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VIDEO: Do they need a lefty specialist?

Mar 12, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

As surely you know by now, the Nationals are likely to open the season without a traditional, left-handed specialist in their bullpen, relying instead on right-handers Tyler Clippard, Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen to retire some of the league’s toughest lefty sluggers.

How do the interested parties feel about this plan? Several share their thoughts in this segment from Comcast SportsNet.

  1. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    I think Zach Duke said it right, he has to wear 3 hats.

  2. SCNatsFan - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Get HRod healthy, have him pitch a couple of good innings, flip him for a LOOGY that is worthless against right handed bats

  3. NatsLady - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    It's true what the Cat said about a lefty only getting one guy out. It's not the situation with one LHB in an inning and then RHB, it's when the LHB comes up with 2 out and men on base. So the problem with not having that guy is you bring Clip in to get out the last lefty, and then he comes in for the next inning–or he doesn't and it's the same situation, you've used him for only one batter. My worry is that Clip will get overworked, especially if he comes in for multiple innings.

  4. Tcostant - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    I saw Trout at one of the USA WBC games this past weekend. I predict Harper and another teammate or two take the 3 1/2 drive to Miami and are there to see Gio tonight. You heard it here first!

  5. NatsLady - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    The PED thing is still going on, apparently there is an investigation into that shady "doctor" who ran the clinic, who may have prescribed without a license. If that comes to trial maybe other stuff will come to light, BUT– The New Times will not give their records to MLB–it seems to be partly "journalistic ethics," but mostly a grudge against Loria and Selig because of the Marlins. Very twisty.Biogenesishttp://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-03-14/news/new-times-steroids-mlb-biogenesis/full/

  6. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    From that article: And finally there is the case of Mark McGwire, who admitted to using steroids throughout the 1990s before setting the record with 66 home runs in a season in 1999Hard to get past some of that article when you read that. Uh, he did hit 60+ in 1999, but the record was 70 in 1998.Also on McGwire, he did steroids in the 90's but set the record in 1998 using all over-the-counter supplements like Andro and Creatine that were not on the MLB banned list.The best thing for that Biogenesis story is to be used as a cautionary tale. Its ruined enough innocent people's reputations already. I don't believe 1/2 of it.With this years HgH testing and additional steroid testing it should catch more cheaters or at least scare enough.It will be real interesting to see 2012 stats to 2013 in comparison!

  7. NatsLady - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. NatsLady - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Halladay got lit up vs. Detroit (7 runs in 2.2) innings, no joy in Philly…

  9. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/03/12/introducing-a-new-baseball-analytics-feature/Harry Pavlidis is now blogging occasionally with Kilgore and James Wagner over on Nats Journal to add him into their larger coverage of baseball. Harry is excellent with the Pitch F/X technology.I'm a huge proponent of Pitch F/X just for the data you can find such as Storen's Game 5 or the frequency JZim throws his changeup and the movement on it.Without Pitch F/X it feels like a Spring Training game where we are guessing too much on what a pitcher is throwing and location, spin, etc.This is the most objective tool available and I look forward to what Harry has to say in the future.

  10. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    I don't think Davey is going to use any of his RH pitchers as LOOGY's or even lefty specialists. He'll just have no fear of bringing them into the 7th or 8th when there are two lefty batters coming up, or even midway through the 6th. He's not much for LOOGYs anyway. Last year, when he had three lefties in the pen after June 3, Gonzales faced just one batter only 11 times out of 47 appearances. Burnett only 6 times out of 70 appearances. (Not surprisingly, Gorzo never faced only 1 batter.)But, can someone explain to me why Mattheus gets lumped with Clippard and Stammen as being very effective against LH batters? Looks to me like he's closer to league average, while Clip's and Stammen's splits are indeed very good. I wonder if this means that Stammen might move into Burnett's role in the bullpen, rather than doing mostly RH long relief.

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    NatsLady, Gelb was saying that Halladay's last start was back to his 2011 form but it could be his ST dead arm kicking in. He is certainly one to watch. Again, the Phillies are old. Ryan Howard has his power but is running like he has weights around his ankles.

  12. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    The problem w/ the traditional LOOGYs is they are typically soft-tossers, e.g., Orosco, Villone, who confound LH hitters w/ junk and are then scared to death of throwing RHs anything close to the strike zone. I have a hard time remembering a hard-throwing LH relief pitcher. Bob Ojeda, maybe.

  13. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Theo, what do you consider a hard throwing LH reliever in regards to velo?Sean Burnett or Venters?

  14. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Theo, Venters throws a true sinker at 94+mph and averaged just under 93 last year. He's a 3 pitch guy and pitches to both LH and RH. Then there is that Aroldis Chapman guy. I think he throws 100+ as a lefty.So there's 2 for you.

  15. SCNatsFan - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Wasn't Randy Myers a LH fireballer?

  16. NatsLady - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Ghost, are they doing Pitch F/x for spring training? I would love to see it for Strasburg yesterday.

  17. NatsLady - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    222, correct you are on Mattheus, although he said specifically he was working on lefties this ST. He has not improved–YET.

  18. natsfan1a - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    hmmm…after reading the piece, I have to say I wonder whether Strouse has an agenda.NatsLady said… The PED thing is still going on, apparently there is an investigation into that shady "doctor" who ran the clinic, who may have prescribed without a license. If that comes to trial maybe other stuff will come to light, BUT– The New Times will not give their records to MLB–it seems to be partly "journalistic ethics," but mostly a grudge against Loria and Selig because of the Marlins. Very twisty. Biogenesis http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-03-14/news/new-times-steroids-mlb-biogenesis/full/ March 12, 2013 1:47 PM

  19. natsfan1a - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Also, PSA for those to whom it's of interest, there's an Andy Feffer (Nats COO) Q&A chat over on the WaPo to discuss the new Ultimate Ballpark Access card system.

  20. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    NatsLady said… Ghost, are they doing Pitch F/x for spring training? I would love to see it for Strasburg yesterday. March 12, 2013 2:51 PM They aren't doing it with the Nats. I wish they were. I've been wanting to know what they are throwing this Spring. Unless you are sitting directly behind homeplate with a radar gun and watching movement, you really don't know. The good scouts all know and do it the old-fashioned way. As good as Pitch F/X is, it also guesstimates at mis-thrown pitches. For instance if a Gio curveball doesn't come out of his hand with the right spin, they may call it a changeup based on velocity. Same with a 2-seam/4-seam based on the lack of movement on a stinker they may call it a 4-seam.I hear Clip is working on a curveball this ST.

  21. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    correct you are on Mattheus, although he said specifically he was working on lefties this ST. He has not improved–YET.Exactly. That's why I wondered why everyone has been talking about him in the same breath as Clip. He's not there, and he may never get there, no matter how much he wants to or how hard he works on it. E-Jax was working on not tipping his pitches and being better from the windup. Didn't work out.Is Mattheus capable of becoming the RH long relief guy? If so, Stammen might be better suited to fill Burnett's role in the 7th and 8th when LH power hitters are apt to come up in high leverage situations.By the way, it appears that Storen was effective against lefties in 2011, but not so good last year. That could be a problem if he's to be the regular setup man. It seems like the middle of the order tends to come up more in the 8th than the 9th. Maybe Davey uses Clip and Storen interchangeably in the 7th and 8th depending on whether there are LH batters expected up. Soriano's splits against lefties last year don't come close to Clip's or Stammen's.

  23. baseballswami - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    I just find the whole lefty reliever thing to be kind of odd. A starter is expected to get hitters out from both sides 3 or sometimes 4 times per game. But a reliever, who only has to face hitters once, can't pitch to both sides of the plate? I heard one of the "experts" say that the more power pitchers you have in your bullpen, the less you need that kind of specialist. Some day when I have more time I may research when this whole loogy thing started, because it has not always been that way.

  24. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    baseballswami, I think Davey just wants good pitchers and if he can get a lefty like Sean Burnett who can pitch a full innings regardless of lefty/righty, all the better.You go through less relievers when you just pitch to your own strengths. Slaten was the worse use ever of a LOOGY. He wasn't effective against anyone most of the time.

  25. Tcostant - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    It kind of odd I agree. By bring in Span and moving Harper to the three hole, you have this lefty, righty balance though the lineup. Yet our pen will have no one to force the other manager to makes moves, based on lefty / righty combo. I thought Davey was great at getting the matchup he wanted, last year.Strange days indeed.BTW – thanks for the link about the new access cards chat. good stuff.

  26. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 12, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Man…..days off during Spring Training sure bring out the dead horses, don't they?

  27. baseballswami - Mar 12, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    NatsJack – better be careful or all the other dead horses will surely raise their ugly heads.

  28. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    I guess NJ has decreed that this subject is a dead horse, but I think it's kind of interesting. Last year, when the Cardinals went into the playoffs with only one lefty reliever (the guy with an unpronounceable name), the conventional wisdom was that it was a a disadvatage for them. And Davey seemed to take advantage of it, particularly in Game 1 if I remember correctly. I'm glad the Nats think they don't need another lefty, and certainly they shouldn't bring a lousy reliever on just because he's a lefty, but there is definitely room for debate over whether our RH relievers are or are not good enough against lefties, and how they should be used if they do match up well against lefties. If there's one aspect of the game that I trust Davey on, it's managing a bullpen. So I'm not worried. I'm just interested in how it plays out and what the personnel decisions and strategy calls during games will be.So sue me.

  29. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    A true dead horse is that Ryan Zimmerman is playing 1st base all season and Bryce is in CF and Tyler Moore in LF.There's only 1 spot left to make this team and that's the last guy in the bullpen. Of course Rizzo always has an Ace up his sleeve! Expect the unexpected!

  30. peric - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    YES. If you listened to Davey's interview where he was asked to compare and contrast this roster with others he had in the past?His biggest complaint was about the Dodgers and the lack of left-handed relief.Doh. I think Abad makes the team somehow.

  31. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Agree Venters and Chapman throw hard — and are not LOOGYs/left-handed specialists. Myers was not a hard-thrower, rather a insufferable nibbler who minced around the strike zone like it was a land mine. Not a specialist, either. Sometimes I admit I think too far back.

  32. Gonat - Mar 12, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Ross Detwiler seemed destined to be a hard throwing reliever like Venters and made one of the must stunning turnarounds within a season with his 2nd half ace-like performances that were nothing like his prior self.Det owes so much to Rizzo who believed in him because I really think Davey 1 year ago was ready to go in a different direction.

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