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The importance of 200 innings

Jan 23, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Livan Hernandez owns two of the four 200-inning seasons by Nats pitchers.

Baseball loves to make a big deal out of round numbers. Think about all the key career milestones: 3,000 hits, 500 homers, 300 wins. A team that wins 100 games gets a whole lot more credit than one that "only" wins 99, and a team that loses 100 games gets a whole lot more blame than one that "only loses 99. Players aspire to compile 200 hits in a season, or 20 wins or 100 RBI.

And then there is this standard pitching benchmark: 200 innings in a season. Why 200 innings? There's no particular reason, other than that nice, round number seems to signify a pitcher was effective enough to take the mound every fifth day over the course of a year.

Is that the best manner to determine a quality season? No, ERA, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratio, even wins tell you more about a pitcher than the mere number of innings he threw. And yet, there is something to be said for reaching the magical 200-inning plateau. Because more often than not, the teams that have the most 200-inning pitchers end up winning the most games.

Don't buy that logic? Well, take a look at the clubs that have boasted the most 200-inning starters over the last seven seasons: the White Sox (19), Diamondbacks (14), Giants (13), Angels (13), Braves (11),Read more »

134 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. MicheleS - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Good Morning Mark…A new post! Thank you.. something else to talk about besides 1b

  2. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Yep been saying this for going on 7 years we need guys who can pitch over 200 innings. 2012 will be a failure if all but Stras do not throw 200 innings and I might argue that Stras should be allowed to get closer to 200 innings than 150 if the Nats are in contention. Without long quality starts over the course of the year bullpen arms burn out, plain and simple.

  3. HHover - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Excellent stuff to chew over as we count down to ST.A pitcher doesn't have to be great to 200IP, but he has to be good enough that a team is willing to give him the ball every 5th game from April onward–and healthy enough to take it all season long. And in the not-a-sprint-but-a-marathon baseball season, that's vital. Teams that don't have it are dipping down into the AAA arms, long relievers making emergency starts, etc. As for who'll make it this year–I agree with your rankings of who's most likely to do it, but I'd be surprised if more than 2 pitchers do–somebody will get injured, fall apart, etc. After 2+ seasons off, I'd be amazed if Wang has the durablity and stamina to do it. On the other hand, he's on a one-year contract, so they're not going to baby him along to save him for 2013.

  4. NatStat - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Speaking of stats, I've bookmarked Bill James' Nats' predictions so that I can look at them at the end of 2012.Hard to argue with someone who is a professional statistician in the sport, but I'm thinking that his formula(e) maybe lacking a few variables.

  5. SonnyG10 - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Strasburg is too valuable to push towards 200 innings this year whether we're in contention or not. Even winning the world series in 2012 would not be worth risking Strasburg. I don't want a one and done team!

  6. Constant Reader - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    As the Nats Insider resident most fixated on the value of IPs, I am needless to say fully supportive of this analysis. Thanks Mark.

  7. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    One does use expected innings pitched xIP to calculate the pRAA which is the stat that incorporates all of the defense/park neutral stats for pitchers. In other words effective pitchers who surpass 200 innings will have more value.

  8. joemktg - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Missing something here in the analysis: the impact of offensive runs scored on innings pitched, i.e., removing the pitcher for a hitter when behind. Logically: more innings when you're ahead, the reduced chances of removing the SP for a PH.

  9. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I guess 200 is the new 300. I remember when pitchers often pitched 300 innings. Sandy Koufax of the arthritic elbow did it 3 times including 1965 and 1966. Jim Palmer had 4 300 inning seasons and Nolan Ryan had 3.Pitchers like Whitey Ford and Tom Seaver never hit 300 but were in the high 200's in several years. Breaking 200 was routine.I know, those were the old days.

  10. sjm308 - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Anon: good call on the 300 innings. You left off Don Drysdale who amazingly had FOUR straight 300 inning seasons from 1962 through 1965 and then slipped to just 273 & 282 in the next two years. Amazing.Also impressive is two back to back 376 innings pitched in 71 by Lolich and 72 by Wilber WoodI have an older Baseball Encyclopedia and I guess I could go on Baseball ref. com to make sure but it looks to me like the last year of a 300 inning season was Steve Carlton in 1980.

  11. Gonat - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Is there exact details of the Morse contract? Any word on anything with Lannan?

  12. HHover - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    sjm308 – yes, Carlton was the last, in 1980, with 304IP. Last in the AL was Jim Palmer with 319IP in 1977. The maximum for the last 10-12 years has usually been in the 230-250 range.But in response to anon @ 9:49–that's the season leading maximum, which is not what Mark's post is about. It's about a reasonable target for a solid and durable pitcher. Last year, there were 39 pitchers in MLB who pitched 200+ inn. In 1980, there were 56 pitchers who achieved that benchmark, and some of them were pretty lousy–16 of them had ERAs over 4, and 2 had ERAs over 5. A lot of the difference speaks not to the quality or durability of SP but to how bullpen management has changed over 30 years.

  13. Theophilus - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    The "emphasis" on 200 innings has nothing to do w/ changes in bullpen management. A starter gets at most 33 starts in a 162-game season (5-day rotation). Divided into 200, that's barely six innings per start. Current bullpen management usually means three relievers to cover innings 7, 8 and 9, and no manager wants to burn three relievers every day. Six innings is a minimum acceptable level of performance and far from optimum. Back when Lolich was pitching, the Detroit manager had John Hiller in the bullpen who could come in and throw three innings like sliding out of bed in the morning. Except, when Lolich started, Hiller didn't need to throw three innings. He could pretty much have the day off.The reason pitchers often don't meet the 200 inning threshold is they don't spend enough time in the minors learning how to throw strikes and get to the majors and allow tons of extra baserunners (Exhibit A: Lannan), throw 110 pitches to get through five innings, and are shot. Koufax once pitched a complete game with 76 pitches (or something close to that). Imagine how many more innings Gonzalez would have pitched if he hadn't walked 91 batters. Days of the Jim Palmer "Good morning, Good afternoon, Good night" strikeout are gone.

  14. Suicide Squeeze - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Hypothetical question for those with a higher baseball IQ than me (meaning most of you):Given that Strasburg showed he could bounce back well from a lay-off, if the Nats are in playoff contention as late as, say, July, would you consider shelving Strasburg for a month to preserve innings for the latter stages of the playoff run (or the actual playoffs)? You could combine this potential scenario with making him your "fifth starter" so he pitches last at the beginning of the season and after the All-Star break–and he could be the first candidate to skip when the rotation is affected by rain-outs and such. If the Nats feel they have a shot at contending THIS year, wouldn't managing Strasburg to stay under his innings limit while still contributing at KEY times be in their best interests? Or are there risks of which I am unaware?Thoughts? (And be kind, please!)

  15. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    It's going to be interesting to see Strasburg's reaction to being shut down on 9/1 if the Nationals are in contention. I have a feeling he may put up some resistance.

  16. Bowdenball - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    The White Sox haven't been to the playoffs since 2005. The Diamondbacks made the playoffs in 2007 and 2011 and went nowhere both times. I'd hardly call either team (the ones with the most 200 inning starters in baseball) perennial playoff contenders.As far as the teams on the bottom of the list- you got cause and effect completely backwards. Those teams are usually out of the running early, so they don't push their younger arms and they give other guys a chance in September. They also field lots of younger talent, and have less effective pitchers who are easier to bench.Sorry Mark, I don't buy this at all. There might be a mild correlation between winning and having 200 inning pitchers, but I don't see any causation at all. The fact that the team with the most 200 inning players in baseball by far has only one postseason berth and six straight years of disappointment with one of the higher payrolls in baseball certainly is a powerful counterpoint.

  17. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    The reason pitchers often don't meet the 200 inning threshold is they don't spend enough time in the minors learning how to throw strikes and get to the majors and allow tons of extra baserunners (Exhibit A: Lannan), throw 110 pitches to get through five innings, and are shot.Say what you will about Lannan, but the facts don't support your characterization of him. Of his 33 starts in 2011, he only had 9 where he went over 100 pitches. That's less than one in three. And in those 9 games of 100+ pitches, he went at least 6 innings in all but three of them. In fact, he had only one start where he threw 110+ pitches and failed to make it through the sixth. 115 pitches in 5.2 innings in a 5-2 loss at home to the Marlins on July 28th.In other words, zero count em zero times did he need 110 pitches to make it through five innings.

  18. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    The "how to manage Strasburg's 160 innings" question is an important one, and we haven't heard a definitive answer from the Nats. Here are some of the possibilities that some folks have raised, along with some analysis of their upsides/downsides:1. The default seems to be the Znn precedent. Let him throw 100 pitches or so per game, taking him to the 6th or 7th inning in each start, every fifth day. Downside — he's likely done around 9/1 like Znn was. Upside — he'll be treated like any other starter; no effect on rotation or pitching staff makeup.2. Six-man starting rotation to extend his innings into or through September. Upside — he's available longer. Downside — No team carries six SPs, and the remaining pitchers, including Gio and JZnn, have to pitch less frequently too.3. Judicious use of off days and the All Star break to stretch out his innings, or even shutting him down for a month or so as Suicide Squeeze suggests. Upside — he's more likely to be available when it counts. Downside — a win's a win whether it comes in July or September; might not yield that many add'l starts in September unless he is shut down for several weeks, particularly if he starts pitching 7 innings regularly; to actually shut him down rather than skip a start every now and then, you'd have to make up an injury, or use an option (maybe not the worst thing) in order to replace him in the rotation.4. Limit him to 5 innings per start regardless of how well he's pitching or how many pitches he has made (possible exception if he has a no hitter going…). Upside — Gives him six or seven more starts over the course of the season; Downside — need to have bullpen prepared to go four innings on a regular basis; it's not how things are done.I've always thought No. 4 was worth consdiering in order to maximize the number of games that the Nats have a chance to win, while respecting the innings limit. Interested as always in the thoughts of others, and I hope that an enterprising reporter will pose this question (with followups) to McCatty or DJ or Rizzo at some point.

  19. SonnyG10 - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Suicide Squeeze said… would you consider shelving Strasburg for a month to preserve innings for the latter stages of the playoff run (or the actual playoffs)?I would be concerned that Stephen would lose arm strength if he took a month off, then tried to come back for the playoffs. He might be tempted to overthrow and really hurt himself. Just my opinion.

  20. court - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    The point Mark is making (and I agree with) is that in order to throw at least 200 innings, you have to be good. Take Lannan – he's basically a 185 inning a year guy. Which means he's durable but not good enough to go deep in games consistantly. He averaged 5 1/3 innings a start which to me, doesn't cut it. That puts pressure on the bullpen and forces the team to rely on the bottom of the bullpen. The best pitchers out there usually go 220 or upwards because they routinely get into the 7th inning. When's the last complete game a Nat pitcher threw? Gio had more last year than our entire team. Sure, there's going to be nights that the offense if struggling and a pinch hitter is needed earlier than we'd want, but I'd say those instances average out over the course of a season. The brass tax is our pitchers have not been good enough to go deep and thus our bullpen is always a league leader in innings pitched. Let's hope those days are behind us. Although Gio and JZ are the only legit options to hit 200 this year.

  21. Unkyd - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    I believe that it's "brass tacks"… as in fundamental details. I could be mistaken…

  22. A DC Wonk - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    court said: The point Mark is making (and I agree with) is that in order to throw at least 200 innings, you have to be good.True, as far as that goes. But I think others are making an additional point: that it helps a lot if the _team_ is good. To give an overly simplistic answer: a pitcher who gives up 3 runs in six innings every time out is more likely to stay in the game for the 7th if his team is ahead by a run or two. OTOH, if his team has trouble scoring three runs, he will be more likely to be removed for a pinch hitter before the 7th.

  23. Scooter - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Very nice summation, 222. All of the following is just my thoughts, so take it for what it's worth.I think sometimes we get caught up in the number of the 160-inning limit and forget where it comes from. It's not some video-game limit, where in the 161st inning Strasburg loses 50 hit points and his chance of getting hurt increases by 39.2%. The limit is just a guess. It's based on history, estimation, and probably witchcraft. It also assumes a certain number of innings per start, and pitches per inning, and pitches per start. Fewer innings per start means more starts, which messes up the guess. Sitting for a month and then ramping back up changes the routine, which messes up the guess. Remember, the goal isn't to get Stephen Strasburg to record 480 outs this year; the goal is to get the kid ready to pitch full-time in a major-league rotation.That's a long way of saying that I don't believe the team will use an unusual pitching routine in order to get Strasburg back into his usual pitching routine.(Also, a win's a win.)

  24. Bowdenball - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    court, that's just not true. Carl Pavano threw 200+ innings last year. Brett Meyers threw 200+ innings last year. Jeremy Guthrie threw 200+ innings last year.It's true that there's a correlation between throwing lots of innings and being effective, because as you say good pitchers go deep into games consistently. But nobody disputes that. Mark (and you) seem to be saying that having pitchers that do that is a recipe for team success. That's only true because those pitchers tend to be good pitchers, and THAT tends to be a recipe for team success. Not exactly a groundbreaking assertion. You can be successful with your bullpen doing a good amount of the work. Some teams have been successful doing that. Ultimately all that matters is getting the outs, not who gets them.

  25. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Unkyd, you are correct. It's a doggy-dog world.

  26. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    They don't have to outrun the bear. A starter who goes 200+ innings on a 100-loss team might well not make the roster on a .500 team, let alone a perennial playoff contender. They don't have to be good, they just have to be better than the alternative.

  27. Scooter - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    But wait, aren't those expressions one in the same?

  28. Scooter - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Oh, and since you asked for feedback, 222: I think this year is about two things for Strasburg: building his arm back up, and learning how to win games. (Well, three things. He's also supposed to, you know, pitch well. This isn't a development league.) If you hold him to 5 innings per start, then he loses a year where he could be learning how to marshal his resources, pitch deep into a game, and give his team a better chance to win. I think you'd agree that that's a valuable skill.

  29. Jim Kurtzke - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    I agree with 222 and Suicide that the bigger issue here is how Stras will be handled. I like the idea of a 6-man rotation — especially if you view Lannan and Detwiler as roughly the same — but undestand how that could be disruptive to the other 5. Thus, skipping starts, with Detwiler fillng the gap, seems to make the most sense.

  30. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    In the good old days, 300 innings was the gold standard, not 200. Strangly, those pitchers (Bob Feller for example) never had arm or shoulder problems. One season, Feller pitched 371 innings and came back to pitch 300 the next season. Same goes for a lot of other pitchers during that era.

  31. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 23, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    People blew their arms out all the time, back in the Good Old Days. That's partly why you don't remember them-they had to stop playing.

  32. court - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    32 of the 39 pitchers who threw 200 innings last year had ERAs under 4.00, including the top 16. So yes, Bowdenball, it is true. Starters are starters because they are better than the bullpen guys, so I don't think it's crazy to think that a team would want their best pitchers pitching as many innings as possible. Every single playoff team from last year averaged at least 6 innings per start from their starters. The Nats were 3rd from last.

  33. Steve M. - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    On Strasburg, this may sound crazy but I liked the planned tandem starts in September and a friend suggested this idea for Strasburg for 2012 and who better to match him up with is a fringe starter who is a lefty.Know anyone who fits that?We all know that Detwiler is effective in short stints. If you pitched Stras/Det in alternating 5 inning to 4 inning tandem starts you are limiting Stras to no more than 9 innings every 2 games over a 10 game span as you still stick to a 5 man rotation.Stras and Detwiler each would get the same innings and get through the season at no more than 144 innings and be available the whole post-season. Of course you can modify this later in the season if it doesn't look like the Nats will make the post-season as you want Strasburg over 160 innings to set him up for 2013.

  34. HHover - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Feel Wood and Court have it right about Lannan – his problem isn’t that he’s inefficient in terms of # of pitches, but that he can’t go deep into games.Justin Verlander led MLB last year in IP. Let’s compare him to Lannan (GS, IP, pitches per plate appearance, pitches per inning):L: 33, 184.2, 3.64, 16V: 34, 251.0, 4.07, 15.7Verlander isn’t appreciably more efficient and only had one more start on the season, but he still pitched 35% more innings–because he pitched more innings per game: 7.4 vs. 5.6. There are a variety of possible reasons for that: considerations about run support (Verlander had more) and about pulling the SP for a PH in the NL; stamina; and most of all, ability. Does he have the stuff to face more batters another time? Is he putting more runners on base (Verlander's WHIP is about 1/3 lower)?

  35. NatinBeantown - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    One factor to add to the mix has to be the change in hitting philosophies and strike zones. Several here say that guys should pound the strike zone and take advantage of aggressive hitters early in the count to keep pitch counts low (and IP up). But it's one thing to say it and another to do it. We just finished a decade where umpires generally called a strike zone as small as any time in my baseball memory (knees to belt?) This was combined with a dominant offensive strategy to take a ton of pitches as a lineup to knock the starter out of the game, and to wait for a "mistake", not just a ball to put in play. Those two factors contributed to league-wide declines in IP by starters.Mark's point was more that the number of innings-eaters was relatively lower than other teams, which he's right about. But since others digressed into the general explanation, I'll do it too.

  36. NatinBeantown - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Also, count me in agreement with the point made above that the biggest determinant of IP by our starters is not being in 2-1 ballgames in the 5th inning every freaking night.

  37. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Scooter said:"It's based on history, estimation, and probably witchcraft. It also assumes a certain number of innings per start, and pitches per inning, and pitches per start. Fewer innings per start means more starts, which messes up the guess. Sitting for a month and then ramping back up changes the routine, which messes up the guess."Ok, maybe this is true, but how do you know? Has anyone questioned Rizzo/DJ/McCatty/Dr. Yocum/Dr. Andrews about where the 160 inning limit came from and how much flexibilty there is in interpreting it? I haven't seen an article about this. And surely there is a good deal of flexibility. After all, if Strasburg is getting bombed you take him out in the 3rd inning after 65 pitches, right? And you only count 3 innings, not 6. So I'm not convinced it would hurt Strasburg in the least to leave after 5 innings. Some nights he'll be at 50 pitches, others 75, others near 100. I just think that the team ought to be figuring out the best way to use our ace to give us the best chance to make the playoffs, rather than just blindly following the Znn model, and shutting him down in September. Of course, we shouldn't do anything to hinder his recovery or development, but there has to be some play in the joints, so to speak.

  38. Gonat - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    SteveM, I think that is brilliant because as you said later in the season they can stretch him out if the Nats aren't in contention. Sec222 also got me thinking as a 6 man rotation wasn't going to work and his #4 suggestion then as variables. To work, you have to say even with a no hitter, you are done with the scheduled innings be it 5 innings or 4 innings.I think they would have done that with JZim if they had a tandem partner for him.Pairing up Detwiler with Stephen is like having 2 1/2 lefties in the rotation. I like it.

  39. Gonat - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    NatinBeantown said… Also, count me in agreement with the point made above that the biggest determinant of IP by our starters is not being in 2-1 ballgames in the 5th inning every freaking night. January 23, 2012 1:23 PM _______________________________Agree with that statement also. Lannan could have stayed in for games with a 5-1 lead instead of a 2-1 deficit.

  40. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    SteveM's tandem starter idea is very intriguing. It has the additional advantage of putting opposing teams in a bind if they use platoons against lefties. On the other hand, you may want to always start Strasburg to get him accustomed to the routine of starting. And you could use Detwiler for just two or three innings in relief if you prefer to have Clipp and Storen finish close games we are winning. That would allow Detwiler to pitch occasionally in between Strasburg starts where a situational leftie is needed. I hope these kinds of options are being considered now that we might get a whiff of playoff contention.

  41. Steve M. - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Lannan has to get his innings consistently beyond the 6th inning this year and great point by NatInBeantown that tight ball games are not conducive for going deep into games. When I say tight that is losing 4-3 as well as winning 2-1.Davey also has a very good bullpen whereby it is sometimes easy like the Braves did last year to pull your pitcher with a small lead. The Braves had similar problems scoring runs last year.

  42. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Feel Wood and Court have it right about Lannan – his problem isn’t that he’s inefficient in terms of # of pitches, but that he can’t go deep into games.With Lannan, it's not a case of him not being able to go deep into games. It's a case of him not being allowed to go deep into games. Recall that in 24 of his 33 starts he had fewer than 100 pitches. He could have gone deeper into those games, but wasn't allowed to. Why not? Not because he was necessarily pitching badly, but more because the games were tight and the manager thought it better to bring in a reliever than to let Lannan continue on. You raised a comparison with Verlander that is not entirely valid. No argument that Verlander is a much better pitcher than Lannan, but if Lannan had the run support that Verlander gets from the potent Tigers lineup and also never had to be pinch hit for, he would have gone deeper into games.

  43. Steve M. - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Section 222 said… SteveM's tandem starter idea is very intriguing. It has the additional advantage of putting opposing teams in a bind if they use platoons against lefties. On the other hand, you may want to always start Strasburg to get him accustomed to the routine of starting. And you could use Detwiler for just two or three innings in relief if you prefer to have Clipp and Storen finish close games we are winning. That would allow Detwiler to pitch occasionally in between Strasburg starts where a situational leftie is needed. I hope these kinds of options are being considered now that we might get a whiff of playoff contention. January 23, 2012 1:45 PM My friend is a baseball insider who brought this idea to a writer who said he would write an article about it and never did which is why this article by Mark was the perfect time to make it public with his permission.He thought about your idea of limiting Detwiler to bring in Clip or Storen but thought you are then defeating the purpose of going 1 short in the bullpen. You only bring in a reliever if Det has an off night.Det is basically your "set" long-man for tandem starts only with Stephen Strasburg. Limiting his innings in games does you no good as he only pitches every 5th day with Stras. Now then if you bring in Clip or Storen out of neccesity because Det isn't pitching well is a different set of circumstances. For this to work, you want tandem complete games to give the other 6 in the bullpen a night off.How great would it be for matchups for a team to set up lefties against Stras and then have Det come in and take advantage of a lefty lineup.Occassionaly Davey could switch it up and have Det start and then have Stras come in out of the bullpen in the 4th or 5th inning.

  44. Bowdenball - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    court, you didn't say "most guys who throw over 200 innings are good." That would be true.You said "in order to throw at least 200 innings, you have to be good." That is false. Brett Myers is not good. Jeremy Guthrie is not good.You are also wrong about "starters are starters because they are better than bullpen guys." Most bullpen guys have lower ERAs than starters. That doesn't make them "better," of course, since they're used differently and often are played for favorable matchups and don't worry about fatigue. It simply makes them different. You're right about the playoff teams having more starters go deeper into games, but you're getting cause and effect backwards. Good pitchers are allowed to go longer in games because on average they're pitching better and avoiding runners on base and dangerous situations more. That's all. There's no causation there. Lots of starter innings is a product of getting good pitching, not a cause of it. What does that mean? It means if Strasburg, Zimmermann and Gio are all lights out and they average 175 innings, and our #4 and #5 starters also come in under 200 innings but pitch well, and our bullpen performs like it did last year, we'll be very successful, even if we lack a 200 inning starter.

  45. Mark'd - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    SteveM, absolutely brilliant. That's like BREAKING NEWS in NatsTown.Would love Mark Zuckermans thoughts on it.

  46. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Pulling Strasburg arbitrarily after five innings as a means of stretching out his season is a ridiculous idea on its face. A starting pitcher has to go into every game with the mindset that he is going to win the game, pitching a complete game if possible although most nights he will fall short of that goal. He can't go into the game with the intent of winning the first five innings and then turning it over to someone else to win the last four. That's a recipe for disaster. Basically you're telling a competitor he has to limit the extent to which he competes. In a sense you're turning regular season games into exhibition games. Pennants are not won that way.

  47. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    So, speaking of pinch-hitting for the pitcher in close games (an at this point, there's no reason to assume that trend won't continue), how does that work with the Two-Headed Monster Ace?

  48. B Cundiff - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    200 inning pitchers are as important to winning baseball as kickers who can make 32 yard field goals are to winning football.

  49. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    I am the person who discussed this with Steve and we really were bouncing ideas off of each other and he deserves a lot of credit for the tandem idea. With Detwiler fighting for a starting spot and Strasburg having an inning limits and the unceremonious end to Jordan Zimmmermann's 2011 season it made sense to utilize the resources you have in an attempt to go for the post-season and conserve your Ace pitcher.The downside is you are going 1 short in the bullpen so it puts stress on Davey to judiciously make sure the bullpen isn't overused.The Nats went through a period last year where they weren't using Broderick and other times where they weren't using Slaten to which the bullpen was running at times on 6 men in the bullpen.That is my concern is overuse of the bullpen which makes it essential on days Strasburg pitches that Detwiler can finish out the games without using the bullpen.

  50. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Feelwood, didn't you watch JZim'nn starts last year? Many starts he was pulled early when he could have gone longer. Its done in September often and no comparison to Spring Training 3 inning stints. You are the type of person that maybe doesn't like anything you didn't invent. Maybe you should ride Mark Zuckerman to call Rizzo to see if he likes the idea. The problem is as Section222 discussed above there are no easy answers. You are limiting his innings regardless.

  51. NSA Domestic Intercepts Division: FLASH Traffic - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Scott: Hello, Mr. Learner [phonetic]?Learner: Good to hear from you, Scott. It's been a while. Did you have a nice holiday season?Scott: Uh, yeah, I guess. Sort of busy, though.Learner: Good, good. Got to keep busy. It keeps you young. Are you calling about prints [as heard]?Scott: Yes, exactly. Things are beginning to move again, pretty, ah, quickly, and Mike, ah, thought I should talk directly with you. I spoke to Peter late yesterday and he's now, ah, quite interested, shall we say, in prints. But I wanted you to know that, so you could, ah, make any, ah, adjustments, ah, that you might want to.Learner: Well, thank you, thank you very much, Scott, but I don't think that will be necessary. Just as we said before the holidays, we're comfortable with what we're proposing. Those numbers work for us. But as Mike told you, and just like with our earlier offer, this one is only good until [indistinct].Scott: I understand, Ted, but I guess I want to know, well, do you want me to let you or Mike know if, ah, Peter or no land [as heard] make a, ah, higher offer?[Silence, possible throat clearing sounds.]Scott: I'm sorry, forgive me, I mean Mr. Learner.Learner: I think, Scott, that if you have any, shall we say, new information to offer, you can certainly convey that to Mike — a fine young man, don't you think? I'm glad we hired him after that unpleasantness down in the islands.Scott: Yes, yes he was a good hire. And I will certainly, ah, do that. I mean contact him as things, ah, develop.Learner: But remember, Scott, what I told you late last year. It still holds true. We know the value, to us, of your prints. We are certainly prepared to pay that amount, for that term. Prints may indeed be worth more to some other owner. That would be your, rather his, good fortune. But that doesn't change our position. Not at all. Do you understand?Scott: Yes sir. Well, I guess I should, ah, let you go. I know you're busy. Thanks for talking with me and I hope this all, uh, works out..Learner: No, thank you, Scott, thank you. Always a pleasure, always.

  52. court - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I'd rather Strasburg go 7 innings to better ensure a victory than always leaving it up to Detwiler to hold on. This dovetails into my opinion that going deep into games is very important to a team's success because it keeps your best relievers fresh and available for when you need them. If no pitcher goes over 175 innings as Bowdenball suggests then we won't always have Clippard and Storen available (not to mention wearing them out or destroying their arms) when we need them. We're then left to rely on the Slatens of the world to get outs. Back to Strasburg, I think the 160ish limit worked well for JZ and I have no problem with shutting him down early once he reaches the limit. I think it's more important to condition his body and mind for regular work with any gimmicks or short leashes so that he's prepared to be our horse in '13. I think the best way to handle him is to make him the 5th starter (or the #1 starter who just starts the season a week late if you prefer) so that you skip starts for offdays. If your top four rotation spots make 33 starts each, it leaves 30 starts for your #5. Considering Strasburg is going to make about 26 starts, you're only looking at shutting him down for 4 or so starts.Bowdenball – wouldn't you agree that most relievers are failed starters, thus making starters a better pedigree?

  53. Gonat - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Feel Wood said… Pulling Strasburg arbitrarily after five innings as a means of stretching out his season is a ridiculous idea on its face. A starting pitcher has to go into every game with the mindset that he is going to win the game, pitching a complete game if possible although most nights he will fall short of that goal. He can't go into the game with the intent of winning the first five innings and then turning it over to someone else to win the last four. That's a recipe for disaster. Basically you're telling a competitor he has to limit the extent to which he competes. In a sense you're turning regular season games into exhibition games. Pennants are not won that way. January 23, 2012 2:07 PM ________________________________Feel Wood, do you really believe what you write or make it up as you go along?Bullpen pitchers always have that innings constraints. So your telling us that a starter can't do it. Should we just tell Strasburg he is a long relief guy going in for the 1st inning?Where does any of this change a mindset that I am going to win the game.

  54. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    SteveM, thanks for your thoughts on this. Very interesting. I'm just wondering if by using Clipp/Storen in an appropriate situation you help justify using a bullpen slot for Det because he can be a LOOGY or pitch the 6th or 7th on at least one other night. Your tandem idea works for Strasburg if he pitches five then four, stretching his innings over the full season and maybe even the first round of the playoffs. Digression — How cool would it be to have Strasburg with 9 innings left before 160 pitching the one game wild card playoff, assuming MLB goes to that system this year. Then again, maybe you pitch Stras and Det and then they can go again in the fourth or fifth game of the divisional playoffs– End of digression.How you use Det isn't quite as important. He's not on an innings limit, so one would hope he is capable of pitching more than just a 4 inning stint once every five days. But I agree, if he's pitching great, let him finish the game. On the other hand, if DJ would rather have Clipp pitch to Hanley Ramirez with 2 outs in the 8th and the game on the line, he should be able to do that.

  55. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Feelwood, didn't you watch JZim'nn starts last year? Many starts he was pulled early when he could have gone longer. Its done in September often and no comparison to Spring Training 3 inning stints. You are the type of person that maybe doesn't like anything you didn't invent.There's a big difference between being pulled from a game due to game conditions – such as pitch count or needing a matchup reliever with a certain hitter coming up or being pinch hit for in a tight game – and going into the game with the knowledge that you will be pulled after five innings no matter what. Can you not see that? This is not a relay race we're talking about here, it's a baseball game. I can guarantee you that if someone proposes this tandem start idea to Davey Johnson, he will shoot it down immediately. And if anyone suggests it to Strasburg, he would chew their head off.

  56. HHover - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Feel WoodSeems to me we're saying close to the same thing–obviously, we don't disagree on run support or PHing, since we both cited them. To clarify one thing, tho–when I said Lannan "can't" go deeper into games, I wasn't thinking only about stamina (pitch count) but also about his high WHIP: 1.462 last year, vs. Verlander's 0.920. So yes, Lannan is more likely to find himself in a close game in the middle innings, and thus more likely to get taken out. With a high WHIP, he's also more likely to find himself in those middle innings with runner(s) on base, and with a greater likelihood of putting the next runner on base. That's going to get him yanked faster too, and in the middle of the inning–not just between innings for a PH. Last season, 15 of Lannan's 33 starts ended with him being taken off the mound for a reliever.

  57. NatsNut - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    222, you started a great discussion. And again you completely said what I was thinking, only you were probably much more articulate about it. I was actually scrolling to the bottom so I could comment/ask about the best way to maximize innings limits when I saw your comment(s).I thought Davey flirted with the "tandem" idea last year when he talked about needing more long-men and Gorzelanny went to bullpen. I remember expecting to see someone tandem with Z'nn, but it never really materialized.All of those creative ways to maximize the innings limits are obviously unconventional, but I *really* wonder how feasible they are. It would be nice if some of those ideas were poked and prodded a little more, specifically by an established baseball writer… cough…cough..Mark…cough.

  58. Anonymous8 - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Sec222, doing the math on Stras he ends the season as less than 144 innings so has about 20 innnings in the postseason. If you continue the tandem starts you get into the World Series where you run out of innings if that limit is 165 innings.I can see the Nats making a run at the playoffs but trying to manage this for the World Series is putting the cart before the race horse.

  59. MicheleS - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    NSA.. as always.. brilliant…If this is a game of chicken.. who blinks first?

  60. Anonymous8 - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    NatsNut, teams have evolved good ideas with success and then learned from it. If you don't try, you don't succeed as you can't finish what you don't start.Atlanta went last year with this starter get me "6" approach and it worked until their bullpen got burnt out and when they needed their starters to go longer they seemed to lack the endurance.Milwaukee took Nyjer and turned him into a platoon outfielder with great success.New ideas are working. The "tandem" idea works when you have a starter to tandem with. I also like it because you have Detwiler who we can't rely on pitching long into games. Righty to Lefty—-GENIUS

  61. Sunderland - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    The Strasburg / Detwiler tandem is pretty much exactly what was discussed by several last year tandeming Zimmermann (as his innings limit neared) and Strasburg (as he returned). Strasburg / Detwiler is a better fit, but it is not an entirely new concept. And it will never happen.I also prposed this a few years ago for the Red Sox when Pedro was not going much more than 6. Have Wakefield the knuckleballer go through the lineup once, then bring in Pedro, and he could take it to the 8th or 9th. How tough would that be on the hitters, going from Wakefield to Pedro?

  62. #4 - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    The tandem idea might work in the AL. In the NL it's tough when you need to pinch hit. You also lose the ability to create match-ups.The other point I'll make about the decline of the 300 inning pitcher is this. There didn't used to be the focus on taking pitches that there is now. Running up pitch counts and getting into bullpens early is a more recent phenomenon. You'll also notice that the 300 inning pitchers were prevalent in the 60's and 70's when scoring was generally lower. Part of the reason is that the parks were bigger and the players were smaller (no steroids). Since fewer players were a threat to hit HRs, pitchers could be more aggressive.

  63. MLBTR - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Finally – the drama is over. Willie Harris to the Reds.

  64. Mark'd - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Sunderland, it only works if you commit to it. If not any potential playoff run is a pipedream.

  65. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    All of those creative ways to maximize the innings limits are obviously unconventional, but I *really* wonder how feasible they are. Going to a six man rotation is feasible but highly unlikely, since it would affect every starter, not just Strasburg. Having Strasburg skip a start here and there thanks to a rainout, off day or the All Star break is also feasible and they might well do that, just like they did with Zimmermann last year. But the tandem start idea is not only non-feasible, it's ridiculous. It's a non-starter. No way they would ever do that.And to those who say "but they did that with Strasburg and Peacock last season", that was different because Strasburg was in rehab mode then. His rehab is over now. He's just another pitcher.

  66. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    @FeelWood — Given the interesting exchange here, I'd hope you'd agree that the tandem idea or limiting Strasburg to five innings per start isn't a "ridiculous idea on its face." I'd bet that almost every starter in today's game goes into a game wanting to pitch seven innings, not nine. Unless you are a superstar or a rubber arm like Livo, you know you'll be pulled after 100 pitches no matter how well you're doing. I think Strasburg is smart enough to understand that the team wants to maximize his value to the team. He wants to win pennants too, not just selfishly pad his stats or make it to seven innings because that's what starting pitchers do. So we're kicking around ideas here on how best to do that. I don't know why you find that so offensive. Can't you be more like NatsNut and enjoy the discussion? @court — I find it hard to believe that "conditioning your body and mind for regular work" requires being allowed to pitch 100 pitches no matter what. Pitchers sometimes get knocked out in the third or fourth or fifth innning. They do bullpen sessions after their 3-inning starts in spring training. They have to leave the game after a rain delay. They have to deal with the off season. In sum, they do all kinds of things to keep in condition and adjust to unpredictable as well as predictable events. If the tandem start or a 5 inning limit is best for the team, he'll adjust I'm sure. The idea that the 6 or 7 inning start is crucial to his development, with all the variables that make it not possible to stick to that regimen even under normal circumstances, seems silly. @Anon8 — I think SteveM said that if the tandem start is implemented, you would adjust depending on how the team is doing to assure that Strasburg hits 160 before the season ends. My original idea was 5 innings per start. This gets him 6 or 7 more starts than Znn had, taking him to the end of the season. Either way, he's going to get his 160, the question is how quickly. I was just having fun daydreaming about that one game playoff with Strasburg on the mound, but I certainly agree the team shouldn't ration Strasburg innings assuming we're going to the World Series. In any event, as @NatsNut said, it would be great if a cough, established baseball writer, cough would pose these ideas to someone in a position to answer them, and we'd see if @FeelWood is right that DJ would dismiss them out of hand or that Strasburg bites off heads as well as throws fastballs at 100 mph. (I'm not sure which is the more impressive skill.)

  67. NatsLady - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Can I say this AGAIN for the 10,000th time? The 160 innings is really 162 innings so that Stras will qualify for league awards (ERA, etc.).The 160 comes from the 5-month minor league season that pitchers use for both rehab and for preparing for the gruels of the major league season. Ideas like a 6-man rotation or "judicious use of off-days" defeat the purpose of building up arm-strength for a full season in 2013.The question is not whether Stras will object to sitting on Sept 1. The question is what about October 1?

  68. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    @FeelWood said:"…Strasburg was in rehab mode then. His rehab is over now. He's just another pitcher."Excuse the selective quotation, but, huh?

  69. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    @NatsLady — You've said it 10,000 times, but that 160/162 thing didn't work out that well for JZnn, did it? I kept expecting them to bring him in for one more inning in Septemberbut they never did. And apparently, the fact that the Nats played only 161 games didn't make any difference. I'm pretty sure he missed the league awards cutoff. You're sure they'll make sure that Strasburg qualifies?I think you're wrong about the creative use of the 160 limit defeating the purpose of building up arm strength. The science can't be that exact or you would have to make him stay in the game even when he's getting shelled. But hopefully someone who is in a position to ask the questions will take up the challenge and give us something more to chew over.

  70. NatsNut - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Didn't Z'nn miss his (qualifying) 162 innings by, like, one inning last year?

  71. Steve M. - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Section222, on Anon8 he read my thoughts if the Nats are in the playoff hunt you have to keep Stras limited to get him into postseason, but you are correct that if the Nats aren't in contention you just scrap the tandem idea as soon as you can to start working Strasburg's endurance up to get him past 5 innings.There is no exact science but they seem to use the 160 pitched as getting your starter into the next season to go 180 to 200 innings.

  72. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    And I repeat – our starters are pulled an overwhelming number of times because we need offense – not because they are tired or they have high pitch counts.We have been in way too many one -run games, or behind.

  73. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    @FeelWood said:"…Strasburg was in rehab mode then. His rehab is over now. He's just another pitcher."Excuse the selective quotation, but, huh?No starting pitcher in MLB goes into a game knowing exactly when he is coming out, be it after five innings or a specified number of pitches. Even if there is a pitch count on a pitcher, it's never hard and fast. There's always leeway, or you'd see guys being pulled in the middle of an AB when they hit their pitch limit. And a pitcher always has some measure of control over the number of pitches he throws, whereas with a five inning limit he has zero control. Where is his incentive to learn to pitch efficiently, when to go for the strikeout, when to pitch to contact and get a quick out? There are a lot of important aspects to pitching that could never be learned or perfected under a strict limit of innings per game.So, in short, if you have a pitcher who many people think could be the best pitcher in baseball, you don't hamstring him by making him follow rules that don't apply to any other starting pitcher. That does neither the pitcher nor the team any good.

  74. greg - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    one of the reasons the mediocre pitchers get pulled after 5 ip in a close game is because managers don't trust them in the 6th/7th/8th inning of a close game and when balancing the PH vs the diminishing returns of a mediocre pitcher seeing the lineup for the 3rd/4th time, they choose the PH and the new pitcher.so when you're faced with a 2-1 (3-2, 4-3, etc) game in the bottom 5 or top 6 when your pitcher's spot comes up, there's a much different decision between PHing for lannan or detweiler and PHing for strasburg. same would be true on any team. this is part of why the better pitchers on NL teams tend to get more IPs. the risk/reward in the PH decision is skewed toward the better pitchers staying in and the worse pitcher being pulled (along with pitch counts, how that pitcher looks/feels on the mound, how many outs there are and who's on base (bunting?), etc). we haven't had many pitcher on this team worth leaving in on a consistent basis in those situations. the good teams with good pitching leave those good pitchers in. the correlation (and it's loose, i don't think mark was saying it's pure cause and effect) is that good teams have good starting pitching. and good starting pitcher tend to pitch deeper into games and stay healthy enough to start 30+ games. if you don't have consistently good enough pitching to have guys pitch 6+ consistently for 30+ games, you're probably not going to consistently enough win to be a perennial contender. so we should look at our top 3 guys and think we have a good chance to have 3 200ip guys (health permitting) by 2013. and that should bode well, with some offensive improvement, for our records going forward.

  75. Steve M. - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    I agree with Sunderland on Zimmermann and the tandem idea in 2011 because I was the one who proposed it last year.There is no great answer. Just saying it won't work "because" isn't an answer.Rizzo isn't going to let Strasburg go all out and talking to Jordan last year he knew some starts he had pitch and innings limits. His season would have been much different if he got run support. Riggleman left him in some games longer than planned to try to get a W. Also keep in mind that the Nats weren't projected as a playoff team.I think you have to get creative this year and let the team know you are going for it. Its not a perfect plan as nothing in sports goes according to plan but it is worth considering.Thanks for reading.

  76. greg - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    as far as strasburg goes, i take the long view on this. let him go 6+ and as deep as he can on reasonable pitch counts until he's reached that 160ish number. while he's been dominant, he still has stuff to learn. believe it or not, i think he'll get better. and to do that, i think he's best served by pitching like a regular pitcher and going until it looks like it's time for him to come out of the game, not within an arbitrary IP/G number that's engineered to let him pitch 5 innings in late september. there's no way to stretch him to the point that he'd reasonably be pitching in october, if we *did* make the playoffs. on the other hand, sec 222's suggestion #3 makes sense to me. using off days, the all star break, and occasional extra days off to rest him so he might get to pitch a few games in sept, while letting him pitch full games, might be the best way to stretch out his season while still letting him learn in as normal an environment as possible.

  77. Oliver Twist - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    preparing for the gruels of the major league seasonGee, I thought they fed them better than that. Those Lerners must be really cheap.

  78. jd - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    The idea of 160 innings limit is not designed to build arm strength but rather to avoid shoulder injuries. Studies have shown that pitchers under the age of 25 who are thrown to the wolves almost always develop shoulder problems: this list includes :Bobby Witt, Doc Gooden, Mark Fydrich, Fernando Valenzuela, Frank Tannana and many more. The 160 innings is arbitrary but it's better than nothing and most baseball people (Dusty Baker not withstanding) now recognize the need to 'baby' young pitchers if they hope to keep them for the long haul. None of the ideas mentioned here are crazy (I don't love the 6 man rotation because this dilutes the quality of the entire staff) but certainly skipping starts, using tandem pitchers etc. are all concepts worth consideration.

  79. Wally - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Re: Strasburg/Detwiler tandem, it is intriguing. But I think that the pinch hitting points are valid concerns. Plus, isn't there a need to develop Stras' arm strength into 7 innings and beyond? I don't know for sure, but I thought that the theory was to develop the arm to go longer into games, and wouldn't we lose this if he only went 5 each time?But if they did it, I think that it has to be Detwiler first, followed by Stras. The only way that this has a chance of working is, as many have pointed out, the 2d guy has to get his innings. And the end of the game gets much more attention than the early part. So the temptation to pull Det in the 8th inning of a 1 run game because there are two on, 1 out and Clip is up and throwing – well, it just seems too high. But Stras will, in all likelihood, always have the best stuff on the team (unless you are a really, really big HRod fan), and I doubt that the urge to pull him will be very great. Plus, he probably gets a higher chance to collect the 'W' (which shouldn't factor into this, but probably will). It would also be cool to mess with the other team's mind 'you have 4 innings to score, and then it is over…'

  80. Curious - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    All very well thought out points (and opinions), but I'd be curious to know what any professional pitcher would say on this. Starter especially.Anybody know one?

  81. jd - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Nolan Ryan was an effective power pitcher into his 40's mainly because his innings were so limited when he first came up. Not because anyone had a plan for this but because he was so wild and ineffective. Go figure.

  82. natsfan1a - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Speaking of gruel, I don't know about y'all, but my brain's going to turn to mush if real baseball doesn't start up soon.

  83. NatsLady - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    JZimm did not miss the mark by 1 inning. The Nats only played 161 games. Qualifying is 1 inning per (scheduled) game the team plays. We had this discussion a while back as to whether the cancelled game was not a "scheduled" game. Apparently it was not, or Zimm would have come out of the bullpen and pitched 1/3 of an inning…

  84. Wally - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Kilgore wrote an article today, essentially quoting Davey as saying that the roster is basically done (Fielder exempted). Boy, I hope that he is wrong. Here is the best that I can figure:2011 bench = Pudge, Hairston, Nix, Cora, Stairs and Bernie (Ankiel starting CF). This has been generally acknowledged as a bad bench2012 = Flores, Bernie, DeRosa, Lombo, + someone like Chad Tracy or Xavier Paul (assumes Cameron is the starting CF). I guess if we sign Fielder, Laroche goes to the bench, at least until he is traded, which helps. I know that I am not factoring in Harper yet, but he wouldn't materially change the bench make up, he would just replace Bernie (I think).Not only haven't we improved, I think that I actually would prefer last years. There really isn't one guy that I feel very confident in hitting. Some maybes. It really feels like we need to add another hitter, preferably someone who can also play a decent OF, plus a MI back up like Keppinger or Theriot.

  85. greg - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    actually, i thought his article also said barring an additional bat for the bench. i do think our bench is lacking. i like derosa (pending health) and flores. i *don't* like the idea of chad tracy as the corner IF guy. i think wants a corner guy (IF or OF) that can come in and at least make the other manager react to him as a PH. if it was 2009 derosa, he has a chance. beyond that, nobody else on that bench makes you pay attention. that's what's missing from that bunch. even nix or ankiel have a little more oomph off the bench than any of the rest of those guys. i hope rizzo has a couple of more bullets in his gun to fill that spot.

  86. Mark'd - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Reading MLBTR on Fielder and its bad enough all the writers with their own agendas then I see Jim Duquette of MLB Radio talking up his brother Dan Duquette of the Orioles and I get an uneasy feeling that I can't trust anything from Angelos or GM Duquette on any Orioles Hot Stove news.

  87. SonnyG10 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    I'm going to agree with Feel Wood and greg and vote against the tandem starts. I think tandem starts would piss off both Strasburg and Detwiler. I think we stand a chance to make the playoffs even if we shut down Stephen so lets don't screw around with the monkey business.

  88. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    •The Orioles are "definitely in on" Fielder and there's plenty of motivation to sign him, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio and MLB.com tweets. Duquette is a former Orioles GM who's the cousin of current GM Dan Duquette. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that interest from the Orioles and Nationals gives Boras leverage —–Isn't that an issue in arms length reporting? The Orioles are there to push the Nats just like with Mark Texaria. It tells you the end is near.

  89. Wally - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Greg – I may have missed it about the additional bat, but here are a few snippets that seemed to say it is mostly set:Aside from a resolution to the Fielder question, the Nationals are probably finished for the offseason except perhaps bringing in a few more minor league free agents to compete in spring training… The 25th man coming out of spring training, if Harper starts at Syracuse, likely will come out of the Nationals’ non-roster invitees: There are infielders Andres Blanco, Jarrett Hoffpauir and Chad Tracy…

  90. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    SonnyG10, Detwiler will be pissed no matter what because he's the odd man out and Strasburg has an innings limit. JZim was pissed last year to. It is Rizzo's job to protect his arms.

  91. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    @NatsNut — Yes, Znn pitched 161 1/3 innings last year, missing the cut for the year long leaderboard by 2/3 of an inning. I kept hoping that Znn would make a triumpant return for an inning at Nats Park before the end of the year,maybe in a save situation, maybe to mop up, but it never happened. At one point, it was suggested (I think by NatsLady) that because the Nats only played 161 games last year (since that Dodgers game was never made up), he would make it, but I'm pretty sure that turned out not to be true.

  92. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Does Mark Zuckerman have another job in the off-season. Seems like his interaction in his own discussions is sometimes needed and lacking. Also if it wasn't for a dozen or so regulars here posting it would be crickets chirping. Mark got his gig with Comcast I believe in part to his writing skills and also his loyal followers. It'd be nice in the off-season to join the discussion.

  93. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Wally, I generally agree with you on the bench. The starting 8 looks much better than last year.Watching Willie Harris go to the Reds really hurt. ;-)

  94. DL in VA - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Re the Orioles, MASN, and Prince Fielder –this is the exact reason that baseball should never have allowed (much less foisted upon the Nats) joint-ownership of a television network. It creates a conflict of interest. If you remember back to the old days, where the Yankees ownership group was related to the Kansas City Athletics ownership group, it was widely regarded that the A's were the AAAA squad for the Yankees, as good talent would be shipped off to New York. That's the reason we don't allow an owner to own more than one team: to prevent collusion.So now that it is well established that the media rights are the life-blood of a franchise (not ticket sales), it has to be noted that the Orioles owning MASN creates a conflict for baseball operations with the Nationals. The Nats (possibly) want Fielder so that its share of the MASN revenue rises in the reset period. Who wants to make sure the Nats share does not rise? The Orioles! The Nationals getting Fielder would put a serious dent in their cash cow. They want the Nats to be good of course, but they also want to keep as much of the Nats' money as they can. That's why the O's (who have no business in the PF race) are going after Fielder.One more reason MLB should step in and rip up the contract binding the Nats to MASN.

  95. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Actually, now I'm sure that Znn missed the cut. Here's the link to Baseball Reference's National League leaderboard for 2011 and Znn is nowhere to be found even though he would have been in the top 10 of several categories. Should we start a movement to make sure that Strasburg is allowed to pitch 162 innings?! http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2011-pitching-leaders.shtml

  96. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    DL in VA, there are some that said Ed Wade's love of the Phillies was the reason he bent over on the Oswalt and Pence deals.If the Phillies had a need for Bourn, they probably would have snagged him too for next to nothing.Where did Ed Wade go after he was fired in Houston? To the Phillies in their scouting department.I'm not saying there was anything under-handed but lets face it there are GMs that do favors for other teams GMs, Agents, and certain players. There are some GMs that Rizzo can call up and ask if they are "in" on Fielder and they will tell him the truth. That was one of the problems with JimBo, most GMs didn't like him and wouldn't work with him. He is getting the laugh last these days as a member of the media!

  97. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    @NatsLady — Check the leaderboards. Your theory that the cutoff is one inning per game that a team played was just wishful thinking I'm afraid.

  98. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Actually, now I'm sure that Znn missed the cut. Here's the link to Baseball Reference's National League leaderboard for 2011 and Znn is nowhere to be found even though he would have been in the top 10 of several categories. Should we start a movement to make sure that Strasburg is allowed to pitch 162 innings?! Unless he's in contention for one of the league leader spots, it really doesn't matter. Just as it didn't matter with Zimmermann last year. As much as the press and some fans made a big deal about Zimmermann getting to 162 innings last year, I doubt that anyone with the Nats gave it a second thought. They weren't going to bring him out for some arbitrary 1/3 of an inning just so he would have enough innings to qualify for the top 10 of something. People care who wins the ERA title. No one cares who #10 is.

  99. Anonymous - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Section 222, I agree with you on Jordan Zimmermann getting screwed out of some Top 10 honors. Going forward, it has to be about the team and not individual accolades. If this team gets Prince Fielder, they have to build it for the playoffs and if that means limiting Strasburgs innings to get him into the playoffs then you do it and he wont qualify for Top 10 honors either.

  100. Sunderland - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    NatsLady, much as you want to think that Davey would make certain Jordan Zimmermann qualified, Jordan did in fact not qualify, falling 2/3 of an inning short. What counts is how many games each club was scheduled to play, 162, not how many games his club actually played.MLB rule 10.22(b):"The individual pitching champion in a Major League shall be the pitcher with the lowest earned-run average, provided that the pitcher has pitched at least as many innings in league championship games as the number of games scheduled for each club in his club’s league that season."(in MLB rules "league championship" is what we commonly refer to as "regular season")mlb.com does not list Zinn among qualified pitchers either.

  101. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Terms announced on Morse got $3.75 million this year which includes his $500,000 signing bonus and gets $6.75 million for 2013.

  102. greg - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    DL in VA said: One more reason MLB should step in and rip up the contract binding the Nats to MASN. Unfortunately, i'm pretty sure this is a legally binding contract that MLB can't just rip up because they decided they don't like it. it's not like angelos would agree to something they could easily take away from him a few years down the road.

  103. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Of course you're right about Znn, FeelWood. But Strasburg must might be in contention for #1 in ERA or WHIP, or K/9. So it might matter this time around, right? I'm amazed at how many people when it suits their argument are just certain they know what the team is thinking. NatsLady asserts that if the cutoff was 162, "Zimm would have come out of the bullpen and pitched 1/3 of an inning…" FeelWood knows that they would never "bring him out for some arbitrary 1/3 of an inning just so he would have enough innings to qualify for the top 10 of something." Lighten up guys. Sometimes things fall through the cracks. Sometimes the Nats have motives or reasons you don't know about. These discussions should be informative and entertaining, not some macho contest of who knows the most about baseball or how much smarter you are than all the other commenters.

  104. SonnyG10 - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    DL, I agree with you. It is a travesty that MLB gave the TV rights to Angelos. Maybe the Lerners can sue to get the rights back.

  105. jd - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    In last year's version of this baseball annual there was a great article about the development of young pitchers as well as the handling of mature pitchers by Craig Wright. It really debunks a lot of myths and he uses objective data to make his points which resonates with me.http://www.amazon.com/Hardball-Times-Baseball-Annual-2012/dp/0879464747/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327351854&sr=1-1

  106. Unkyd - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Anonymous said…Does Mark Zuckerman have another job in the off-season. Seems like his interaction in his own discussions is sometimes needed and lacking. Also if it wasn't for a dozen or so regulars here posting it would be crickets chirping. Mark got his gig with Comcast I believe in part to his writing skills and also his loyal followers. It'd be nice in the off-season to join the discussion.————————-It would ne nice. But regular involvement on Mark's part would make him defacto referee…. The man has one infant at home; He doesn't need to be holding the hands of a couple dozen more, 24/7…… You're doing fine, Z-man; Don't change a thing :-)

  107. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    greg, the 5 year reset on the MASN deal will make this real interesting. Its also the main reason why Angelos can't make any huge expenditures (even though we all know he wouldn't) until this TV reset plays out. If MASN pays the Nats a larger fee the money has to come from somewhere and as the major shareholder in MASN, it may be the Orioles funding that reset fee if MASN doesn't have the cashflow!

  108. NatsLady - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Well, Fangraphs thinks JZimm "qualified" because he shows up exactly the same whether I entered "qualified" for 2011 or 160 innings pitched. So there you are.And, YES, Stras should pitch 162 innings so there is NO QUESTION!!!

  109. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Unkyd, don't you think Mark's infant is sleeping and napping a lot?Say what you want to about Dave Nichols and his blog but he stays active in answering questions so maybe we don't have the situation of endless 100's of posts on whether or not Jordan Z qualifies for Top 10 honors if Mark would comment during nap time.

  110. Wally - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    I thought that the MASN deal was a real negative, but after someone explained the terms, I am not so sure any more. Sure, the Nats have a small equity piece in the network, but the team has to get a market-based fee for the network carrying the game (which is what gets reset every 5 years). So that fee is what is equivalent to TEX and LAD fees, I think, notthe equity piece.The Yanks get a fee from YES and own the network (not sure of the %), so they clearly get more (and also from a bigger market), but I think the Nats should do ok. For instance, TEX gets talked about as getting a $3b media deal over 20 years, or $150/yr average. If they Nats get bumped to $90m/ yr during this reset, and then get a 10% increase at each successive 5 yr bump, that would equal $2.1b over 20 years. Not as much as TEX, but still a pretty good deal.

  111. lls45 - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Glad to hear that Willie Harris signed with the Reds. Wishing him a great season!

  112. Feel Wood - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    I'm amazed at how many people when it suits their argument are just certain they know what the team is thinking.Aren't you doing the same thing? If someone has an opinion here that's counter to yours, you repeatedly say that they don't know what they're talking about. Tell me where that's not been the case. Of course none of us knows exactly what the team is thinking, but why does that make it wrong if we have a strong opinion? After all, you seem to have a strong opinion about what the team is going to do, since you say it's the opposite of what I and others say. Why are we automatically wrong and you automatically right?

  113. CN - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    @ GoNatAccording to the AP (via WaPo), Morse is getting $3.25M in '12 and $6.75M in '13 along w/ $500k for his autographhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/morse-gets-325m-in-12-675m-in-13-500k-signing-bonus-from-washington-nationals/2012/01/23/gIQAdoNYLQ_story.html

  114. Unkyd - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    PAY TO PLAY said…Unkyd, don't you think Mark's infant is sleeping and napping a lot?————————Well, of course… I wasn't making a time-factor argument. It's more if a whining-factor. We're just discussing things, here…there doesn't need to be winners and losers. It would suck, to feel like you had to check in every hour or so, to make sure we're all playing nice- and that's what it would boil down to, for Mark, I'm sure. I'm not feeling ignored…. He speaks when he has something to say… That's all I'm sayin'….

  115. Section 222 - Jan 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    @FeelWood, I always try to be respectful of others' views, even when I disagree with them. And I certainly don't tell people they don't know what they are talking about, or that their idea is ridiculous on its face. If I don't meet that goal all the time, I sincerely apologize. It's my impression that you often don't make that attempt. That doesn't make you automatically wrong, it just makes you uncivil.The point I was making in the comment you quoted, however, was something different. Not just expressing a strong view and belittling those with which you disagree, but claiming that you are certain what the team is thinking. I never make that claim because I have no idea. I just like discussing the possibilities. I'm not an insider, I don't have contacts in Rizzo's office, and I don't pretend to understand every nuance of the game or the business of the game. That's why I'm here: to learn from experts like you.

  116. natsfan1a - Jan 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    Just my two cents' worth but I'm with Unk. I don't need Mark to interact with me or to immediately answer any questions that I might have. I also don't begrudge him some down time during the offseason, particularly when not much is happening anyway. btw, that's regardless of whether or not his son is napping regularly, which is really none of my business (although I do also enjoy seeing pics of the tyke from time to time ;-)).

  117. natsfan1a - Jan 23, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    I also enjoy interacting with fellow fans/commenters, so I don't mind if there are hundreds of comments on a given thread. If I have time to read through them, I do. If I don't have the time, I don't. If the content of a given comment doesn't interest me, there's always the scroll bar. (Disclaimer: I've not read through each of the comments here today and don't have anyone in particular in mind.)

  118. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 23, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    Should we start a movement to make sure that Strasburg is allowed to pitch 162 innings?! Occupy DJ! The guy got fired from at least two jobs he was successful at because he (rightly) blew off the opinions of the person signing his paycheck, but he's going to risk injuring a key starter over meaningless stats because some blog posters say so. Great Googley-Moogley.

  119. Feel Wood - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Section222, I don't recall ever saying that your idea or anyone else's idea was ridiculous on its face. I said that the idea of doing tandem starters was ridiculous, because it is. Am I not allowed to have that thought?Methinks you take things too personally. One should not need to place IMHO in front of every sentence here for others to know that what one writes is nothing more than one's opinion. Because everything we write is only our own opinion, nothing more. There are no insiders here – and that includes the sainted Steve M. IMHO, of course.

  120. Wally - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Here is a fun one, from Alex Meyer. Coming your way, NatsJack.@AlexMeyer17Just got off the phone with Anthony Rendon. He says he can't wait to get going at spring training. Gonna be here soon. #GoNats!

  121. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    Here is a rotation that gets Zimmermann and Gonzalez 33 starts each, and gets each of Strasburg, Wang, Detwiler and Lannan 24 starts. Zimmerman and Gonzalez always get four days of rest, Strasburg always gets at least five days of rest, and the other four starters get at least four days of rest. For simplicity, assume that the Nats play one game each on 162 consecutive days.The letters represent the first letters of the starters' last names:Z G S W D Z G L S W Z G D L S Z G W D L – that is 20 starts, repeat this 8 times.For the final two games, pitch ZG.This will put Strasburg near 160. If it appears that the Nats might be post-season bound, his innings can be lessened to give him some post-season innings. So The Big Two get all of their starts, and we leave open the possibility of Strasburg being available in the post-season.Voila.Corky

  122. Unkyd - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Wow. You a trip, Corky….

  123. Sunderland - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Corky, that's excellent. It'll never happen, and I think you know that, but it is excellent.

  124. Wally - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Cody Ross to Red Sox, for $3M base salary plus bonuses based on plate appearances, according to Jerry Crasnick. I wish we did this deal.

  125. Water23 - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    Just a thought on the MASN deal, it does look like Bud wanted to compensate Pete for losing a significant of his fanbase but in the end the deal should work out just fine for the Nats. Why you ask do I think this?1)The 5 yr resets will do it.Or2)When Pete goes to sell the O's, the Lerners should have a lot more influence with the Commish's office and the get to vote on new ownership. That sounds a lot like the leverage Pete used in the first place.or 1 and 2 combine for a double whammy.

  126. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    Sunderland, you are very kind.As you guessed, I would be beyond shocked were the Nats to do something as unorthodox as what I proposed above. But I like it, because of the traits that I mentioned that my proposal has, which I believe trade off all of the relevant factors as well as I can imagine.Corky

  127. Gonat - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    Wally, did you see Alex Meyer's followup Tweet to my question on Rendon:AlexMeyer17 Alex Meyer @ @NatsHR2Win Just told me he feels great and he is in full swing of things. Doing all baseball activity. He's ready!

  128. sjm308 - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    Corky: amazing job! how much time did it take?I also agree it will never happen because sadly, most of major league baseball stays way inside the box but its a great plan. also excited to hear from Rendon even though I think twitter is something I will never comprehend or be able to do.

  129. Wally - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Gonat – yeah, saw it. I am very excited to see what Rendon can do.

  130. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Oh, no – looks like we are back to the crowded font with the wrong time stamp?

  131. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Time stamp correct – crowded print, though

  132. Unkyd - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Nope. Time stamp's good…

  133. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Ick, I'm already going cross-eyed.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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