A Washington Nationals Blog

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's almost time!

It's that time of year again, when the bright, shiny new Spring Training begins. Catchers and pitchers report, the countdown to the first preseason game shows up on mlb.com, John Patterson tells everyone that will listen (or feign interest) that he is 110% and this year is the year. Ahh, the sweet comfort of familiarity.

But with everyone starting to trickle into Viera, and myself back from finishing the final semester of my Master's program, it is probably long past time to do a Spring Training intro. We'll start with the pitching.

The Starting 5, at least according to Bill Ladson, will be Patterson, Hill, Bergmann, Lannan, and Chico, presumably in that order. I think Ladson, as he is prone to do, is either misstating or overstating the case for starting pitching. So, as with all things Bill Ladson, lets take this with a grain of salt and review the pitching rotation as I see it on March 30. I think that Hill and Bergmann are virtual locks, assuming that they show up and look at least average. Add to that Chico, who is owed and I seriously mean OWED a spot after being the only reliable arm that could get trotted out every five days for the entire season.

Lannan could be a member of the 5, but we only saw a little of him and he may not be ready, or someone else could be more ready to take what I consider to be the #5 spot in the order. Lets remember that at this time last year he was an A ball pitcher that wasn't on anybody's radar. I think he could be solid, but don't know if he is yet.

That leaves Patterson. Anyone who was a Nats fan in 2005 knows that John Patterson has the ability and the drive to be a top of the rotation pitcher on this team, or most any team in the NL. But that was 2005. We drafted Zimmerman in 2005. Chico, Lannan, Mock, Clippard, Detweiler, and a whole list of other pitchers were a mere gleam in the eye of some scout somewhere. This is 2008. I don't want to ask what you have done for me lately, but where the hell have you been for the last 2 seasons John?

Oh, yeah, Patterson was doing a coast to coast tour of doctors, healers, homeopathic treaters, witch doctors, and everyone in between that would have made a Super Tuesday campaign envious. And after John have nerve treatment and learned to breath through his eyelids, he ended up just getting more surgery and not pitching for a really long time.

So as far as Patterson in the rotation is concerned, I think that if he shows up and pitches, fine, give him the second game of the season, never ever ever let him pitch the home opener, and be happy about it. But if he sucks, which is a likely possibility if history is our guide, then we have other arms to look to.

Redding: Tim Redding was my second favorite surprise last season (after Dimitri). He showed some poise and confidence that was missing from the rest of the arms that started games and he also showed a fastball and level of control that made Don Sutton giddy as a school girl. I think he shouldn't be counted out before anyone has even thrown a side session in front of the coaches.

Detweiler: Last year's big draft success means that Ross is definately in consideration. But I think that he has to start the season at AA Harrisburg, if not in Potomac. You might see him later, but I think that this is more an end of the year or everyone else in broken sort of solution.

Clippard: Former Yanks property, I don't really know too much about him. I would assume that unless he shows an absolutely stunning arm that you will either see him in the high Minors or the bullpen to start the season.

Mock and the entire team from New Hampshire: Now, Mock didn't play in New Hampshire at the Low A Lake Monsters, but in truth he didn't play much at all last year. The supposed better half of the Livo trade still has to prove to be healthy, and likely needs another season in the Minors to help with his development. I haven't seen him pitch though, every time I went to Potomac he was still on the DL. I don't expect to see him. The Lake Monsters pitching last year was, in a word, filthy. I mean, like 5 guys with ERA under 2, and all sorts of dominant performances. None of these guys are going to make it up, but you might see some of them make a fast move through the program and get a call-up in September. But that is a loooooong way off, for now, don't worry about them unless you really are bored at work.

So what does that mean?

I see the order as:

Hill
Bergmann
Patterson
Redding
Chico

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