Sunday, August 08, 2010

Uncertainty


Jason Marquis toed the rubber for Our Washington Nationals in his first start since April 18th today in Los Angeles. He wasn't overly impressive, his first inning on the mound in a Big League game in nearly four months resulted in four runs being allowed. Loss Number 63 of 2010 soon followed.

Ross Detwiler was also placed back on the Disabled List for the second time this season on Sunday --recurring pain in his surgically repaired hip the diagnosis. This decision coming after Detwiler had thrown three games in the Big Leagues since July 25th--only one of which was impressive.

Scott Olsen returned from shoulder tightness on July 29th, his first time throwing in a Major League game since May. His injury, a recurring shoulder issue that required surgery last year. Olsen has thrown twice now, won once and got hit pretty hard in the other and has been skipped in the rotation.

After being banished to AAA Syracuse in early June, Craig Stammen returned to Washington's active roster three weeks later and has been inconsistent at best--despite picking up three personal victories. Today, Our Manager Jim Riggleman proclaiming Stammen will pitch out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future.

Washington's 2010 Opening Day Starter, John Lannan, was recalled from AA Harrisburg on August 1st as an emergency starter when Stephen Strasburg went on the DL. Lannan has now started twice and won once with mixed results.

Heralded free agent signee--Chien Ming Wang--has been rehabbing all season in Viera, Florida. Chances seem to be near zero that Wang will pitch in the Big Leagues this season. He's not close to being ready.

And finally, Stephen Strasburg returns from the Disabled List for a scheduled start on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. Shoulder inflammation, combining with the necessary caution, forcing Our Washington Nationals to sit Strasburg down these past 14 days from active play.

Only Livan Hernandez has taken the ball to the mound for every single one of his scheduled starts this season. No one else has come close. Now, as the Dog Days Of Summer arrive and the final two months of the season commences, Washington's pitching rotation is still very much in flux. There is still too much uncertainty that makes you wonder.

As Our Washington Nationals fly home from Los Angeles this evening after completing their last West Coast road trip of 2010 (winning three and losing four in L.A. and Phoenix) Strasburg is decidedly D.C.'s Number One starter--Livo currently Number Two. After that, the choices are not clear. Marquis, Detwiler, Olsen, Stammen, Lannan and Wang have all brought apprehension, hesitation over whether they can be trusted. None have yet to prove, convincingly, they belong. Who among those five hurlers is seriously in Washington's plans for 2011 and beyond?

That's a question that needs to be answered.

If Jordan Zimmermann is as healthy as he's shown in his rehab and now in his AAA assignments for The Syracuse Chiefs, J-Z will return as one of Washington's top starters--probably as a Number Two. He's that talented. Our General Manager Mike Rizzo is rightfully being cautious with Zimmermann--not rushing him back. But when J-Zimm does arrive, D.C.'s rotation changes.

For the better.

Beneficial, just as anticipated when Yunesky Maya officially signed a Washington contract last week. The Cuban Defector is currently in Viera, Florida regaining arm strength after some down time. Scheduled to pitch in a few Gulf Coast League games, and maybe in one or two upper Minor League starts--Maya is on the fast track to be Washington's Number three starter very soon.

All of which leaves us wondering what happens to everyone else? If Rizzo's rotation for 2011 begins with Strasburg, extends to Zimmermann and continues with Maya--is Livan Hernandez really there to follow? Ole Number 61 wants to stay. He's beloved by our fans, but does Baseball Management love him enough to make Hernandez an integral part of Washington's future as the stabilizing veteran? And if Livo is, or not--who among Marquis, Detwiler, Olsen, Stammen, Lannan & Wang is among the best of the rest?

Does Washington need a left hander or two to better balance the rotation? If so, Olsen, Detwiler or Lannan would have the upper hand.

If a contract and experience means more--is Marquis your man?

And if pure stuff matters--then Stammen and Wang need to be considered seriously.

49 games remain in the 2010 season for Our Washington Nationals and Mike Rizzo needs to get a real understanding of what's currently available on his Major League pitching mound. Too many incomplete grades from counted on talent this season has made any final decisions difficult. Marquis didn't help that process today with a bad first inning against The Los Angeles Dodgers. Detwiler being placed on the DL, for hip pain again, doesn't make any judgement on him easier, either. Olsen, Stammen and Lannan have yet to be lights out, while Wang's recurring throwing elbow health issues seems to be pushing him farther and farther out of everyone's minds.

When it comes to the starting rotation for Our Washington Nationals, injuries and inconsistent play have hampered development. Strasburg, Zimmermann and Maya may well prove to be a strong starting three, but no one really knows how the remainder of Washington's rotation will pan out. Too much doubt still exists. There is too much uncertainty that needs to be resolved.

Today's In-Game Photo: Jae C. Hong (AP)

4 comments:

William said...

SBF, as you said, Livo is the only one of our starters who hasn't missed a turn and he even pitched on short rest when we needed a fill-in. He will probably never throw a no-hitter and you hardly ever watch him pitch and go, "wow, that guy has great stuff," but he's almost always good for 7-8 solid innings. If for no other reason we need to keep Livo around to know that once every five days someone will take the mound who can pitch deep into the game and keep it close. I think Livo only has two or three more years left in the tank and I would like to see him retire as a National.

Laurie said...

I vote we keep Livo too! He's a true professional!

SenatorNat said...

It is nothing short of amazing that in their 6th year, the only pitcher Nats can rely on completely is the team's Opening Day at RFK 2005 starter. Strasburg, Zimmermann, Olsen, Maya, Livo at this point seems likely rotation for 2010 - Detwiler and Wang may not be physically sound now or ever - Lannan has to be so perfect to succeed - Stammen is where he should be as long-reliever - and Marquis seemingly shot his pitching wad first half of last season and is apparently shot altogether. Livo should be signed to a K that requires he play raquetball every day through the off-season and he will be fine for another season or two.

Trust in the numbers producing a top-quality starting rotation - eventually...All a longshot.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Will Wang ever pitch a major league game in a Washington Nationals uniform?