Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Rested Roark

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Quickie - Rested Roark

There isn't that much to say.  The weekend was almost a loser for the Nats. As a good team playing another good team the Nats should take 2 of 3 at home. They did, but they almost didn't. Weeks doesn't get caught stealing, Braun catches a little bit more of that ball...

But that's sports. There's a lot of wins that you could have lost and a lot of losses you could have won. No reason to dwell on it. The Nats did what they needed and now move on to what should be a relatively easy stretch of away games, Colorado, Cincy, and Miami. You'd love to see the Nats shift gears and run over these teams with a 7-2, 6-3 stretch. But 5-4 will do. They may lose a game in the standings to the Braves who are finishing out their last easy stretch of games for 3 weeks, but you'd expect them to make it up in August.

The most interesting thing from the weekend for me is Tanner Roark's game. Prior to the 13th Roark had taken a noticeable turn south. His outings were short, he was giving up a lot of hits, and it seemed like only providence was keeping him from having a terrible blow-up game. A 1.500 WHIP should show worse than a 3.68 ERA. But this looks to be "that year" for Roark and things didn't go as bad as they should have. Now his last two outings have been much better.

While there are a lot of things it could be, rest seems the most likely reason for the turn around. He had been pitching every 5th game all-season and from May 16th through June 27th he pitched on the 5th calendar day (4 days of rest) for 6 out of 8 starts. While Roark had always been a starter, he's never racked up a season close to 200IP, which is what he was pacing. The most innings he had pitched in a season since starting in the minors was 158, and that was last year. It's not crazy to think he was tiring of the pace, the effort, and the constant major league goal of getting deep into games. Then, just when he needed it, two days off in a short time frame (thanks to the Cubs DH) gave him six days between starts. He didn't do great that game but it set the stage. He'd next be schedule to pitch on Wed the 9th, but after a rainout took away Fister's start, the Nats decided to push Fister, skip Roark, and keep the rest of the rotation on track. Roark wouldn't pitch again until the 13th. That's eight days of rest for Roark. Then the All-Star break intervened and while the Nats threw Roark in early in part to give ZNN a longer rest, it was still five days of rest, another day longer than he might sit than during a long stretch of uninterrupted games.

The end result is that when Roark next takes the mound, with another day off in between now and then, will have pitched 5 times in 29 days. If you were keeping on a strict schedule you'd make your 5th start on Day 21. Granted it's rare that you have 21 days without a break, but more a than a week longer than expected is a lot more rest than you'd usually luck into.

If it is rest the question will be what happens in mid August. The Nats will go from July 25th through August 10th without a scheduled day off thanks to the Oriole make-up. Roark would be pencilled in for that first game and then pitch 4 straight games on normal rest, the last one being a potentially huge one in Atlanta. Will the arm, then around 140 IP be tired again? Or is this time off in mid July enough to recharge his arm for the season? Was a tired arm even the issue? A lot can happen between now and then - rainouts, injuries, etc. but it's something to keep an eye on.

25 comments:

Jimmy said...

Roark has been amazing and the most criminally underrated part of this year's team. When all is said and done we will have at least 3 war pitcher in the 5th slot. That is all.

Chaz R said...

Yeah, it was really good to see Roark found his magic pixie dust again. Apparently ZNN taught him to throw his slider differently making much tighter with higher velocity. He was sure showing it off on Saturday night.

Gio looked awful yesterday. He really sucked it up after Zim's errors and nailed 2 huge Ks, but other than that, his command was way off. I hope the arm issues haven't returned. Stammen came in and did a great job, and once they got the magi 4 run number, I felt a lot better.

Wally said...

I have to admit, I still can't see how Roark is getting it done at this level of performance. Not walking people is great, but 3.2 FIP? - that's 30th in the league. Yet his pitching just seems mediocre, but add it all together and it is producing superb overall results.

Btw, Nats have 4 SPs walking fewer than 2 per game. I wonder if that would be a record.

karl kolchak said...

I dunno. Was Z-nn's arm "tired" during that awful stretch he had in May? Or was it a case for Roark that the league is still making adjustments to him and he is having to make adjustments back?

The Nats should, however, be careful with his innings anyway. I would think 200 IP would even be pushing it given that he hasn't topped 160 IP in a season before. I doubt he'd make the playoff rotation unless one of the "Big 4" were injured, but they probably would want him in the bullpen.

Right now he's in line for about 12 more starts. If he averages 6.3 IP per start (his average to date), that's 76 innings added to his current 120, iving him 196 IP total and putting him about where he ought to be shut down before the playoffs even start.

If I were the Nats, I'd skip him a couple of times when they have off days to ensure he stays well below 200 IP even should they go deep in the playoffs with him in the bullpen.

John C. said...

As a good team playing another good team, the Nats goal is to take 2 of 3 at home. "Should" take 2 of 3 is an overstatement, IMHO. It's hard enough to take 2 of 3 from a mediocre team on a regular basis, and that Brewer team can hit and had their top 3 pitchers lined up while the Nats' rotation was in a bit of disarray thanks to Gio's flight being cancelled. All's well that ends well, as Roark came up big (again).

The "they did, but they almost didn't [win]" is a glass half empty viewpoint, too, because you can play the "if" game both ways. Yesterday might well have been an easy win if Rendon gets a little more of his ball (that Span tagged up on), for example, or Bryce doesn't have his cleet slip when trying to get back to first. Weeks didn't "get caught stealing" - he was gunned out by Lobaton on a good throw handled by Espinosa. Heck, Braun only scored his run after kicking Rendon's glove out of the way with his slide or he probably would have been out stealing as well.

Bottom line, 2 of 3 against a contender while the Braves were taking 2 of 3 at home from a pretender. Advantage Nats as they have stayed in first (by percentage points) so far in this stretch where the Braves have an easy schedule. At this stage of the season it's a matter of keep on keepin' on.

JWLumley said...

Let me begin by saying, the Nats have the best staff in baseball so this is all minor stuff. That being said, why is Williams using Stammen the way he should be using Detwiler? I could see a case at the beginning of the year, when Det wasn't pitching great (although I would say it was the way he was being used), but now that he's pitching well, wouldn't you want him pitching 3-4 innings at time in case you need to stretch him into a starter later in the year? I mention this, because Gio hasn't seemed right in about a month. Even when he pitches well, it seems more luck than skill. He's had some serious control issues, regardless of what gets said about being "effectively wild" he's not hitting his spots. Combine that with Roark having never gotten close to this many innings in the past and it's highly likely the Nats could find themselves in need of another starter for the stretch.

I also hope the Nats let go of the notion that Strasburg is the "ace", mainly when they get to the playoffs. He's probably the 3rd or 4th best pitcher on the staff--depending on how Gio's doing--because he doesn't locate his fastball terribly well and loses something significant when he goes to the stretch. Wow, holy crap, just looked up his fangraphs page and his Fastball has been worth -11.6 wFB (Fastball runs above average). This after having never been worse than 4.6. Looks like Captain Pitch to Contact has struck again. I've heard a lot about McCatty convincing Strasburg to take something off his fastball to locate it better. Great plan if it worked, but it looks like it's just making it a lot more hittable. Of course there could be other factors at work, like getting predictable with it or not locating the pitch well, but he's not throwing the fastball nearly as often and also is throwing his 2 seemer way more often than he has in the past. Not sure what to make of all of this, but it's definitely concerning.

Jimmy said...

people looking for another starter might I suggest Blake Treinan down the stretch. Limited sample size, but looked pretty comfortable.

Harper said...

LW - I always wonder about this stuff. How a coach can be right for a lot of guys, but obviously can't be right for everyone, and how much that is taken into acct. I'm sure an established vet (say Werth) is allowed to shrug off the coach but coudl Stras or would that be seen as hubris? I've always thought a part of Espy's downfall was the team moving to an aggressive approach where his strength was patience - not contact

John C. said...

I don't know all of MW's reasons for going to Stammen yesterday rather than Detwiler, but I can think of two right off the bat:

(1) The Brewers' lineup is really, really right handed. Give me the RHP all else being equal; and

(2) With Blevins struggling so mightily, Detwiler is getting promoted to the 6th/7th inning role when more LH batters are coming up than RH batters. That's what Blevins was supposed to be, and may get back to being, but he's not doing it now. So don't burn Detwiler up when you may need him 1-2x in Colorado.

Strasburg's velocity has been trending up his past few starts to where he touched 97 several times on Friday. I don't think velocity is the problem. His issues from the stretch may be a side effect of stopping the running game. He's improved a lot in that regard this season. It was always Davey Johnson's point that you get the batter and the runners matter less. It's possible that Strasburg's attention to the running game is affecting his focus/stuff. If so, I would expect that to improve as he makes more adjustments.

Bryan said...

"they did, but they almost didn't"

That is a shocking statement from someone who constantly points out that you can't just rely on Games X through Z as evidence of a player or team's potential.

In 162 games you can probably find 50 outcomes that "deserved" to be the other way. Good teams get those breaks. You forget about the 30 that could go either way during that 92 win season, but they are there.

Sirc said...

Best record in the National League.

karl kolchak said...

@JWLumley - right now my playoff rotation would be Z-nn, Fister, Stas and Gio in that order. Yes, Stras isn't pitching like an ace, but I like him going against any other team's no. 3, and this setup minimizes Gio maddening inconsistency and tendency to wilt in big games.

Too bad they'd never do it this way.

JWLumley said...

@JohnC I know why Williams went to Stammen yesterday, because Detwiler pitched the day before. My point was more that he uses Stammen the way he should use Detwiler. Treinen is great and may have a future, but he's basically Detwiler without experience. Someone who throws a hard sinker without a second pitch. Given that Detwiler seems to have added a cutter, I'd much prefer Det to Treinen.

As for the velocity thing, that's anecdotal evidence. The numbers say that his velocity is down again this year. Is that mechanical, injury related or by design, I can't be sure.

GYoung said...

Jeez, you're ruthless (and probably wrong) about the idea that the Nats were lucky in taking 2 out of 3 against the Brewers.

First off, in first game, the Nats actually outhit the Brewers 11-8 and had the same amount of XBH. The difference seemed to be a more efficient hit distribution by the Brewers (which happens!)

However, they then blew the crap out of the Brewers in game 2 and then outhit the Brewers (12-7) again in game 3. Keep in mind, even though the Brewers starting pitching isn't great, they were still trotting out 3 of their better starters, including the perennially underrated Yovani Gallardo.

But let me get this straight from an overall perspective. The Nats had more hits in every game, fielded better and had more XBH. But they were lucky? I guess color me confused.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean with if this and if that? What if the Nats didnt go 1 - 10 with runners in scoring position in game 1? What if Lohse didnt give up only 1 run on 10 hits? Dont give me that if this and if that, because the Nats would be 20 games over 500. if I could say if this and if that. They should have won more than half the games they lost in extra innings. Yes Weeks was caught stealing but if he wasnt Braun would have been walked.

Anonymous said...

Funny article. Only Harper could watch that series and think taking 2 of 3 was lucky. I was mad they didn't sweep them.

Harper said...

GY, Anon : Never said Nats were lucky, just that Soriano almost blew the last game in the 9th. Could have lost, would have changed perspective of series. Didn't lose. If I were to phrase it using "luck" I'd say the Nats were almost unlucky.

Bjd1207 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bjd1207 said...

Yea I'd have to agree with the last couple of posts. When we lose to 1st place teams it's "Typical Nats, can't beat the good teams" and when we win its "man, good thing things broke our way"

Seems like an uncharitable interpretation

DezoPenguin said...

@JW:

Stammen's been the designated "actually good long guy" as opposed to the "mop up when the game's shot to crap" long guy for the past several years, as a former starter good for 2-4 innings at a go if need be.

Regardless of whether it's a good decision or not, the idea of Det being a starter option, whether due to injury or Gio meltdown or whatever, is pretty clearly off the table as an option, a decision Rizzo and Williams pretty much made back in spring training when they allowed Roark and Jordan to compete for the #5 spot, then kept them both when Fister was injured, then used Treinen as the fill-in after that. They have no interest in stretching him out as a starter. Indeed, I see a lot of parallels with Stammen there, although Det at his best was a better starter than Stammen ever was.

Anonymous said...

Ok thats better Harper. :)

JWLumley said...

@Dezo If that's the case than it's extremely shortsighted on Rizzo's part. Even if the Nats think Detwiler is now a mop-up guy, other teams don't. Why not trade the guy. A starter in the major leagues has value. A starter with 1.5 seasons of cost controlled salary has significant value. The Nats could at the least get a B prospect for him, if not a lefty reliever who actually gets people out to replace Jerry Blevins.

JWLumley said...

Why is Harper not playing? Seriously Matt Williams? How can someone be this stupid. LaRoche is slumping and needs a break. Span can't hit lefties. If you want to get Espinosa's glove in the game sit one of them. Why do I feel like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation every time MW makes a decision involving Harper. It's like I want to say "Merry Christmas, Holy @#!&" at the each one of these! I mean seriously, WTF. Didn't anyone with the Nationals point this out to him?

Jay said...

Also, Coor's field is a great place to get going as a hitter. Why do I feel like in a few years we'll be trading Harper away for pennies on the dollar like Arizona and Justin Upton? Oh well. Makes no sense to me.

DezoPenguin said...

Plus, Harper doesn't actually need to "get going"; he's actually been hitting over the past few.

I really think that Matt Williams has just developed an active dislike for Harper, similar to how he loves Denard Span. (It kind of reminds me of John Farrell in Boston and how he loves Johnny Gomes and hates Daniel Nava.)

@JW: Honestly, I actually agree with you. Now, if Det continues to pitch well and starts taking over for Blevins as the first lefty out of the gate, or splits time with Stammen, then at least he is providing value for the team, but otherwise he ought to have value as a lefty starter, particularly with so many teams having issues with their rotations this year (I'm surprised that, say, Pittsburgh and the Yankees haven't at least kicked the tires on him...). Makes me wonder if the rest of the league gave up on him as well.