Bergmann's hammy, and the arrival of John Lannan?
The prospects, it appears, are on the way. Read on.
Hamstrings are, indeed, delicate muscles when it comes to pitchers. This tightness is in his left hamstring, which is his landing leg. He must have confident that he can get out over his pitches and land on that leg, that he can follow-through. The first sign that he was struggling was the flat 1-0 curveball he threw to Rollins in the third last night. He didn't feel right, and it showed.
We won't know more until after Bergmann goes through some treatment and tests at Citizens Bank Park today. But I think any reasonable guess is that he would miss at least one start, right? That would allow him to pitch maybe 11 days from now.
So say that's true. (Again, only a (reasonable) guess at this point.) Your rotation for a three-day, four-game series against the defending National League East champion New York Mets could be the following: Tim Redding, Billy Traber, Joel Hanrahan and ... John Lannan? Mike O'Connor? Brandon Claussen?
Some updates on those guys:
Hanrahan last threw on Sunday, and he's 5-4 with a 3.70 ERA for Class AAA Columbus. It makes sense that he would start one of the Saturday games. He'd have an extra day's rest, was poised to come to the majors earlier in the season before hurting his hamstring, etc.
Claussen -- not so much. The former Red and one-time New York Yankee prospect is 1-1 with a 6.98 ERA for Columbus as he works his way back from shoulder surgery. Of course, the Nationals already have one guy (Redding) who had a 5-plus ERA in the minors and a sub-3 ERA in the majors, so if they bring up Claussen he'll probably go 2-1 with a 1.59 in his first four starts.
O'Connor: Things aren't going that well for the GW grad at Class AA Harrisburg as he comes back from minor elbow surgery. He allowed seven earned runs in his Monday start against Akron. He's 1-4 with a 5.77 ERA overall, but his ERA is 12.75 his last three times out. The best thing you can say for him: He's pitched at Shea Stadium, and pitched there effectively, before.
Which brings us to the most intriguing possibility, and the one that will say the most about this organization. Are the Nationals conservative and patient or gun-slinging and ambitious? Lannan, you'll recall, began the year at Class A Potomac, and has since sky-rocketed to Columbus. He's 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA for the Clippers, and 12-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) at three minor league levels.
Lannan's next start is scheduled for tomorrow. If he makes that for Columbus (and I'm going to see if there are any schedule changes today), then he won't pitch in the majors over the weekend. He is the true prospect in the group of candidates, and there are several factors involved in calling him up. One, I think we'll see him by the end of the year anyway, and there has to be some evaluation of what potential harm you could do to his psyche/mindset by calling him up for a spot start (if, in fact, that's what it is). Two, there's the entire issue of "starting the clock" - basically, giving the kid service time in the majors and getting him closer to arbitration and, eventually, free agency, over one essentially meaningless game in New York in July.
But if the kid is going to be a candidate to join the rotation next year - and, by all accounts, he is - then they have to take a look at some point. I continue to preach that this year is really more about 2008 and '09, about what the Nationals discover about what they have. Bergmann's injury, in the short view, is about who's going to start this weekend and how long he'll be out. In the long view, it could be about finding out something regarding their future.
My best information from inside the Nationals organization is an interesting decision: They will likely call up Lannan to make Thursday afternoon's start against Philadelphia. It's his turn that day, and it wouldn't disrupt his rhythm. That would bump Mike Bacsik back to Friday, most likely. They'll evaluate Bergmann, and if he's unable to go on Sunday, they'll call up Hanrahan to make a start on Saturday. That would likely leave them with Tim Redding and Hanrahan starting in Saturday's doubleheader, pushing Traber back a day to Sunday. (This update filed at 11:16 a.m.)
OK, on to "Didn't Make the Paper." And let's start with a long Bergmann quote about the injury - suffered when he was sent home by third base coach Tim Tolman from second in the third inning.
"I felt it right away," he said. "But I'm not the kind of person who's going to take himself out of the game unless it's really that bad. I was able to continue running. I slid. I came back in the dugout. It basically felt like a little 'Charley horse.' I wanted to go back out there. Made a little mention of it to the trainers, said, 'Look, this is a little sore.'
"Like I said, continued running. But when I went out there to start pitching, the first two pitches I threw breaking ball, it didn't feel good at all. Schneider came out. I threw a changeup to Rollins right down the middle. It just wasn't easy to land on or really get anything on the ball at all after that. After I walked Utley, I could've been really stupid and really tried to tough it out and Howard could have done some real damage to me, and I said at that point, 'It's time to cut our losses and get out of here.'"
That would be the blow-by-blow. Acta defended, to a degree, Tolman's decision to send Bergmann with two outs. He admitted it wasn't a no-brainer to send him, but is a staunch supporter of his coaching staff.
"Was it the right call to send him?" I asked. "Not necessarily," he said. "But I don't second-guess the people that work with me because these guys do a tremendous job for me. He did wave Kearns the very next [inning], which was a great play, too. So I'd rather look at the positive one."
And, finally, some Tolman stuff that wasn't in the paper. (Had one quote where he admitted his mistake.) Here, he was asked if he had to treat pitchers differently than everyday players on the basepaths.
"I think you have to," Tolman said. "First of all they're not used to being out there. Second of all they're not going to get as good a jump or probably be running all the way through the whole way as a normal position player would. That's no excuse. It was just a poor decision."
Other stuff. Felipe Lopez's left ankle was heavily wrapped with ice afterward because he was hit by a pitch there. He was limping badly at first, but told me that it was just because of the ice directly on it. "For the first two minutes, it's hell," he said. He should be fine. (Didn't get into a discussion about how/why he got picked off, which I'll try to remember today.)
Traber: He's an interesting character, to say the least. Acta said after the game that even though Traber threw 44 pitches in an effective three-inning relief stint, he'd still make his start this weekend. Here's some of that exchange:
Me: "You threw 44 pitches. Are you OK to come back and start on Saturday?"
Traber: "Well, I don't know if I'm starting or relieving."
Me: "Manny told us you'll be starting."
Traber: "How about we let them tell me, first?"
Uh, OK, Billy. Other reporters arrived, and the topic came up again. "Like I said, I haven't been told if I'm starting or relieving. As far as I know, I'm in the pen. Sooner or later, I'll know. I'm pretty sure I'm a bullpen guy."
Uh, Billy. What part of "Manny told us you'll be starting" didn't you understand? So maybe there's an issue there. We'll find out today.
More stuff from the $.35 edition on Ryan Church, which I thought was interesting. Don't look now, but Ryan Zimmerman has hit in 15 of his last 16 games. Though just 1 for 4 last night with a double, I think we're starting to see decent signs from him. He hasn't been above .260 since - gulp - May 8. He's at .259 now. Will he get there this road trip?
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