Nationals Baseball: Not a False Idol

Friday, February 12, 2016

Not a False Idol

I like to think there are two-levels of "worst-case" and "best-case". One is the literal interpretation of the phrase picking out the absolute worst thing that could happen. The other is the reasonable interpretation picking out the worst thing that has some potential of happening that is not close to zero.

For Giolito the "literal worst-case" in the baseball sense is something like he gets injured before this season and never pitches again. Ok, that has a potential that is probably not close to zero, but it's also something that hangs over the head of every athlete in every sport. It's kind of unnecessary to say it because we all know that this threat exists. We have to take injuries out of these worst-case potentialities, because they'd dominate them and make them boring. If we do that, I'd say "literal worst-case" become Giolito struggles in AA and AAA (and majors probably - guys with this talent you move up just to see) to the point where the Nats have to shift him to relief. Where he also fails. Again this is something that I'm putting out there saying that the chance of it happening is very close to zero. An ignorable thought-exercise, not a scouting report .

The "reasonable worst-case" is probably just slightly grimmer than the "fair" pessimist take I put out yesterday. He stumbles a bit in AA and AAA but gets to the majors in 2017 at some point. Spends several years as a mid-back rotation guy because of some combination of finding his level and being consistent. Good, helpful, but not something to build a team around. This sounds bad, but we're setting a worst-case scenario as "Nats have a cheap rotation pitcher for 4-5 years"

The "reasonable best-case" is really nice, in my opinion. It would put Giolito in the rotation at some point this season, doing well but not dominant (think Ross last year), and have him graduating to a full spot next year with a "only if someone better comes along" ROY worthy season.  After that the sky is the limit.

(The "literal best-case"? He wins a spot in the rotation in Spring and begins a HOF career with a dominant 2016. Also, the kid can hit!)

I fall closer to reasonable best-case than reasonable worst-case. I see him up this year (late unless injuries force the Nats' hand). Where in relief he shines, much like David Price in 2008. He pitches in the rotation next year and is good to very good and is definitely in the ROY discussion (though it's not an obvious thing). Then he progresses nicely forming into #1 type pitcher by 2019 at the latest. That would be where I am.

Why am I here? Well I feel the Nats have a pretty good rotation so they don't have a strong impetus to push Giolito. They also won't want him to bounce up and down between minors and majors. You also have to consider his service time clock, which they probably won't want to start early this year, kicking arbitration and free agency a year closer. So it would take at least one and possibly two long-term injuries (plus Giolito starting strong) to get him up before September.

Every pundit agrees his stuff is great, so I have a hard time seeing him really struggle for long in the majors. I also understand that even the best pitchers have a year or two of adjustment. Those guys I talked about yesterday? Kershaw's Year 1 was blah. Bumgarner's Year 1 was very good but was followed by two ones that were just ok. Felix's first year was great, but his second year was average at best. Greinke's Year 1 was good/very good but then he had mental health issues and needed a year and a half to get back to the majors. He didn't come into his own until his 6th year. So thinking Giolito will come in and dominate immediately, to me is going a step too far. However the Nats are cautious and worked Strasburg well so I think the time they've taken with Giolito will help with some of these issues adapting to the major leagues. So I give him a first year that may not be as good as it could be but I also don't give him any regression. We'll see.

That's what I think will happen. What would I do? Throw him in the deep end. It'll probably end up with a start like these guys; some great, some meh, for the first 2-3 years. But there's potential there for the quick adjustment. Kershaw's 2nd year was close to great and he hasn't looked back. I want to be sure he is providing Nats with elite level pitching as soon as possible. I want to maximize the BRYCE/Giolito ace time as much as possible and I think that's the way to do it. Of course, the Nats presumably know more than me about what Giolito needs.

Let's get this season started


Donald said...

Obviously not a worst case, but my worry is that Giolitto turns out much like Strasburg. Huge hype, some dominant performances with some shaky ones. Struggles to get to that Kershaw level despite the tools. Now don't get me wrong. I'd certainly take a Strasburg career for Giolitto. But it hasn't been quite the amazing run that everyone hoped for -- decent top of the rotation talent, but never in the Cy Young discussion.

How is it that the Mets seem to have lucked out? All of their much hyped pitching prospects seem to be panning out as great starters. There really isn't a disappointment in that bunch...yet.

SM said...

Silence gives consent. Everyone agrees with you, Harper.

blovy8 said...

I don't really like the idea of expecting a guy who only threw117 innings last year to start the year in the majors. Hel'll be on pitch and inning counts and will tax the bullpen and if the current developmental model is followed you will need another starter in August. I suppose in order to have the throw him in now mind set you would also argue with limiting his innings in the first place, right? After all, Dusty Baker would agree with that.

Jay said...

I'm hoping he comes up in June or July. I don't see the sense in bringing him up in September. I don't think the Nats will use Giolitto out of the bullpen. They tend to like to keep their starters starting with the exception of Roark. Also, I'm not convinced this rotation can keep it together for the entire year. I expect Arroyo will make at least a few starts. Should make for a very interesting year.

Also two other questions/comments. The article by Dave Sheinin about Dusty Baker is pretty great. I can't help but root for the guy. Also, at the risk of making all the phantom Mets fans that read this blog now for some reason. What's the deal with Jenrry Mejia? The guy tests positive for steroids 3 times in what 18 months? Makes me wonder a little about the Mets new found plethora of pitchers that have been can't miss. (though I admit I don't think there is anything to that - I would be pretty shocked if any other pitchers on that staff tested positive for PEDS) Keep in mind that arm injuries from frank overuse and abuse come the year or two after. Sort if Mets pitchers start going down this year or next then think back on last year.