Nationals Baseball: Nats making right moves - Ross for Fister

Friday, August 07, 2015

Nats making right moves - Ross for Fister

The Nats are going to keep Ross in the rotation and drop Fister into long relief.  That may seem like a shocking move but really it was the only sane one for a team fighting for its playoff life.

Joe Ross since he's been up has a 2.80 ERA, 0.911 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 0.8 BB/9
Doug Fister since coming back from injury has a 4.86 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.8 K/9

It isn't a contest. Literally the only reason to keep Fister in the rotation instead of Ross right now is "Ross is a rookie. Fister is a vet" That's not good enough and it's nice to see the Nats realize that. Ross may not be this good but you ride the hot hand.  That being said, the Nats are probably not going to ride him for more than a few starts

Why not? Because of innings limits! Ross probably has 4-5 more starts in him before the Nats shut him down for the season. Now react violently hearing the words "shut" and "down" so close in proximity.

The Strasburg shutdown of 2012 was a hard call to make. Strasburg was arguably the best pitching prospect in a decade, was coming off injury, and all signs pointed to the Nats being good for several years. Plus the Nats were using an early August run to  pull away from the Braves. Ultimately you may have not agreed with the decision but shutting down  Strasburg could be argued to be the right move from several angles.

Ross in 2015 is nothing like Strasburg. He isn't coming off injury. He's was a good but not special pitching prospect. The Nats situation is far more dire now than back then. They are currently looking up at the Mets who have vastly improved their team for the stretch run (they needed it) and there is little security that the success of the past few years will follow into the future. In this case it seems like an easy decision to let him pitch.

First things first though. I said this a few days ago but it bears repeating. You let Ross go for the rest of August as planned. Then you see what is up. Could be that the Mets pull away. Could be that the Nats pull away. Could be that Ross starts putting up stinkers. A decision to shutdown Joe Ross could easily go from controversial to obvious in 3+ weeks. There's really no reason to talk about it until we're closer to month's end.  All that does is invite hot takes.

It's good to see the Nats making moves like this. It shows they know the seriousness of their situation. Speaking of that, the Nats have a killer road trip coming up (LAD, SF, COL) so it's pretty important that they get no further back than they are right now. The Rockies are ok at home, terrible on the road. Three of four is pretty much a necessity. Make it happen.


Rob Evans said...

Agree 100% Harp. I feel like this is a make or break road trip. The Nats need to win each series. They can't come back 5 games out or they're done. Whatcha think?

JE34 said...

And while the Nats are dealing with the West Coast, the Mets get three in Tampa, then home for 4 vs Colorado and 3 vs the Pirates. Gulp.

Harper said...

rob - tough for me to say they are done until the gap between the Mets and them is larger than the remaining H2H

Je - Tampa isn't bad, Pirates are good. The real problem would be somehow losing another game this weekend and going into LA make or break and the Mets get to beat up on Colorado.

Jay said...

Set aside arguments about whether an innings limit preserves pitcher health. From what I can tell, the evidence is sketchy. But the only possible justification is to protect the player's arm. I can think of two broad reasons to do that.

One, they want Ross healthy for the next 6 years, when he's under team control.

Two, they want Ross healthy for year 7, when Ross is a 28-year old free agent.

Those aren't mutually exclusive reasons, of course.

When you're dealing with a mid-level prospect like Ross, it is easy to argue, as you are doing, that this year is far more valuable to the team than the potential benefits Ross may bring in the next 6.

I'd like to think the organization is also giving some thought to Ross' career. If a shut down preserves his health, he may benefit more than the team, because he cares (in theory) a lot more about year 7 than this year.

Isn't that how we'd like the team to behave?

Rob Evans said...

Interesting point Jay. As a fan, I want the team to maximize this year. But if they do so at the expense of a young player's arm, maybe the down side mitigates that somewhat (i.e loss of future years of service and damage to the team's reputation when it comes to getting free agents).

SM said...

I wonder how far behind a team needs to fall before a lead is considered insurmountable. You suggest larger than the remaining H2H.

Detroit, for example, threw in the towel July 31 despite a 3 or 4 game gap from a Wild Card spot (which hasn't widened, incidentally). Detroit's was an organizational assessment, true, but still.

Earl Weaver used to claim that if his team was within four games of the leader on Labour Day, he was confident of overtaking them. Intra-divisional play in September was the great equalizer. Mind you, a dog of an NL East makes the task more difficult.

But a 5-game gap, say, in mid-August is hardly too steep a mountain to climb. (I always marvel at how late into a season a team can stumble along before being mathematically eliminated.)

We just might have ourselves a real, honest-to-goodness pennant race. And that's far better than no race at all.

Mattyice said...

I agree that it makes sense to forget about an innings limit for Ross if he shows no signs of slipping (fingers crossed!). But in the event he does tire wouldn't it also be wise to start stretching out Roark so he could fill the void if necessary? I know he previously wasn't great when he spot started, but I don't think anyone has confidence in Foster anymore, so it would be the best available option. Also, with the newly improved bullpen I think Roark's value there is diminished.

Bryceroni said...

I am moving more and more towards letting young pitchers go through the trial by fire until it gets to them whether by injury or performance drop.

This may seem cold or exploitative, but the issue is that we really don't know if the innings limits are actually helping. Pitcher durability seems to be largely a crapshoot or subject to factors we dont understand. Some get injured, some dont.

If a good young pitcher hits the wall and stops preforming there is no need for an innings limit to know you need to pull them from the rotation.

Ps: pitch limits inside starts are definitely useful and are fine.

JE34 said...

Ross' normal rotation turn gives him 10 more starts before the end of the season.

So far:
76 innings in the minors,
45 innings in the majors,

...60 more makes it 181 for the year. That doesn't seem too exploitative to me.

SM said...

Why not use Ross--or Roark, for that matter--as a "Sunday pitcher?"

Back when baseball stuck to 4- and even 3-man rotations, teams would rest their rotations by giving a once-weekly start to a long-man, mop-up guy or someone reliable enough to pitch 7 or 8 effective innings every once in a while (but not in regular rotation).

That's essentially what the Mets' six-man rotation experiment was.

Kenny B. said...

I stand corrected. I thought there was no way this would happen. If we see Turner come up early, I might even start to believe we could see more creative use of Storen.

lol, jk. That's never happening.

blovy8 said...

Pretty sure Ross is done around 160 regardless. I could see them getting creative towards the end of that run to set up his replacement. Maybe designating Roark or Fister to go three or four innings so they don't have to face batters more than twice. The 40 man roster will hold them back unless some team dumps a useful expensive pitcher, which actually may happen.

Anonymous said...

Can't even begin to tell you how much I love the irony of the fact that we're going to have a Ross shutdown in the very same year that it gets demonstrated how utterly pointless the Strasburg shutdown was.

I love this team, but man, it's really hard to root for sometimes for various reasons. And Mike Rizzo's unjustified arrogance is one of the biggest reasons.

There is no evidence whatsoever that shows that pitching 190 or 200 innings in a season substantially increases risk of injury compared to pitching "only" 150 or 160 innings. None. Not one iota. And anyone who says otherwise is simply a bald-faced liar.

cass said...

I suggested Ross to the bullpen, but I'm very happy with this as well. Love Ross. We need him right now. Good move. I agree completely about waiting till September to figure out the shutdown. Let's just win some games with that Ross Family Slider for now.

Desmond looked great last night. Let him play as long as he keeps hitting. But if he slips back into being a black hole for a few days, don't dither around anymore and just call up Turner. We cannot lose the division with our best shortstop in AAA. Basically give Desmond no leash and no more Espinosa experiments. Either Desmond hits or Turner plays.

Still worried about our bullpen.

Bryceroni said...

About the strasburg shutdown: he was a super elite prospect who came out throwing bullets. The nationals could have been more creative to stretch out his innings in 2012, but when you're looking at a king Felix/ Kershaw type franchise cornerstone, being conservative makes sense.

I love me some Joe Ross, but he is probably not going to be a long term ace, and accordingly should pitch until he is not effective or blows his arm out.

Some guys just are more durable; think bumgarner (around 1100 innings aged 26) or sale (predicted to have injury based on his delivery). Some guys just blow up (the list is depressingly long).

Let Ross pitch, even into the postseason!

John C. said...

Bryceroni: The nationals could have been more creative to stretch out his innings in 2012

Man, I hate rehashing this. But suffice it to say that every inning they did not use Strasburg in the regular season increased the risk that the Nationals would finish behind the Braves and in the Wild Card game (less Strasburg = more Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang). The Braves managed Medlen's innings and therefore had him available to start, at home, bringing the team's 16 game winning streak in his starts intact into the Wild Card game (they lost). The more you think that shutdown through, the more that you realize that the Nats thought it through.

As for the Heartburn Anon at 9:36, I am unclear as to what he thinks demonstrates how pointless the Strasburg shutdown was. As for: "There is no evidence whatsoever that shows that pitching 190 or 200 innings in a season substantially increases risk of injury compared to pitching "only" 150 or 160 innings. None. Not one iota. And anyone who says otherwise is simply a bald-faced liar."

So, anonymous is a medical professional, then? Or better yet, an orthopedist? Suffice it to say that teams have medical reports and experts on retainer, and some of their findings are proprietary. Just because YOU don't know of/can't think of a reason doesn't mean there are no reasons.

Bryceroni said...

John C I have no rebuttal because I don't want to go down the shutdown rabbithole again.

Anon was overly strident about the innings limits being worthless, but at least with regards to TJ surgery they are at best unproven. Until better research h is published, innings limits are mor e "this seems like a good idea" than actual hard science.

Froggy said...

Innings limits are stupid.

There are no substantial medical evidence to prove success verse failure.

Be calm and carry on.

Donald said...

Two things. First, if you really believe that over using a young pitcher's arm risks doing serious damage, then you have no choice but to shut him down. Well, no other moral choice. How would any of us feel in our jobs if our bosses made us work in conditions that could jeopardize our ability to continue to work with such a cavalier attitude about our value to the company. The notion that winning this year is worth blowing out a rookies arm and ruining his career is repugnant. Again, that is if you really believe this is the risk.

Second, though, is this arbitrary stat around innings pitched. For any modern team where this is an issue, you would think they would at least count pitches or weight pitches by type or leverage or something. But counting an 8 pitch easy inning the same as a 30 pitch one with multiple throws to 1st base, etc. makes no sense to me. What it tells me is that they have no good stats around this to be any more precise. If that's the case then I wouldn't have a firm cutoff at 160 innings, but instead, a range that factors in pitches as well.

Froggy said...

Forget stats, how about evidence based medical science supporting shutting down a pitcher?

Oh, that's right...there isn't any.

Kenny B. said...

Storen has chosen an inopportune time to fall apart. That is all.

Froggy said...

Harper, remember when I said Rizzo should trade for Carlos Gonzalez before the trading deadline?

Drew Storen just found out why.

Anonymous said...

P.S.: That freight train the Yankees hear coming up on them is called the Toronto Blue Jays.

Anonymous said...

No worries. Mets will cool off. They're just getting lucky while Nats hit a rough patch. It'll pass. The team is almost back to full strength. Span's on the way. Nats only 2 games back in the loss column with a lot of season left. 6 H2H, remember?

Strasburg pitching today brings back the best rotation in baseball. Scherzer > deGrom. Strasburg > Harvey. Zimmerman > Syndergaard. Gonzalez > Niese. Ross > Colon.

Anonymous said...

" Scherzer > deGrom. Strasburg > Harvey. Zimmerman > Syndergaard. Gonzalez > Niese. Ross > Colon"


Anonymous said...

Umm sorry to burst your bubble but the Mets are not getting lucky. They came back 3 TIMES in last nights game. Its called CLUTCH. Just ask Car-Go he would know what Clutch is, lmao. Oh and btw our rotation is actually better but keep saying to yourselves thats yours is good. LETS GO METS!!!

Your site is a refection of your team, DEAD!!! lol You can always go to MetsBlog haha

Bryceroni said...

Nice, now the mets fans are really feeling their oats. They have definitely taken over the most obnoxious fans title belt that the fellies held for so long.

Anonymous said...

"our rotation is actually better"

Not anymore with Strasburg replacing Fister.

Kenny B. said...

Here's hoping Strasburg's time off has allowed him to permanently convert to STRASBURG. Looks to be picking up where he left off before injury, so if everyone else can round into form... Zimmerman and Znn are both looking pretty good, Desmond and Ramos have been something other than black holes, so if/when the Mets cool off, you start to like your chances in this race.

Bryceroni said...

The rumors of strasburgs demise have been greatly exaggerated. Carry on!

Froggy said...

CarGo with two more bombs against us today. Evidently he likes hitting in Nats park.

We should trade whatever it takes to get him.