- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
Top Gun didn’t arrive, so Nats will ride the arms they have
Starters confident they can ‘make pitches’
Question of the Day
VIERA, Fla. | The lockers for the first four members of the Washington Nationals’ 2011 starting rotation line up one right next to another inside the home clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium.
With more than 5,000 innings pitched among them, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Jordan Zimmermann make up a group of pitchers the Nationals have lauded this spring for their experience, their control and their ability to, very simply, “make pitches.”
And while all four of those pitchers, along with likely No. 5 starter Tom Gorzelanny, do indeed bring those qualities to the table, a few stalls down sits a constant reminder of what none of those first four can provide: They’re not Stephen Strasburg.
While Strasburg continues to undertake the arduous task of rehabbing his precious right elbow after Tommy John surgery last September, the Nationals must go on without him, and that means going on without a traditional No. 1 starter.
“Losing Strasburg, that’s a true No. 1,” Marquis said. “There really aren’t too many true No. 1’s in Major League Baseball. You could maybe count seven or eight guys that are true No. 1’s. After that, it’s how the other guy’s pitch.
“But if we have five guys that are capable of being 2’s and 3’s … we could do some good things.”
The Nationals have no choice but to count on it.
While every effort was made this offseason to lure Cliff Lee to Washington as a free agent or to coax Zack Greinke away from the Kansas City Royals via trade, the Nationals were unsuccessful. Filling that vacancy instead falls on the shoulders of the rest of the team’s starters.
“Everybody says that, ‘Front of the line starter,’” Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “So who was out there? Cliff Lee? There are very few guys. It’s hard to do. … The effort was made to do it, but we just couldn’t.
“Do I feel disappointed? Do I feel lacking? No.”
What the Nationals do have is a future front-end starter in Zimmermann, now more than 18 months removed from his own Tommy John surgery. Add a fully healthy Marquis, who would like to contribute numbers closer to his traditional norms, and Washington would, in Lannan’s estimation, “eliminate any questions about our rotation” when factoring in Hernandez and Lannan himself, two pitchers whose work consistently hovers around the National League averages.
They also have more depth than they’ve had in recent years. The competition among Gorzelanny, Ross Detwiler, Yunesky Maya and Chad Gaudin for the team’s fifth rotation spot is evidence of that, regardless of the fact that Gorzelanny was given a significant head start. It’s an upgrade over the likes of Scott Olsen (4-8, 5.56 in 2010), Luis Atilano (6-7, 5.15) and J.D. Martin (1-5, 4.43).
For the first time in quite a while, the Nationals have the luxury of being able to choose from talent, even if it is back-of-the-rotation talent.
“Guys we’re not even thinking about, who aren’t even on the landscape, were guys we were counting on in the past,” general manager Mike Rizzo said.
By the numbers, the improvement may not be all that significant. If all five starters, including Gorzelanny, pitch to their career averages, the Nationals’ staff would end up with an estimated 50-60 record and an ERA around 4.50 - not exactly eye-popping numbers.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
By Michael P. Orsi
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- Outrage over Phil Robertson suspension, 'malignant' political correctness
- Sebelius adds another Obamacare exemption
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow