Nationals Baseball: FINAL KIDS REVIEW - THE ARMS

Friday, October 08, 2021


THOMPSON - 4.15 ERA 11.6 H/9, 1.7 HR/9, 5.8 BB/9, 8.7 K/9  (5.71 FIP)

Thompson's call was supposed to be a fastball that popped from his tall frame, but a TJ surgery early in his career has him still searching for his stuff.  This year he moved to the pen (a theme with these young guys) to potentially help but his minor league stats with San Diego did not show improvement.  His Nats time was only in the majors and we saw all the issues that he has had for a few years now.  He can't quite generate enough swing and miss stuff. He's too wild and hittable otherwise. At best he's a project who needs time in the minors to see if he can first get his FB back and then get everything else in order. At worst he's nothing. This is a guy who hasn't put up a FIP (think ERA stripping away luck) under 5.50 since he was 18 in the Rookie League. Either way I can't see why this guy would be in the majors to start next year. It was fun to have him up and see if you could catch lightning in a bottle. Nothing of the sort happened. Time to start the work. PESSIMISTIC 

GRAY - 5.31 ERA 8.0 H/9, 2.2 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9  (5.71 FIP)

Gray started looking pretty decent, then was very very bad for several starts, then ended the season ok. If I'm being honest this year he did not look like a major league pitcher. He gave up far too many homers and was far too wild and it was only by the grace of God that his ERA for the season was in the 5.00s and not the 7.00s. But this season was an aberration. In the minors prior to 2020 he didn't give up a lot of homers or hits and had reasonable control. So I don't want to get too caught up in what he did this year.  What should happen is probably some more time in AAA. He only had 8 starts in AA and 3 in AAA before coming up to the majors.  A half-season to see what flaws pop up and a chance to work them out against lesser talent would probably serve him well. But I think he will instead end up starting and working them out which might me a rougher and longer road to success.  Still I think the results will come.  In my head he's replacing Ross/Fedde as a mid-rotation project and unlike for those two he's at an age where seeing what the next 2-3 years bring makes sense.  OPTIMISTIC

MURPHY  -  5.30 ERA 9.2 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 11.1 K/9  (3.38 FIP)

Another TJ return guy (by now you know this is Rizzo's shtick) and another converted starter. He had been improving as a starter but not particularly fast enough and he had been injury prone. Given his age it was time to try something new. Now the Nats have him thanks to a forced move off the Jays 40 man and have a choice. Keep him as a reliever where he's been able to up his K game - but otherwise looks vulnerable, or try him out as a starter again, where he was effective but would need to go back down and most people think he tops out as a back of the rotation arm. My guess is reliever wins out. I've heard nothing otherwise. Getting to his actual pitching - his peripherals look ok.  He keeps the ball in the park and doesn't get hit too hard. His control is a bit off, but not too bad and if he can keep a higher K rate the three positives should outweigh that one negative.  Ideally I'd like to see him tried first as a long relief pitcher. It's very likely needed for next year's Nats. But the Nats seem averse to that role. The question is whether he'll be a short reliever in the majors or AAA. Like the above guys I think AAA is a better fit. Like the above guys I bet he ends up in the majors. I think there is something here but there's a 2-3 year clock ticking to have it work out. NEUTRAL

ROGERS - 3.28 ERA 8.1 H/9, 1.8 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 5.6 K/9  (5.83 FIP)

Josh Rogers isn't a prospect.  You have to tell yourself this because the ERA and some of the last starts make him out to look pretty good. But the peripherals are bad and have been bad since 2018. In theory he's a John Lannan type - a guy who lacked the stuff to strike people out but could control the game for 5 innings then get out.  But John had a knack for keeping power down that Josh doesn't AND by Josh's age Lannan had started 130 major league games.  Rogers was released by the Orioles. Think about that.  He'd have to become a different pitcher entirely to stick around even in the back of a rotation. But nothing gives me much hope of that. He was never able to strike out a bunch of minor leaguers. He found himself often to be VERY hittable.  He could work back to a point in his past where he had very good control and didn't give up homers and might be a guy you can call up to spot start but I'm not even holding on to that given his recent AAA stats. Be happy you got what you did from Josh. Now cut bait.  VERY PESSIMISTIC

KLOBOSITS - 5.56 ERA 10.3 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 4.0 K/9  (3.88 FIP)

Gabe keeps the ball in the park. Like to an insane degree.  In 112 minor league innings he gave up 2 homers. With that kind of stat you can see why he'd see success in the minors.  But you'd also say Hmmm 112 innings in the minors? Since 2017? Well unsurprisingly there was a Tommy John surgery in there, costing him most of 2018 and 2019. Then 2020 didn't happen. So basically Gabe is a big old question mark. That heavy ball also means the limiting of hits which is good. But it also means a lot of balls in play.  Coupled with pretty poor control things can get out of hand if he can't miss bats. He showed he can do it in the minors but can he do it in the majors?  I've said this often but the majors isn't just a step up from AAA.  When you step up minor leagues you are mostly dealing with guys at that level - the good guys get moved up. There is no moving up from the majors. The best talent goes nowhere but the plate to face you. We'll see.  It's certainly worth kicking the tires on Gabe again as a deep bullpen peice but like Rogers and Murphy he'll be 27 next year and he's probably peaking now. If he can't do it in 2022 there's very little chance he can do it beyond that. Given his very limited innings and being a pitcher I remain PESSIMISTIC 

RODRIGUEZ - 5.92 ERA, 9.2 H/9, 2.2 HR/9, 6.3 BB/9, 7.4 K/9. 

They love this kids fastball. The idea is he'd get a little control and begin to miss bats, get weak contact, and win games. It hasn't happened. And we're not talking 100 innings here. Jefry has thrown over 700 total innings since 2012 and it all says the same thing. His control is too poor to work out. When the pitches go where he wants it works but when they don't, which is often, he misses off the plate for walks, and more so in later years, he misses into the plate for hard hits.  Jefry is now 28 (though 27 for most of 2021 so he sneaks in this analysis) and will be 29 in July of 2022.  There is nothing here. Let another team try for the miracle.  VERY PESSIMISTIC

JHON ROMERO/JOAN ADON - too few innings to judge at the majors.


Matt said...

What about Machado, Baldonado, and Finnegan? Or were those guys too old to make the list despite pretty limited MLB time?

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

The Nats had one of the worst bullpens in MLB history this year. Most losses in MLB history credited to the bullpen. That's not bad, that's BAAAAD. If the expectation is to compete next year (which many think is the case), Rizzo needs to sign one of the FA SS, a 2/3 starter like Cobb, and then a bajillion relievers. The old mantra is that relievers are fungible, which is true when you have major league talent, but very few in this pen can be considered major league talent. So it's time for an overhaul. Sign a ton of relievers to 1 year or minor league deals, invite them all to spring training, and hope you catch lightning in a bottle on a few of them

DezoPenguin said...

Yeah, Cautiously is right to be pessimistic about this bullpen. Apart from Finnegan and Rainey (the latter because he's been adequate in the past) none of these guys are even vaguely passable. With the rotation, you can at least see a path to success (Strasburg returns from surgery and is good, Gray, Ross, and Corbin are solid #3-ish guys, somebody at the back end is adequate). I mean, even down the stretch the starters and the offense were more often than not giving the team the chance to win baseball games. The bullpen, on the other hand, was a howling train wreck. I'm not even talking about Proven Closer arguments; I'm talking about "It's 2017 and we need to trade for literally half a bullpen because Matt Albers is the only guy even vaguely not awful" except somehow worse than THAT. I don't care if Stras comes back, Corbin magically becomes his 2018-9 self again, and we sign both Max and Marcus Stroman; we're still not making the playoffs with this pen.