Nationals Baseball: Who's your #3 : Detwiler or Jackson

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who's your #3 : Detwiler or Jackson

Last week Nats fans were ready to declare Detwiler the third starter for the playoffs. Then Edwin Jackson came out and pitched 8 innings of 1 run ball and made the situation confusing again.

The 3rd starter role is going to come down to alot of things. How much does Davey want to alternate righties and lefties? What's the tendencies of the team you are facing?  Are the Nats truly going to a 4 man rotation or are they going to try to role with 3 so Gio or ZNN could potentially pitch 3 times? Even if we could answer these what it could comes down to is who pitched better in their last start, and there's no way we can know that now.  We'll take a look at recent stats though and try to get a feel.

Davey and L/R alternation

Davey's L/R tendencies aren't clear.  He's only pitched back to back lefties a couple of times before Strasburg was shut down, and since then only back to back righties once, when Wang took over for Lannan and it was unavoidable. So it seems he favors alternating. Then again all he really did was set the rotation up as anyone would. Strasburg, Gio, ZNN, Jackson, Detwiler? That's how I would have ordered the rotation by talent to start. The alternation is just a happy side effect.

Looking at his other teams doesn't help clear things up. His Dodgers teams tended to be overly righty making a judgement impossible. His Orioles teams showed no strong inclination to split up righties and lefites, going RRRLL for a fair amount of the 2nd half of 1997.  His Reds teams were a mess of injuries but in general I'd say he favored alternation there. 


The Giants and Reds show a slight preference to facing lefties, but it's not strong enough that I'd base any starter decision on it.  The Braves struggle against lefties, Bourn, Heyward, McCann, Freeman are all lefty batters and Chipper hits noticeably better from that side. The Cardinals are very strong against lefties. Craig, Molina, Freese, Holliday all bat from the right side and Beltran shows way more power there.

4 man rotation or not?

No idea. Davey has often gone 3-man. He did it with Darling, Schourek, Mussina, Erickson, Wells. Young and old, when he had decent 4th pitchers, and when he didn't have necessarily a good #1. It's actually been something he's been pretty consistent about and deserves a deeper look into in another column. It was different times though. Guys are protected more. I'd be shocked if ZNN pitched on 4 days rest.  He hasn't gone over 7 innings or 108 pitches this year.  Gio... maybe.  Old Davey would have probably set something up like Gio, ZNN, Jackson, Gio, Detwiler, ZNN, Gio. New Davey?  

Recent Performance

Edwin Jackson
2nd Half :  ERA 3.81, WHIP 1.23, K/9 9.63, HR 11, BABIP .310
Last 6 : ERA 4.06, WHIP 1.19, K/9 9.80, HR 3, BABIP .340
Last 3 : ERA 5.00, WHIP 1.22, K/9 7.50, HR 3, BABIP .308

Ross Detwiler
2nd Half :  ERA 2.76, WHIP 1.07, K/9 5.06, HR 5, BABIP .251
Last 6 : ERA 2.57, WHIP 1.20, K/9 6.17, HR 3, BABIP .274
Last 3 : ERA 2.65, WHIP 1.29, K/9 6.88, HR 3, BABIP .269

While the ERA gap screams start Detwiler, everything else, especially more recently, is not as clear. Detwiler is going to have a lower BABIP than Edwin. He's a GB pitcher on a team with great IF defense. But that much better, suggests a bit of luck (either bad for EJax or good for Det, or both).  Detwiler's Ks are moving in the right direction but he's also getting hit/walking more. Edwin's K's are heading down (but are still better than Det's) while his WHIP is stable. Edwin's last 3 include his last bad game.  He looks better in the last 2 obviously.  I'd say Detwiler has the edge here but not by as much as you think

Other things to consider

Edwin's last start really highlights something he can do that no one else is allowed to.  He will pitch deep into games. Whereas Detwiler has an unofficial 7 inning 100 pitch limit (hit 7IP 5 times, 100 IP once, never past), Edwin has no such limits.  He's gone over 100 pitches 13 times and he has 6 7IP games... and 4 8IP games... and one complete game.  Edwin is a veteran arm on a one year deal. Stretching him out makes much more sense than risking Detwiler, young and in control for a few more cheap years. If the pen needs that long game, there's no question you try to go with Edwin.

Dewilter has also worked the pen this year and was really good in his limited time (~13 IP - which by the way is why his ERA is lower than Strasburg's.  He has a 3.26 starter ERA.  YOU CAN'T JUST IGNORE THIS PEOPLE)

My guess, barring a flame out by either, is that the tendencies are going to drive the decision in the NLDS.  If the Braves are the team, then Detwiler gets the nod.  If it's the Cards then you'll see Jackson. The differences in their pitching right now aren't big enough not to try to play away from the other team's strength.  If the Nats get there, in the NLCS and WS, I think we'll see whoever's hot. If there is no clear "hottest" then I give the nod to Jackson, based on his ability to go deep and Detwiler's success in the pen. In either case, I'm also thinking that we will see Gio pull a 3 dyas rest thing if necessary, maybe a couple times.


Donald said...

I know Davey has complained that he can't plan with the uncertainty of the WC this year, but I don't think it's really going to be an issue. Games 1 and 2 belong to Gio and Zimm. Game 3 is on either the 8th or the 9th, which is at least 5 days after the end of the regular season, so either Det or EJax will be rested and ready. I agree that who gets the nod will be dependent on who we are playing.

I also think it will be situational whether or not Gio pitches on 3 days rest. If we're down 1-2, he probably starts game 4. If we are up 2-1, he probably rests.

JonQuest said...

To me, Jackson is the safer choice. You might get a gem from Detweiler, but he also might suffer under the pressure. I think I'd rather have Det (as much as I love him) waiting in the wings and give the start to Jackson. Another factor is that Detweiler has shown the versatility to handle both the starter role and the pen. To me, that gives Davey a little extra flexibility.

Ultimately, I think Davey will use both of them as starters rather than start Gio or JZim on less rest. He's talked a lot about starting pitchers and routine. Granted, playoffs are going to throw everything off, but keeping at least the pitch days consistent might be really helpful for our young aces.

Anonymous said...

I'm agreeing with Donald that it's Gio and ZNN then "who do you need" depending on ATL or STL. But I'll be surprised if it's not a 4 man rotation after that. The way the playoffs are jammed together this year (at least at the start) makes it more like the regular season than usual.


cass said...

I'm pretty comfortable with either Detwiler or Jackson. Both can be brilliant and both can crash and burn. I'd make the decision based on matchups.

You forget to mention, though, that neither Jackson nor Detwiler should pitch at all in the postseason. Rizzo wants to lose. Otherwise he'd be pitching Strasburg during every single game of the postseason, as Strasburg would be guaranteed to win.

Although you have failed to mention this, I am not worried, because I know the national sports media will remind us of this point frequently.

Todd Boss said...

Hey, similar conclusion I came to myself (posted yesterday here:

I think you go Gonzalez-Zimmermann 1-2 no matter who the opponent is, then decide on matchups whether Detwiler or Jackson goes #3.

WiredHK said...

Edwin just had to go out and be great in his last start, didn't he? I was fully ready to hand it to Det, but now I would like to see these final starts (especially since some of them may resemble playoff pressure where the opposition certainly needs to win and the Nats would very much like to win and clinch). I would almost place more emphasis on their final performances than anything else in making this decision.

But...I do agree with the others above, match-ups probably are the easiest way to do this if the race is too close to call...

I have a feeling if we play the Cards, EJax would relish a chance to beat them. Aug. 30 he absolutely dominated them and that's fresh in my mind. Likewise, Det was terrific in Atlanta on Sep. 14 and deserved a better fate, but Medlen was just as huge.

Donald said...

I agree with WiredHK about EJax and having him face the Cards. It seems like we're reaching some sort of concensus. Gio pitches #1 and Zimm #2. If we are facing the Braves, Detwiler gets the #3 slot. If we're down 1-2 after that point, it would be interesting to see if EJax or Gio gets the #4 start, given the Braves weakness against lefties. Of course if you use Gio #4, then #5 is between Zimm (on short rest) or EJax. I'd go with EJax, I think. If I were guessing, though, I'd say Davey pitches EJax #4 and hopes like hell he gets a fifth game where he can start a well rested Gio.

If we are facing the Cards, EJax gets the #3 start. Again, #4 might depend on if we up or down in the series, but if Gio starts, then Detwiler is probably #5.

If we are facing the Reds or Giants, after Gio and Zimm it could go either way -- my guess would be for Detwiler since Davey seems to like to turn batters around and you'd rather bring in Stammen for long relief if Det struggles. If EJax struggles, you could bring in Det, but then you blow your next starter.

Of course, if we can win in 3, then a lot of this is moot.

calindc said...

Anyone that doesn't give the ball to Clippard.

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