Nationals Baseball: Bullpen whoas

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Bullpen whoas

Yes, I know it's "woes" but "woes" doesn't convey the amazing turn from "maybe the best pen they've ever had" to where they are now. The Nats best bullpen arm currently is Matt Albers. He's got an 0.77 ERA which is backed up by a 0.600 WHIP.  He's only pitched 11.2 innings so you have to take that into account but it's roughly the same amount of innings any Nats reliever has pitched.

The second best reliever is probably Koda Glover, who despite posting a 4.15 ERA has pitched better than that as his 0.923 WHIP and 1.96 FIP attest. Of course he's injured. So the second best active is likely Enny Romero. Enny has a 4.40 ERA, and deservedly so. While he's managed to keep his walks down he's been very hittable and has given up a few long balls in his limited innings. An ERA of 4.50 is probably fair.

I'm going to repeat that

So the second best active is likely Enny Romero. Enny has a 4.40 ERA, and deservedly so. While he's managed to keep his walks down he's been very hittable and has given up a few long balls in his limited innings. An ERA of 4.50 is probably fair.

That above, is basically a "last guy in the pen" description, yet for the Nats it's describing their second best option. You don't need me to tell you this, but the Nats pen is in trouble.

You could see any one of these things happening. Injury issues with Koda and Kelley, who both finished last year with health troubles. Treinen failing. Blanton somehow crossing an age line and no longer being effective. Enny not living up to his talent. Oliver Perez not having a comeback. Matt Grace not surprising. But that all of them happened in the same 6 weeks? That's coming up snake-eyes a few rolls in a row.

The question now is what can the Nats do? The answer is precious little.

The Nats can sit and wait. This is what they are most likely going to do. As we discussed yesterday the NL East is terrible so the Nats are not feeling any pressure to do much. The offense is very good. The starting pitching is very good. They will be winning a lot of games by several runs heading into the late innings. They can sit and wait for Glover and Kelley to get healthy. They can sift through any number of AAAA arms to see if something clicks like Albers has so far. Then they can re-evaluate the situation at the usual time and look to make a trade as we head past the All-Star break into the dog days of August.

The Nats can try to make a move now for a great reliever. This is tougher. Few teams are truly out of it at this point, and those that are may not want to admit it. Thanks to the Wild Card, teams that were looking at division titles that are floundering still have hope. The Rangers (5 out), Blue Jays (5.5) and Giants (7.0) can still come up with scenarios that get them in. All you are left with are the teams that were trading before the year started (Padres, White Sox, probably Rays) and teams that were on the fence that are now far behind (Royals).  Those are your four. Problem is - these guys know they are the four. They also know that as the season goes on the price goes up. To get a great reliever now would take a impressive offer. At the same time there haven't been many games to build up new prospects in the Nats system. You are going to have to give up a combination of players that includes Robles for sure, and probably Fedde and/or Soto and/or Keiboom the younger. The end result would be lopping the head off a system that's at best fair.

The Nats could make a move now for a solid reliever. This might be more doable than going after a Herrera type, but it would be introducing the same sort of question mark that got the Nats into trouble in the first place. Here is an ok reliever.  Let's see what he can do. It may be a sound move logically, but it's not going to assuage anyone's fears.

The Nats could look at free agent relievers. Talk Matt Thornton back into the game. Sign Luke Hochevar and hope for the best.  Honestly this may be the way to go although again - it doesn't solve the problem as much as bridge the gap to the time when a real solution is needed.

This is the reality for the Nats, or really any team with early season issues. If there are no good internal options, there are no good options. The Nats don't have to do anything so maybe they won't but I'd like to think they'd at least try to bridge the gap while continuously kicking the tires on better talent because hey - you never know.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Whoas!" is absolutely the correct word.

Fries said...

I know hindsight is 20/20...but Greg Holland...why oh why did Rizzo not kick the tires there?? Yeah he's overperforming the advanced stats, but he is a consistent option out of the pen, something the Nats don't have right now. Treinen is floundering, Enny can be lights out and then terrible over the course of 2 pitches, and Albers is bound to come back down to earth.

But - and this is a big but - this is most likely a worst case situation and things are bound to get better with this pen I have to hope. If everyone gets back to career norms (besides probably Blanton), and Enny learns to just throw the ball as hard as he can every time, then the pen should be fine until the ASB when options are a bit more clear to Rizzo and Co.

Robot said...

Hey, Blanton changed things up last night and didn't give up a home run at all. We might have to come up with a new nickname.

Donald said...

Did you forget Jacob Turner? He's probably the second best guy right now, or are you thinking of him as the 5th starter? Any guys on the 40 man they could give a shot (Trevor Gott)?

G Cracka X said...

Don't forget about Sammy Solis, who had a rough start and is injured, but could return this year and pitch some key innings.

Harper, several commenters have suggested sliding Ross into the pen. What do you think about such a move?

BxJaycobb said...

Jacob Turner has looked the best out of the pen. Unless you think he's going to be the 5th starter at the end of the year and Ross will never come back, he's a solid option. Plus the pen will get healthier fairly soon, with Glover, Kelley, and Solis hopefully back in the next month. So I think you're slightly overemphasizing the lack of options. Also (just saying) Enny has been more effective recently.

BxJaycobb said...

@harper Sorry one other point. I think your reference to a trade package is probably hyperbolic. The Nats don't need to trade Robles to acquire a rental relief pitcher. Maybe a Chapman or Miller type, but not some solid mid-level closer rental. If they try to do a larger deal with royals for like cain and Herrera, yeah of course. But not if they just want a few months of a reliever. They have other pieces. Not tons of pieces. But enough to stay away from Robles.

Ole PBN said...

I'm more of a fan of puting Ross in the pen that Jacob Turner. Turner belongs in the rotation, and come playoffs, maybe gets a bullpen spot. Joe has nothing to offer over 5 innings (if he can go that long), perhaps if he is condensed into a single inning, he can be effective. A big factor in determining who lines up in the pen and rotation is pitch repertoire. From what I can see, Ross has a fastball/sinker and a decent slider...that's it. You can't survive muliple times through a lineup with just that. Simplify his game, have him work from the stretch, focues on only those two pitches and maybe he's a different pitcher. Now, from a health standpoint, I don't even know if his arm can go through the warmup-sit down-warmup-sit down routine that is life in the bullpen.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised we haven't seen Gott called up to the bullpen yet, what with all the injuries and poor performance. Given it's the weak link, I'd think Rizzo and Dusty would want to give multiple people good looks and "see what we have" much like they appear to be doing with MAT, Bautista, Goodwin (and maybe Stevenson sometime soon)...

BxJaycobb said...

Anon: apparently gott has been scary dreadful in minors so far.
One relief pitcher I am looking at as a possible target and Harper can offer his possible thoughts...the Padres appear to have found something in Brad Hand, who Miami gave up on. Small sample size, but he may be one of these "try him in the pen and see how he does" Wade Davis-ish stories. If he continues to kill it, I would target him as a more low profile awesome reliever set up man type that we won't have to sell the store for.

BxJaycobb said...

But I do think the answer, as I've been preaching (not that I'm definitely right) is:

1. Try Fedde as 5th starter. Assume he's gonna be mediocre and just figure well, we'll take a 5th starter with a 4+ ERA who can eat innings.

2. Move Ross to the bullpen AND keep Turner in the bullpen. Yeah, Turner MAY be better than Fedde in rotation, but frankly we need to stabilize the pen more than the rotation, and again, we will plan on accepting a grind-it-out 5th day with Fedde.
3. Make a move at deadline for a closer, doesn't need to be an absolute beast. Herrera's contract does work well because it squarely fits in Bryce window and we solve closer issue for next year too.

I believe this would give us a solid pen for the playoffs and one that has depth if there are injuries. Herrera (or insert traded closer here), with 7-8th inning covered by a combination of: ross, turner, glover, Kelley (when healthy). Lefties: solis, Romero, Perez. Long man: Albers. And I'm fine ditching Treinen if he doesn't figure it out by deadline.
You can't execute SOME of these changes now. But you can execute a lot of them, with ross, turner, fedde etc. and I think it's a plan with a decent chance of success (hinging of course on fedde surviving as a 5th starter and I think he could.)

G Cracka X said...

BxJ, what about just leaving Cole as the 5th so Fedde has more time to develop?

Nattydread said...

In the big picture, as Harper pointed out, things are going very well. The batting order is fantastic --- Zimmerman is performing better than anyone would have expected, Harper is HARPER, Rendon is coming to life, Murphy is still all-star material and the rest of the lineup is contributing even with Eaton out. Starting pitching is as expected. An real ace (Scherzer), a near ace (Strassberg), a solid number 3 (Roark) and a come back number 4 (Gio). The last slot is problematic but not a total disaster. Fielding is better than the metrics indicate. No gold gloves but some talented corner players. Rendon and Zimmerman are quick, Turner is developing.

Given the weakness of the NL East, the hitting, SP and fielding can carry this team a long way. The hitters have added a lot more WAR to the overall value of the team than the relievers have subtracted. The law of averages will bring the hitting back to earth --- just as it will make the bull pen right itself.

Worst case outcome: the starters will be over-used in the first half of the season and will be shot for the playoffs.

But no reason to panic. So far....

Josh Higham said...

If the Nats go with some variant of the Bx strategy, I'd be very surprised if it wasn't Cole as 5th starter. He's a known quantity who really can't be messed up by pitching out of his depth, since there isn't much to mess up and he has pitched in the majors already. Leave Fedde, who is more likely to have long-run value, in the minors. He's in AA and sort of middling there.

PotomacFan said...

Turner has proven very valuable (so far) as a 5th/6th inning replacement who can then finish the game. That's a good role for him. And, it basically covers the need to use any other relief pitchers in that particular game. The only downside is that Turner can only do this every four games or so. Still, I can live with that.

Until recently, I've focused on who the Nats can get to be the closer. But I think that approach is too narrow. Let's say, hypothetically, that the Nats got Aroldis Chapman. So, now we have the 9th inning covered. But we still don't have anyone for the 6th, 7th and 8th innings. Our needs are much greater than getting a reliable closer. We just need to keep experimenting and waiting for recovery from injury to find some guys who can handle the last 3 - 4 innings of the game.

Oh, and Treinen is lights out in mop-up duty. I think we've found his role for now.

Robot said...

I hear Matt Harvey might be available soon. Maybe he could close? That would even give him time to get to the park and everything. /LOL@Mets

Anonymous said...

Who cares about the bullpen?? Since everyone thinks Robles is the next Mike Trout, how about we just trade him for the real Mike Trout and liberate that guy from dumpster fire team he's been playing on...??

dc rl said...

Agree with those who say Jacob Turner is part of the solution. If he's as capable as he's looked so far, then I think he's more valuable playing a big role in the pen rather than being the 5th starter. Also agree with the idea that Joe Ross might be part of the solution. While it doesn't appear that team management is ready to move him out of a starter role, if the pen remains a problem and Joe doesn't revive as a starter in Syracuse, they may change their thinking. That leaves a need for a 5th starter, but you don't need a great 5th starter - just a guy who isn't lousy. Seems like between Cole, Voth, and Fedde, there's a chance one is good enough -- or maybe they get lucky with a guy picked up off the scrap heap (more like J Turner than J Guthrie). Then, given the weakness of their NL East competition, they can afford to wait a bit to see how healthy/effective Glover, Kelley, and Solis are before deciding who to go after in the trade market.

BxJaycobb said...

I don't think Cole is a viable starter. The only reason he didn't give up 7 runs last game was pure luck. He was shellacked.

BxJaycobb said...

Maybe I'm wrong----my understand was fedde is killing it in AA, not middling. (Remember ERA is super misleading in minors due to fielding its more K/BB ratio).
Yeah listen if Cole can keep the Nats in games and give them a chance to win vaguely consistently, then I'm all for it. The problem is I think Cole is horrible. If you watched that last game, it was arguably the most hard hit I've ever seen a pitcher get hit and still get a W. like reallly ugly stuff.

BxJaycobb said...

Yeah I think that the generally theory would be that the guys coming back from injury (glover, Kelley, solis) plus turner/Albert/maybe ross would cover the 6-8th innings.

BxJaycobb said...

Nobody thinks he's the next mike trout. But people (not just crazy Nats fans....but objective evaluators like Keith law, and other scouts) think he has an andrew mccutchen type ceiling and is a probable all star if he doesn't hit roadblocks in development. A outstanding defensive center fielder with blazing speed who hits .300/.370 OBP with extra base pop is nothing to trade away lightly. But don't exaggerate. Literally nobody thinks he has trouts power potential.

BxJaycobb said...

Agree with this take 100%.

Alan Wiecking said...

.........then again, at 19, Mike Trout didn't have "Mike Trout potential". That was the year he made the jump from prospect #85 overall to minor league player of the year. Robles could do the same thing, and if we don't have a real CF by August.....

Chaos........just a big Victor fan and don't want to wait 'til whenever his FA clock ticks in '18

Fries said...

So...about those "whoas"....

Froggy said...

This can't go on. The bullpen is simply horrible.

Anonymous said...

Keep being cockey, boys.

Anonymous said...

...and of course the Mets win and are slowly creeping back to within striking distance only 4.5 back.

Dusty's Toothpick said...

The balk from hell!!!!!.....Can someone say something to soothe my soul?! These last 3 games are a very concerning trend. Games are being given away and I really can't take it anymore. The Treinen mess, The Eaton injury, Trea aggravating his hammy last night, and just terrible base running. They are shooting themselves in the foot right now...breathe, it's a long season, breathe, it's a long season.....

Sammy Kent said...

Romero actually got away with a balk on the pitch before the called balk, which wasn't a balk. On the previous pitch he had come set, then made a slight movement with his hands and stopped again before the delivering the pitch. I said out loud "Oh crap," but they let it slide. I wondered if the ump called the balk to make up for failing to call one on the previous pitch. If he did he's just being twice the lousy umpire.

As soon as Adam Lind hit the three run dinger to become the temporary hero I said to myself I wish that had happened in the top of the ninth instead the top of the eighth. Somehow I just knew that with six long outs to go the bullpen was going to blow it....not that it took any great insight to reach that conclusion. Since Rizzo became GM, watching the Nationals' bullpen has been about as calming as watching a drunk walk a high beam. And every year it gets worse. The drunk has finally lost his balance. The only mystery is how far it is to the bottom.