Nationals Baseball: Davey and the 3-man rotation

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Davey and the 3-man rotation

So yesterday I mentioned that Davey had pitched guys on short rest in the playoffs several times.  Upon further review he did it a lot actually, out of the nine postseason series he's managed so far, he's gone to the short rest start in 7 of them and in one of the other 2 he didn't have a chance.  On the flip side you can argue that he didn't have much of a choice in a couple of those that he did go short.  Let's take a look at each series and see what you think,

1986 NLCS - No short rest starts 
The 1986 Mets had a pretty good pitching staff.  Gooden, Darling, and Ojeda were all excellent. The 4th starter, Sid Fernandez was above average, but was a significant drop-off from the Top 3. In the NLCS with a 2-1 lead in games, Fernandez pitched game 4 (Mets lost 3-1 to Mike Scott) allowing everyone else to pitch on regular rest.

1986 World Series - 3 short rest starts
In the series though the Mets skipped Fernandez and pitched Darling, Gooden, and Ojeda on short rest.  (Darling would pitch 3 times but a rain-out allowed his 3rd game to be on normal rest). Age didn't matter to Davey.  Darling was only 25 at the time and Gooden was 21. The Mets were down 1-2 and 2-3 when using Darling and Ojeda, so the need to win may have been a driving factor. 

1988 NLCS - 1 short rest start
The 1988 had another great staff.  Cone was the only one with a truly excellent season, but there were no weak links from 1-5. In this one Darling, the Mets worst pitcher that year (but still ok) ended up pitching game 7 on short rest. It's hard to blame Davey for this though.  For one he DID use a four man rotation, it's just that the NLCS lacked a day-off for travel between game 5 in NY and game 6 in LA. Also Bob Ojeda had a fingertip severed at a bar in a playoff clinch celebration and missed the playoffs.  He might have gone 5 deep if Ojeda was available.

1995 NLDS - No short rest starts
The Reds won the series 3-0 so there was no opportunity for one.

1995 NLCS - 1 short rest start
Pete Schourek was surprisingly a very good starter for the Reds for this (and only this) year. With the Reds down 3 games to none the 26 year old got the short rest call in game 4. The Reds did have a decent 4th starter in Mark Portugal but thanks to the 3-0 win in the NLDS and the scheduling of the NLCS you're talking over a week between starts if he goes out there. Is that better than a 3 day rest?

1996 ALDS - 1 short rest start
This is probably the most confusing of the short rest starts. The 1996 Orioles had an odd pitching year, basically getting Mussina & Wells worst years in the time frame, and Erickson before he had his decent stretch.  The 4th starter Coppinger wasn't any good, but no one was this year.  Also when Davey went to Wells to pitch on short rest the O's were up 2 games to 1 and the rest of the games were slated to be played in Baltimore. I guess you could say he had no faith in Coppinger.

1996 ALCS - 1 short rest start
There were no off days between Game 2 in NY and Game 3 in BAL so Davey had to use a 4 man rotation (going with Coppinger in game 4) and  was forced to use Erickson on short rest in game 5.  The other choice would be to use 2nd year pitcher Rick Krivda in the game when you are down 3 games to 1 in the series.  I don't think that's much of a choice.

1997 ALDS - 1 short rest start 
Did I say the 1996 ALDS was the most confusing? Take everything about 1996 but replace 4 pitchers having bad years with four having good ones. The 1997 Orioles had 4 good starters in Mussina, Erickson, Key and Kamieniecki. But in the ALDS up 2 games to 1 and in no danger of going back to Seattle, Davey pitched Mussina on short rest instead of Kamieniecki. Mussina was much better, don't get me wrong, but Scott was still good.

1997 ALCS - 2+ short rest starts
Both Scott Erickson and Mussina started on short rest (with the O's down 1 games to 2 and 2 games to 3 respectively), but Davey made up his mind that this was a 3 man rotation early. In game 2 Jimmy Key pitched ok and then Davey brought in... Scott Kamienieki to pitch middle relief. That essentially killed any chance at a 4 man rotation since the O's never found a 5th starter worth a damn.  Just looking at the stats for the year it was a real curious.

In the end, while his hand was forced a couple time Davey seems to have no problem with the short rest starts, regardless of age or even it seems some people's logic, prefering a great pitcher on 3 days rest over a good one on normal time down. The only time he chose to go to a 4 man rotation where everyone got a full rest was his very first playoff series. After that he only went to the 4 man rotation when he had to prevent a pitcher from pitching on TWO days rest.

Like I said yesterday, I'd expect Gio to start on short rest this playoffs, if the opportunity arises, but we'll see.  This is the best 4 man rotation he would have had in any playoffs.


cass said...

"This is the best 4 man rotation he would have had in any playoffs."

My favorite line in the whole piece. And to think that this is even without Strasburg.

We haave to get to the NLDS first, though. I know the math is in the Nats favor by a lot, but with the Braves getting eight easy games and the Nats getting eight hard games, I'm getting nervous. And Lannan's had a poor history against the Phillies.

Donald said...

@Cass -- if the Nats go 1-2 against the Phillies and Cards, with the Braves going 2-1 against Miami and the Mets, our magic number drops to 1 going into the final series of the season. I'd take that.

So even if Lannan loses tonight, we have a pretty good chance to salvage a game with Gio on Thursday. At this point, I'm fine with going 1-2 in Philadelphia in the hopes that the Braves won't sweep everyone.

If the Braves sweep the Marlins and Mets, that would be 8 wins in a row. If they swing that and the Nats struggle, maybe they deserve to win the division. A division tie would be the worst case scenario with the possibility of having to use your #1 and #2 pitchers in play-in type games before getting to a 5 game series. That would suck.

Harper said...

cass - I prefer "Also Bob Ojeda had a fingertip severed at a bar in a playoff clinch celebration and missed the playoffs."

You could argue the rotation stamt. the 97 Orioles and 86 Mets were pretty damn good. I like the 2012 Nats better though 1-4 without Stras. (1-3 I might go 86 Mets...)

A 4 game lead in 8 games is huge. One loss by Braves, win by Nats night in the next two sets up perfection by the Braves and total crash by the Nats as the only way Nats don't win NL East.

Donadl - Also I'd have to say if the Braves do something like win 15 of thier last 18 games and win 96 games and the division that's like REALLY good. The Nats would have been bystanders rather than active participants in the Braves rise. Like the Dodgers in '51

Zimmerman11 said...

Via ESPN Sweet Spot

NL rookie WAR leaders (via Baseball-Reference):

Harper: 4.0
Miley: 3.4
Norichika Aoki, Brewers: 3.0
Zack Cozart, Reds: 2.7
Lucas Harrell, Astros: 2.6
Andrelton Simmons, Braves: 2.5
Frazier: 1.9
Rosario: 1.9
Mike Fiers, Brewers: 1.9

Zimmerman11 said...

That Frazier isn't the best rookie on his team (Cozart) by WAR SHOULD help Harper's odds at winning ROY, right? Plus he's been pretty locked in in the second half, and he's the chosen one... so I think he's gotta be a pretty big favorite at this point.

If he doesn't win it'll be because Frazier/Miley have a much cleaner cut demeanor/reputation... a lot of people are turned off by Bam Bam's bat-breaking, sour-puss wearing, umpire-yelling antics.

Harper said...

Z11 - I don't think guys are as likely to use WAR for ROY. Just don't. So I'm not sure it hurts Frazier. What hurts him is a late season swoon that has brought his stats closer in line with Bryce's. I think you gotta like Bryce over Frazier now.

While Bryce had a good month from mid-August to mid-Sept the last two weeks have been unimpressive. I think that leaves the door open for Miley to win if (1) Bryce keeps stinking the rest of the year or (2) Miley wins his final 2 and lowers his ERA closer to 3.00. Otherwise I like Bryce.

cass said...

@Donald, Harper (the non-chosen one)

I know, I know. And I was perfectly comfortable that the race was over before last night. I'm just worried about the Braves sweeping the Fish and the Phillies sweeping the Nats making this way too interesting.

I've been rooting for this team for eight years and I want my NL East Champions shirt. And I don't want a refund for my NLDS tickets! (I'd be ok if I get a refund because the Nats sweep in three games, though. Couldn't manage to get tickets to home game 1, alas.)

Section 222 said...

I'm pretty sure Davey will go with a four man rotation through the NLDS and NLCS, otherwise he makes it tough to get full benefit from Gio in the succeeding series. Depending on how everyone has performed until then, the World Series might be a different story. If Gio starts Game 1, he could pitch 3 games in a seven game series by going on 3 days rest.

If I'm right about this, who the No. 3 is becomes very important because that pitcher will get two starts in a seven game NLCS, while the No. 4 will only get one.

I doubt any starter other than Gio will go on 3 days rest in the playofs.

WiredHK said...

Is it me or does it seem like the Braves win via walk-off every other night (w/ Chipper always in the middle of it)? Sheesh, these guys just won't die.

At any rate, with that said, last night (to me) was always slated as a non-magic-number changing night. The Phils sent their ace against us at home and the Braves had their ace going against the Fish at home. Let's see how these next few nights play out before scrambling for the panic button.

Still disappointed Det walked Mayberry and Utley to hand the Phils their game-winning inning. C'mon Ross, don't just beat yourself, make them do it!

Froggy said...

The season hinges on which Lon Jannon shows up tonight.

Regardless, I'm more worried that our bullpen can't stop any bleeding than I am about Lannon.

I don't feel real warm and fuzzy...

Anonymous said...

I agree that Gio would start on short rest and if Jordan pitches well he might go on short rest.

Side note: Went to a couple of those 86 Mets-Astros games. Mets did have a good staff that year.

Zimmerman11 said...

There you go... Bryce homers... Nats win. Chosen One for ROY, MVP, Silver Slugger, and Cy Young :)

Josh A said...

Any chance we can get a rundown of the possible scenarios and percent chance the Braves catch us? I know you called it awhile back, but the lead has dwindled since then.

If I have this right, with a 4 game lead and 7 to go, if the Nats go 3-4, the Braves would have to go 6-1. Which sounds nice, but seems totally plausible given the Braves schedule and the way they've been playing. Obviously if Nats go 4-3 or better, they win. It's starting to feel like we can't count on Braves to lose, so we need to just go ahead and win. Feels like we can count on Gio tomorrow night, but anything can happen. Was at the game for his 20th and he looked untouchable but maybe that was due to run support.

So here's what I've got for the rest of the games with Likely (80-90%), Probable (60-79%), Questionable (40-59%), Doubtful (10-39%) for whether we win.

27th v. Phils: Gio-Likely, Nats win 5-2
28th v. Cards: Jackson-Questionable, Nats possibly win on solid outing from Jackson, 4-3, 5-4, something like that
29th v. Cards: Wang-Doubtful, bad pitching, bad hitting plague Nats, lose 7-1
30th v. Cards: ZNN-Questionable, ZNN could get hit early and often and be forced out quickly due to pitch limits. Nats struggle, lose 5-4ish.
1st v. Phils: Lannan-Questionable, Lannan reverts back to sketchy Phils starts and Kendrick gets revenge. Nats lose 6-3.
2nd v. Phils: Gio-Probable, Gio pitches a gem, gets run support, Nats win 5-2.
3rd v. Phils: Jackson-Questionable, pitches better at home but bullpen may falter. Close game somewhat up in the air 4-3, 5-4 going either way.

2 probable wins. Either need a couple coin flips to go our way or 2 Braves losses. Feels like we'll be lucky to get 1 Braves loss. Guess we'll see what these Nats are made of down the stretch.

LetsGoNats said...

In response to Josh if the nats go 3-4 the braves would have to win out by going 7-0. Any combination of braves loses and nats wins being greater than or equal to 4 and the nats win the NL East. Also in the above scenario that would lead to a tie for the NL East which would force the Nats to play a one game playoff with the Braves to see who is the wild card and who is the NL East champion. Unless I am mistaken.

Anonymous said...

if Nats go 3-4, Braves need to go 7-0. Arithmatic is tough.

I honestly see a 4-3 end to these last 7 games for the Nats. If they don't get that and the braves go 7-0 to force a tiebreaker game. Hats off.

Anonymous said...

that was in response to the post above the post above my first post....

Donald said...

@Josh -- Not sure but I doubt that Gio makes another start after today in Philadelphia. If he starts on Oct.2, then he'd be unable to start in game 1 on the 5th if we're the number 2 seed. Or he'd be starting on short rest on Saturday if we're the number 1 seed. I don't think we want either scenario.

Harper said...

All post Josh - I think Josh just tmessed up. He also says if the Nats go 4-3 they win.

Donald - WC games are the 5th. Game 1 for one NLCS is the 6th (prsumably for the #2 v #3), the other is the 7th. If the Nats COULD get the #1 seed then he should pitch the 2nd to win that game AND set himself up for Game 1. Of course if the Nats have lost HFA definitively by the end of the Cards series then it's likely that the Braves are super close and you still want to pitch Gio that day. Really the only scenario I see Gio not pitching that day is if the Nats and Braves go on a minor slide right now like 1-3 a piece or 2-2 for them 1-3 for the Nats.

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