Get To Know Some Nats: Starting Pitchers

Every year, we put together player profiles for the Nationals players likely to make the 25 man roster. This way you’ll have a better idea of just who is taking the field. Except for a few notable exceptions, the Washington Nationals of 2015 will be the same team you’ve been watching for a few years. So we’re going to forego lengthy profiles of stuff you already know, and focus on capsules for a few players at a time. A quicker, more forward focused view for the savvy fan.

Note: If you’re here to read about Tanner Roark, I’ve moved him to the bullpen post later this spring. You can read why (and about him), here.

You can also read our outfielder preview here.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals

Stephen Strasburg, RHP

2014 Profile | Fangraphs

In a pack of bums who are underachieving bums, Stephen Strasburg takes the cake. We should just trade him for some prospects or make him a reliever. Or so MASNCommenter would have you believe. To wit:

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Thanks for sending me the screen cap MASNCommenter.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The truth is that the Strasburg is an exceptional pitcher doing exceptional things, but hasn’t lived up to the hype that followed him into the league. I heard the phrase “Prospect Fatigue” the other day, and I think that applies perfectly. Strasburg’s debut was an instant classic. He entered Nationals Park like Zeus come down from Mt. Olympus to pitch. Fan disappointment stems from this night and the subsequent seasons in which Strasburg has proved to be “only” an Apollo or Ares on the mound.

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Brief Thoughts On the New Pace of Game MLB Rules

I haven’t been on Twitter in nearly a week, so I genuinely don’t know: Is it me, or do the newly implemented MLB pace of game rules seem reasonable, okay, and not such a big deal? I mean, I imagine there is a certainly level of outrage, but in 2015 anything short of a puppy making a human-like face or mannerism generates some level of outrage.

In a sea of sports featuring constant movement to entertain the idle mind, baseball demands a bit more of its spectator (and it gives them a bit more back in return). But, by targeting parts of the game that aren’t (for the most part) the game, MLB is leaving more of the average fans attention span open for the game. So your bathroom break or beer run might be a bit rushed, but the game should still be the game.

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Spring Training Question 4: Can Tanner Roark Fit In the Starting Rotation?

@aNatsFan gets Roark on the mound.

@aNatsFan gets Roark on the mound.

So you may have heard in December that the Nationals have the best starting pitching rotation in baseball, or darn close to it. You may have heard more recently that the Nationals made that rotation even better with the addition of free agent Max Scherzer.

The rotation was already stacked. Ranked by fWAR across both leagues, The Nats featured Jordan Zimmermann (#10) and Stephen Strasburg (#13), two top 20 pitchers overall. Gio Gonzalez didn’t pitch enough innings to be a qualified starter (thanks shoulder issues), but still posted a 3.1 fWAR and would have slotted him around 30th overall. Doug Fister was technically the worst of the bunch, at 54th overall and a 1.3 fWAR, but I don’t think you’d find a Nats fan who’d complain about him (or wouldn’t agree that fWAR may be cheating him a bit based on how its calculated).  The rotation, as a whole, finished first overall in fWAR – and then they added the 7th best pitcher by fWAR to that.

A pitching rotation we thought was the the X-men turned out to be the Justice League, and now it is a Justice League with three Supermen (probably from alternate timelines), a Batman and a Wonder Woman (and you’re a damn fool if you’re snickering at Wonder Woman. She’s awesome).

And then there is Green Arrow, personified in this case as Tanner Roark. Resourceful, not super powered, but still one of the better Justice League alum: We all remember the time that the Arrow saved all his super powered bretheren (yeah, yeah, yeah: Batman doesn’t have super powers: But anyone who can go toe to toe with Superman and win counts). But is there room for Arrow on a Justice League of heavy weights like-

Sorry, I totally got side tracked. Point being: One of the questions that will resolve in spring training is whether there is room for 3+ WAR pitcher on a rotation of Ubermenches? The deck is stacked way against him, but let’s go through the possibilities anyway.

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Get To Know Some Nats: Outfielders

Every year, we put together player profiles for the Nationals players likely to make the 25 man roster. This way you’ll have a better idea of just who is taking the field. Except for a few notable exceptions, the Washington Nationals of 2015 will be the same team you’ve been watching for a few years. So we’re going to forego lengthy profiles of stuff you already know, and focus on capsules for a few players at a time. A quicker, more forward focused view for the savvy fan.

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Left Fielder Jayson Werth.

2014 Nats 101 Profile | Fangraphs |

Preview: Nationals fans have watched Jayson Werth morph into the third act of his career with a certain amount of grace and panache. He might not be  a 25 HR threat anymore, but he might still be a 20 HR threat: and he’s managed to keep getting on base at nearly a .400 OBP clip. Fewer strikeouts, more walks: Anyone who watches Werth knows his signature at the plate is patience now. Maybe a bit too much patience for those wishing the game would speed up a bit- but alas, the bearded one does what he will.

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Nats Spring Training Question #5: Is the 25 Man Roster Already Set?

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As far as I can figure, the 2015 Nationals will head into Spring Training with at least 23 of their 25 slots filled and ready to go. A luxury to be sure, and not one that will repeat itself anytime soon. Over the next few seasons, at least a handful of free agents will be leaving each year, many from key positions. For example, the 2016 Nationals could be starting the season without Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Denard Span: And that’s just me thinking of starters off the top of my head. Each year after next, similar names may be on the way out the door, each requiring a spring training for new players to become acquainted with the team, young players trying to play their way on, and a parade of healthy competition for starting spots.
But the future is the future, and today is today: And today, the Nats won’t have to think too hard about a lot of the spots on the team. Each MLB club is allotted a 25 man roster to play day-to-day with, and an expanded 40 man roster where the additional 15 players are in the minor leagues, but available for call up at a moment’s notice.
Seriously, I just went through the roster and I’m not sure there is anywhere for anyone to break into the top 25. There, legitimately, may be no camp battles in 2015. So let’s count them up.

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Nats101’s 2015 Nationals Season Preview: Overture

 

Nationals Logo

Pitchers and catchers report to Nationals spring training in a little over a week, the 2015 regular season starts in just under two months, but Nationals fans are still eight months away from the only results that matter in evaluating the 2015 season.

Every year is the year you’re supposed to compete for a championship, but for the 2015 Washington Nationals that sentiment is more than chest-beating hyperbole. It is a fact. Since the end of the 2011 season, when the Nationals surprised baseball with a second half surge and finished only one game under .500, the Nationals have been playing a game of increasing expectations that will have finally caught up with them in 2015.

The 2012 season was a surprise, a maybe wild card team ended up with the most wins in baseball. An early exit in the playoffs could be excused as a bit of inexperience and bad luck. The 2013 season was a season of regression, injuries, and underperforming bench players. But they were still a winning team. Even the most disappointed fan could see the core of the 2012 Nats were still good players.

Despite the disappointing end to the 2014 season, the silver lining may be that the 2012 season wasn’t a fluke. The Nationals are a properly good team. An excellent team, really. Deep at nearly every position on the field, young talent on the rise, established veterans with defined skill sets. They weren’t a bad team: Cold bats, questionable bullpen managing, and running into the Giants in an even year added up to another quick exit for the team with the best record in the National League.

However you characterize the last few seasons and their ultimate demise, 2015 will be different for one very important reasons: There will be no excuses for this team if they don’t have a successful October. Not injury, not bad luck, not small sample size. Not young players that need to mature, or old players that are regressing, or if the pitchers pitch like aces or are still learning:

Nothing.

I would say that the Nats first job is to make the playoffs, but at this point that needs to be a foregone conclusion. They are light years better than the bottom half of the NL East, and much better than the two teams that might compete for a Wild Card. The only point of the 2015 season between now and October is to get to October and win it.

I hate putting it like that. I’m a big fan of the regular season, and the day to day how did a guy do, who’s the new guy, what are we all going to dress up as at the park today: I am.   Lose today? Get ‘em tomorrow.

But 2015 isn’t like that. Players contracts are expiring. The team’s make up of personnel is at an all time high. They are better than nearly every other team that will take the field with them, and on par with the few that they aren’t. They are better than, or on par, with any other team that has won the World Series in the last five years. There is no talent gap that explains why the Nats can’t win it all.

They either will, or they won’t, and we won’t know until they do or they don’t. You thought other years were stressful?…

In the coming weeks we’ll be doing a variation on our usual spring training preview. You know most of the Nats, so our “Get to Know a Nat” series will be abbreviated so that you don’t spend a lot of time reading stuff you already know. We’ll also be posing questions for spring training and the regular season: Questions that will get at the few loose ends in and around the 2015 season that the Nats have.

But that’s just what they are: Loose ends. Whether the Nats keep Jordan Zimmermann all year or not, whether they find a second basement or not, whether Max Scherzer is the Opening Day starter or not: These are just jigsaw puzzles on a snowy day. A series of deck chairs to be rearranged on what will either be the Love Boat or the Titanic.

The wait is almost over. The wait is just beginning. Welcome back, Natstown.

PODCAST: Nats101 x Nats-On-The-Go w/Joe Drugan!

Frank sits down with Joe Drugan (@TheNatsBlogJoe) former Editor in Chief of The Nats Blog to do an off season podcast. We start with the the Nats disppointing playoff run, move to the relatively quiet offseason, and discuss the finer points of Christmas trees while we are at it. Zimmerman at first, Desmond contract, A bold prediction by Joe for 2B this year, and much, MUCH, more. Tune in! (PS. Halfway through we had some audio difficulty I remedied. You’ll hear  tone when I switch over).