Nationals Baseball: Pitching Staff 2013

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pitching Staff 2013

Nats "Magic" Number : 3  (any combo of 3 Nats wins or Marlins losses will ensure a season finish of 4th or better.  Small victories)

Ross Detwiler pitched pretty well last night didn't he?  Brad Peacock has pitched well too.  So has Wang recently.   Milone hasn't been bad either.

It's a problem every team would like to have.  Too much pitching.   Along with Lannan, Strasburg, and ZNN the Nats have 7 viable pitchers for 5 spots. And this offseason could potentially bring in another top-end rotation guy if the Nats feel that is needed. (it kinda is)    Let's assume they don't trade or sign someone for now.  What's the team to do?

1) Keep 'em all, let them pitch in ST, choose the best 5.

Positives: Seven pitchers for 5 spots isn't crazy.  I pretty much expect to lose one starter to injury or performance over the course of the year, and at some point it's very likely two will be down at the same time.  You need extra arms to keep seasons going. Strasburg isn't going to pitch a full year you know.

Negatives: Probably not the best use of resources given that there's a gaping hole in CF and MI might use a talent boost. If there isn't enough turn-around, some guys could get stuck at minor leagues below their level because there isn't a place to put them in the upper one.  Hard to see what anyone but Peacock could learn in AAA (and he could easily show good enough control in just a few games) Tempting for a GM to constantly fiddle around with the back of the rotation rather than give young guys a good long chance to get it together.

2) Trade Lannan, Keep Wang, work with 6

Positives: You are probably working with the most talented bunch (I'd argue Milone isn't noticeably more talented than Lannan but he does have the age edge)

Negatives: Lannan is the only one with a recent history of lasting full major league seasons. He's also probably ready to move into the "absorb innings" role that Livan will abandon if he doesn't come back as a starter (and considering he's ok with coming back as a long reliever I think that writing is on the wall). Rotation likely heavily righty.  

3) Let Wang walk, Keep Lannan, work with 6

Positives : No negotiations to likely overpay someone you already gave millions to for a handful of starts. Wang's age and recent history probably make him the biggest injury risk. Two lefties at least in the rotation.

Negatives : Feels like those millions were just thrown away to help wherever he goes next, doesn't it? Wang has the cache of being on a winner and is a high-profile foreign player - two things that can help sell tickets, even if it's just a few more.  Team defense built for a guy like Wang.

4) Trade a youngster, Keep Wang and Lannan, work with 6

Positives : It's going to be a Peacock or Detwiler package that's gonna bring back something worthwhile. Keeps a couple of guys in the rotation you might feel ok with pulling if any of the young studs burn through the minors.

Negatives : You hate to give up young pitching. No telling which of the 3 will break out, make the deal for the wrong guy and you could have years of looking bad.

5) Trade Lannan, Let Wang walk - go full youth

Positives : Exciting isn't it?   Will show really soon who is good and who is not.   Every young guy gets a good long chance in the majors

Negatives :  Insanity.  Leaves the innings pitched burden all on ZNN, not a full 2 years after undergoing major surgery.  Any injuries or talent shortfalls would leave the Nats in the familiar position of bringing up AAAA talent guys to throw junk innings.

Out of these.. you know, I probably like #1.  Maybe #4, next.  Pitching is so prone to changes that I think keeping everyone around is the best option.  Worry about having too many guys when that issue comes up.  This could all blow up if Meyer, Purke, Cole, and/or Solis have great next seasons, but that's the type of blow-up you want.  There is no song "Mo' pitchers, Mo' problems".  If they have to deal someone - deal a youngster and get someone good back.  No middling deals just to free up a spot.  Damn the chances that the one traded becomes great.  Sure it could happen, more likely though is that he gets injured, or is mediocre, or has a few good years and nothing more.  

If they do get someone in the offseason, then I see no reason to keep Wang around, unless someone else is dealt.  But you know me, I'm a complete Lannan apologist and will always side with keeping him around over talent that's not proven to be better in practice.


Donald said...

I think Strasburg and ZNN are a lock in the #1, #2 slots. I think we want the best free agent we can find for #3. There's a good chance that'll be Wang and I think I'd be fine with that, but I agree with you that if we find someone else, Wang goes away. I also think it'd be nice to have 6 in case of injury, but don't teams usually stash that person in the long relief spot? Maybe Livo and/or Gorzelanny are the odd men out and we put Lannan and Detwiler in the rotation with Milone in long relief. Peacock can play the Maya role and stay in AAA until needed.

I will say as a Detwiler fan that he looked really good last night. Totally out-pitched Cliff Lee. I know it's only one game, but having a lefty throw 95 who can toss a 3 hitter in Philadelphia is kinda nice. If he could just be more consistent, he could be a great starter.

bdrube said...

I'd much rather see the big offseason move be for a bat. Otherwise, Strasburg may end up 8-11 next year even if he has a Cy Young caliber season.

I'd bring back Wang and trade Lannan. You still have two lefty options and one seasoned veterean that way. Wang could then be trade bait next offseason if one of the other young guys develops more quickly than expected.

Hoo said...

Trading Lannan, doesn't make for a righty heavy rotation since Milone/Det or lefties.

I think keep them all, especially if Wang is giving the team a discount. Milone/Peacock in minors and come up when you trade someone in June/July.

I'd keep Det and possibly trade Peacock. I'd guess that Det's trade value is increasing but is still probably under true value right now. Peacock's value is pretty high on paper.

jcj5y said...

I'm definitely in the trade a youngster camp. Peacock has the most trade value, then Detwiler. Milone probably wouldn't bring back anything significant, since his ceiling is much lower. Great guy to have stashed in AAA in case of injury, not a front-end starter on a good team.

If you keep Detwiler, he's going to be in the rotation, because I think he's out of options.

Quest said...

Keep them all if there are no deals in your favor. There's nothing wrong with pushing Milone and/or Peacock back to the minors for a while. If things work out well, this "problem" will get worse next year and then I can see packaging several players to get a bigger bump in the trade. I'm a fan of Detwiler also so I'd hate to see him go before we know how good he'll get.

David said...

I would not just trade away Lannan. He has been a good National and has put it together this past year. I say we should look to trade away Detwiler. He has pitched well recently, which has improved his trade stock. Another GM may see in him what the Nats did when they drafted him, but I don't think he will ever live up to even his current hype. He is too big of a risk, and it would be more beneficial for the Nats to go with Peacock, Wang and Milone than Detwiler.
Detwiler and then some can bring back a good position player, and with Rendon in the minors, one or two of Espinoza, Desmond and Lombardozzi are expendable, with Lombo likely being the most expendable. Strasburg, Zimmermann, Lannan, Wang and Milone should be our starters with Peacock in the bullpen. If a starter stats failing, Peacock is there.

Harper said...

Donald - I'd say you stash that 6th guy UNLESS it's a young guy that you don't want to waste away in an every few days 2/3-inning role. Some guys you just want maintaining arm strength and the every 5th day pattern.

Philly looked a little uninspired yesterday but in the end they are still trying to get hits. So it was a nice start regardless.

bdrube - trading Lannan to me really opens up the IP can of worms. You lose the guy you are probably most sure can give you 180+ innings. But if you have complete faith in ZNN and Wang's health then it's not a crazy idea.

Hoo - technically you're right but you'd have to have both Milone AND Detwiler in the rotation. I think one or the other is more likely.

Peacock is definitely riding high on value.

jcjfy - yeah without the potential of the other two Milone is going to bring back far less. Even if he ends up being worth more. All about upside baby.

Quest - ah yes - of course if there's a great deal out there you take it.

David - Again I'll say this - Rendon has yet to play game 1 in the minors (at a new position too). Let's not pencil him into the starting MI just yet. I can see Peacock, because of the upside but more beneficial to go with Milone or Wang than Detwiler? Wang's got to be more of an injury risk and Milone has less raw talent. I'm not saying I totally disagree but that's probably not how I'd end up ranking them.

Froggy said...

This is one of those 'problems' that I'm glad we have.

I like a hybrid of your #1. Keep them all, but put it out that they are ALL on the table and see what kind of interest you get. I like Strasburg, and ZNN as the anchor babies, and in some ways think Peacock could be the big surprise.

The 3 Amigos (Milone, Peacock and Detwiler) have been pitching well, but let's see who shows up in the next 8 games.

Lannon is seasoned so keep him. The Ying and Yang of Wang is he could be a great deal so keep him. Unless of course some team shows interest (in any of the above) and has a good CF or MI for trade.

michael K said...

Unless the Nats' scouting department knows something about these guys that I don't (read: very likely), I'd go with #1, really what Froggy said and shop them all to look for potential deals but only pull the trigger if it's a can't miss. As far as I see it, there are three possibilities.

1) They all succeed (5% likely). Then you can pick the ones you want to trade later and there's no harm in waiting.
2) They all fail (8% likely). Then you wished you traded them.
3) 1-2 succeed and 2-3 fail (87% likely). You didn't hit the jackpot by trading but you guaranteed you kept the best ones.

Of course, if you like taking risks you can guess which ones will succeed now and trade the others. But I'm risk averse, and think the Nats are best off with the best 5 starters possible, which of course means waiting to be 100% sure who pans out. This strategy also seems to jive best with Rizzo's strategy of drafting the best players money can buy, as you're guaranteed a steady stream of talent coming through the minors (ok, not guaranteed, but it sure seems that way these days, doesn't it :) ). Of course, the fact that there are more young pitchers coming up would suggest the risk of trading the wrong pitchers is mitigated. My only answer to that is a starting 5 is important, so let's be risk averse, keep them all, and then we know who the top 5 are.

My predictions for next year: Wang and Milone make it, Detwiler in pen due to 3rd time through the order concerns (yesterday...?) and is a spot starter for injuries, struggles, and Strasberg, Peacock in AAA, first call-up if necessary. Or a trade, but only if 100% worth it.

Wally said...

The Nats still have holes, even if you just say it is CF, so I think that they have to look to trade someone to fill it. I mean, if you don't want to say Rendon is a real prospect yet, ok, but you can't advise a stopgap plan that waits for Brian Goodwin, right?

But I believe this comment of yours the most: If they have to deal someone - deal a youngster and get someone good back.  No middling deals just to free up a spot. 

I think that the Nats are at a point where they should only trade for a significant addition. So what does it take to get Bourjos? I really liked Span, but he still hasn't shown he is oner the concussion so you can't pay up for him. Probably has to be something built around Peacock or Detwiler, plus something. To me, the pitching depth helps you get comfortable taking a chance by trading one of those guys.

Mark said...

Another factor: Won't the Nats need a 6th starter come August b/c of Strasburg's innings limit?

And, let's say lightning strikes and the Nats are in the playoff mix around the All-Star Break? To stretch out Strasburg's starts, would you go to a 5 1/2 or even 6-man rotation? (all this may bolster the argument for keeping Livo around in the long relief/spot starter role).