Friday, April 30, 2010

Bob Uecker & Analyzing the Current Nats Starters

I'm going to start this blog with the sincere comment of the day. Bob Uecker is going in for heart surgery today to repair a damaged aeortic valve. This condition is serious and may require a follow up procedure. Uecker will miss at least 3 months, but probably more. My thoughts are with Bob Uecker and his family, including the Milwaukee Brewers family. Uecker has been the radio guy for the Brewers for 40 years this season, and is one of the broadcasting faces of baseball. Brewers games won't be the same without his play-by-play. I may just make a point of watching "Major League" this weekend.

Now, back to the Nats:

It recently came across the wires that the Nats are going to shuffle up their starters a bit to spread out our two lefties in the order. Previously, Olsen had been 5th in the rotation, and Lannan 1st. Making back to back lefties in the rotation. Now Olsen has switched with Stammen after the off-day to put some distance between them. So now the rotation officially is:
  1. John Lannan (LHP; 1-1; 5.53 ERA; 10 Ks)
  2. Luis Atilano (RHP; 2-0; 2.25 ERA; 2 Ks)
  3. Livan Hernandez (RHP; 3-1; 0.87 ERA; 10 Ks)
  4. Scott Olsen (LHP; 1-1; 6.14 ERA; 14 Ks)
  5. Craig Stammen (RHP; 1-0; 6.75 ERA; 9 Ks)
If you would have told me 30 days ago, as the team was leaving spring training, that this rotation would be producing the way that it has, I would have had some nasty words for you for getting my hopes up about the return of real baseball to DC. And I would have been eating my words.

My offensive and defensive rundown was extensive yesterday, so I won't be quite as extensive with these guys, because I've been talking about most of them (Atilano, Hernandez, Stammen) all season. So read ahead for my thoughts, including the first Stephen Strasburg mention of my blogging campaign.

You may look at the rotation, and say "whaaaat? Atilano is number 2 in the rotation? Why not Livan?" Well, the answer is simple, really. Atilano is a placeholder for Marquis while he's on the DL with "loose bodies" in his elbow. Although, if Atilano keeps pitching like this, who knows. The likelihood of that seems low, however. Other teams are starting to get more tape on Luis with every start, and at some point sooner than later, he's going to get blow up in a start. It's inevitable. It's a matter of how he recovers after that. Does he go back to hitting his spots are just throw meatballs down the middle? Time will tell.

Lannan is having a... well... a year. Some people out in the Natosphere are speculating that he's hurt because he's not pitching his best. Missing some spots, etc. The problem with a guy like Lannan is that he's a Greg Maddux style pitcher. You may say, "What the heck, Capitol Baseball guy, how is being like Maddux a bad thing?" Well, Maddux is obviously one of the best pitchers of this generation. A member of the horrifying Braves trio that was Maddux-Smoltz-Glavine in their prime. But Maddux was the best of the best location pitchers. He wasn't going to overpower you, but he was always going to hit his spots. When he didn't, he got lit up. And Lannan is missing spots, and giving up more solid hits than we, and the team, have come to expect from him. In my amateur opinion, John isn't hurt, he's just missing spots. Only time will prove me right or wrong.

Bringing up Garrett Mock was the wrong call by Rizzo and Co. on the Opening Day roster. Give them credit, however, because they fixed it quickly. Turns out that Mock may have been hurt as well. Which leads me to this point: come on, pitchers! Communicate with your trainers -- I'm looking at you Garrett, Jason Marquis, and Ross Detwiler. I know you're trying to make a mark on the team, but you'll make more of one when you finally pitch healthy, and you won't hurt the team nearly as much. Olsen should have been up all along; no reason a guy making $1 million for a 1 year deal should start in AAA. If you're gonna make the investment, give the guy the chance at least. They did, and it's been the right call so far.

Livan and Atilano have been covered extensively here in other blog posts, so I'll refer you to the archives to hear my thoughts on them.

Enjoy game one against the Marlins from Sun Life Stadium where Olsen will take on Ricky Nolasco. Should be another great early season game.

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