau said...

The difference between anonymous and a handle is that we can have a discussion knowing the history of each others comments. I've never met 1a, 222, sec 3, Natsjack, natslady, or any of the others here, but I am delighted to read their comments. I am not delighted to read posts that attempt to make points by insulting others. Whether you remain anonymous or not is unimportant. Civility is appreciated however.

Anonymous said...

heh heh, capthca was "chant" ahhmmm.....

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

I'm Slim Shady, the IRL Slim Shady.

sjm308 said...

Anon - obviously, I could post as anyone but I chose to use the same name each time as does NatsJack, natsfan, natslady, unkyd, sofa, sec 222 etc etc. I just kinda like knowing where the comments are coming from and you are right, we will probably never meet but I like knowing who is making a point. I also love that people here disagree and do it with the most part, a great deal of civility. It would be no fun at all if we all agreed. Not sure which anon you are but I did not think the posts were that annoying to begin with.

Gonat said...

Detwiler is the best fit for the bullpen and Lannan and Wang are part of the 4 and 5 spots in the starting rotation. Detwiler didn't seem comfortable in the bullpen because he sees it as a demotion. Sorry to tell him, a job in the Majors is better than being in JD Martin's cleats.

The hope has to be some of the farmhand starters step up like Peacock did.

NatsJack in Florida said...

On the other hand, show up at a Spring Training game in Viera and I'll be the guy in section 111, row, seat 8, usually wearing at red Nats T-shirt with, low and behold, "NatsJack" across the back.

I have had the pleasure of meeting 1a and her husband, JaneB, Another Sam and Knoxville Nat among others....but not one Aonymous....strange, huh?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Sorry... row 3.

Wally said...

From Buster Olney, this morning, in an article ranking the best rotations in baseball. Seems a little high to me (mainly because of the falloff from #3 to #4), but man, do we have some good buzz going this offseason! If we signed the Prince o' DC, I suspect we'll be the 'sexy' playoff pick.

8. Washington Nationals

In Jordan Zimmermann's first full season after Tommy John surgery, he threw 161.1 innings, and that's the kind of workload the Nationals envision for Stephen Strasburg in 2012, as Strasburg continues to progress from his elbow reconstruction. Given that dynamic, you aren't going to see a bunch of eight-inning outings from Zimmermann and Strasburg -- but they figure to be overpowering whenever they pitch. Zimmermann allowed just 31 walks, for a 4.00 K/BB ratio, and in Strasburg's 92 innings in the majors, he has 116 strikeouts and 19 walks, for a 6.11 K/BB ratio. And now the Nationals have Gio Gonzalez, who has emerged as one of the best young lefties in the game. It's possible that a year from now, we will view the front three of the Washington rotation as the best in the majors.

Butte Pirates said...

Of course, not everyone picks a suitable name.

Gonat said...

Wally, the #8 starting rotation doesn't sound good to me since the Nats finished 7th last year in the MLB and that was only 1 month of Strasburg and 160 innings of JZim and a rocky beginning from CMW.

I do like his last sentence "It's possible that a year from now we will view the front three of the Washington rotation as the best in the majors."

Anonymous said...

Gonat, I would suggest that while we may have finished #7 in ERA, we were not close be being a top 10 rotation.
For our starters, we were 11th in ERA, at 3.80.
And ERA is not a fair indicator since AL teams generally have higher ERA's then NL teams.
Also, for our starters, we wee 28th in innings pitched.
In 2011, our starting rotation wasn't close to being in the top half of baseball.

Wally said...

Gonat - I hear you and that is certainly what the stats showed, but somehow it didn't feel that they were that good to me. I haven't broken it down too much to see where my intuitive sense differs from the results, but with Livo and Marquis shouldering so much of the burden, I doubt that I would have taken them 7th if I could pick which rotations to take.

I am not sure that makes any sense, though.

Anonymous said...

Our starters won 49 games in 2011. Oakland had a worse record than we did, their starters won 59 games. Other teams with worse or similar records as us, White Sox won 58, Indians won 53, Mets won 53. Dodgers finished 1.5 games ahead of us, and their starters won 65 games.

Wally said...

I would think about it along the lines of Anon's post, although I am not sure where I would rank us.

bobn said...

Let's wait until the Spring...what are the odds that a potential starter has arm trouble? The Nats have a lot of options (pun not intended)...Rizzo is doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

As a team, we played .497 ball in 2011. Our starters we 49 - 58, a .458 winning percentage (-.038)
Mets (for exmaple), played .475 ball and their starters had a .477 winning percentage (+.002).
STL' starters had a slightly worse ERA than our starters (3.81 v 3.80), but they pitched but they had a .596 winning percentage for a team that played the season at .556 (+.040).

Stopping now, I promise.

Section 222 said...

Mark's article on CSN re: Desmond is interesting, and a bit surprising. It notes that his OBP improved dramatically after Aug. 12, and concludes: "That surge happened to nearly coincide with manager Davey Johnson's decision to move his shortstop up in the lineup from the 8-hole to the leadoff spot. It's no secret plenty of guys struggle to hit when batting eighth in the National League. With the pitcher in the on-deck circle, No. 8 batters rarely get a chance to see many fastballs in the strike zone.

So perhaps Desmond really has been a solid OBP guy all along. He just needed to be moved up in the lineup."

I seem to remember that Desmond was our leadoff hitter last year on Opening Day. He was awful, hitting all of .180 in the first 12 games of the season before Riggleman started trying Espinosa, Ankiel, Bernadina and even Werth, none of whom did that great. The leadoff spot was a real weakness last year, which is why finding a leadoff CF was/is such a priority this winter. I sure hope that Desmond finally figured it out at the end of the year, but I fear the real reason for his improvement is because we were seeing alot of AAA pitchers and teams out of the running for playoff spots. His overall numbers as a hitter after what seems to be a fluky debut September in 2009 sure don't inspire any confidence.

Luckily, not everyone suffers in the No. 8 hole. Ramos was oustanding in that spot, hitting over .350 IIRC. Having someone who can drive in runs at the bottom of the order is a real luxury.

DaveB said...

Wally, you posted about Lannan: "I cannot see the team giving away his innings-eating abilities". I'm curious why you think Lannan is an innings-eater? That wasn't how I remembered it last season so I checked the stats. Lannan made the full compliment of 33 starts but only reached 184.2 innings. By comparison, JZimm only made 26 starts to get to 161.1, and even though they were limiting his pitches per game in hopes of getting an extra start or two out of him before he reached his innings-limit, he still averaged more innings per outing than Lannan. At JZimm's rate, if he had 33 starts he would've pitched 203 innings.

Gio Gonzalez went 202 innings in 32 starts.

Those two guys have inning-eater numbers.

Wally said...

DaveB - just a relative comment, I agree that he isn't a classic one. But if you look at the other guys in the rotation, only Gio looks like a good bet to pitch more innings. I agree JZimm had better rate stats, but it will be his first unrestrained season, and with his potential and 4 years of remaining control, it wouldn't surprise me if they were still very cautious with him. But even if they aren't or don't need to be, Stras will be handled with kid gloves, Wang has to be a question about how much he can pitch, and Det hasn't thrown a lot of innings in his career.

So I meant that Lannan seems like a reliable guy to be available to pitch 180-200 innings when at least 3 others aren't, and that I could see the Nats placing a high value on that this year. Make any sense?

Will said...

Desmond's BABIP was .357 between August and September. His career BABIP is .315. In that same period, he had 10 walks in 239 plate appearances (or 4.2 BB%, even less than his atrocious career average of 5.2%).

In fact, he was worse at getting on base. Desmond is still a lousy batter. He was just lucky in the last two months. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Wally, I agree about Lannan in that, if the Nats named the rotation of Stras, Gio, JZimm, Wang and Lannan, the two most likely not to get to 200 innings? Stras and Wang, for sure. And of other options, including Detwiler, still Lannan is more likely. So in terms of innings this season, he's needed this year.

Anonymous said...

i thnik if everyone is healthy then go with a six man rotation. there will be times when they pitch every seventh day. strasburg can be extended this way and maybe with a low pitches per inning could be available in september.

maybe this could help limit clippards workload also. eventually somebody will go down and then i'd just go with the 5 man rotation until the 6th came back. the following year when wang (or whoever else) is gone then go with a five again. .


Theophilus said...

"Innings Eater" = Don Drysdale, avg. 237 IP over 14 seasons. Or Fergie Jenkins, avg. 243 over 15 seasons, five over 300.

202 innings ain't nuthin'.

DaveB said...


OK, relatively speaking, yes, he's good for 180 or so.

They've said there are no restrictions on Zimmermann or Wang, so JZimm should definitely get over 200 with 31-33 starts, and Wang should be very close if the shoulder holds-up. He's pitching for one more big contract in his career, starting in 2013.

I'm surprised that some people think it's a 3 way competition for the last two spots in the rotation. Wang has 59 career wins, 21 more than any of the other 5 starters (Gio and Lannan both have 38), and 19 wins in back-to-back seasons with the Yankees. He looked to be fully recovered, and if he is, he could be the best #4 starter in the Majors.

Mark'd said...

Lannan isnt an innings eater, he is just dependable to start every 5th day. In Atlanta he would be all they need going a full 6, in Washington, they need to get further on average.

Still, I feel more confident that Lannan will improve in 2012 and be better than Detwiler.

A lot of hoping and wishful thinking.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

You're missing the obvious: Lannan has more career home runs than Strasburg, Znn, Gio, Wang, and Detwiler *combined*! With Livo gone, they can't afford to lose that bat.

NatsLady said...

Maybe Lannan will get past his Fear of the little baby horses (Fillies)... That would win him, what, an extra 5 games?

Will said...

DaveB, if you're going to use career wins to gauge talent, then shouldn't we replace Strasburg (6 career wins) with Livan (174 Ws)?

The problem is Wang wasn't very good in his 11 starts last year. He was worse than average; league average ERA was 3.82. Wang's was 4.04, and he only made it out of the 6th twice.

There are no guarantees that Wang will pitch any better next season. And it's not fair to judge him based on two decent seasons he had 3 and 4 years ago, since which he's undergone major surgery. It's definitely Wang's spot to lose, but his spot in the rotation is anything but assured.

DaveB said...

Theophilus: "Innings Eater" = Don Drysdale, avg. 237 IP over 14 seasons."

And Walter Johnson pitched over 300 innings for 9 straight seasons, but neither Johnson's nor Drysdale's era is ever coming back.

In 2011, 202 innings constitutes an innings-eater.

DaveB said...


The point was he's got more experience than the rest of the other 5. Livo has all those wins but he's washed-up, sad, but true. He's not Wang's age, he may not even be his own (listed) age.

Using Wang's 11 starts in 2011 against him is unfair and short-sighted, it was essentially the final phase of his rehab.

Gonat said...

Will - Is that 3.82 league average for starters or all pitchers? That sounds a little low to me for starters.

NationalsFanatic said...

Here are a few givens (IMO):
1 - Rizzo (and by extension Davey) believes in 5 man rotations. Rizzo publicly stated so just recently (without any qualifiers at all).
2 - Davey wants (and has publicly stated it) a 6 man bullpen, not a 7 seven man bullpen.
3 - Rizzo may be acquiring the players, but it comes with substantial input from Davey.
4 - Rizzo and Davey have both stated publicly, that the best 25 players irrespective of options or other considerations (like Super 2 status) are coming north with the team out of ST.
5 - Rizzo, but especially Davey prefer power pitchers.
6 - There are several AL teams starving for pitching.

With that in mind, I think that the starting rotation ends up being: Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Wang and Detwiler, with the bullpen consisting of Stammen (RH long relief), Gorzelanny (LH long relief), Rodríguez, Clippard, Storen and one of the following, Burnett, Mattheus, Perry or Severino.

Even though Rizzo did say that they would be bringing Lannan to ST, I would not be surprised at all if he was flipped to an AL team for prospect pitching or power bench bats.

Anonymous8 said...

Neal, Burnett is in the bullpen to start the year. He's in his last year of his 2 year deal. Lannan will either be traded or I think will be the 5th starter because you can count on him. Detwiler is still unproven and I think he could be traded or in the bullpen.

I don't see Stammen as a lock. He has folded too often when the game is on the line although he did have a decent September.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Longball Lannan has the only home run among all the pitchers on the 40-man roster. If they trade him, then they will have no choice but to sign Fielder to replace that offense.

David said...

Detwiler to the pen for long relief. And spot starting. That's a pretty easy call, IMO, unless either Wang or Lannan perform terribly during spring training.

Anonymous said...

I posed this question right after the Gio trade, although my take on it was... Lannan, Detwiler and Gorzelanny would be 3 competing for 2 spots. Wang given the new contract and a RH starting pitcher seemed to have the biggest hold on one of the rotation spots. That left one rotation spot and one long-relievers spot for the 3 left handers.

Given that they're all either major league, release or put at risk guys, my strongest option was for one of those players ultimately to be involved in a trade. I had proposed a deal that would target Bret Gardner of the Yankees.

I do have to take issue though with the author's comment:

"Lannan's lot in life is as a starter,............... and he's no more effective against lefties than righties."

Really? What's that based on? It can't be based on his stats. Look at the disparity in splits for Lannan in 2011:

BA - OBpct - SLGpct - SO/BB - OPS

.293 - .370 - .418 - 0.85 - .788 righthanders

.211 - .281 - .308 - 0.85 - .589 lefthanders

his career numbers aren't as substantially spread apart, but still definitely favors matchups against lefties.

Sunderland said...

FYI, NL only, 2011, Average ERA as a starting pitcher, 3.95 (so let's just call Wang's 4.04 ERA basically league average.)
I'm with Will as far as CM Wang is concerned. I'm hopeful, but in no way optimistic.
Wang's good seasons were 2006 and 2007, that's 5 and 6 years ago (not 3 and 4 years ago).

Also, if Rizzo and Davey are so enamored with "power pitchers", why is Wang even here? Rizzo had a ton of chances to not sign Wang and to no re-sign Wang. In 2006, and this is as good as Wang gets, he had a 3.14K/9, the lowest in MLB. In 2007, Wang had the 5th lowest K/9.
Why would people just presume Rizzo and Davey have more confidence in Wang than Lannan? Based on what?
And why would people presume Wang will be more effective in 2012 than Lannan? There's really very little to base that on either.

RaleighNat said...

I think its obvious. Det is in the pen to start. He'll have his chances. I don't buy this starter can't be in the pen business. Is it ideal? No. But only alternative and not a bad situation. Sending Lannan down is a joke. He's an excellent #5 proven starter and Det hasn't done anything to prove he will get better results.

We need all three. Burney, Det, and Gorzo as lefties out of the pen are all good options.

Lannan, Det. and Wang have very limited trade value (for different reasons.)

This is a good problem to have but we need them all for depth. Especially with Strasburg's innings limit.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if they took it easy on Strasburg in the cool April months so he could stretch out his innings longer into the summer/fall. I could see Detwiler starting a game and pitching 5 innings with Strasburg pitching the next 3 to 4 innings in relief of Detwiler's starts. This lets you see what you have in Detwiler and limits Strasburg innings early on. You also have a righty following a lefty forcing teams to change their matchups halfway through the game. As the season progresses you adjust your lineup based on performance or injuries.

BullpenCatcher said...

Let's see GIO has 31 wins in his last two seasons (65 starts). In comparison:

Lannan has 38 wins in FIVE seasons (128 starts) if you want to use only the last two years, Lannan has 18 wins (58 starts).

CMW has 59 wins in SIX seasons (115 starts) and 5 wins (23 starts) over the past two years.

Detweiler has 6 wins in THREE seasons (29 starts) and 5 wins (15 starts) over the past two years.

I know the stat guys do not like WINS as an indiciator but in this case I think it is germane to the discussion because Oakland and the Nats are similar teams. Oakland had 155 wins over the past two seasons and the Nats had 149 wins.

I think the decision is easy here Detwiler and CMW make the rotation and Lannan gets traded along with Flores for a CF or RF (assuming Cespedes is not a Nat before ST).

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

"Picture of Lannan looks like anthropomorphized Angry Bird."

Are nominations closed for Post of the Day?

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of pics, I miss the typing monkey. :-)

blovy8 said...

Rizzo referred to the best 12 pitchers, so I would believe that more than DJ's 11 statement. It may actually be Gorzelanny at about 2.5 million that has the trade value.

Maijo said...

I agree with Sunderland way back in the beginning of the comment string...this is not a problem right now. So unless you are OCD about having all ducks lined up in a row weeks and weeks before spring training -- Relax. These things tend to work themselves out.

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