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After a tough outing

So what's up with Jason Bergmann? That's the real question that last night's game left behind. In matters like this, Randy St. Claire is often the man to go to -- pitching's equivalent of a Magliozzi brother from Car Talk. That said, the rest of this blog entry belongs to the Nats pitching coach.


Q: What are you seeing from Jason right now?

Well, he's making too many mistakes, falling behind hitters. Walking guys. Mechanically, his front side, he's flying open; his head is pulling out. He's on the side of his ball. He's losing a lot of balls that are flying off like this, running on him. He's trying to go in on a lefty, the ball runs over the plate on him. He's trying to go down and away from righties, the ball is shooting back over. He's just struggling with his command. He's not executing pitches when he's out there.

Q: I know in the past you've attributed that to the fact that he's trying to hard.

Yeah. He can't stop that inning from escalating, and he goes harder and harder and he wants to get better. And you can see it in his face out there: He's getting mad, you can see the frustration in his face. And that takes you out of your game. When you start getting mad, you want to go harder, you want to do better, you want to stop it right here. And it's got the totally opposite effect. This game, you go harder and harder, it's like a guy going up to the plate and swinging as hard as he can. His head flies open, he pulls off the ball: He swings and misses. And then when you throw a ball nice and easy, it just jumps right out of your hand. He's putting a lot of pressure on himself trying to do more than he's capable of. You know, you're only capable of doing so much.

Q: You think it's one of those cycles where the more bad starts he strings together, the more desperate he is to break out of it?

Well, yeah. Sometimes it is. But you know, this isn't his first time in the big leagues. He should be able to slow the game down and make that adjustment. He needs to. You have to be able to stop those innings from turning into seven runs. They're just hard to come back from. And I mean that: That's the biggest key, being able to stop it. Everybody is going to have a bad inning where you let up two, three runs. But all of a sudden they stop it and away they go and they end up going six innings, seven or eight innings, and they keep their team in the game and give us a chance to win.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 6, 2008; 9:15 AM ET
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Next: Bergmann to bullpen


Bergman may or may not have the mental toughness needed, but as a comparison, here's what some guys on contending teams did yesterday...

Lilly,13-9, lasted 2 innings, 5 runs against the Reds.
Lieber lasted 2 more, 4 runs.
Haren, 14-8, lasted 4, 5 runs against LA.
Pettitte gave up 3 early against Seattle and lost.
Sonnanstine lasted 6, but gave up 4 early and lost.

And these guys have bats backing them up.

Posted by: cat daddy | September 6, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Yeah. I say just let him pitch. We know he has the talent when he is on. Make him the #5 starter. If he goes anywhere else, you know he'll find himself and end up a 15- 20 game winner.

Posted by: Ed | September 6, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Too bad other pitchers in completely different games have nothing to do with Beachball Bergmann's performance. How well or unwell they did does not excuse Bergmann at all.

St. Claire summed it up nicely. We know this guy has the tools, but sadly, he doesn't seem to have the stones and the mental capacity for the Majors.

After four years of inconsistency and every excuse under the sun (majority from the fans, not Bergmann himself thankfully) it's really time to see what new blood can do in that rotation spot.

Posted by: NatsNQ | September 6, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

The young guns coming to the Nats thru recent drafts will spell doom for Bergy. He surely knows this and just can't handle to pressure of it. Likely, a change of scenery may be what kick starts his career. We've all seen it happen before.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | September 6, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Stellar writing by Barry Svrluga on the Redskins again this morning. What a shame he left the Nationals beat, but I can't wait to see what he does with his first long Sunday analysis piece in tomorrow's paper.

Posted by: did you see it? | September 6, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I second NatsNQ comment about Bergmann. He showed some promise last year, rebounding after a horrible start to put up decent numbers (6-6, 4.45era and a 1.22whip in 21 starts). But this year has been a debacle.

I've already written him off as a AAA starter at best for 2009, getting cut in spring training after not making the rotation. I can see a rotation like this next year (assuming no FA pickups):

Redding, Lannan, Balester, JZimmerman, Mock

with a AAA rotation like this: MEstrada, Martis, Clippard, Brownlie and VanAllen.

Organization loses patience with Hill and cuts him ala Patterson. O'Connor might be a 6-yr FA by now. Bergmann maybe gets converted to be a setup or closer (like what we did with Hanrahan). We picked up the wrong #5 veteran starter in OPerez in 2008 and don't resign him (should have gotten Lohse, but who knew at the time).

Meanwhile, Detwiler continues to burn a hole on the 40-man roster. Who could have predicted this season from him. I did some research and the organization promoted no less than SIX starters to AA and beyond over the starlet Detwiler. Basically the whole AA rotation was in A ball to begin the season but performed well. It bodes well for the future but not for Ross.

Posted by: Sec131 | September 6, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Reposting my comment from yesterday (because it seems apropos of Sec 131's comment):

Rotation for 2011: Hill, Balester, Lannan, (Jordan) Zimmerman, Strasburg. Of course, Martis or Van Allen could fit in there somewhere...I'm not holding my breath on Detwiler. I am holding it for Starsburg. Nights like [last night] fill me with hope (hope that we can hold on to the 1st pick), which beats oxygen.

Maybe I'm puttin' on the rose-colors, but I think Hill can get it back....

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 6, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Don't give up on my boy just yet:


The Nationals got a strong start from former first-round pick Ross Detwiler (1-0), who allowed two hits and five walks over 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.

It was the third time this season that Detwiler notched a victory in a clinching game. He was on the mound when Potomac secured the Northern Division first- and second-half titles.

"There's something about Ross in big games, and this was a big game," Knorr said. "He stepped it up, he was focused and did a super job."

Posted by: Ross Detwiler's mom | September 6, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'd enjoy agreeing with "didyouseeit," who said, "Stellar writing by Barry Svrluga on the Redskins again this morning." But the 75-cent (that's right) edition over here on the Eastern Shore doesn't have it.

It would be nice to have both Barry and Chico on the Nationals beat, to offset in part the Jason twins, Les Carpenter and the cast of thousands who cover the has-beens. Anybody notice on the old Hall of Fame wall on RFK that it's been 15 years since one of those folks played football in Washington?

Ah for the days of Sonny, Billy and Joe Theismann.

It's going to take a few years, but the future of sports in Washington is at 1500 South Capitol. Hope I'm around to see it.

Posted by: 70-year-old Curmudgeon | September 6, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Pretty sure Bergmann simply needs to start breathing through his eyelids like Fernando Valenzuela.

Posted by: Carl Williams | September 6, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

What's up with Bergman? He's not a Major League pitcher.

Posted by: Am I the only one that doesn't like Nats Park? | September 6, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Looking at his game log, he's had several quality starts, pitched great against some good teams, and badly against ATL and SF.
So yeah, it's mental, but maybe it wouldn't be quite so mental if the team showed up more often when he pitched.

Posted by: cat daddy | September 6, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm with PussPops here--and you might consider how well Lohse would have done in place of Odalis, while we're at it, under the prevailing circumstances.

So yeah, it's mental, but maybe it wouldn't be quite so mental if the team showed up more often when he pitched.

Posted by: cat daddy | September 6, 2008 1:23 PM

Posted by: CE | September 6, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm with PussPops here--and you might consider how well Lohse would have done in place of Odalis, while we're at it, under the prevailing circumstances.

Lohse adjusted ERA 4.25
Odalis adjusted ERA 4.29

Is that worth 3.1 million?

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | September 6, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

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