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A Semi-Historic 115th Pitch

In the Nats' otherwise nondescript loss Sunday, something unusual happened. Something borderline-unprecedented. Something (use your best monster truck voice here) with screeching, edge-of-your-seat excitement; a non-stop THRILL-ride; an unfor-GETTABLE display of horsepower and toughness.

That, or maybe I've just forgotten what high-quality athletic competition looks like.

Anyway, here's what happened:

For the first time in Washington Nationals history, a rookie pitcher threw at least 115 pitches in a game.

Garrett Mock, going seven quasi-strong innings, finished his final frame by striking out David Wright with a 91 mph fastball -- his 115th pitch of the afternoon. Mock went more than six innings for the first time in his career. And yes, Jim Riggleman noted that, were this a meaningful/close game, Mock probably would have been pulled much earlier, because he'd allowed four runs through three. But as Riggleman explained, the manager wanted to stretch Mock -- and even test him a bit.

"He's got to show himself he can go deep in a ballgame," Riggleman said. "He's been going five and six and five-and-two-thirds. We want him to be a horse out there and battle through the tough situations."

In terms of pitches thrown, no team in baseball this year has gotten less from its starters (and this is partly by design) than the Nationals. Entering Sunday, Nats starters averaged 90.6 pitches per game -- lowest in baseball. Though no team's starters average 100 or more pitches per game, three NL teams (Arizona, Cincinnati and Philadelphia) average 98 or more. For the Nats, Mock's start marked just the 40th time this year a starter threw 100 or more pitches. And just the fourth time this year a starter threw at least 115 or more. (For perspective, across baseball, 291 separate times a starter has thrown at least 115 pitches in a game this year.)

There are probably just two points to be made here.

1. The low pitch counts are half-based on philosophy. Washington has a fleet of young pitchers, and in the last decade, young pitchers are protected like chinaware. Unless they play for the Texas Rangers.

2. The low pitch counts are half-based on performance. Starters go deep when they pitch well. Washington's starters have the second-poorest ERA (5.04) in the NL.

What's interesting to note is that the two men responsible for guiding Washington's pitchers -- Riggleman and coach Steve McCatty -- have both helped guide (often for the wrong reasons) the modern-day thinking about pitch count limitations. As a young hurler in the early-1980s with the Oakland A's, McCatty was part of a rotation that survived almost entirely without support of a bullpen. On Aug. 10, 1980, for instance, McCatty threw a 14-inning complete game. In the shortened season of 1981, manager Billy Martin's bullpen-loathing hit a new high. Starters went the distance 60 times in 109 games. By no coincidence, almost every one of Oakland's young starters, McCatty included, ended up with arm problems.

"The game has obviously changed," McCatty said. "You've got to watch young guys. They can't get too many innings. You can't let their pitch counts get out of hand. Back then we threw all the time, and nobody was monitoring."

Riggleman, meantime, was managing the Cubs in 1998, when Kerry Wood burst onto the scene. Wood, in 1998, threw at least 115 pitches in 13 of his starts. Once, he threw 133 pitches. Once, he threw 128.

Asked whether his philosophy on pitch counts has changed since then, Riggleman acknowledged a more conservative approach.

"With the Livan Hernandez-types you're not really looking at that pitch count much," Riggleman said. "But with the Lannans and Stammens and Mocks, we're gonna watch it. But we hope to get to the point where we don't have to be limited to 110 pitches and be scared they're not going to respond in the next outing."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 21, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
 
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Next: More On Elijah Dukes

Comments

I don't have any problem with most pitchers making high pitch counts. I do have problems with watching Garrett Mock make high pitch counts. To paraphrase Rizzo on watching D-Cab: "I just got tired watching him."
Mock is not a major league pitcher. He's dumb, never learns from his mistakes, make awful pitch selections and is just another 51 I.Q. guy from Texas. Please, let him be some other team's worry in the offseason.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 21, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

As I recall, Shairon Martis only threw 106 pitches, not 115, but he was stopped by the game being over.

Posted by: Traveler8 | September 21, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

SBCITPFM - Wow, that is harsh. Mock is one of those guys that is a "maybe". This starting rotation is built on a lot of "maybes" and 2 to 3 "maybes" will be in the starting rotation in April 2010.

There is always the theory of pitchers that can develop into a top of the line starters.

Proof is with a Zack Greinke and others. In 2005, Greinke was the worst pitcher in MLB in losses going 5-17. This year for the Royals he is an All Star and a bona fide Cy Young candidate.

On a team without consistent run support and questionable fielding, the Wins & Losses don't tell the whole story. I am also looking at ERA & WHIP too.

Craig Stammen is the leader in WHIP followed by Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and JD Martin. ERA Leaders are Lannan, JD Martin, Jordan Zimmerman and then Stammen.

With JZim out for the forseeable future, the 5 man rotation for 2010 based on 2009 has to include John Lannan and JD Martin. Craig Stammen with the elbow issue has to be evaluated in Spring Training. Since Craig may have had this issue for a while, you possibly could see a better pitcher.

Now for the next starter in ERA and WHIP after Lannan, Martin, JZim, and Stammen, how's about Shairon Martis. The forgotten man. Started off well. Had some issues. Never seen again. What's up with that? Hopefully Shairon can compete again in Spring Training 2010 to really get the best "maybes" into this rotation.

I am still expecting a trade and/or a Free Agent signing to get a #2 or #3 starter.


Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 21, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the reason Interim Jim perceived the team's performance as flat yesterday was because of the way he managed the game. In the top of the fifth, with two out and runners on first and third in a game where they were behind 4-0, Riggleman let Mock bat instead of sending up a pinch hitter to try and get those baserunners in. At that point it became apparent that Riggleman's objective was not to win the game but rather to continue the inflation of Mock's pitch count. I guess Dunn, Zimmerman et al must have preferred that they go for a win there rather than prop up the ego of a starting pitcher who had failed to step up earlier, causing them to fall behind in the first place. Shame on Dunn and Zimmerman for not leading the cheers for each additional pitch Mock threw.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 21, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Re Showalter: "According to interviews with Buck, he has said it was around this time he was given the nickname "Buck," as he tended to hang out in the locker room "Buck" naked."

Robert Fick for bench coach? Randy "You gotta put a towel on" Johnson for pitching coach?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 21, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I think it would have to be Lincecum rather than Johnson, as he (or his alter-ego) was the birthday suit boy in the commercial.

On a somewhat related note, as back-up back-up catcher and utility guy, will Orr also need to step up to the plate on the [RF] and streaking fronts?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

@GGG -- At this point, I'd throw in Detwiler in the "maybe" camp. He started the year well in AA then got called up (way too quickly) to DC. He had a couple good starts, but mostly he'd go 3 or 4 innings before the other teams would start to pound him.

When he got sent to AAA, I didn't expect him to rebound, but he did. He pitched really well while he was down there (as opposed to Martis who just didn't have it while in Syracuse).

I'd like for the Nats to give Detwiler and Martin a shot in ST next year. As for Mock, eh, I wouldn't be heartbroken if he were on another team nor would I break a blood vessel if he stayed here. But I do agree that they need to pick up at least 2 FA starters (or make a trade for one).

Posted by: erocks33 | September 21, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

BTW ... I hadn't watched a single Nats Pre-Game show on MASN this year until Saturday. Apparently this month they've been doing something called 20 players in 20 days where they give some inside look to some of the Nats players.

Well on Saturday it was Jordan Zimmermann's turn. These things are mostly fluff pieces and not much new info is gathered, but one thing that galled me while watching this was that throught the entire piece, MASN had a graphic in the lower left of the screen with the player's name ... and it was mis-spelled! The whole piece was on Jordan Zimmermann and they created this graphic in which they spelled it Zimmerman.

I mean, I get it when other outlets make fun of the Nationals, but does the one broadcaster that dares show the Nats have to go and screw up one of their top players name? I work in television and there is no excuse for mis-spelling a person's name, especially if you've had as much time to prepare for this segment as they obviously had.

I am so sick of MASN and the imbeciles that work there.

Posted by: erocks33 | September 21, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"I mean, I get it when other outlets make fun of the Nationals, but does the one broadcaster that dares show the Nats have to go and screw up one of their top players name?"

MASN doesn't "dare to show the Nats." They're an Orioles station that has to air Nats games under the terms of their contract. Sort of like a convicted felon ordered by the court to perform community service, they're only doing it because they have to. And it shows.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 21, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, I finally got my answer to this question posted in August:

I think the last team that tried to harken back to the days of yore were the early 1980's Oakland A's, where they made a concerted effort to have their pitchers throw complete games. Here are the results (complete games at age X/age career effectively over):

Langford (28 CG's at 28, done at 31)
McCatty (16 at 27, done at 31)
Norris (24 at 25, done at 28)
Keough (20 at 24, done at 27)

It would be interesting to get McCatty's take on this.

Posted by: slewis1 | August 11, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: slewis1 | September 21, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Riggleman's performance is like 90% of the Nats' roster: a cypher. Why would he do deliberately dumb things over and over?"

Maybe he's just dumb. Dumb as in stupid, not dumb as in mute like Acta.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 21, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

For perspective, how many total games are there (total, and played so far) in an MLB regular season?

Posted by: ihatewalks | September 21, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

IHW: 162 total (without spring training and exhibition games); the Nats have played 149 to date.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Add 35 to both totals if you're including this year's ST and exhibition games.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I was away and don't know whether this piece came up at the time, but IMO it's an interesting take on Riggleman's comments about player fatigue:

http://tinyurl.com/n95ezz

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Biggest questions in modern baseball? Is there more arm trouble now, or does it just seem that way? And if there are more troubles these days, is it becaues the pitchers pitch too much early and wear out their arms, or don't pitch enough early and don't strengthen their arms? The former pitchers in the booth seem to run to the first one, cause when they were coming up they pitched both games of a double header and went home to plow the fields, while the managers and pitching coaches lean to the second. If someone could figure out an answer, they could make a lot of money.

Posted by: markfromark | September 21, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting when you look at the playoff teams and their starter's ERA's and WHIPs and Lannan would be a 4th or 5th starter on most of the teams and a 5th starter on Phillies.

Winning teams have good balance between pitching and position players but they all have an Ace to depend on. A true Ace. To debate a 5th starter for the Nats out of guys with over 5.00 ERAs is almost comical which tells you that this team needs a front line starter and plan for a 70+ winning season in 2010 and a winning season in 2011 when you will have Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann back.

This team needs to spend their off season money on STARTING PITCHING, then bullpen, then catcher unless you can steal a middle infielder.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 21, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I can see the pitch count as a legitimate rationale. What gets me is the idea that if a reliever pitches an inning one night, he needs rest the next night. I mean, really, c'mon now.

Posted by: AsstGM | September 21, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the point above, that we need a real #1 or #2 type pitcher. Hopefully, the D-backs cut Webb loose and Rizzo can reel him in. But other guys like Bedard or Garland or Sheets would be good as well - and we need at least 2. Maybe take a flier on Penny or Capuano. And I'd bring Livo back as the fifth starter until one of the young guys can beat him out. So we sign two guys better than Lannan plus Livo and Olsen in with the rookies for the last two spots. There are rumors that Florida may want to deal Josh Johnson - if they do, we should do whatever it takes to bring him in short of trading FoF. He would be that legit #1 (like Webb could be) and someone to take the pressure of SS when he comes up. While appreciate Martin and Detwiler, they should have to beat somebody out for a spot instead of having one given to them.

Posted by: sec307 | September 21, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

It's a relief that the conventional wisdom, even from the front office, is that the Nats need to sign one or even two FA pitchers. That's a far cry from this year, when they were content to go with youngsters and unproven "vets" (Olsen and Cabrerra). I hope this is the last year that for a significant part of the season our starting rotation consists of a 2nd year player and four rookies. That's a recipe for disaster as we have seen. I'm hopeful that Rizzo's magic will yield a much improved starting rotation next year. It certainly seems like there are some decent prospects out there.

Posted by: Section222 | September 21, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Biggest questions in modern baseball? Is there more arm trouble now, or does it just seem that way? And if there are more troubles these days, is it becaues the pitchers pitch too much early and wear out their arms, or don't pitch enough early and don't strengthen their arms? The former pitchers in the booth seem to run to the first one, cause when they were coming up they pitched both games of a double header and went home to plow the fields, while the managers and pitching coaches lean to the second. If someone could figure out an answer, they could make a lot of money.

Posted by: markfromark

Throw less breaking balls. That'll eliminate most of the elbow problems. It's not a big mystery, especially when the college coaches have their pitchers throw sliders until their arms fall off because they want to win. I work with a guy who used to pitch for UMBC, and they used to demand he throw his best pitch - his slider all the time, and he finally quit because, in his words, he wanted to be able to use the arm later on in life. People have to realize that most pitchers, on the way up, are playing for coaches who don't have much expertise in pitching, or simply want to win without regard to the player.

Posted by: Brue | September 21, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

If college coaches are the problem then that would be a strong arguement for drafting high school arms so that you control their development, not half-brains.

After what Texas did to their guy, I'm starting to come around. College guys are nice because they are closer to the bigs, but to be able to control a guy from day 1 would be nice too.

Posted by: sec307 | September 21, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Guess we'll have to wait for my man JD Martin to come around for this team to win again? :) Looks like he isn't going to be supplanted in the rotation after all.

Hope he gets together with Livan and McCatty and learns 1 or 2 pitches in the offseason.

Dukes is playing winter ball as well. Sure seems like he seriously wants to play right field for the team?

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Mock actually pitched well Sunday. It was his fielding that stunk. If he handles those two balls hit back at him properly, he may not have given up any runs. Certainly, his bad throw to second on what should have been a double play cost him three runs.

He needs to throw an off-speed pitch more often. He stuff is good enough otherwise.

Posted by: nats24 | September 21, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree, periculum, that Dukes seems somewhat reborn the last 4-6 weeks. Maybe he has some more legal fees to cover. Or maybe Interim Jim has rammed some sense into his head. As for the 2010 rotation, here's how I see it:

1. Starter to be acquired via FA
2. Livo
3. Lannan
4. Martin
5. Martis/Stamman/Detwiler ST intramural winner.

I do not see Mock/Bally Star/SS being part of the rotation in 2010, although SS obviously could be a factor depending on his development.

As for the bullpen, give MacDougal and Burnett five minutes notice ... and blow up the rest. Especially Burgy. If there is one guy I'm tired of watching groove 87 mph high sliders, it's Jason "That one is long gone" Bergmann. He's Logan Kensing, but without the talent.

Actually, I only see about 12 or 13 Nats off this club making it to 2010:

3 - Dunn
4 - Gooz (if there are no takers)
6 - Desmond
5 - Zim
7 - Hammer
8 - Nyjer
9 - Dukes

All the catchers can hit the road except Kid Flores.

Throw in Lannan, Livo, Martin, MacD, Burnett from the pitchers. Everybody else is dogmeat.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 21, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Now who thinks we should get Orlando Hudson in the FA market next year? Remember, Belliard will be there as well?

_________________________________________________

Orlando Hudson may have lost his job as the Dodgers' starting second baseman to Ronnie Belliard.

According to the LA Times manager Joe Torre has been non-committal as to his second baseman, leaving him room to use the recently acquired Belliard over the Gold Glove-winning Hudson.

"I'm taking advantage right now with Ronnie swinging the bat the way he is to use him, and then decide what choices we're going to have going forward," Torre said.

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Darn that evil, ugly good luck troll of a gargoyle Belliard!?

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman vs. Torre SMACKDOWN challenge: who would you play?

Ian Desmond
GMs AB Runs Hits DBLS Triples
8 32 4 12 5 0
HRs RBI TB BB SO SB
1 5 20 2 5 0
CS OBP SLG AVG
0 .412 .625 .375

Ronnie Belliard (Torre's choice over Hudson)
GMS AB Runs Hits DBL TRIP
18 56 6 17 4 0
HRs RBI TB BB SO SB
4 14 33 3 13 1
CS OBP SLG AVG
0 .339 .589 .304

Pete Orr (Riggleman's choice over Desmond)
GMS AB Runs Hits DBL TRIP
18 49 3 15 2 1
HR RBI TB BB SO SB
1 8 22 2 9 1
CS OBP SLG AVG
0 .321 .449 .306

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Hudson lose his job to Belliard? That suggests we actually had one less hole to fill than we thought. Good for him. I always enjoyed watching him -- he was creative and exciting, compensating for his lack of range. I remember a game where he played shortstop, which was not really a good idea, but it was interesting watching him use positioning and aggressive charging of the ball to compensate for his limitations.

Posted by: markfromark | September 21, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I remember a Sylvia cartoon (Nicole Hollander) showing the devil, clearly exasperated with a man (middle-aged, middle-class guy in a plain suit) who's asking for a house, white picket fence, maybe a 2-car garage... "But I'm offering you *unlimited world domination*!!!" -- captioned something like "Satan tempting a man who thinks small."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 21, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

sofa, you crack me up!

Posted by: NatsNut | September 21, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Atta boy, Belli!

One thing that I miss, while watching his at-bats on the telly, I used to like to sing his name to this tune, which I heard at many a fest in Germany and Austria back in the day:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtEGjFrnoLs

Belli Belli Belli-ard.

Didn't realize until just now that the song was about a singing donkey. I'm not sure just what to make of that. Maybe I should transfer it to Adam Dunn? Yes, I'm pretty easily amused.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

@GGG, sec307: You struck on the point first in this thread - Rizzo needs to get a real #1SP on-board in the off-season, either via FA or trade. The team could have benefitted from one in 2009, but really needs one for 2010.

Preferably someone under 35, capable of 30 starts / 200+IP, with a good K-W ratio (3:1+), and a WHIP around 1.50. A two-year contract to such a pitcher (either in-place or negotiated) could hold the fort until Strasburg can step into the mix full-time, IMO.

With a possible re-sign of Livan (1-year w/option, driven by incentives), the team could have...
2010 Starting rotation:
1- pitcher X
2- Lannan
3- Livan
4- Stammen, Olsen, Mock
5- Martin, Martis, Balester, Detwiler
2011 Starting rotation:
1- pitcher X
2- Strasburg
3- Lannan
4- J.Zimmermann
5- Stammen, Mock, Martin, Balester; Arnesen, Mandel, Myers, Thompson, Milone, Atwood, etc.

Posted by: BinM | September 21, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

@Brue: Depending on arm-slot, a slider should put less strain on the elbow / shoulder than a curve. From a 12-6 slot, there is huge stress on any breaking ball except a sinker, as the fingers / wrist / elbow / shoulder are all counteracting the body's motion forward & down.

IMO, if more starting pitchers threw from a 10-8 slot, there would be far fewer elbow / shoulder injuries than we have seen recently. If you go back & look at some of the historically great pitchers, (W.Johnson, C.Young, etc.), they all came from a 10-8 or even a 9-7 arm slot. When writers like Povich talked about a pitcher "slinging the ball to the plate", he wasn't kidding.

Posted by: BinM | September 21, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

CHarlan: Really nice piece on Dukes - It makes me as a reader, start to understand that even Elijah sees his split personality, and is finally starting to open up about it, if only from the sports side. Good job.

Posted by: BinM | September 21, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

@BinM,

The pitchers that best fit yours and perhaps? the National's scenario would be Piniero and Lackey? I guess Wolf is no longer available? but he seemed to be a good left-handed replacement for Livan?

Piniero and Lackey are both right-handers. And given the list of FA starters very few would be interested in the Nationals? Erik Bedard and Cliff Lee are also possibilities I suppose. Again, who would come to the Nationals?

I suspect it will mean that Rizzo will have to make some judicious trades?

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

I think they ought to talk to Cory Kasto about the catching position? He did a better job in Syracuse than Orr, is one of their draft picks and probably deserves it more.

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Free Agent Pitchers Sorted By 2009 Season Wins Above Replacement (WAR):

Joel Pineiro: 4.2
Jason Marquis: 3.2
John Lackey: 2.6
Andy Pettitte: 2.6
Kevin Milwood: 2.4
Jose Contreras: 2.4
Randy Wolf: 2.3
Carl Pavano: 2.3
Jarrod Washburn: 2.2
Tim Wakefield: 2.1
Erik Bedard: 1.9
Brad Penny: 1.9
Doug Davis: 1.7
Jon Garland: 1.6
Rich Harden: 1.4
Vincente Padilla: 1.3


Free Agent Pitchers Sorted By Three-Year WAR (combined):

Andy Pettite: 11.5
John Lackey: 10.2
Kevin Milwood: 9.5
Erik Bedard: 8.4
Jon Garland: 7.2
Jose Contreras: 7.2
Tim Wakefield: 6.8
Jason Marquis: 6.7
Doug Davis: 6.4
Rich Harden: 6.3
Brad Penny: 6.3
Randy Wolf: 6.0
Joel Pineiro: 5.7
Vicente Padilla: 3.9
Jarrod Washburn: 5.3
Carl Pavano: 2.5

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Free Agent Pitchers Sorted By ERA+ (league average is 100):

Erik Bedard: 153
Jarrod Washburn: 137
Joel Pineiro: 133
Kevin Millwood: 129
Jason Marquis: 127
Randy Wolf: 122
Doug Davis: 121
John Lackey: 114
Tim Wakefield: 110
Rich Harden: 109
Andy Pettitte: 109
Jon Garland: 103
Vicente Padilla: 92
Jose Contreras: 91
Brad Penny: 91
Carl Pavano: 84

Free Agent Pitchers Sorted By Fielding Independent Pitching:

Joel Pineiro: 3.04
Erik Bedard: 3.54
John Lackey: 3.79
Jose Contreras: 3.96
Randy Wolf: 3.98
Jason Marquis: 4.00
Andy Pettitte: 4.12
Tim Wakefield: 4.19
Carl Pavano: 4.26
Rich Harden: 4.46
Kevin Millwood: 4.56
Brad Penny: 4.57
Doug Davis: 4.59
Jon Garland: 4.64
Vicente Padilla: 4.83
Jarrod Washburn: 4.86

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

oh yea, Chico. I love, love, love your story on Dukes. It was a nice unraveling of what seems like some emotional maturity in the guy. He can look back on his former self and recognize the great and the not-so-great.

I don't doubt that he's had his share of flare-ups in the clubhouse since he signed, but I think it's great that for the most part it has stayed out of focus.

In fact, recalling the walk-on-eggshells beginning of his Nats tenure, i like his current mediocrity as a sort of stepping stone for him. Sounds like he's learning a little balance. Measured hunger, I guess. At least that's my impression.

I'm thrilled to learn more about Dukes than the tired old "off-field problems." Nicely done and thanks.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 21, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

With a possible re-sign of Livan (1-year w/option, driven by incentives), the team could have...

2010 Starting rotation:
1- pitcher X: Piniero/Lackey
2- Lannan
3- Livan
4- Stammen, Olsen, Holder
5- Martin, Martis, Balester, Detwiler, Morris

2011 Starting rotation:
1- pitcher X
2- Strasburg
3- Lannan
4- Holder/J.Zimmermann
5- Karns, Stammen, Martin, Balester; Arnesen, Mandel, Myers, Thompson, Milone, Morris, Atwood, etc.

Posted by: periculum | September 21, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Cliff (aka @periculum)

How many pronouncements can you make in one day? Give it a rest. You must think you are the world's leading authority on baseball. All you are accomplishing is to drive people away from this site. We finally outlasted Jaybee, but you don't seem to realize how pompous your pronouncements are getting. GIVE IT A REST.

Posted by: WashOut | September 22, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Holder as a potential #4?!?! Sure he had a nice 1/2 dozen game stretch in A ball, but he needs a lot more time just to see if he can be a AAA roster filler.

The thing is we will have to overpay for the next couple of years to get decent SP in here. Rizzo should and probably will target a pitcher that will help for several years, and give the guy an offer he can't refuse. Also, take a chance on an injury plagued player, thus:
1)Marquis/Piniero/etc.
2)Olsen/Harden? (whoever is healthy)
3)Lannan
4)5) Martis/Detwiler/Martin/Livo/Stammen/Mock/Balester/Chico/Estrada/English/etc.

Posted by: goexpos2 | September 22, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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