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Starters earning their manager’s trust

Apr 25, 2011, 3:09 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Jason Marquis talked his way into finishing the sixth inning yesterday.

PITTSBURGH — There's a stat about the Nationals' pitching staff — how their starter has gone at least five innings in every game this season, something no other rotation in the majors has done — that keeps getting cited. (Full disclosure: I'm one of the ones who keeps citing it.)

It's not an entirely meaningless stat. If nothing else, it shows you the Nats have yet to receive one legitimately sub-par outing from a starting pitcher this season. But it also leaves out an important point: Just because they're lasting at least five innings doesn't mean they're pitching deep into these games.

Indeed, only six times in 20 games has a Nationals starter thrown even one pitch in the seventh inning. Livan Hernandez (to the surprise of no one) has three of those six starts. Jason Marquis has two; Jordan Zimmermann has one; John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny have yet to do it.

Jim Riggleman has talked about the need for his starters to go deeper in games, but the manager's actions suggest he still doesn't have complete faith in all of his starters to do it, particularly the youngerRead more »

  1. LoveDaNats - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I am happy to see Marquis doing so well this year. After his struggles last season, it's great to watch it begin to turn around.

  2. Harper_ROY_2012 - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Kudos to the guys who have given us plenty of quality starts this season…HOWEVER…it is crazy to believe that the bullpen will not burn out before the All-Star break if they have to pitch 4 innings per night, medicore starters get through 5, good starters get through 6, exception starers get through 7, aces get through 8 and 9 innings.

  3. Stranded_in_Philly - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    I'm ok with Lannan, Livo, Gorzo, and Marquis all going deep into games. I've generally been displeased with Riggleman's willingness to hook Livo, in particular, the moment he gets into trouble. Extend the leash with him a little bit… because there's no reason to kill the bullpen in April.As for J Zimm… no reason to push him. We'd rather him have more, short starts than fewer, longer ones. This is his first year back from TJS, afterall.

  4. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Stranded_in_Philly said… I'm ok with Lannan, Livo, Gorzo, and Marquis all going deep into games. I've generally been displeased with Riggleman's This 100 hundred pitch imaginary count is the switch that seems to turn off in pitchers, pitching coaches, and managers. Instead, for some it should ideally be 120 – 130 pitches. For Livo, Marquis, Gorzon, and Lannan it should be the later. Tired arms make for better sink and will make them effective in later innings. To constantly keep this 100 pitch limit as the switch retards the entire bullpen. Except for that guy in Houston, MLB has been brainwashed with 100 and done…UNTERP

  5. JD - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    UNTERP, I agree with you. The switch shouldn't be a number but when a pitcher becomes tired and ineffective. There are tell tale signs a pitching coach should look for which tell him when a pitcher should be relieved; fastballs beginning to stay up; breaking pitches which stay straight etc. On another note; the bullpen would be fine if we don't use the big 3 every night. Sam made a great point yesterday that you shouldn't have to use Storen with a 3 run lead in the ninth. Someone retorted that he doesn't trust anyone outside the big 3 but if you can't trust a major league pitcher to get 3 outs before giving up 3 runs they shouldn't be in the majors.

  6. sjm308 - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Also agree with unterp that it is not a number. I am hoping there is communication and that the athlete is being honest with how he feels and that Riggs and McCatty are staying in touch with the starter.As to the bullpen, I am going to be in the minority but I don't believe we will be burning them out, even at this pace. These guys are pros and paid to play the game. We will only have so many games that we honestly need to use Clip, Store and Burn and if that results in a win, well how great is that. We have 8 guys in the bullpen and there will be games where our big 3 will not be needed. We had just lost 3 games in a row and I see no problems with going for the win with a 3 run lead. If it was 5 runs then in goes Gaudin, Broderick, Coffey etc. but when we have a chance to win and lets be honest, for the Nationals each win is a huge deal then I say go for it. Again, I am probably in the minority but right now its working so I say don't change anything.

  7. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    I think part of using Storen yesterday was to keep him fresh. He hadn't pitched since the 20th. Thats a bit of a lay off and I'm not sure why people are mentioning over use with him. He has only appeared in 2 games in a week. I think he should be more than good to go again today if they need him.The same goes for Burnett. It has been 5 days since he pitched in a game and he has only appeared 3 times since April 12th. I don't think I really see where all of this overuse talk is coming from.The one guy who is leaned on too heavily may be Clippard but even he has only pitched 3 times since the 17th and has only pitched in back to back days once this year.

  8. Bowdenball - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    "If nothing else, it shows you the Nats have yet to receive one legitimately sub-par outing from a starting pitcher this season."Either we have really really really low standards, or you missed Livan's outing on Saturday night. 7 runs (4 earned) in six innings with a WHIP over 2.00 for the outing and only two strikeouts? I don't hold it against him- Livo's feast or famine nature has been well documented, so you know these types of games are coming and you take the bad ones knowing the good ones will likely outnumber them. But that almost certainly qualifies as a subpar outing.

  9. JaneB - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    Bowden all, it was also poor warmup, which wasn't his fault.

  10. JD - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Bowdenball, You are right of course but the point is that he still gutted out 6 innings. Do you remember how many times we had to get the starters out in the 1st couple of innings because they weren't getting anyone out?

  11. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    For anyone hoping to see Tim Lincecum with four games against the Giants, not. He pitched Saturday and is scheduled to pitch again Thursday against Pittsburgh.

  12. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Anonymous said… For anyone hoping to see Tim Lincecum with four games against the Giants, not. He pitched Saturday and is scheduled to pitch again Thursday against Pittsburgh.Oops, this could be wrong. Actually, he is probably slated to pitch Friday against Nats. Giants are off today.

  13. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    just a thought to the people talking about 100 pitches as a mythical limit. The reason to consider that limit, regardless of how he's doing today, is that the injury risk and weakened effectiveness shows up a couple starts later. I'm not saying NEVER do it, I'm just saying that it's not as easy as "if he's still getting guys out, then leave him."

  14. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    "Someone retorted that he doesn't trust anyone outside the big 3 but if you can't trust a major league pitcher to get 3 outs before giving up 3 runs they shouldn't be in the majors. "Oh, like "they shouldn't be in the majors" kept anyone off the Nats roster in the last 5 years.

  15. Dan - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Peralta is off to a good start with Tampa Bay and might have provided the Nationals with some more bullpen depth. The Coffey for Peralta switch is one that still leaves me scratching my head. I recognize that Triple A is not the Majors, but think that when someone like Peralta or Brian Sanches posts truly impressive Triple A stats (Sanches also did this in an earlier incarnation with the Nats), they should be given a chance to prove or dis-prove themselves at the bitg league level.

  16. masnstinks - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    I was kind of hoping we would NOT see Lincecum, actually. And what's up with Sheinen and his yankee-drool in the wp fish wrapper. NOT interested. Oh – and in case I may have missed a day– Matt Stairs MUST GO. Be a class act, man up and retire before you further embarrass yourself!

  17. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    "The Coffey for Peralta switch is one that still leaves me scratching my head."The Nats offered Peralta a one year deal, but he made it clear he would not take less than a two year deal. So the Nats moved on, and then late in the game Peralta took a one year deal from TB. Basically, Rizzo called Peralta's bluff and turned out to be right in the end.

  18. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    >>>Basically, Rizzo called Peralta's bluff and turned out to be right in the end. <<<No he didn't because we ended up with the worst pitcher.

  19. Wally - Apr 25, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Just back from a spring break trip with the family, so catching up on things. Looks like the pitching is still holding up, although a little more wobbly than before.But what is going on with the defense? 3rd from bottom in errors and fielding %, towards that in UZR. It can't all be Desmond. I worry that they will start to fall off significantly if the D doesn't turn around.

  20. JamesFan - Apr 25, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    Anyone notice that Dunn is hitting .145 with 2 homers? And we are complaining about our guys.

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