Nationals Baseball: Nats staff kept doctors away

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nats staff kept doctors away

The Nats and Reds are the only two teams with 90 wins so far.  They have one very important thing in common.

Nats Starters :
Gio - 30 starts, ZNN - 30 starts, EJax - 28 starts, Strasburg - 28 starts, Detwiler - 24 starts (removed from rotation because of Wang love, not injury or performance)

Reds Starters :
Cueto - 30, Latos - 30, Bailey - 30, Arroyo - 29, Leake - 29

It's not a coincidence.  As much as we may focus on offensive injuries, like the one to Danny, you can work around most of those. First of all, you probably have a decent bat that you can fill in for the guy. Maybe not great but someone where the drop-off isn't astronomical. You are going to try to use that guy, who's actually probably not even your 9th best hitter, but more like your 6th or 7th and ride it out in the field. It is possible. First and corner OF spots are playable by nearly anyone. Usually another OF can pretend to be a CF for a while (so you can put a hitter in the corner), or a bat can hope to hide at 3rd. Even if your shortstop goes down, you may be able to shift a 2B to SS and put a "should be a corner IF" at second (it's the Danny Murphy story!). Only catcher is the place where you can't possibly cover the loss of a bat if you so wish, and really the number of elite bats at catcher don't make me go over to the 2nd counting hand. Plus that injury is still only one bat. If he has to miss a month well maybe his replacement happens to have a hot streak for a couple weeks and the other time the rest of the team starts hitting. You can get lucky and have it go by unnoticed.

Lose a #1 or #2 pitcher though and you have a hell of a time recovering.  You are immediately getting your #6th best starter, no way around it, and the drop-off is going to be severe. It's like going from Albert Pujols to James Loney. The good news is it's only every 5th day. The bad news is that 6th guy is unlikely to go on a hot streak for a month. He may give you a good start or two, but miss any significant time and you will notice this guy is much worse than the original. That's with one major injury.  What if you have 2 starters miss significant time? That happens all the time. 3? Not uncommon.  Suddenly that rotation is at best hanging on and at worse pushing your team right out of contention.

I bring this up because last night you saw what an injury could have meant.  John Lannan and/or Chein-Ming Wang.  I think John is a fine back of the rotation starter, but the Nats don't really have a back of the rotation.  They have an extended top, followed by the middle. John is a step down from what they are putting out there. A major injury to one pitcher and the Nats are losing a few more games, putting them in a dogfight with the Braves.  A major injury to two and they are probably behind the Braves and maybe fighting for a playoff spot (depends on how bad Wang and whoever else really is).  Probably in the lead for one, but still fighting.

This isn't meant to be a comment on Strasburg. We don't know if the shutdown will help future injuries, so we can't say the shutdown is right. We also don't know the make-up of next year's squad and we can't say that the Nats can't compete for the title if they do get more normal luck and see a guy or two go down, so we can't say the shutdown is wrong.  This year though, 2012, the Nats are able to be where they are, on cruise control toward an NL East title, because of some nice injury luck with the pitching staff. 


Zimmerman11 said...

ROTFLMAO "Wang Love"

blovy8 said...

I agree, but the Reds continuing to be really good after losing Votto was impressive.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit to some ignorance here if necessary, but can someone explain to me why the magic number is sitting at 9? If the Braves win every single game they have left, that puts them at 98 wins. The Nats are sitting at 90 wins. The Nats own the season series against the Braves, so if they finished tied, wouldn't that mean the Nats take the division? Meaning 8 would be the number?

Admittedly, as a Nats fan, I don't have a lot of experience computing magic numbers, so maybe I'm wrong about the season series thing. Is there a tie-breaker, rather than it being decided by season series?

Harper said...

Z11 - so much missed opportunity because that guy can't pitch anymore.

blovy8 - yeah but that's a lot because Todd Frazier hit .300 / .347 / .515 during that time. basically replaced Votto with a better Adam LaRoche

Anon - You could say that with the new WC - the tie breaker has changed such that season series doesn't matter anymore - they'll play one game to decide who's the champ and who's the WC so they do need 9 combination W/Ls/.

However, I think the honest answer is magic number never took that into account.

blovy8 said...

You could just as easily say the Cardinals haven't missed Pujols, and the Giants haven't missed their steroid overachiever. But those teams also adjusted to no Wainwright last year, and a lesser "freak" in SF this year. Ace pitchers.

Froggy said...

So the question is, if Gio is now our #1, do you pitch him on the 2nd of October against the Phillies if we have the division sewn up? (assuming the rotation stays the same, he gets two more starts after Saturday)

I'm not clear on when the playoff start, but wouldn't that put him off cycle to open the division series?

Harper said...

Froggy - Depends on if the Nats are #1 seed or not. If they are that would actually work out perfectly if my assumptions are correct. The 2st NLDS starts the 6th, the other on the 7th. The WC game is on the 5th, so I'm assuming the WC winner vs Div #1 winner would not be the 6th. If Nats have HFA - no finagling necessary. Gio on the 2nd and in game 1 of NLDS.

If they don't have HFA sewn up by then it gets tricky. Jackson would be scheduled for the 6th. Do you let him go for Gio and ZNN the next two games? I mean that's probably the 3 you go with anyway, so order doesn't terribly matter, right?

Zimmerman11 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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