Nationals Baseball: I paid 3 million dollars for this?

Monday, August 08, 2011

I paid 3 million dollars for this?

Yay Lann... dammit Clippard. Oh well. He did drop his career ERA under 4.00. ERA is stupid? You're stupid!

Incidentally I was looking up the pitchers of about Lannan's age that had as many innings pitched as he does (not many) and noticed Scott Kasmir's name on that list. Doesn't it feel like he has had the career of a 35 year old already?

Tonight Chien Ming Wang goes for his third (and last?) start. He's hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been good either. Really, he's let innings get out of hand but that shouldn't be surprising when he's making John Lannan look like Randy Johnson (2 Ks so far - one a pitcher). It's a disturbing number. When you let guys hit the ball against you, eventually they will string together enough hits to score runs. Do your best to limit walks, line drives, and home runs and you can survive (see John Lannan again). Wang has limited walks, but he's getting hit harder than you'd like (increased LD%) and he gave up that huge Uggla homer at exactly the wrong time.

Can Wang succeed? Depends what your definition of succeed is. If you are asking if he can pitch the rest of the year and maybe keep the Nats in some games, then sure. The line drives still aren't "doubles in the gap" versions of line drives yet and 1 homer in two games is more than reasonable. I think he can luck into a couple good games where all the ground balls are hit at people. That could mean a 1 run game or a 4 run game but a few decent games nonetheless.

If you are looking for a 35 games a year rotation filler guy then I don't see it. He's not making anyone miss. Only 2.7% of his pitches so far have been swinging strikes. I know that's his game but when he was successful he was doing it at a 6-7% range. For those unfamiliar with the swinging strike stat, the best guys in the league do it over 10% of the time, the worst between 4-5%. 6-7% is low, but workable. It doesn't necessarily track exactly with success but it's obvious that no one is being fooled by Wang. If they aren't being fooled then that means those ground balls are more likely to be hard ones. Hard ground balls are more likely to be hits. This idea would also gel with the increased LD% we are seeting. He should give up a ton of hits. Mostly singles but a ton of them.

We'll see - maybe Wang just needed time to get back in the groove. Maybe tonight he'll K 4 guys and keep the Cubs to 2 runs in 6+ innings. Maybe that sinker will still be effective enough to make those ground balls weak instead of strong. His slider has been terrible and his "fastball" (which includes sinker) has been his most effective pitch so any plan that replaces the former with more of the latter is a good one. Or maybe the sinker is just another mediocre hittable pitch that batters will be able to key in on to smash worm-burners through the infield and the effectiveness we see is only because he's mixing it in a lot less so batters aren't comfortable swinging against it yet. It's still been only 2 games so anything is possible.


Donald said...

I think Wang's best chance with the Nats is to reinvent himself as a strong-armed slugger and come back as the platooning center-fielder in 2013.

Anonymous said...

How is it Clippard's fault in any way that Lannan didn't get the win?

I'm starting to believe that you don't even watch these games.

Wally said...

Sure, maybe, probably. Wang never missed a whole lot of bats anyway, though.

But a guy coming off TJ is given time to recover his control and command, and rebuild his arm strength before people decide whether he is 'back'. Doesn't a guy coming off a rebuilt shoulder get time to reestablish his pitching skills, too?

I don't really want them to resign Wang for next year anyway, but just saying, for evaluation purposes, doesn't he need the rest of this year (at a minimum) before we draw any conclusions?

Harper said...

Donald - like Rizzo is going to sign someone 30+ to man CF. Keep dreaming!

Anon - Clippard froze on covering first on Morse's bobble. He gave up Wigginton's game tying hit. Does Mattheus (or Morse for that matter) deserve more blame? Perhaps. But I expect more from Clippard's pitching than Mattheus (or Morse's fielding)

Wally - To be fair, yes. Hell, I'd say he'd need half of next year, too. But I'm not inclined to be fair to a 32 year old who was kind of walking a tightrope in his prime.

Anonymous said...

More's error=Morse's fault.

If he didn't make the error, that hit after the strikeout couldn't have happened, it would have been out #3.

It isn't Ty's job to come in and strike out everybody he sees. He needed to get two outs, he did. If Morse didn't blow it, Clippard wouldn't have given up the hit.

100% Morse's fault. But since you have a Tyler Clippard vendetta you found a way to blame him.

I know 11 year olds that can analyze situations better than you.

calindc said...


Any "11 year old" that plays baseball knows that a pitcher covers first on a ground ball heading that way until he is waived off. The blame is 50/50.

Troll elsewhere and let the big people talk.


Isn't Wang a free agent next year? If so, will he even sign here again?

Harper said...

Anon - Like a first-baseman scooping up a bad throw, the team aspect of defense allows for minor errors to be corrected for in time. Perhaps I'd give Clip the benefit of the doubt if they had a Gold Glover at first. but but Morse had played 86 games at first from 2000-2009. I know Nats fans have been pleased with his fielding so far but he is still not reliable.

Also I don't buy that a pitcher's job is to "get # outs". His job is to ensure that no runs cross the plate. Just because the situation changed to force him to get a third out doesn't mean he's off the hook.

calindc - I wouldn't say 50/50 but there is shared blame for that non-out.

Wang is totally a FA. The thought is he'd be generous to the Nats for basically paying him 3+ million to recover but I don't like putting that level of trust in a player.

JDBrew said...

Just to kinda play devil's advocate to you all, but why are we blaming anyone for Lannan not getting a W? They did win the game. Isn't that a little more important than Lannan's W? Personally I don't really blame anyone for Clippard blowing the save. Clippard did come in the game in a very tough spot. It's hard for anyone to get outta that jam without a run scoring. Now I'm not saying that Clippard pitched great. He certainly did not. But, how many inherited runners have scored against Clippard this year? It's gonna happen eventually. He's not a robot. They constantly bring him out in tough spots and expect him to play fireman. Which is fine, a fireman is an important thing to have. And he has embraced that role and is thriving in it. But sometimes he's gonna get beat. It happens. Sometimes the bear gets you. Let's be happy that they won the game.

JDBrew said...

And yes, I know it's not a classic "Save" situation. But technically it is a save hence my use of "blown save." So please nobody dispute me on that. Thanks.

JDBrew said...

And as for Wang...he sucks. I won't give him any slack. He was pretty good a few years ago. But he's definitely not a quality starting pitcher anymore. His minor league rehab starts went very poorly. I was actually surprised when they called him up to start. He certainly didn't show any promise in his rehab. If they resigned him in the offseason, I may be inclined to revolt, riot in the streets. Please stop paying this guy. I hope that when SS is ready, and they shut JZ down, they call up Millone, and maybe Peacock if he can start producing in AAA. And DFA Wang. Or cut him. I applaud his work and effort in coming back. And I hope he wins himself a nice starting gig in Toronto, or Baltimore, or Seattle or something. But not here. He's done in a Curly W cap.

Donald said...

@JDBrew -- I think they need to give Wang the rest of the season before they get rid of him. They've invested too much in him and he's only costing them relatively meaningless loses at this point. If he doesn't produce, he's gone at the end of the season. If he does produce, then maybe they get luck and sign a reliable starting pitcher on the cheap.

Harper said...

JDB - The whole Lannan W thing is just about my undying admiration for John Lannan and my wish that he gets a win every single time out. It's fun to blindly favor one guy. I will blame somebody other than him for every win he doesn't get. If he gives up 9 runs the Nats should score 10.

I agree that Wang sucks but I think, as much as we are looking forward to them, the Milone and Peacock call-ups are only going to happen if they are ready. (which is good) i'm not sure they are.

Anonymous said...

The reason he's upset Lannan didn't get a win is because he hates Clippard (even though he is by far the better man at his craft). You make a point to trash Clippard almost every time you mention him. It's really getting old. He's the best relief pitcher on the team. He is more important to the team than Lannan. Stop being a hater.

Harper said...

Anon - I went through every mention of Clippard from June on and I don't see any pattern of "bashing". I can go through one by one if you like but I'm pretty sure the issue is that (1) I think Clippard's dominance (or any dominance based on a small number of innings pitcher for that matter) has to do a bit with luck, and (2) I think that relievers are very replaceable and should never hold up a trade (well depending on the deal of course). So if you don't agree with that and want to call me a "relief-hater" that's fine. I can see that.

Is Clippard the best reliever on the Nats? Yes. easily. In the discussion for best reliever in the league (though that probably goes to Kimbrel)

More valuable than Lannan? Arguable but that's a lot of good innings Lannan has pitched.

Section 222 said...

1. Who gets the win is irrelevant and silly, but I get and admire your undying devotion to Lannan and hope that he can pad meaningless stats to get the best payday he can.

2. Clippard is the best reliever the Nats have, no doubt. But no reliever who pitches one inning, or maybe 2, every other game is as valuable, or as good a pitcher as a successful, reliable starter. Clip has embraced his role and thrived in it, but he only got the chance because he couldn't be a successful starter.

Anonymous said...

Lannan has only been "reliable" for the last 10 starts or so of his career. The previous 3.5 seasons he was a #3 man at BEST (and a AA starter at worst).

Since joining the Nationals, Clippard has been the most consistent and most dominant (non-closer) reliever in baseball.

Hi Haters.

Donald said...

So I guess Wang kinda made a fool out of all of us last night. I don't think 1 start proves all that much, but it does make a body go "hmmmmmm".

Harper said...

yeah a second will give him as many good starts as bad ones so... hmm I'll stick to my guns for now. Or else why have sticky guns?