Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Next problem up

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Quickie - Next problem up

The Nats won yesterday and the bullpen performed quite well, providing multiple innings and only giving up a couple of runs. The day before that they sealed the deal, a little shakily, in a one-run win. The game before that, with no margin for error they eventually blew the game with a run in the ninth.

All in all it was a series performance you'd probably take every time from the pen.

13IP, 10H, 3ER, 7BB, 16K.  That's an ERA of near 2.00 and an acceptable WHIP of 1.31

Of course there is a problem hidden in these stats - the Nats bullpen had to throw 13 innings instead of the ~9 you hope for over a series.  What happened? Well I'm sure you know what we're getting at but I don't want to gloss over the first thing that happened. Max went bad for a couple of innings.

Max started his game giving up back to back to back home runs. Over the next 11 batters he'd give up another 4 hits (2 doubles), a walk, a couple of line outs. He turned it around and ended his day striking out the side in the 5th but you can't help but wonder if there's something more here. If it wasn't for Sunday this would be the story going into the week - keeping an eye on Max's next start to make sure this was just one of those blips that happen during the course of a long season.

What happened Sunday was Strasburg left the game after 2 innings. He was a little wild, giving up 3 walks int he first two innings and reaching 3 ball counts which each of his last four batters. Still, it's something pitchers usually work through as a test of how to make it work when you don't have your best stuff.  Strasburg though took himself out, so you knew it wasn't just being off. It was confirmed later that he had an problem with his forearm. The positive spin was it was just precautionary, but let's look at just the facts.

Stephen Strasburg has only pitched 127 and 147 innings the past two seasons. He is at 121 for 2017 right now. At the end of 2016, Strasburg had to stop pitching because of a forearm issue, missing most of September and the playoffs.  He had mentioned that since the All-Star break he hasn't felt comfortable. (Reminder : he did not pitch in the ASG) He was worried enough about it yesterday to pull himself from a game just 50 pitches in.

Put that all together and you have good reason to worry. About what exactly? Well my first thought is a repeat of last year. Some sort of forearm strain that requires at least a month of rest. If that's it then you hope he's ready to go say... Labor Day weekend. You hope he gets right back to pitching how he has been. You hope that jumping right back into the major league schedule doesn't break him after a couple of starts*. 

If you are a pessimist of course the response is Tommy John. That would be terrible given the limited success of the second surgeries. But there wasn't the usual indications in his velocity or breaking pitches that this was the issue.  If you are an optimist, its just an issue of routine and some time in his next couple of starts his arm feels where it should be and at worst he has a couple more short outings.

I'll stick with my guess right now - he'll be out for a month or so. But I will add GET A GOD DAMN MRI.

In other news - Enny Romero was also pulled with back issues. That is what got Enny to the DL last year so now it's a persistent problem. Enny was kind of getting some nice praise from fans recently but his season has been one very good month (June) and two and a half bad ones (April, May, July). To me, he's no more reliable today, than he was at the beginning of the year. That doesn't mean he doesn't belong in a major league bullpen. It means though that he should be your last or second last option, working through his issues and trying to max out that talent in innings that don't really matter.

I assume we'll hear today whether he's out or not. You can't really sit on a bullpen injury. Especially this pen

*Remember even though he was deeemed ready enough last year for maybe the NLDS and probably the NLCS he never pitched. So he had all off-season to nurse the injury. We don't really know the effect of coming back in a month to it.


G Cracka X said...

Might be good to give him a month off even if the problem goes away quickly. Use the large division lead to get rest for your major players.

Fries said...

Agreed, there needs to be an MRI. I don't understand teams' aversion to actually looking at an injury, it's not like the price is super steep for a major league team. Ignorance is bliss I guess.

Given all the talk with the Dodgers around Darvish and now Stras/Ross injuries, I wonder if the Nats front office is thinking a bit harder about making a push for another SP. I don't know if you need a #1/2 type guy like Gray or Darvish, but it would be nice to see the Nats go out and bolster the back of the rotation as depth since I don't really like their depth right now...the only pitchers I trust are Max and Stras. Gio is smoke and mirrors based on FIP and Roark is struggling with the "new" ball. And God please no EJax in the playoffs

BxJaycobb said...

Huge range on this right now, which is not a reason to feel good compared to yesterday. But this is anything from pushing back his next start to TJ. I don't think either is super likely right now. If I had to bet, I would think he's out for a month-ish.

Anonymous said...

Not getting an MRI is indefensible.

But being coy about saying whether you're getting an MRI might be. It's a week before the trade deadline and the results of a Stephen Strasburg MRI could have a lot to do with whether the Nats need to trade for a starter. Keeping the existence of an MRI more secret than you otherwise would could affect the Nats' bargaining position in a good way (it could also have no effect on the Nats' bargaining position, but saying "he's so not injured we don't even need an MRI" seems like a free way to tell trading partners you don't *need* that SP you're trying to trade for).

BxJaycobb said...

But at this point I would really take a hard look at a starter, including darvish--although seems unlikely that rizzo would deal for a rental--because even if Stras comes back, it would benfit the team big time. Plus with ross getting hurt and Stras looking as fragile as ever, they may need another starter for next few years anyway. So maybe they get in on Gray.

JE34 said...

Anon above has it right... they would be crazy to avoid investigating the exact condition of the arm in which they've invested many millions, and they'd be equally crazy to tell the world every detail of these inner workings, a week before the trading deadline.

Froggy said...

Kershaw on the DL, Strasburg likely to miss a start or two (then DL after trading deadline?), Joe Ross with TJ has got to make the bidding for Darvish, Gray, or even Verlander to some degree more urgent. This is where you see which club is 'all in' for this season or not.

I am not holding my breath.

PhthePhillies said...

"Precautionary measures." Translation: "Stras is injured and we don't want anyone to know before the trade deadline." Timing of injuries has never been in this team's favor.

Anonymous said...

"This is where you see which club is 'all in' for this season or not"

This may be a reason why not to go all in.

If Stras is cooked, then so are the 2017 Nats. There is no point in sacrificing future for present if the present isn't elite because of injuries. Nats without Stras are not elite.

The best course of action is to give player health top priority - even higher than regular season winning - particularly pitching health. For pitching that means:

- taking out the starting pitcher after X number of pitches, regardless of 1) how well the starting pitcher is doing, 2) how poorly the bullpen has fared recently, 3) whether we need to win the game to win the three game series

- always using the #5 starter when its his turn to start, even if a day off in the schedule would allow the team to skip him.

- not using any bullpen reliever more than two games in a row. Certainly never use a reliever 5 games in 6 starts like Dusty did to Melancon twice last year.

Dusty's Toothpick said...

I hate to say it but I feel like Dusty has over used pitchers like he has always been known to do. The bullpen was an atrocious mess so I understand why he had to leave guys out there but Strasburg has pitched more than ever and with his history he needs he rest so we can use him in September and October. The club is looking very shaky all of a sudden and I do not like it.

BxJaycobb said...

Anon: except that if they make a trade for Darvish or Gray they are guaranteeing that (a) is Stras is cooked they are in about the same position as before for 2017 and (b) if he's able to pitch in playoffs you've got the best rotation in baseball. Frankly if Stras is heading for a second TJ, this may be the Nats last time in playoffs for a while.

ssln said...

Here are a couple of guarantees for all of you. Stras got a MRI today and Rizzo knows the results as I write these words at 8:22 PM. Every GM in the league will know the results by Wednesday even if there is no announcement. The Nats don't need a starter if he is okay. If he is lost for the year, the industry will know it when Rizzo calls the A's to inquire about Gray. There are no secrets in baseball.
It will take Soto and Stevenson to get Gray or Soto and two solid Double A prospects. I would do the deal, if necessary, and hate myself in the morning.
Look for Rizzo to go after another number 2 type starter in free agency this winter.

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