Nationals Baseball: Tuesday Quickie - Odorizzi not in the East or the NL

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Tuesday Quickie - Odorizzi not in the East or the NL

 The last of the big FA (for what it's worth) dropped over the weekend with Jake Odorizzi landing with the Astros. They had a starter break his finger and be out for the season, and a top prospect look in line for Tommy John.  Forced into it they offered Jake the three year deal he wanted but it's not quite perfect, lower in salary and laden with incentives. The important thing for the Nats is Jake didn't end up in the NL East with the Phillies.  

I mentioned this before but the Phillies were in most need of Jake, not because their rotation is terrible, it's not - it's pretty good, but because everyone else's rotation in the East is better. 

#1 Starters

Jacob DeGrom

Max Scherzer

Aaron Nola

Max Fried

Jacob deGrom is the clear number one of number ones, especially with Max on the mend. 8th, 1st, 1st, and 3rd in Cy Young voting the past 4 years. But you don't want to push Max any further down given his history of being awesome (7 straight Top 5 Cy finishes before 2020s disappointing campaign). That leaves Nola third, even though he's been a very good to great number one for a few years, including two recent years with CY votes; 3rd in 2018 and 7th last year. Fried, 5th in last years Cy Young (look I told you this was a good group), rounds out the group as someone who could have the best year but probably is not the best pitcher here. Which again is like being the 6th fastest sprinter in the Olympics.

#2 Starters

Stephen Strasburg

Carlos Carrasco

Zach Wheeler

Charlie Morton

Another great bunch, but assuming Strasburg is healthy, and all indications is that he is, then he's the best of the lot. He's consistently been very good to great for a decade even if a little fragile and he's only 32 next year. Carrasco had a health issue of his own a couple years ago but otherwise has been right there a half step behind Strasburg. Wheeler had the best 2020 and has been good but at only 3 years doesn't have the long history and that puts him third. Morton is no slouch - overall not as good but recently maybe better than anyone here. However a bad 2020 and being clearly the oldest at 37 puts him at 4.

#3 Starters

Mike Soroka (Kyle Wright / Bryse Wilson)

Patrick Corbin

Marcus Stroman

Zach Eflin

This is also dependent on health but Soroka seems likely to be back if not for the start of the season, then very soon after. He's very young (23) and has been nothing but effective so far. With a chance to get even better he's my pick here.  I put Corbin over Stroman here but I could be convinced otherwise. Both are up and down pitchers for their recent careers. Corbin had the higher peak and is generally healthier so he gets my 2, but Stroman was much better last year and is two years younger so I'm not fighting anyone who wants to switch it. Eflin is a solid #3 but has to show he can be more to match up with the rest of this group.


At this point the rotations are pretty close. I think the Mets separate just because deGrom is such a proven #1. And the Nats then separate because who's going to go against Max+Stras? But neither the Braves or the Phillies are far behind. But remember this is about needing one more guy. Onward!

#4 Starters

Ian Anderson

Taijuan Walker

Jon Lester

Matt Moore

This is where the Braves make up for the "issues" of the 1/2 not being as good as the others. Anderson is a legit prospect is 23 and could blossom into a top of the rotation guy. He certainly showed that potential last year. The other guys are questions. Here Lester's health isn't enough given his age and declining stats, to get past Walker. Walker - who was healthy in the brief 2020 but barely pitched in 2018 or 2019, was not as good as his ERA but better than Lester last year and the last time he was healthy (yes 2017) he looked solid. It's another one I'd accept a switch but again Lester was bad last year and is 37. At some point this matters.  Moore is a complete wild card. He looked pretty good in Japan but wasn't good in recent major league stints. I wouldn't bet on him at all and he's clearly the worst option here.

#5 Starters

David Peterson / Joey Lucchesi / Syndergaard

Drew Smyly / et al

Joe Ross / Erick Fedde / Austin Voth

Chase Anderson / Vince Velasquez / Spencer Howard

In Peterson and Lucchesi the Mets have two perfectly good 4/5 guys to bounce into this spot depending on who looks better (personally I think it'll be Lucchesi). Beyond that they have the potential of a returning Syndergaard but unlike everyone else injured mentioned here he's not close. He should be back this year but when is a question so he hangs over the spot but can't add much too it. The Mets are taking this because of the other two who are perfectly ok! Smyly is probably not going to be any better than a 5 but the Braves have yet to exhaust their seemingly endless supply of young arms with Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, and Jasseel De La Cruz all potentially seeing time this year. They aren't special, ranking like Rutledge and Cavalli, but quantity and readiness matters. We all know the Nats triple headed monster. This group of aging prospects has been a mixed bag and are just as likely to flame out as to be good. Still that's better than the Phillies. If they were going to give a bunch of time to Howard that'd be different but they don't want to risk his arm on a full season so expect a slow roll out for Howard meaning more time for Vince - who has one non-bad year since 2016 and Chase who has three straight bad years looking at the stats. 

You can see in these two spots how the Phillies are dragged down. The Mets are clearly the best. The Braves have the potential, the Nats have the likely dependable innings through the Top 4. The Phillies? They have a three that can hang with a couple of the best Top 3s in baseball and then prayers. Odorizzi would have given them a 4 (either him or Eflin) who was a clear #2 and a mix then at 5 with Moore plus these losers that might have nicked past the Nats. They still would have the "worst" rotation in the East, but as I said in an earlier blog post it would have been likely Top 7/8 in baseball. Worst by comparison - very good in general. Now it's like 10-15 which isn't bad but unless the bats become world beaters it's not going to be enough. 

And anything that keeps a direct competitor down is good for the Nats


Chas R said...

This is good Harper! Nats clearly need Max, Stras, and Corbin to be good, and get solid innings out of Lester and Ross. They'll need some health luck.

Separately, what's your take on this situation with Jeffress? Nats could have used a solid Jeffress in the pen.

Harper said...

No idea - something personal and bad. Based on his history it could be a lot of things, so we won't speculate but it looks like the Nats brought him in without sufficiently doing the legwork, found something while completing it, then decided keeping him here was untenable. I'd be shocked if it were marijuana though.

I;m not sure how good he could have been. He had a lot of luck last year. He doesn't have great control or K anyone so really you are relying on him to keep the ball in play (which he does do) and get some luck. The Nats IF D is average at best so he's not the best fit in that regard. Suero is a better version of this and as you know he's like 4th in the pen so he's around to use in these situations.