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Sorting out the revised No. 5 starter competition

Mar 18, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

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Ross Detwiler, and the Nationals’ decision to put the left-hander in their season-opening bullpen, grabbed yesterday’s headlines. But what about the remaining competitors for the final spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation? How does that situation now sort itself out?

Manager Matt Williams told reporters in Lakeland, Fla., yesterday that the decision will come down to three choices: Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and Chris Young.

Let’s run through the pros and cons for each of the remaining candidates…

TANNER ROARK
Pros: He was the most-effective pitcher of this group last season, bursting onto the scene in August and finishing 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA in 11 games (five starts). The 27-year-old right-hander was equally effective as a starter (1.74 ERA, 0.903 WHIP) as he was as a reliever (1.19 ERA, 0.926 WHIP). He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he seems to know how to pitch and wasn’t fazed by anything thrown his way upon reaching the big leagues for the first time.

Cons: Given his less-than-dazzling repertoire, Roark probably doesn’t have the highest ceiling as a major-league pitcher. He’s not an ace-in-waiting, but more likely is destined to pitch out of the back of a rotation or even as a long reliever. His minor-league numbers weren’t particularly notable until he finally broke through last summer at Class AAA Syracuse. And talent evaluators always caution against giving too much credence to September performances, considering the low-pressure situations and sometimes unimpressive lineups they face.

Chance of being No. 5 starter: 55 percent.

TAYLOR JORDAN
Pros: Despite opening 2013 at Class A Potomac, Jordan pitched so well he merited a quick promotion to Class AA Harrisburg and then a spot in D.C. due to injuries to Detwiler and Dan Haren. The 25-year-old more than held his own in his rookie campaign, posting a 3.66 ERA in nine starts and reaching the sixth inning in seven of his final eight outings. With a heavy sinker highlighting his arsenal, Jordan is a groundball machine and the kind of pitcher who can become a consistent winner at the big-league level.

Cons: Jordan’s ascension was so abrupt last summer, he still has made only 15 minor-league appearances above low-Class A and hasn’t spent a single day at Class AAA. He has some impressive raw stuff, but he still lacks polish and pitching acumen. He also had Tommy John surgery in the minors and has a throwing motion that makes some evaluators worry he is susceptible to more arm injuries.

Chance of being No. 5 starter: 40 percent.

CHRIS YOUNG
Pros: By far the most experienced pitcher in this competition, the 34-year-old has made 159 starts in the big leagues, sports a 3.79 career ERA and was an All-Star for the Padres in 2007. After dealing with shoulder injuries for several years, Young is now healthy at last and a candidate to recapture his old form.

Cons: It’s now been six years since Young was an effective, big-league pitcher. He was supposed to be healthy last season and serve as the Nationals’ top option at Class AAA Syracuse but had a 7.88 ERA in seven starts and missed the rest of the year due to injury. Even when healthy, his fastball sits in Livan Hernandez territory.

Chance of being No. 5 starter: 5 percent.

  1. Joe Seamhead - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:08 AM

    I was very impressed with Tanner Roark last fall. Regardless of who gets the nod I’m thankful for the candidates the Nats have to choose from and that they are not in the same type situation as the rest of the NL East. Every other team in the division has pitching issues that are really pretty bad. The Nats are coming out of the gate with unquestionably the best five starters in the East, no matter who the #5 guy is.

  2. DaveB - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    There were several advocates on the earlier thread for TJ as the 5th starter & Roark for the BP … I really don’t think that will happen, as I think they will want to keep one of the three already stretched out on a starter’s schedule in Syracuse. So … I don’t think it is decided yet, but I would lean toward Mark’s ranking … if he looks good over the rest of ST I think you have to give Roark the chance to repeat last year’s success, and TJ could use more time in the minors (more than Roark).

  3. sjm308 - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    No problem with any of these three.
    I like Roark as a first choice w/ Jordan waiting in the wings.
    With all the injuries this spring, I wonder how many calls Rizzo has fielded about Young?
    Pretty sure Billy Beane has reached out with two of his starters gone.
    I would love to see him take a minor league assignment but think that has the same % as Mark gives him to be the number 5.

    Go Nats!

  4. sjm308 - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    No problem with any of these three.
    I like Roark as a first choice w/ Jordan waiting in the wings.
    With all the injuries this spring, I wonder how many calls Rizzo has fielded about Young?
    Pretty sure Billy Beane has reached out with two of his starters gone.
    I would love to see him take a minor league assignment but think that has the same % as Mark gives him to be the number 5.

    Go Nats!

  5. masterfishkeeper - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Sjm308, looks like you owe yourself a beer!

    Wish there was a way to keep Young, but it seems unlikely.

    • sjm308 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      Yes, and believe me that it will not be a virtual one!
      Not sure why but on the ipad that happens often – I must have poor touch

  6. Section 222 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    Hmm, I sense a double standard here. The knock on Det was he couldn’t make it through the lineup three times. So Mark is forced to write this cleverly phrased description of Jordan to make it seem like he can pitch deep into games: “reaching the sixth inning in seven of his final eight outings.” Ok fine, but *reaching* the sixth is not what we need. He made it *through* the sixth inning in only 4 of his 9 starts last year. Det, in his injury-riddled season, made it through the sixth in 7 of his 13 starts, and in 5 of his first 7 when he was healthy. And I know 2012 is old news for everyone where Det is concerned, but he made it through the 6th in 14 of his 26 starts that year.

    I’m fine with the decision to move Det to the bullpen. And Jordan has real potential. But let’s not kid ourselves, He hasn’t yet shown that he can make quality starts on a regular basis. He tired after four or five innings the majority of the time last year.

    Roark, on the other hand, completed 6 innings in 4 of his 5 starts, and the seventh in 2 of them. I see him as far more ready to be a 5th starter who won’t tax the bullpen.

    I’m having a hard time seeing how they’re even considering Chris Young for the last spot in the rotation. As Mark points out, he was “healthy at last,” supposedly, last year. And it doesn’t seem like he’s been setting the Grapefruit League on fire so far. Most tellingly, guess when the last time he made more than 20 starts in a season was — 2007.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:16 AM

      Sec 222

      I hear you about pitching deep – but Det has 69 big league starts, and Jordan has 9, so I think they’re not going to be held to quite the same standard.

      • Section 222 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        Fair enough. I just think that Det was sometimes held to too high a standard. I would bet that virtually every MLB 4th or 5th starter does worse the third time through the lineup. That’s why they are No. 4 or No. 5. And I’d rather not have someone in our No. 5 spot who we need to grade on a curve. Seems to me that the job is Roark’s to lose at this point.

        One interesting thing about Roark was in a Fangraph’s piece awhile back. He seems to have a particular skill at getting batters to take called strikes.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/community/tanner-roarks-z-swing-and-related-observations/

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Sec 222

        Thanks for link to FG piece. What Roark did was really impressive last season–I think the question is whether what we saw last year was really “skill” as you say, or luck over a small sample size and in facing mostly undistinguished competition.

        As for Det v Jordan – I guess you can call it grading on a curve if you want. I see it more as question of trying to evaluate not just where they are, but where they are headed. Det is a pretty known quantity at this point. His inability to go deep is well established. Tho it was reported that he was trying to work on his secondary pitches in ST, I don’t think anyone was wildly impressed with what they saw.

        All that has to weigh in the evaluation vs Jordan, and what they project from him as a much younger, still developing pitcher.

    • Jb - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      The knock on Det was that with the exception of one great outing – an outing whose greatness got blown out of proportion because it came in a playoff game – he has always been either mediocre or injured. Where do mediocre starting pitchers always end up? The bullpen.

    • naterialguy - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      I think part of the reason TJ only pitched limited inning was due to his Tommy John recovery. I do not recall him getting tired or being hit hard later in games.

    • Eric - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Roark, on the other hand, completed 6 innings in 4 of his 5 starts, and the seventh in 2 of them.

      Just to clarify, he went six innings in 2/5, not 4/5 ;).

      In any case, it’s just another reason why I feel Roark should get the nod. The sample size is tiny, but he does seem capable of eating innings.

      That said, I do think comparing Jordan’s and Det’s depth is a little bit of an apples : oranges scenario. Det has had a lot of time in the majors to work up beyond 6 innings in a start; Jordan has had half a season, and he’s coming back from from TJ surgery (anyone else bugged out that he bears the same initials as the surgery? ;) ). It’s certainly possible they capped Detwiler in 2012 and 2013 was supposed to be the year they pushed him deeper into games, but it wasn’t to be.

      In any case, I do like DaveB’s take below, which posits that Det won the bullpen battle moreso than he lost the #5 battle. It really does seem to instantly remake the bullpen in a powerful way without sacrificing the potential of the starting rotation. It’s a really strong move in a lot of ways.

      • Eric - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        D’oh!!! Forgot to close the tag that I used to quote you, 222. Lack of edit function strikes again…

      • Eric - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:54 AM

        Ugh, and I did it *again*! That should’ve said “<b> tag”. Sheeeeesh. I’ll be back after I have more coffee.

    • bowdenball - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Jordan was on a TJ rehab year. As we all remember, pitchers on rehab years tend to get quick hooks in this organization. When you know a guy can’t go past 95 or 100 pitches even in a best case scenario there’s little reason to let him fight through any trouble that might arise in the 5th or 6th. It’s not fair to compare his starts to Detwiler’s, who probably didn’t pitch deep into games because is his limited arsenal.

      • scbilly - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        Speaking of TJ rehab, now that Kris Medlen is scheduled for his second TJ surgery in four years, do you think the people ripping Rizzo and pointing to Atlanta’s approach with Medlen as the right way to do it two years ago are lining up to eat a little crow? Me either.

      • Section 222 - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        Good point. I’m hopeful that TJ, now a year removed from TJ, will give us regular quality starts if he’s our No. 5.

  7. Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    I can see the logic that while Jordan has the higher ceiling, he would also benefit more than Roark from pitching every 5th day in the minors for a while to hone his craft.

    But is that what they’d do with him – send him down, as opposed to put him in the BP? Because if they’re going to keep him on the 25 man roster, I’d prefer to have him in the rotation as opposed to the BP.

    As for Chris Young – this is as much of an open competition, and his chances about as good, as 2B and Danny’s chances there.

    • sjm308 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      HH – I agree with both of those last points and the longer the spring goes the more I think both Young and Espinosa will be dangled out to other clubs. We can keep Danny no matter what but I think Young probably has some sort of opt out clause and while I realize he is nowhere near the potential of our other two, I just hate to see him bolt. Now, I could be wrong (those who read here know that is a normal situation), and he might just accept a minor league assignment but my hope is that we see him traded for more of those gems that Rizzo seems to find (like the lefty in this last trade).

      Right now Detroit is looking for a SS and there must be at least 6 to 8 teams struggling to find starters. Lets stay on that phone Mr. Rizzo.

      Go Nats!

      • bowdenball - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        I don’t see either guy bringing back anything in a trade. Espinosa is the only one who might be an above-replacement asset, and his value is at its all time lowest. The Nats would be better off moving one of the younger middle infield guys for prospects, they’d get a better return and they’d keep a guy who can man both positions with above-average defense, a useful thing for a team that plans to contend.

        Also I accidentally clicked “report comment” before I hit reply. Mods/sjm, please disregard!

    • naterialguy - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Or perhaps if it is thought that Chris young is being considered as the fifth starter then Rizzo stands to get more in a trade for him.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        Which of course is another similarity to Danny E.

  8. sjm308 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    The other problem with losing Young is that you now have to go out and find a center for your off-season basketball team. I guess you could go small and play 3 fowards but I have always liked size in the middle.

    • Section 222 - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Michigan is facing that issue as the NCAAs begin. :-)

      • thesmallpotatoes - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        As a Penn grad who watched Young kick our butts when i was a student, I hear what you’re saying… He was a very good bball player.

  9. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    in case of Fister missing some time, guessing that both Roark and TJ will be starters with RD still in bullpen?

    • DaveB - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      Yep … Assuming he just looks to be out a week or two

  10. thelatencn - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    Mr. Fr. is our center. Young was always slated for power forward.

  11. philipd763 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Don’t underestimate Rizzo, he could pull off another trade. The Cub’s pitcher with the name nobody can spell is available and he’s a huge upgrade over these three candidates. In my opinion, the is the year to go for broke!.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      No, unless you think Fister is dine for the year and even then you don’t go for broke now in so much as you have seen your main competition rocked by injuries and the Nats stack up even better today. You see what you got and if you need a starter in July there will be a few available at more reasonable asking prices.

      Samardjia has a high asking price now. Wait and be patient. Fister is still the better pitcher and you only need 4 starters for the postseason.

    • dcsportsfan2277 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      Interesting idea but Det to the BP, Jordan getting stretched out in AAA and Roark given the chance to start works for me. Having Det in the pen is a serious weapon to have and balances out the BP. I think Roark will have a pretty short leash especially if Jordan does well! Go Nats!

    • knoxvillenat - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      The Cub’s pitcher with the name nobody can spell…..

      His name is Jeff. :)

  12. DaveB - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    The focus here has generally been on Detwiler “losing” the competition for the 5th starter spot. However, I think it worth taking MW somewhat at his word that this is more about getting an additional “special” talent in the BP. Despite our view that we have lots of BP depth, if you look at most of the projections out there, e.g.,

    http://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=RP

    we have (had?) a very low ranking BP. Despite our depth / options, nobody has really jumped out and claimed those last 2 BP slots (and especially the 2nd lefty slot). MW said from the start that he preferred 2 strong lefties in the pen, so, as much as anything, he might have felt that the starter competition was reasonably close, where RD could be a big improvement to the BP (so Ross actually “won” that competition, more than losing the other).

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      I think it goes back to health and stamina and short-term success and a feeling that Ross is better suited for the bullpen where he camp fire bullets knowing his stints will be short and stamina and full repertoire isn’t as necessary.

      It’s really going back to debates 4 years ago. Ross showed great short-term success and who knows, maybe he will be a weapon in the post-season once again.

      • jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        If you look closely at Det’s peripheral stats you will see that he’s essentially John Lannan. I don’t think he is a bad choice for the no. 5 slot but he’s not good enough to block other pitchers who may have a higher potential ceiling especially since you can always go back to him if you need to.

        Roark out pitched Jordan last year but Roark has a history of so so performance in the minors so you he have to at least suspect his potential. Jordan on the other hand has had success at every level as his has moved up and also recovered nicely from TJ surgery. I am fine with him being given the job or being sent to Syracuse.

    • naterialguy - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      I think that is a very good point

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Det definitely adds something to the BP that Roark or Jordan don’t.

      But if they truly had confidence in Det as a starter, they’d put him in the rotation, because they’d get more value out of him in ~180 innings than 70-80.

  13. edshelton2013 - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    The A’s are minus two SPs. The Tigers need a SS with Iglesias out.
    Is Billy talking to Rizzo re: Chris Young? Is Dombrowski asking about Espinosa?
    Who do we need at this point? High-level prospects?

    • knoxvillenat - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Maybe we can get Robbie Ray back from Detroit. After all Rizzo was able to get A.J. Cole back from the A’s in the Morse trade after having traded him to Oakland.

      • TimDz - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        As cool as that would be (and being pretty sure your comment is tongue in cheek), I would think that Dombrowski would be VERY unpopular after getting all that grief as a result of the Fister trade……

      • Doc - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        I would kinda be in favor of that deal. Robbie Ray would fit nicely in the BP, and later on as a rotation guy.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        TimDZ – Bingo!

    • DaveB - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      It would actually be a great fit with Danny and Detroit, as he is certainly one of the better defensive options they could get for a MLB minimum salary while they figure out whether Iglesias can come back this year, and would be a nice change of scenery for Espi (and that lineup would take all the pressure off him feeling he needs to be a power hitter).
      I just can’t imagine it working out on the trade terms tho, as Rizzo will want some value, as always, and Dombroski won’t want all the grief he would get from every fan / writer that looks at Espi’s stats from last year and starts writing about DD getting “taken” by Rizzo again.

    • letswin3 - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Does Detroit have a good first base prospect that we could get in trade for Danny? Tell em we’ll do the deal straight up if they throw in filling the Coke machine for a season.

  14. scnatsfan - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Maybe I like the idea of Ross starting more then I actually like him starting… I just thought he’d always grow into a 3-4 starter. Aside from the ‘failure’ of him to win this role and the obvious dissappointment of him not getting the call I do think he can be a great weapon out of the bullpen and, assuming one of the guys steps up and performs well as a 5, can be great for the team that he is in the bullpen.

  15. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    So far this spring Jordan has some very nice stats (zero BB, for example) but hasn’t yet shown he’s ready to throw up a “quality start” — using the term advisedly — every five days in the major leagues. In that sense he’s not any different from Detwiler. As of this moment the Nats seem one quality reliever from an excellent bullpen. The one pitcher w/ relief experience who has been shown to be dependable is Roark. That would be a fine solution to the BP problem but it still leaves them without a clear preference for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. It seems to me the stage is set for season-long jockeying for the fifth spot including Jordan, Roark, Detwiler, Ohlendorf and Young.

    Whatever fluff Williams is spinning about Cedeno ain’t gonna happen, at least as long as Detwiler is in the bullpen. The next men up for bullpen depth are Garcia, Barrett, Mattheus and Davis (in late June, maybe).

    Not that it will make Detwiler feel any better but the fifth spot was his only for this season anyway. By next year (2015) it was going to belong to Jordan, Cole or maybe Treinen anyway. (Treinen looked awesome over the weekend.)

    • jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      Theo,

      That’s assuming we keep JZim long term and then Fister and then Gio and then Stras. Otherwise you need to keep feeding the pipeline.

      But I do agree with you that at age 27 we pretty much know who Det is. He’s OK in the same kind of way Lannan was OK but it’s reasonable to see if we have better.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Comparing Detwiler to Lannan is an insult.

      • jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        Look at the numbers. They are virtually the same. xfip for both career wise is at about 4.40.

      • NatsLady - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        Watching Lannan the other day for the Mets–Detwiler is much better.That doesn’t mean I think he is a lock for starting pitcher on a contending team, but Lannan is barely surviving as a bullpen option on a team that’s going to compete with the Phillies for last place (I think the Fish may surprise, but I don’t think they’ll get past third place).

      • NatsLady - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        jd, I understand about “career”xFIP, but at the present time the eyeballs (mine) see Detwiler as superior to Lannan.

      • jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        NatsLady,

        We all thought that Detwiler is going to become much better than Lannan because he throws harder but ignoring all the extraneous arguments and looking strictly at the numbers Detwiler is pretty much exactly John Lannan. I hope to be proven wrong here but based solely on historical evidence I am not wrong.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Det’s ERA+ is 105 career vs 99 for Lannan, career WHIP of 1.37 vs. 1.43.

        That’s not virtually the same, but if I were Det, it would be too close for my comfort.

    • dgourds - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      I just don’t get everyone’s view of Roark as mediocre with a low ceiling. His stuff last season was above average. 93 plus mph sinking fastball with very good command, plus slider with good command, poise on the mound. Awesome stats last season in 59 innings. Name another Nats pitcher who pitched that we’ll over 59 innings. Why can’t he have a high ceiling? Pitch him until he shows you he’s not that good.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        I’d love to be wrong, but I’m among those who see him as having a limited ceiling. And the reasons aren’t that tough to understand.

        As for his major league stats – 59IP really isn’t that many, esp when you consider that much of his success was against mediocre opponents and involved weird and unsustainable peripherals (a very low BABIP, an oddly high looking strike rate).

        That success in limited MLB innings also has to be weighed vs his much more extensive minor league performance, which was largely undistinguished before 2013. He’s been in the minors since 2008 and never regarded as a significant prospect. For 2011-12 inclusive at AA and AAA, he had an ERA of about 4.55 and a WHIP of 1.4.

      • Doc - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        Yeah I agree, dgourds!

        Like Rodney Dangerfield, Tanner gets no respect.

        Davey liked him over TJ, because Roark did what good pitchers (a guy named Maddux comes to mind) are supposed to do—control where the ball goes after it leaves their hand.

        TJ has a hard sinker that’s well above average, but TRor has 3 pitches that kept batters off-balance last year. Still like to know how Roark got where he is now, after all those sh** years in the bush leagues!

  16. Drew - Mar 18, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Speaking of roster battles I think there’s another sleeper candidate in addition to Barrett.

    If Zim plays first base when tough lefties get LaRoche a day off, is Tyler Moore guaranteed a spot?

    Think about it. Tyler prospers with regular at bats. Will they keep him just to pinch hit, when McLouth, Espinosa and Hairston can do so?

    Williams wants to manufacture runs. He loves speed. Kobernus can fly and he can fill in at infield and outfield spots.

    Williams might want to have a Dave Roberts on the bench — the guy who can steal that bag late in a tight game — the guy who can score on the contact play or a medium fly to left.

    It probably won’t happen, but I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      I’m with you. Kobernus is that toolsy guy who can play better D than the other RH bench outfielder and do reps in the infield and pinch run and can bunt. Seems to fit with Matty’s run and gun offense and has a good attitude.

      If RZim can do reps at 1st you don’t need TyMo much. See how Hairston does on a short leash. Keep TyMo hot in AAA.

      • thesmallpotatoes - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        MLB Trade Rumors was reporting today that the Astros called about Moore recently. I really like Moore and would personally rather have him starting than ALR, but at this time, considering Zimm’s move to first, Skole lingering, and Peterson putting on a good show in ST, I think we should trade Moore now for a good A-prospect or two and let Moore prove himself elsewhere.

        I also think Kobernus will make this team – he fits Williams’ personality so well and is so versatile. Everyone is talking about Carroll, but Kobernus seems like a much better fit.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        I agree with everything you say as I’ve felt the same. Lobaton and McLouth are locks on the bench.

  17. knoxvillenat - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Way, way off topic (but with no game today who cares)….has MASN made any announcements about a new sideline reporter to replace Julie, who replaced Kristina, who replaced Debbi?

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      It’s a 1 year deal as that is all Angelos will give and it’s now a revolving door. He pays them peanuts compared to industry standards so Kristina and Juli both used Angelos as a springboard to bigger and better things and we all knew they were short-term and I’m sure the successor will do the same.

      • knoxvillenat - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        And here I thought the Nationals controlled who the hire is, not Angelos. Does PA have the final say over Carpenter and F.P.??

      • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        I think the Nats have final say as to veto on someone MASN recommends and certainly the Nats can submit a name but when I say Angelos it’s a substitute for MASN as he is the majority owner and what he says goes. I’m sure MASN VPs are collecting audition tapes and giving the Nats a choice.

  18. jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Keith Law’s prediction on Rendon’s year.

    Rendon’s rookie year was a little underwhelming compared to his reputation as a hitter, with a .265/.329/.396 line in just under 400 plate appearances, but I see plenty of reasons to believe he’s going to be much better as a sophomore. Rendon has a great swing with tremendous bat speed and an excellent eye, something that already showed up in a high contact rate that comfortably beat the league average, which was 21.2 percent.

    He’s a line-drive hitter who should have no problem with good velocity, but his high line-drive rate (25.5 percent) in 2013 didn’t translate to a high BABIP and he didn’t murder fastballs as I would have expected, getting worse against velocity as the season wore on. Perhaps he wore down, and perhaps the fact that he had less than a full season of minor league experience before coming up to stay meant he was still evolving as a hitter while in Washington already. I think he gets up to .300/.360/.440 or so this year with average defense at second if he can avoid the injury bug that has haunted him since his freshman year at Rice.

    • masterfishkeeper - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      OPS of 800? I’ll take that at second base. Hope Law is right (and I think he might be).

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Come on, it’s a competition at 2nd! ;)

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      Thanks for sharing.

      FWIW – if you average the 3 projections on fangraphs (steamer, oliver, ZiPS), you get for Rendon .263/.340/.418. The difference with Law’s projection is driven by the lower projected BA.

      Even at an OPS of .758, he’d have been the 9th best 2B in MLB last year (3d best in NL). I’d take that, too.

    • Doc - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Finally Law gets something right!

      A reasonable predictive line for ARen. In time, this guy will be the Nats’ first batting champ.

  19. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Re: Detwiler vs. Lannan (probably not my final word on the subject), Lannan is among the all-time major league leaders in a little-utilized advanced stat, “Games blown before his team had a chance to win.”

    • Jb - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Revisionist history. Lannan’s W-L with the Nats (on some very bad teams) was 42-52 (.447) while Detwiler has only managed 18-29 (.383).

  20. jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    You are right. John Lannan isn’t very good but then neither is Ross Detwiler

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      jd, the stats prove you right and the ERA similarities are almost exact. Hiram above was using Detwilers career numbers which are skewed from relief work.

      Lannan’s numbers went up from his injury plagued Phillies season last year. He was a 4.01 ERA as a starter for the Nats which is 5th starter numbers. Guess what, Detwiler as a starter is 4.02 ERA in 69 games in his career after you remove his 1.11 as a reliever.

      Det’s biggest problem is staying in the game as he taxed the bullpen. Ross averaged 1 batter into the 6th inning which left 3 2/3 innings to finish up by the relievers. Lannan was slightly better finishing the 6th inning and that’s it.

      I still believe Detwiler could be a late season weapon as a starter like 2012 if needed where he had a fresh arm and threw max effort, and his reliever stats game on the line are excellent in a small sample size.

    • NatsLady - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      jd, I’ve been saying that (about both of them) for quite a while, and gotten blasted–because they both seem to be likeable guys. I still think Detwiler is mildly superior, but very mildly. Detwiler has “talent” but has never really “figured it out.”

      Lannan was never that talented to begin with; but he did figure out how to use what talent he possesed, and also got by on “grit” and “character” which led to WAY too much fan-admiration.

      After all these years, Detwiler is what he is. I think he obliges by TRYING to figure it out, develop secondary pitches, etc., but he never actually does.

      One game for Lannan and one for Detwiler make fans think these pitchers are better than they are. I had the same feeling about Chien-Ming Wang because of a brilliant performance I witnessed in person. In the end, one game does not a pitcher make.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      NatsLady, if you say so on “gotten blasted”. I kind of remember it differently that you were the torch-holder for Wang and Detwiler.

      Good you see the light now but I think too many were enamored with Detwiler’s pedigree as a #1 pick and his sizzling fastball. Skinny boy has no stamina and his repertoire became all fastballs. That’s a relief pitcher.

      I agree with your “one game better than they are” philosophy but and it’s a results oriented business Lannan had a better W/L record than the rest of the team combined for 4 of his 6 years for the Nats and he seemed to find a way to make himself useful. While I don’t like W/L as stat , Detwiler lagged every season. The almost identical ERA speaks volumes too.

      • NatsLady - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        I remember very well being the “torch bearer” for Wang, but not for Detwiler and I never get “enamored” of first picks (or big salaries for that matter) because where you got picked doesn’t matter once the games start. But I’m not going to argue because if there’s one thing I HATE it’s discussions about who was right or wrong about whom at which exact moment in the past. My current position (at LEAST going back to November when I wrote my blog post) is that Detwiler belongs in the bullpen until proven otherwise.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        I was once a big fan of Elijah Dukes as he was touted as a 5 tool player by SBF. I bought into the hype. Now I tend to know who to trust on player scouting and 2 people here probably have a better track record than any out there. I think if the Nats snagged Lohse early on instead of Haren it would’ve been the Nats winning it all. It’s still fun to think what could have been.

        BTW I don’t blame Davey for everything as he got it to work on 2012. Having the right personnel helps. Being healthy helps. So much went wrong and the team still win 86 games. So close when you think about it.

  21. natinalsgo - Mar 18, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    MLBTR reporting Houston needs a 1st baseman and have inquired about Nats TyMo amongst others.

    • Section 222 - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      When other teams are inquiring about our spare parts, you know things are good.

      • jd - Mar 18, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        You know what? that would be a nice move for TyMo because I don’t think the brass considers him an everyday player on a contender and they might be right. But he is probably too good to go back to the minors and is young enough where he deserves a real shot at an everyday job. You never know, there is a certain 1st baseman in Baltimore no one ever consider much of a prospect either.

  22. thelatencn - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    That Detwileer and Lannan are very close is not a new thought. Two years ago, the Nats couldn’t decide which of them to make their #5 and which to send to the minors. It appeared to most on this blog that Davey (who promised the job to Lannan) and Rizo, who presumedly overruled him, disagreed. In the baseball world, that’s pretty much the definition of marginality.

    • nats128 - Mar 18, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      You never know if you could turn back the clock if Detwiler to the bullpen and Lannan as the #5 would have turned out.

      Detwiler pitched the best in the post-season and Lannan was kept off the roster. It is what it is as they say however the book on both favors Lannan since the ERA was almost identical, Lannan blew him away on Win %. You can throw FIP and xFIP and SIERA and WHIP out the window as ERA and IP/G matter the most and Lannan was slightly better. If they were on different teams we could probably have more fun comparing with xFIP etc.

    • NatsLady - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      Excellent point! Again, they knew what they had with Lannan and kept hoping Detwiler would come to use his talent. Now we are in a similar position, where Detwiler is the the known quantity.

      • sjm308 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        going over to the new post after catching up on later comments and I wanted to let NL know that her post/article on Dets numbers after one – two and three times through the order convinced me he was better suited for our pen and I have stuck with that ever since. As for that torch, her never ending flame is also in the pen and wears funny goggles.

        Go Nats!

  23. cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    Roark to the bullpen matching Detwiler making them a tandem. Jordan starts out as fifth. But with Cole, Solis and yes the ultimate winner of this competition, Lucas Giolito, pushing hard from the minors the Nats are sitting pretty.

    The possibility of another trade with the A’s lurks in the shadows. Might be a good fit for Taylor Jordan or Chris Young at this point. But Rizzo already traded the other candidate Nate Karns. If the A’s send back Sean Doolittle as a part of that package then I suspect its going to happen. A left-handed reliever who is better than Clippard, Storen, Soriano, etc. Yep, I think he’d pull the trigger.

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