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Point/Counterpoint: How good will Fister be?

Dec 6, 2013, 6:00 AM EST

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THIS WEEK’S DEBATE: BY SEASON’S END, WHERE WILL DOUG FISTER RANK WITHIN THE NATIONALS’ ROTATION?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: Though he figures to open 2014 as the Nats’ No. 4 starter, I don’t expect Fister to be the team’s fourth-best starter next season. I expect him to be much better. In fact, I’ll say he winds up as their second-most effective pitcher, behind Jordan Zimmermann. That’s not a knock on Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez. I expect each to pitch well next year (though you always have to worry somebody ends up suffering an injury at some point). But all the evidence suggests Fister is primed for a really big year in D.C. He sports a career 2.04 ERA against NL clubs. He’ll get to take advantage of DH-less lineups now. He’ll also take advantage of a Nationals infield that reigns superior to the Tigers’ foursome, especially if Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder really is healed at last. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Fister winds up winning 15 games with an ERA right around 3.00, 200 innings pitched and few walks or homers allowed.

CHASE HUGHES: I find this question interesting for a variety of reasons. For one, it could be viewed as ‘If the Nats make the playoffs, which game does Fister start?’ It also brings up a comparison between the Tigers and Nationals rotations. Fister was probably the fourth best starter on the Tigers last year (unless you think he was better than Justin Verlander), so it amounts to which team has the better staff. When I really think of how I see the Nats’ rotation performing next year, I don’t see Fister ranking higher than fourth. It wasn’t the top three pitchers that gave the Nats problems in 2013, it was the back end of their rotation. I see Fister greatly improving that area of their team, but their top pitchers are so good and still so young, I don’t foresee any of them being supplanted. Fister will start the season in the back of the rotation and end it there as well.

MZ: Well, I’m not necessarily saying Fister would start Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS (should the Nats get there). I’m just saying he’ll be their second-best starting pitcher in 2014. A lot goes into how a rotation is aligned, and we probably read too much into that kind of stuff. Point is, this guy is much better than your typical No. 4 starter. And even in a rotation that ranks among baseball’s best, I think he can better than some of his teammates. Like I also said, you have to wonder if at some point one of the Nats’ big three starters is going to get hurt. I’m not saying they’re more likely to get hurt than anybody else, but the odds are against it. They’ve been very fortunate the last two seasons. Strasburg has had a couple of minor injuries, capped by the end-of-season revelation he had a bone chip in his elbow. Zimmermann dealt with that neck issue for a little while during the summer. As much as you’d like to believe they can get through another season with 90 total starts out of the big three, that might be wishful thinking.

CH: Whoa, so you’re saying you would start Fister Game 1 of the NLDS? Just kidding, I see your point. Injuries can happen of course and you’re absolutely right about the Nats’ fortunate run of durability. For all that went wrong last year, it could have been much worse if one of their top arms went down for an extended absence. As far as their rotation goes, I think I just see a big year for their Big Three. Zimmermann, Strasburg and Gio (all 28 or younger on Opening Day) still have room to improve while Fister may have already reached his potential. Strasburg in particular I find an interesting case. He battled numerous injuries in 2013 and finished with a losing record of 8-9, despite holding a 3.00 ERA. All in all, it was a bit of a tough year for the Nationals’ ace, this after his unusual 2012. I think he will respond in a big way. I like bringing in Fister over their other reported options, especially considering the price. I think all of us without the surname ‘Dombrowski’ can agree on that. I don’t, however, see him outperforming his counterparts.

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. ArVAFan - Dec 6, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    How nice it is to be discussing “how good is someone going to be” vs. “is this acquisition going to be any good?” It wasn’t that long ago that we’d be sitting here wondering out loud “what was [insert prior manager name here] thinking?” Plus, with all the young arms in the minors, we do have people who can step up if one of the Big Four goes down. Speaking of arms in the minors, anyone know what’s up with Christian Garcia? He seems to have completely fallen out of the discussion of the bullpen.

  2. Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Yeah Arv, I’ve been wonderin’ about CGar myself. Davey often referred to his ‘Strasburgh like’ stuff.

    Re: Above discussion

    Fister may out perform several of the Nats’ rotation just because of his durability. Knock on wood there. We don’t want a Jason Marquis situation with the infamous Nats’ physical, do we?????

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    I went on to MLB.TV to watch Fister starts against the NL East in 2013. He shutout the Phoolies, Marlins, and gave up 1 run to the Mets.

    In a DH home game vs Atlanta he gave up 3 runs as he beat the Braves. All 3 runs scored in 1 inning. All hits were groundballs by infielders including a double and single past Fielder.

    This is what Rizzo and the scouts probably watched also. Like all pitchers, they have off days and Fister had 6 bad starts in 2013.

    I could see Fister in the low 3’s in ERA and agree with Mark but Fister will dominate based on GIS infield defense behind him.

  4. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Patrick Reddington on Federal Baseball had this a while back:

    “The now-28-year-old reliever is currently pitching for the Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico where he has a 1.23 ERA, five walks (6.14 BB/9) and eight Ks (9.82 K/9) in 7 1/3 IP in relief.”

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      What’s up with all the walk?

    • Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      Thanks for the update, Sec. 3.

      A few problems with command need to be ironed out there.

  5. scnatsfan - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    CGar is like Beetlejuice, you don’t say this name 3 times or he gets injured.

    That being said, I think the team would find a place for him if healthy but is best served by not counting on him for an out this year.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      He will have to dominate in AAA to get a spot. Still could be a trade chip. The early projection is Rizzo has a good group of RH relievers.

  6. Jw - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    More taste. Less filling. More taste. Less filling.

  7. sjm308 - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    I have really enjoyed reading everything the last few days as this trade went down. We are in Hilton Head for the week and the great weather and this trade have truly raised my spirits.

    I won’t rehash all that was written before but I did appreciate Ghost’s thoughts about freeing another spot on the 40 man as well as how much more the bench needs “restocking”.

    I need to make one comment I don’t think I have read and that is the feelings I had last year when lots of our expectations went tumbling downhill. It is hard for me to read the above post with talk about who will be starting what game of the playoffs after what happened last year. I just hope the players learned from the experience and will not let those high expectations get to them this year. I do understand that it is a lot better to be perceived as a contender then an also-ran but I just remember how difficult it was to get through last season as those expectations were not met. Obviously, that is why they play the game.

    So help me out here Insiders, relieve my anxiety and tell me that last year has no affect on this season.

    Go Nats!!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      sjm, repeat after me: “Relax. It’s just a game.”

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      Last year actually has already had a tremendous effect on this coming up season in a positive manor. Rizzo saw all of his weak links during the 2013 season and finally got rid of HenRod and demoted Espi to figure things out and isnt bringing back several players like Tracy or Haren.

      Rizzo also saw how poor his bench was and has started a rebuilding. He’s also rebuilding the front of his bullpen and should have 2 lefties in the pen on Opening Day.

      Rizzo also took no chances on a #4 starter going with Fister rather than risking getting a starter like Garza or Samardjia who weren’t perfect fits or reaching far for David Price to where he would give up 3 prospects + Rendon.

      Rizzo has to complete the bench with solid players like Chavez, Stubbs, McLouth along with a MI and a backup C that are capable of being a spot starter.

  8. Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    I really like this trade, but slow down, guys!

    “Which game of the NLDS does he start?” sounds like this year’s version of “World Series or Bust.”

    • sjm308 - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      you said in a few words what took me a paragraph – thanks

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        My pleasure – I envy your Hilton Head getaway, esp. on a rainy Friday with a chance of “wintry precipitation” ahead this weekend here in DC. Enjoy!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        Nicely said.

    • shawndc04 - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      Truer words were never spoken. Never, never taunt the baseball gods if you want any success.

  9. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    In other news: It’s a girl! Congrats Ryan and Heather Zimmerman.

    • Jw - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      Hopefully from now on it will be Zimmerman’s daughter who’s the one throwing like a girl.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        That’s mean but I have to admit I laughed.

      • Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        Yeah, I laughed too, but I probably shouldn’t have…LOL

      • Sonny G 10 - Dec 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM

        A nice chuckle from me also. I really expect Ryan to do well this coming season.

  10. karlkolchak - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Garcia is the Alex Escobar of Nats relievers.

  11. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    That didn’t take long…

    From MLBTR: “The Mariners talks with Robinson Cano have broken down after Seattle made an offer of nine years and $225MM, two sources told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. The Mariners are no longer in the mix to sign Cano, reports Feinsand.”

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      Oh, the MLBTR story gets better:

      “…Cano and his representatives from CAA and Roc Nation Sports arrived in Seattle with an eight-year, $200MM offer in hand from the Mariners and eventually received assurances that the Mariners would go to nine years and $225MM. However, a late change by agent Jay-Z in which he once again demanded $252MM over 10 years caused Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln to “explode,” prompting the meeting to end.”

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      Gotta wonder if it wasn’t just a charade all along.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        Hard to say Hiram. It could have been on both sides. Cano doesn’t want to play in Seattle. He wants to play on a contender. Now they just lost leverage and its back to NYY, LAD AND LAA.

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        Agreed, Ghost. It’s quite likely neither side wanted it to happen, but Cano’s side loses much more by bringing the charade to an end. Not well played.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      Ken Rosenthal is now tweeting that the talks are still ongoing bwn Cano and Seattle.

      Guess one side or the other (he doesnt say which was his source) decided it was worthwhile to keep the fiction alive.

  12. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    The idea that “it wasn’t the top three pitchers that caused the Nats’ problems” is magical thinking. Nos. 1 and 2 — in the rotation, not in effectiveness — were down 18 victories. Because of Strasburg’s fragility/lack of endurance and Gonzalez’s Exorcist-invoking head spins, a bullpen that lacked the depth of 2012 was often thrown into the breach in the fourth, fifth or sixth inning. Granted Nos. 4 and 5 were disappointing but Haren (painful as it is to say so) was only a game off Jackson’s pace and they got several unexpected wins from Ohlendorf and Roark.. Had Strasburg and Gonzalez performed at anything close to expectations — say, 15 wins apiece — the outcome of the season might have been much different. Plugging in 200+ innings makes the BP much better. Williams will have more flexibility to deploy A and B bullpen crews — if that’s his style — and Clippard and Storen will make fewer sixth and seventh inning appearances.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Without even getting into the question of whether a W is any sort of a measure of pitcher’s effectiveness, let’s just look at runs scored vs. runs allowed. In 2012, the Nats scored 731 runs and allowed 594. In 2013. they scored 656 and allowed 626. Yes, the pitching (combined with defense) wasn’t quite as good in 2013, but the much bigger problem was the lack of offense. You can’t win — either as a team or as pitcher — if the hitters don’t produce runs.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:51 AM

        Exactamundo Eugene. All you have to do is look at all the games Nats gave up 3 and lost 3-2 or 3-1 or 3-0. How’s about 28 losses when Nats gave up 2 or 3 runs. Can’t win if you don’t score runs and that’s why the bench has to be rebuilt with quality!

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        Well said, Mr. Eugene. Whatever drop off in performance there was by the big 3 was totally overshadowed by the team’s failures at the plate.

    • hitmeimopen - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      You hit it on the head…Stras and Gio in particular have shown that, at least in ’13, they have issues. After all the hype heaped upon them each can unravel at the slightest adversity. Gio going deer-in-the-headlights and Stras losing his poise.
      To quote one of my favorite D.C. heroes, Sonny Jurgensen, “You lose your poise, you lose your ballgame.”

  13. tcostant - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Off topic, but a must share:

    : http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/jay-z-blows-robinson-cano-mariners-bid-sources-article-1.1539636#ixzz2mhpE69ms

    Make Jay Z was wrong, maybe Scott Boras isn’t “over”.

    • tcostant - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Guess he didn’t blow it; Cano to Seatle for $240M over 10 years. Wow was that stupid.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        Still took a hit to credibility. The Yankees probably pay him $230. Stupid to leave over $10 million when you can’t spend that much money in a lifetime.

      • karlkolchak - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        You can blow a wad like that before you turn 40…ask Allen Iverson.

  14. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    And I see the O’s are making their long-anticipating move…

    …having been linked to Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, and Ubaldo Jimenez…

    …the O’s are signing both Francisco Pegeuro and Ryan Web.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      Should read ‘long-anticipated'; sorry.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        Another funny post!

        There’s an ole saying that you shouldn’t walk into the store if you already knew ahead of time you aren’t going to buy anything.

        The Os are already spinning Ryan Webb as their Jim Johnson replacement. What a joke. Read Peter Schmuck in the Baltimore Sun call out Angelos.

        A complete fraud.

      • Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:48 AM

        Peter is a smuck…don’t believe anything he says….LOL

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        No offense Ghost but Webb is VERY similar to Jim Johnson. Johnson is probably one of the most overpaid (this season) pitchers in baseball. The value of the save in arbitration is a joke. He was projected to make 10 times what Webb was in arbitration and here is a comparison of their last 3 season side by side:

        Johnson
        2011 – 2.67 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.42 xFIP
        2012 – 2.49 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 3.63 xFIP
        2013 – 2.94 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 3.38 xFIP

        Saves – 110

        3 year ratios – 6.10 K/9, 2.03 BB/9 and a 60.6% GB rate

        Webb:

        2011 – 3.20 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 3.95 xFIP
        2012 – 4.03 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3.88 xFIP
        2013 – 2.91 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.79 xFIP

        Saves – 0

        3 year ratios – 6.08 K/9, 3.15 BB/9 and a 57.1% GB rate

        Yes Johnson is better but is he $8mm a year better? Definitely not. The FIP, ground ball percentages and k rates are all very close. I take Webb over Johnson and still have a lot of money to put elsewhere on the team and I think this is one set of moves the Orioles can’t be made fun of for. They have plenty others to choose from in that category haha.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        I’m not saying Johnson wouldn’t have been overpaid but it’s the reality of owning a team that it happens. It’s a slight overpay but gives you continuity and a trade chip. They gave him away for a player that the A’s didn’t want.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        pdowdy, the point you might be missing is they gave him away for a 2nd baseman the A’s were planning on DFAing as this was a salary dump ans the Os panicked. If they got value back in return then it makes much more sense. Jamile Weeks? Please.

        Jim Johnson was an All Star 50 save pitcher. How many saves does Webb have?

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        I guess I just don’t value continuity when the closer blew 1/6th of his chances last season and also blew 2 crucial saves in the postseason the year before. Johnson wasn’t even worth 1 WAR last year and has been barely worth 4 WAR over the last 3 years. 2 separate projection models put him at .4 and .5 next season. Both models actually project Weeks at worth .6 and .8 WAR. Weeks gives them depth at 2B where they are lacking and I don’t think the league views Johnson as a $10mm pitcher so there probably weren’t a lot of offers out there. Especially in a crowded market which had at the time Mujica, Joe Nathan, Balfour, Jose Veras, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and several other arms available.

  15. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Also, one other thought (and then I’ll leave everyone alone) that applies to both the original post and also the question of whether Gio Gonzalez had a drop-off in 2013.

    Mr. Gonzalez had the following ERAs, FIPs, and WARs (per Fangraphs):

    2010: 3.23, 3.78, 3.0
    2011: 3.13. 3.64, 3.3
    2012: 2.89, 2.82, 5.1
    2013: 3.36, 3.41, 3.1

    I think there’s a reasonable case to be made that Gio Gonzalez is a pretty steady 3.25ish ERA, 3ish WAR player, and that we really shouldn’t be expecting a repeat of 2012. This coming season or ever. There’s nothing wrong with those numbers. He’s getting paid as a 3ish WAR player (maybe even a bit below that) and that may well be who he is as a pitcher. Doug Fister could well end up being a bit better than that, at least in the two years that he’s a Nat. We’ll see. And that, of course, is why you play the games.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Gio had Biogenesis hanging over his head. That could mess up any player. I expect some improvement from Gio and where I’m hoping to see more is that he gets deeper into games with lower pitch counts.

      • scnatsfan - Dec 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        I disagree; if Gio was clean then he knew whatever the path the investigation took he’d be OK, it would have only been a problem if he used – in that case he should have been worried.

        I do agree on the pitch counts – has to stop trying to go to 3-2 on what seems like every hitter early in games.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        SCNatsFan, there’s plenty of innocent people that get convicted. You worry until your name is cleared. It was guilt by association during a witch hunt. All bets were off. I’m never going to say Gio is a choir boy and did nothing wrong but sure glad  he wasn’t suspended. He will forever have MLBs eye on him. Just hoping he walks the straight and narrow.

  16. Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Wow – mlbtr now has sources reporting that Cano will sign with Seattle for $240M/10 yrs.

    This seems so nonsensical, for both sides, that I couldn’t believe it was true. But I obviously underestimated their capacity for nonsense.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      I hope it’s true and he stays in the AL. I was afraid the Dodgers would scoop him up!

    • Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      Greed is a better word for it on the part of the player; stupidity on the part of the so-called baseball owners.

      I predict that this signing will be even worse than Pujols & the Angels!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        Doc, as they say, it won’t end pretty.

  17. masterfishkeeper - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Wow! $240 million seems like real money. Wonder what this will cause the Yankees to do? Go all out on Tanaka, I assume, but they’ll also need to find some offense somewhere.

  18. David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Yeah, for 10/240 I am glad that we stayed faaaaar away.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      +1. The other Washington!

    • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      if I were Cano, I would take a little bit less but make sure Seattle signs other FAs/trades for quality players. I would trade for Stanton (they have the farm to entice marlins to move Giancarlo), bring back Morales to play 1b/DH, split Smoak’s time with a RH hitter so he never has to face lefties, and sign Tanaka (obvious Japanese connection and bid is low now) along with Colon/Jimenez/Arroyo type player (or sign two of US SP free agents, I have my doubts about Tanaka going anywhere other NY now). I know seems like a lot of commitments but Cano alone cannot change their fortunes.

  19. edshelton2013 - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    So, now that Cano is gone, let’s package Espinosa to the Yankees for a left-handed bench hitter (Kelly Johnson is not their answer at 2B)

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Why sell low on Espinosa?

    • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      they can still sign infante I think.

    • Section 222 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      Great idea. I’m sure the Yanks will jump at the chance to replace Cano at 2B with Espi.

  20. David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Mets just signed Curtis Granderson for 4 years.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Ex-Yankees dropping like flies.

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        And I am glad we stayed away from ALL of them. Granderson’s contract is going to be a tough one by year 3 I think.

        The Doug Fister trade keeps looking better and better with people like Scott Feldman signing a 3 year deal for $30mm.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      The Granderson deal doesn’t look so bad–at least, I think he will deliver a reasonable return on investment.

      He needs to deliver an average of 2.5 WAR/yr over the next 4 years for this contract to pay out (at $6M/WAR). Even with his injury shortened 2013, he’s averaged 3+ WAR over the last 3 years.

      Even if it’s not an overpay in general, tho, there’s a question of whether it’s really worth it to the Mets. That I have more doubts about.

  21. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Espinosa to Yankees: They’re trying to win a pennant not a humanitarian reward.

    • Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Now that is funny, Theo!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        Theo, that is funny. The board here is in humor mode for sure.

  22. Section 222 - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Coming late to this discussion, but without even checking the numbers, I am confident that the following statements in a previous comment are simply not true:

    1. That Gio and Stras went 3, 4, or 5 innings appreciably more times in 2013 than in 2012. Another way of putting this is that I’m pretty sure they had nearly as many quality starts last year as they did in 2012.

    2. That Clipp and Storen ever pitched in the 6th inning last year. Pitching in the 7th is not indicative of poor performance by the starter.

    3. That Gio and Stras performed below expectations because they didn’t get 15 wins a piece.

    Feel free to check the numbers and try to prove me wrong.

    Gio and Stras may not have been the twin aces we hoped for but they both had pretty good seasons, especially Stras. He had the 8th best WHIP in the National League, and was 10th in K’s per 9. The Nats problem last year was not our big 3. It was the 4 and 5 spots, and mostly, a lack of hitting. That, more than anything else, accounts for the smaller number of wins awarded to Gio and Stras — which is why the Win stat should be abolished. h/t Brian Kenny.

    As for Fister, I’m interested in how people think the question Mark and Chase debated should be evaluated — ERA?, WHIP?, FIP, Quality Starts?, Wins (heck no!), some combination of the above? My guess is that he’ll be our No. 3 — one of the 3 will regress or have injuries or not be quite as good. But I can’t imagine two of them not performing at a very high level next year. Wouldn’t it be cool though if the change of leagues leads to Fister having a career year and rising above all of them?

    • David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      One of the positives about Fister is that he will give you around 200 innings. Gio is reliable for around 200 innings. JZimm went over 200 innings last year. So that’s 600 innings from 3 guys. The question is: is this the year that Stras finally pitches 200 innings (or close to it)?

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        On 5/31, 8/17 and 8/28 Strasburg managed only 5 innings combined. 2 were shortened appearances due to weather and 1 was the Atlanta incident. If you stretch that out to a mere 5 innings per start he would have been at 193 innings. I think his lower innings total was just a fluke this year. I believe he will land in the 190 – 205 inning range next season.

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        He made 30 starts and had 183 IP last year.

        More would be better (consistent with health, of course), but I don’t think it’s really a make or break question for the Nats whether he gives them 15-20 innings more over a 162 game season.

        The guy makes 30 starts and pitches to a 3.00 ERA, and some of the commenters above (not you, DP) are ready to declare him a bust because he missed a couple of starts and lost focus in a couple more. Sheesh.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        pdowdy, glad you gave the asterisk to the stats. Unfortunately those 3 starts are being used to paint an unfair picture plus Davey babied him too often IMO.

      • pdowdy83 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        Agreed Ghost. Davey babied all of the starters a bit over the last 2 years. Dusty Baker would have had Stras, Gio and Jordan all over 200 innings for sure. Not saying that Dusty’s pitcher management is a good idea either but Davey pulled starters well before 100 pitches A LOT. Stras alone had 4 other starts where he gave up fewer than 2 earned runs and was taken out with under 95 pitches throw. 2 of those had under 80 and 82 and in those games he had allowed a TOTAL of 8 baserunners over the 13 innings he pitched. Absolutely no reason to have not let him go more innings.

  23. David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    “On 5/31, 8/17 and 8/28 Strasburg managed only 5 innings combined. 2 were shortened appearances due to weather and 1 was the Atlanta incident. If you stretch that out to a mere 5 innings per start he would have been at 193 innings. I think his lower innings total was just a fluke this year. I believe he will land in the 190 – 205 inning range next season.”

    Very good point, pdowdy. It was just an odd season for Stras, all around.

    • pdowdy83 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      +1

      It was a VERY strange year all around for him and he was still worth 3.2 WAR according to fangraphs. I know they put a lot of value on innings pitched. I just can’t seem to get all the criticism he gets. He still struck out over a batter per inning, had an opp average of .205, a whip of 1.05, a groundball rate over 50% and gave up .79 HR/9 innings. His ERA, WHIP, groundball percentage and opp average were all BETTER than 2012.

  24. NatsLady - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Ladson seems worried that Fister is “too nice.” Um, I don’t think so. In the ATL series, Torii Hunter got HBP, and the next game Fister hit Justin Upton AND Freddie Freeman (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET201304280.shtml). BTW, Detroit swept the series, (10-0, 7-4, 8-3).

    • David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      Fister is notorious for hitting batters. He pitches inside a lot. He had 16 HBP last year. Usually it’s not that many, but he still hits a lot.

      • karlkolchak - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Hope he whack a few Braves this year.

  25. NatsLady - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    If you are desperate for live baseball, get up at 3 am and watch the Aussies…

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rstss1

  26. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Okay, I know I said you were free of me for the day, but I’m back because it’s snowing heavily (by Willamette Valley standards) and my afternoon appointment cancelled.

    Regarding 222’s 12:53 points about last season: Exactly.

    Regarding 222’s 12:53 question about how to evaluate pitchers: I look first at WHIP and ERA, then FIP and WAR.

    More broadly, however, I think we (not just this blog, but baseball fans in general) get too wrapped in assigning specific, precise numbers to SPs. Rather than seeing fiive categories of SPs, I tend to think in terms of three. I just don’t believe you can be that precise, at least in most cases. With a few exceptions (okay, some guys are clearly aces or obviously fill-ins for the last spot), I tend to view some pitchers as 1/2s, others as 2/3/4s, and others as 4/5s. Ross Detwiller, for example, is a 4/5. Messrs. Fister and Gonzalez are in the middle category, but it doesn’t really matter where they pitch (you do the lefty/righty thing with them). And I would characterize Jordan Zimmermann as a 1/2, who’s in the 2-slot with the Nats because Mr. Strasburg is one of those clear aces (although on another staff, he might even end up in the 2-slot).

    • knoxvillenat - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      As for me I tend to look first at the number of quality starts for a starter versus the number of non-quality starts. Did the SP do his job and keep his team in the ball game? For a middle reliever (inninngs 4-7) I tend to first look at how many inherited runners did he allow to score and for a late inning guy or a closer I look at WHIP, FIP and saves vs. blown saves. And BTW…. a little editorial opinion, I hate that a QS is 3 earned runs or less over 6 innings, way too lenient for me. Better guide would be 3 or less earned in say 7 or even 8 innings IMHO.

      As for Papelbon being on the market…..I hope Rizzo isn’t buying.

  27. unkyd59 - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Papelbon for sale…..

  28. Section 222 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    I’m very glad to see Cano go to the Mariners, and perhaps they needed an overpay to lure some other FAs. Sound familiar? I’m tired of all the big names going to the big market, big money teams — Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers. The game is skewed enough as it is.

  29. NatsLady - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Really hard to imagine Davey doing this.

    http://curlyw.mlblogs.com/2013/12/06/bolstering-baseball-beginnings/

    It remains to be seen if Williams has Davey’s brilliance and acumen, but it’s nice to see he’s at work during the “off-season.”

  30. David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 1m
    Sources: #Nationals agree with free-agent OF Nate McLouth on two-year contract, pending physical.

    • David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      I’ve been campaigning for McClouth for a while on here. Great move.

      • natsjackinfl - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

        I know he’s left handed but can he pitch in relief?

        Seriously though, I love this move.

  31. trochlis318 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    A lot of people were mentioning McClouth so good for you if you called it, glad we have our 4th outfielder that can play all four outfield positions.

  32. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Good pick-up as the 4th OF. A legitimate base-stealing threat, if I recall correctly.

    • trochlis318 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      30 SB last season so yah

  33. David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Dan Connolly ‏@danconnollysun 1m
    Nate McLouth gets a two year, $10.75 Million guaranteed from Nationals with an option, says source

  34. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Yep McLouth. He was also on my shopping list.

    • Doc - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Now were talkin’!!!

      McLouth has always been a favorite of mine. He’s a good guy that can play ball!!!

      Let’s hope that he brings his past skills with him in ’14!

      GooooooooooooooooooooooooooNats! GoooooooooooooooooooooNate!!!

  35. David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Now sign Eric Chavez and I’ll be happy with the bench. Well, need a backup catcher too.

  36. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Nats over $132 million. McLouth is a starter type. He’s a lefty. Now get Stubbs and the OF is complete with backups. Then finish up with Eric Chavez and the bench catcher and a lefty bullpen guy.

    • David Proctor - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      I know you hate it, but the Nats are going into 2013 with Hairston on the bench.

    • Candide - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      McLouth is a “starter type” who’s only played 100+ games in a season once since 2009.

  37. trochlis318 - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    McClouth only needs to produce 1 WAR to be worth his contract per season and i bet he gets about 450 AB this season i can easily see him producing 2 WAR this season to make his entire contract worth it.

  38. masterfishkeeper - Dec 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    If you sign Chavez, then I think Tyler Moore is out of the picture, and back to Syracuse. Maybe that makes sense. Probably more helpful to have two left handed pinch hitters than two right handed ones.

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