Nationals Baseball: Who goes down?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Who goes down?

Oh good morning, Mr. Stammen. Going....down? (No not like this. Like this!)

Craig Stammen might have made this a moot point yesterday but the question remains - with Strasburg coming up, someone has to go down. The question is who? It's pretty easy to narrow down the suspects since there are only 5 men currently in the rotation so let's take a look at each of them from most likely to least likely. Thoroughness is the name of the game.

Luis Atilano

Positives (to kicking him out of the rotation): As nominally the 5th starter - it's his spot in the rotation Strasburg would be technically jumping into. Fancy stats say he's cruisin' for a bruisin' (xFIP of 5.75). Does not have great stuff (21BB and 16K in 44 innings) and has shown no real dominance even in best games. Only one call-up so far, has plenty of options.

Negatives: #1 round talent (at least according to where he was drafted). 4 out of last 5 starts, and 6 out of 8 were good. Fancy stats have been saying the same thing about Lannan for years.

Craig Stammen

Positives: Worst results of anyone currently on staff (5.88 ERA only one win). Seemingly puts up a stinker every other time on the mound. Had 19 starts last year and is only seemingly worse in 2010 - could be time to cut cord.

Negatives: Might have best stuff of anyone currently on staff (30K and only 16BB in almost 60 IP). Fancy stats say he's going to get better (xFIP 4.15) His best games are better than the best games of the other guys.

JD Martin

Positives: Last one up, first one down, right? Least disruptive move. If they thought highly of him would have been up already. Oldest and least "prospect-like". Another low K who has to rely on low walk rates.

Negatives: Pitched well in AAA this year and last. Pitched decent in the majors last year. Shouldn't the team reward performance?

John Lannan

Positives: Fancy stats don't look at him kindly either (xFIP 5.14). Given his age, contract, and track record of success could bring back something nice in a deal (since sending him down really isn't an option). Had a minor injury earlier in the year and you know how Nats are with injuries.

Negatives: Fancy stats have never looked at him kindly, hasn't stopped him so far. Given his age, contract, and track record, he's kind of the type of guy you want on this team - at the very least to provide stability and innings.

Livan Hernandez

Positives: The Nats would be striking while the iron was superheated to the point where not a single degree more could be transferred to the iron without it immediately transforming to a gaseous state. Livan is cheap and a known commodity with a decent track record, a deal for him as he's pitching now could also bring in something nice.

Negatives: He's LIVAN! You don't get rid of Livan! Trading him and fans might think you are "giving up" on this season. Given Lannan's arm issues, Livan may be the only sure thing to eat up innings on the staff.

What do I think? While a trade is super-intriguing, I would send down Stammen. I know he's got the best stuff but that's not saying much and I'm not a stuff person - I'm a results person. Thirty starts into his major league career Stammen has shown poor results. His AAA career is also not encouraging. He did have a 1.80 ERA in his last stint, but it was probably not coincidently when he had his lowest K rate. Prior to that he had a decent K-rate but an ERA over 8.00 across 2 years. This seems to suggest he can't have success utilizing the raw talent he may possess. If he has to be a Lannan or Atilano or JD Martin to maybe succeed in the majors, well the Nats already have a Lannan, Atilano and Martin in the majors doing ok. At 26 with Olsen and Marquis and Zimmermann and Wang and whoever else waiting in the wings, there's only so much time you can get to translate talent into results.


Todd Boss said...

Strasburg's start is badly timed for the rotation in general; it would be Lannan's turn so he (and presumably everyone else) gets pushed a day. Meanwhile Stammen is set to go sunday 6/6 vs the Reds. He's not really any better/worse day vs night but he is much better at home vs away.

But yes agree, Stammen should be out. You ride Atilano until he regresses to the mean and then replace him with Chico or a DL-bound pitcher. Martin was technically our 2nd best pitcher last year and should be given a ride until someone like Detwiler or Wang is ready.

Hoo said...

Stammen's numbers have gone way down. Stammen was sneaky good during a key stretch in late april to mid may. Since then, he's been non-sneaky bad and horrendous in the first.

I'm still not sure he goes. I always thought Atilano goes down but not sure anymore. He's been better of late than Stammen. He's doesn't pitch deep or have the stat numbers, but he gives the Nats a chance to win and utilize the best of the pen.

My list probably goes Stammen/Martin/Atilano. Atilano might be headed down shortly after Stammen if Martin pitches well after Olsen returns.

bdrube said...

I agree. Stammen is the man to go. 30 starts is getting to be a pretty large sample for a guy who is regressing. You have to keep the two guys who have been giving the team the best chance to win when they have taken the mound, even if they don't look great doing it.

Harper said...

If they know they are pulling Stammen they could go with Lannan on 3-days rest on Sunday, have him on a short leash and that's that. Everyone will be back on sched after the 8th.

If not - maybe they'll luck into a rain delay?

Bryan said...

I send Stammen down.

Sure you can make arguments for why Atilano or Martin could be sent down, but they all involve "cruisin for a bruisin" or some similar thinking. I just can't send down a guy whose pitching well just because the numbers say it won't last.

Keep Atilano up. We need the pitching to win. If in a couple weeks he's falling apart as the numbers say he should, well, hopefully Wang or Olsen or one of the other injureds are ready to take his spot.

Also, at this point, with the team where it is, I'd keep Livan unless I got something really juicy in return. Livan is reliable and cheap. You don't get that with pitchers much, especially the cheap part. Even if Livan has this year and that is it, we should have enough pitching talent down below that losing him next year won't hurt too bad.