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Position analysis: Bullpen

Oct 7, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Drew Storen appeared in 73 games, saving 43 of them, in his first full season.

Throughout the week, we'll be breaking down the Nationals' roster by position (catcher, infield, outfield, rotation and bullpen) and looking both where things stand at the end of the season and where things might stand moving forward. Today's position: The bullpen…

Stats: 6-3, 2.75 ERA, 43 SV, 73 G, 8.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9
2 of 10 inherited runners scored, 0.9 WAR
2011 salary: $418,000
Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2013, free agent in 2017
Where he fits in: Remember how worried everyone was about Storen at the end of a horrible spring training? Turns out there was nothing at all to worry about. The 24-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season and firmly established himself as the Nationals' closer of both the present and the future, recording 43 saves in 48 chances. Storen will have plenty of job security when he reports to Viera next spring.

Stats: 3-0, 1.83 ERA, 72 G, 10.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
10 of 46 inherited runners scored, 1.2 WAR
2011 salary: $443,000Read more »

  1. Gonat - Oct 7, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Mark, is the 1.2 WAR on Clip correct? Tyler Clippard was lights out and will enjoy a nice pay day in 2012. I think he comes into 2012 with another pitch in his arsenal to add to the fastball and killer changeup.Thanks for the Cole Kimball update. Let's hope he can recover back to full strength.Wherever Todd Coffey plays in 2012 they should learn where he was most effective in those ROOGY type of stopper roles. Have him face 1 or 2 batters and call it a night. He was fine in many of his full innings of work and then as the innings piled on he lost his effectiveness.Coffey at one point had an impressive string of not allowing an Inherited Runner to score until they brought him in on June 5th vs Arizona with the bases loaded and no outs in a 9-3 game. He gave up only 1 run in that improbably situation.SEAN BURNETT 3.81 ERA, 19 of 43 inherited runners scored. Burnett will obviously be back as Rizzo won't eat the contract and Burnie actually had a decent end of the season. That IR/IS stat has to drastically improve. He negatively impacted too many starters ERAs when he came in for LOOGY work w/ 1 or 2 outs only to turn a game into a disaster like in Atlanta on JZim's sterling start.Drew Storen. What can you say. Looked awful for most of Spring Training. Fixed his mechanics towards the end of Spring Training and was so good that he became a focal point of the July 31st trade deadline. Finished as a top closer.

  2. Nats1924 - Oct 7, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    W's definitely have a strong and young 'pen.

  3. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    I think having a clear off-season will be the best thing for Drew – imho – going to school full time hurt his readiness for Spring Training. He seems to have realized that he can't do both right now. He is young, smart and motivated. Both he and Clip are huge assets for the Nats. Clip is just a magician!

  4. SCNatsFan - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Mark – what are your thoughts on Elvin Ramirez? Seems like we are going to pay to rehab the guy then just send him back to the Mets because no way I I see a spot on the MLB 25 being available for such a wild card.

  5. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    If you look at the WAR on it is calculated differently and Tyler Clippard shows as the Nats' top player for 2011. years it's been RZimm but his WAR was lowered by being out for so long.

  6. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Mark, nice series of posts. Thanks a lot.

  7. Anonymous - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    Guess who the top 2 fantasy closers for next year are according to ESPN. kimbrel and Storen.

  8. Theophilus - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    The best thing the Nats could do for their bullpen this season is get rid of some of their bullpen-abusing starters. Carrying eight in the 'pen, as they did parts of last season, because they were burning 4+ pitchers a night, is ridiculous. If they were continue that in 2012, who would be the fourth pinch-hitter off the bench? Stammen? No one would be distressed if Slaten, Balester, Coffey were gone, and Maya banished to Syracuse. Gorzelany should be counted as part of the bullpen, added to Storen, Clippard, Burnett, HRodriguez and Stammen. That makes the choice for the seventh spot between Mattheus, Kimball and a pitcher-to-be-acquired later. Mattheus and Kimball have shown command issues — was it solely because of injuries or do they just have trouble throwing strikes? Against Rizzo's acquisition of Burnett, there's the signing of the hopeless Gaudin and the wildly inconsistent HRod. I think they're safer filling out the bullpen w/ talent already on the roster or in the system; there's enough veteran experience in the top six they can afford to keep a novice, or a succession of novices until they find one who can be trusted.

  9. Anonymous - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    There might be a good possibility that either Lannan or Milone might be long lefty relievers.

  10. N. Cognito - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Anonymous said… "There might be a good possibility that either Lannan or Milone might be long lefty relievers."Doubtful. They and the Nats will be better served by being in a rotation – either in DC or Syracuse.

  11. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Anon @10:16– Milone,yes. Lannan, no, too expensive for a long reliever, also too tradeable as a solid lefty starter. If Lannan can't cut it as a starter for the Nats he will be gone by the July trade deadline. As was noted by Theo, Nats cannot have starters who don't give the team SIX or SEVEN innings consistently.Of Kimball and Mattheus, you have begin with Mattheus and see what happened with Kimball's shoulder.

  12. N. Cognito - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    It is quite common for relievers to have a bad year every now and then. Unless the Nats have a replacement, I would expect to see Burnett in the bullpen next year. How long he is there is up to him.

  13. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    I should have said on Milone, possible that he will be in the bullpen, but unlikely. He will start the year in the Syracuse rotation, and be brought up if there is an injury or Burnett has a spring like he did last year. Otherwise, he'll come up in July if someone (Lannan?) is traded or in September when we might be in it (yes!!!) and Stras is shut down.

  14. Anonymous - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    is there a way for us to get that Jensen guy from LA. probably not. He is just one of the few memorable oponents that we played that I wished was on our team. You guys also remember the guy from Pirates that was throwing nothing but fastballs and got everyone he faced out?

  15. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    In the category 'everything is connected to everything else': A couple of you have correctly noted that the bullpen's biggest need is for starters to pitch deeper into games. And often enough in 2011, the fault did, indeed, lie with the starting pitcher. But there were also many games — sorry I can't quantify — where the lack of run support doomed the starter to a quicker hook that might otherwise have been the case. Because the Nats scored so few runs, the managers often had to play the percentages to try to avoid the opponent scoring even a single (or additional) run in a low-scoring game. If the Nats can add some runs next year (i.e., get a high OBP outfielder, Werth returning to career hitting norms, LaRoche recovering and returning to his normal production) then the starters will be able to stay in games longer and the bullpen, by extension, will benefit.

  16. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Eugene, true. Also the lack of runs led to the manager pinch hitting for the pitcher earlier than maybe needed by the pitcher's performance. I recall at least twice Davey said Wang could have stayed in, but was removed for a hitter. I'm sure that happened other times also. If the team has a 6-3 lead, the pitcher would likely stay in, but how often did that happen?

  17. Theophilus - Oct 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Eugene –Starters/innings/offense is a chicken/egg question.One factor (among many) in the Nats' lousy offense was the amount of time the batters were forced to play from behind. Instead of being patient, they were constantly aware that the imperative was to hit a three-run homer (often w/ no one on base) because, otherwise, Atlanta or whoever was going to dial up their bullpen in the seventh inning and the game would be over. How many curve balls did Werth roll over to shortstop trying to pull the ball? This team, without La Roche or, for much of the season, Zimmerman, and relying on rookies (e.g., Espinosa and Ramos) in other spots in the order, wasn't built like an Earl Weaver team. (And until Harper shows up, still won't be.) Lack of run support isn't the reason pitchers were yanked in the fifth or pinch-hitters were called on in the sixth. It was because the team was behind, in some cases in danger of falling further behind, and running out of time.Give the hitters a chance to be something more than a bunch of high strikeout/warning track/DP guys.

  18. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 7, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Theophillus,Agree completely there's a certain chicken/egg element to it, but — by whatever measure you use — the Nats in 2011 were solidly in the top half (and in many cases top third) of MLB in pitching. In hitting, they were bottom third (or worse) in virtually every meaningful category, particularly OBP and runs scored.And yes, pitchers (and the team) were often behind in the 5th/6th innings, but generally not behind 1-6 or 2-5 — they were behind 1-3 or 0-2. Again, I can't give you a specific number of games in which pitchers were pulled early in close games vs. blowouts, but to me the overall season stats suggest that there probably more instances of the former.

  19. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    Mark: great series of posts and I, as usual, learned a lot.I have been strong on Coffey as the season went along and they stopped using him for more than one inning. In looking at your analysis, it appears he might be too expensive to keep, and if it came down to Mattheus or Coffey I think RM is the obvious choice. I also liked Kimball as he rose through the minors but I am guessing he won't be available as we start the season.I agree with many others that if we can get more runs early in a game it will help both the starters and the bullpen (duh). Would love to have an extra bench player and not see 7 or 8 in the pen. Storen – Clip – HRod – Burnett – Mattheus – Gorzoand if we have 7 I am stuck between Severino & Stammen (this faux GM stuff is hard) All that being said, if we keep Coffey, I will not be upset.

  20. Binx Bolling - Oct 7, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Slaten and Balester could be Baltimore bound. Given the Orioles pitching woes, both men might be improvements for that beleaguered staff.

  21. N. Cognito - Oct 7, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    Theophilus said… "Give the hitters a chance to be something more than a bunch of high strikeout/warning track/DP guys."Though your comment is a bit hyperbolic, they are the types of hitters we saw this year.

  22. Theophilus - Oct 7, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    'Gene –We could go back and forth all day about this but a lot depends on your definition of "blowout." I went to five games this season. In three of them — one Marquis and two (I think) Wangs — they were behind 4-0 in the fourth inning. Thankfully, the game Lannan was scheduled to pitch was rained out.This is one area where I am in emphatic agreement w/ Dibble: 3 ER in 6 IP is NOT a "quality start." It is mediocrity at best. On a day when his team is only going to score two runs, the pitcher's job is to hold the other team to one run or less.

  23. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Binx==> I'm no Baltimore fan, but that is sad.

  24. Wally - Oct 7, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Mark – nice series of articles. Also enjoyed the commentary that followed. To me, the bullpen has some quality and depth, and I have no problem if Rizzo stands pat. However, I think that there is a decent chance he adds a Coffey-type late in ST as a value sign.But for the offseason agenda, I think Rizzo was telling the truth when he said that he is looking to add a SP and OF. He may not get something he likes and so stand pat, but I think that he will make a concerted effort. Which got me to thinking, …What do people think Harper is worth in a trade? I am not looking to be jumped on, just curious what people think a prospect that shows what he has so far (and is hyped like him) would bring in a trade.

  25. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    I think some of the above posters are finally getting to the point — our pitchers are NOT being pulled because they are out of gas, but because a pinch hitter is being used because we need base runners. One of the many things the manager said when he got here ( and then flip flopped on) was that he wanted the starters to go longer – he soon found out that he needed offense and so that went by the wayside. The thing that really bugged me about that was that some of our pitchers actually had better batting averages than the pinch hitters – or at least close enough for it not to matter much.You can look at stats all you want to see how many innings a pitcher went, but that won't tell you WHY the pitcher was pulled. We have also had pitchers pulled at the very last little issue – maybe one walk, maybe 2 singles – they were not given even a chance to get out of their mini-jam — again, even when they probably would have been better in that situation than the reliever that came in and let the runs in. It should be no surprise that we were winning games late in the season when we had many, many relievers available. If you recall, earlier in the season the manager was not very good at managing the pitchers/relievers. I guess our pitchers got better at hitting out of self-defense.

  26. Mark'd - Oct 7, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Davey complained a lot about his bullpen. It wasn't built to his specifications. I never really grasped what he was talking about when he talked about 2 long relievers. He will have to build it with his guys. Not sure who he will pick. He certainly has a large group to choose from.When Coffey wasn't overused, he was effective. With $2.3 million due on Burnett, he will be in there. The sad part was the 5 losses Burnett had there were a few with large leads blown.Tatusko who they got from the Rangers in the Cristian Guzman trade is one to watch. He is pitching now in Venezuela. He wasn't mentioned above and wonder if he will be part of the mix later in the season with Wilkie and Zinicola and the other Martin.

  27. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Swami:you are absolutely correct about Davey used the pen in his first month or so. I was pleased to see him make changes but another reality brought up was that in Sept. we had about 12 guys in the pen! It will be interesting to see what our final 25 looks like. part of the joy of the off-season and spring training.Markd' – we got a 2nd pitcher as well with the Guzman deal didn't we? I love to see these guys who were basically no names make it big or at least make it into the conversation.

  28. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 7, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    I said this last week end. Remember the name Christian Garcia. Last year this time I said to remember the name Ryan Mattheus.

  29. N. Cognito - Oct 7, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    "This is one area where I am in emphatic agreement w/ Dibble: 3 ER in 6 IP is NOT a "quality start." It is mediocrity at best."It's a wasted argument over semantics. You, Dibble and others are equating "Quality start" to good/very good, where all it ever meant was "decent enough that it should keep your team in the game." Yes, it's a bad, ambiguous term, but don't make more of it than what it was intended to be.Dibble harped on it so much, it's one of the reasons I couldn't stand him. He's in the game. He should have known what it meant but he was too lazy to check it out, because he's an anti-stats guy.

  30. N. Cognito - Oct 7, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… "I said this last week end. Remember the name Christian Garcia. Last year this time I said to remember the name Ryan Mattheus."Plastics.

  31. Big Cat - Oct 7, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    NatsJack. I will trust your eye on Garcia. What impresses you with him. Looking at his stats, he is 26 years old, an old Yankee farm hand. He has only thrown 316 innings in 7 minor league seasons and missed one whole season in 2007. Looks like a lot of arm problems to me, but hey, if the guy can throw, bring him onWhats up with Rendon? He isn't going to Arizona and now they are saying they have to work on his throwing mechanics. Looking more and more risky with this arm thing. We spent a lot of dough on a guy who… far…can't throw

  32. It's not that complicated - Oct 7, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Big Cat: Good bat + good glove + can't throw = 2B

  33. Benjamin - Oct 7, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Wood or wire? They have both. Plastics. October 7, 2011 2:07 PM

  34. Scooter - Oct 7, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    I've really enjoyed reading this week's discussions, y'all.Hey, swami: somewhere up above, you mentioned pitchers' vs. pinch hitters' batting averages. I know that wasn't your main point, but this is something I'd been wanting to talk about anyway. Here, check out the Nats' batting stats. The pitchers are together, under the position players. A few had BAs that look okay on this team — Livo, JORDAN, Marquis. Really, those are the guys you were talking about. But lookit: the three of them, in 162 plate appearances, drew a total of 2 walks and had 3 extra-base hits (all doubles). They were Cristian Guzman* without any power and a BA 100 points lower.See, we see a pitcher with a .240 average and think "Hey, he's a good hitter." But he's not. He quite good for a pitcher, because pitchers as a group stink on ice. Micah Owings, and maybe Zambrano if memory serves: those guys actually do okay with the stick, to where they could give a shortstop a run for his money. Dontrelle, maybe. But that's about it.Again, I know it wasn't the main thing you were saying. It's just something that comes up here from time to time (like a couple folks suggested using JORDAN as a pinch hitter in September).So, just something to think about. Or, in my case, rant about for much longer than it really merits.* sjm, I think the other guy in the Guzman trade was named Testa. Maybe a lefty.

  35. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 7, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Wally, a moot point. No GM would trade a Harper-type prospect.

  36. Jeeves - Oct 7, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Guzman trade–Roark.

  37. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Scooter – true , was just making a point – I know pitcher's sample sizes are way too small and their batting averages weren't really as good as our pinch hitters. But – they were pretty good as a whole – for pitchers and our pinch hitters were pretty bad as a whole – for hitters. So – sometimes, just – why not just let the pitcher stay in there and try for a hit? The odds aren't as bad as they might be. The net result might be one less base runner for your team – but a few less runs for the other team, too. I just don't see the automatic pinch hit when the pinch hitters are not great and keeping a starter in might keep the game in line and under control.

  38. Gonat - Oct 7, 2011 at 9:02 PM Ladson, wait till you see who he lists as "in", Tom Gorzelanny amongst all the no-brainers. Hang on, where is Drew Storen and Ross Detwiler? You have to scroll down to find Storen listed under "possible trade chips". Here we go again!=Possible Trade Chips-OF Roger Bernadina: He is no longer considered an everyday player. If he stays with the organization, Bernadina will be a corner outfielder. LHP Ross Detwiler: Before the non-waiver trade deadline. the Astros wanted Detwiler among others for outfielder Michael Bourn. General manager Mike Rizzo turned it down. C Jesus Flores: His days as an everyday player with the Nationals are over because of Ramos. 1B Chris Marrero: Hitting was never a problem for him, but he improved dramatically on defense, which used to be a problem after he was selected in the first round in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Drew Storen: His name was mentioned in trade rumors last summer. Rizzo would want a solid leadoff hitter in return for a guy, who saved 43 games this past season.

  39. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Realizing that Ladson is wrong quite often, I hope he is wrong about Storen. The others he lists are actually all pretty decent chips and I would not be surprised to see all dangled out there in the next few months. Of those gonat listed the one I would not wish traded is Detwiler. Again surprised that Desmond is not on that list as well. I have been a big Desmond supporter but still think he will be used to get talks started at least. Here comes first pitch of game 5talk to you all later and again, what a great group!!

  40. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    capture word was what Harper will be doing in a season or so"rakin"

  41. Scooter - Oct 7, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Oh, I feel you, swami. Your overall point was a good one, I thought. Heck, I'd had the same thoughts about our pinch hitters.And thanks to Jeeves for the assist on Roark. I just looked up Testa; he was in the Ramos deal.

  42. Mark'd - Oct 7, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    SJM, wrong quite often? How's about almost always wrong. Look at his pre-season predictions last year. He guessed 82 wins based on nothing more than an over .500 season and got closest to the pin with his eyes closed.If he writes enough names he will get one right. I would hope Rizzo wouldn't trade Drew. It seems to me there are extra starters and Lombo and Marrero and Bernadina don't have positions secured. I don't see extra closers in the Nats system.

  43. Gonat - Oct 7, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Mark'd said… and got closest to the pin with his eyes closed.______________________________Being a golfer I am LMAO.

  44. Wally - Oct 7, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Sec 3 – I agree that Harper-level prospects rarely get traded, although sometimes in a deal for a star major league guy. But I was just idly speculating on things like would you trade Harper for Montero and Banuelos (I think we say no). Or Harper for Matt Moore (I think Tampa says no). Moot certainly, but then my brain often ponders moot things, for no reason that I have never understood.Here are our guys who I think will be in play this winter: Marrero, Bernadina, Lombo, Detwiler, Desmond. And for the right deal: Clippard, Peacock. Note, that isn't who I necessarily would put in play, more who I think Rizzo will put in play.

  45. BinM - Oct 8, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Wally: If you're looking at 40-man trade bait in the off-season, I'd agree with Marrero, Bernadina & Detwiler, and throw Bixler, Flores, Brown, Balester, Mattheus, and Maya into the mix as well. As far as the 'right deal' possibles, split Lombardozzi & Desmond as an either/or proposition, and also consider one of Lannan/Peacock/Milone. There will be room for manuvering on the roster, with Pudge, Cora, Nix, Ankiel, Livo, Wang, Slaten, & Coffey all FA's, and Gorzelanny & Gomes are possible non-tender candidates as well.

  46. BinM - Oct 8, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    Big Cat, NatsJack: Regarding Christian Garcia – He's reportedly working on his third elbow ligament, having gone through TJ surgery twice (2007, 2010). That reads like he puts an incredible amount of torque on that joint in his motion/release; NatsJack, are you seeing anything that looks extreme in his mechanics?

  47. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    NatsLady, again no one uses Baseball Reference WAR. They really ought to be using the the one over on Fangraph's as that is it's origin.Again, do you actually believe that Clippard was more valuable than an everyday player like Morse or Espinosa? Zimmerman even with the injuries? More than a starting pitcher?Look at where Texas is now. Look at Clippard's WAR, now look at CJ Wilson's. Who had the better year the Texas ace or Clippard? Who is more valuable?

  48. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    Oh and BinM, Mark? That left-hander in the bullpen you mention after Burnett? His name is Tom Gorzelanny. I doubt they will go after anyone given that he is already under contract and will likely be more effective than what they could find out there. He is NOT a non-tender candidate BinM, I often wonder what you've been smoking dude! Gorzelanny's WAT FIP and xFIP (that adds extra weight to home runs allowed) is better than Lannan. Who do you think they keep?

  49. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    If the Nats sign CJ Wilson Lannan will be gone this winter.





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