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For Nationals pitchers, misery loves company

The Nationals have walked 44 batters in eight games, a figure Manager Jim Riggleman said is "not acceptable." It is also not contained. Almost the entire Nationals staff has been prone to free passes. Tyler Walker hasn't walked anyone, Jesse English has walked one in five innings and Craig Stammen has one walk in 6 1/3 innings. Every other pitcher is culpable.

There seems to be a cumulative effect among the Nationals staff, that one pitcher starts a mess and it only snowballs from there, inning to inning and day to day. More likely, that's just a series of bad individual performances, not one bad collective performance.

"I don't think how I pitch affects how Jason [Marquis] pitchers or how John [Lannan] pitches or how Garrett [Mock] pitched or how [Scott] Olsen's going to pitch," Stammen said. "I didn't get it done today. I didn't do my job. It's on me. It's not on anybody else."

Said Riggleman: "Each guy goes in there as his own individual, unique situation he's coming into. And how he feels that night, and the quality of his pitches, has got to take precedence over everything. The domino thing, it does seem like it's happened. But it shouldn't happen."

FROM THE POST
Plenty of strange things led to a familiar result as the Phillies beat the Nats, 14-7. Jason Bergmann said, "It doesn't look like they're very scared of us out there," which is a pretty good way of summing things up.

Also, I'm sort of burying this here, but: Ryan Zimmerman said his pregame drills went well yesterday, but he still has yet to run on his tight left hamstring. As of last night, he had "no clue" if he was going to play today, but he was planning on trying to run on the injury for the first time.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 1, Syracuse 0: Andrew Kown allowed one run in five innings, giving up five hits and no walks while striking out one. Kevin Mench went 3 for 5, and he's hitting .350 this year.

Bowie 1, Harrisburg 0 (12 innings): Aaron Thompson allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four in five scoreless innings. Drew Storen pitched a perfect inning and has yet to allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings. Yunior Novoa allowed one hit and a walk in two scoreless innings. Leonard Davis went 0 for 5, and he's batting .107 this season.

Winston-Salem 13, Potomac 5: Cory VanAllen allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in one inning of relief.

Lakewood 10, Hagerstown 9: Josh Smoker allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings. Destin Hood went 2 for 4 with a walk and also threw out a runner at third from right field. Jeff Kobernus went 2 for 6 and scored three runs. Steven Souza went 2 for 4 with four RBI.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Keith Law thinks the Nationals need to take Bryce Harper, going so far as to say the draft has "no viable alternative."

The Nats bullpen is becoming a problem again.

Nats Insider looks at how widespread the pitching issues have been.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 15, 2010; 8:39 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineups, neither of which includes Ryan Zimmerman

Comments

Over/Under on Storen being called up May 1?

I'll take the under.

Posted by: SpashCity | April 15, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Mike Rizzo likes accountability. How long does Steve McCatty have to fix the pitching staff.

Posted by: Sidebar | April 15, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

This is not McCatty's fault.
We are putting AAA pitchers in against the best offensive lineup in the league.

Bergmann has been doing this throughout his career. It is management's fault for not realize that he will never be the pitcher they wish.

Posted by: Tom8 | April 15, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Not much help coming in AAA and AA as far as position players go. Maybe some possibilities in the low minors, but they may not work out over the long run. 2 years ago Davis and Marrero looked like sure things - not so much now. The minor league system is still way short of talent that can help the club in the near-term (1-2 years). It would be best to consider trading Dunn and Willingham to get some better prospects.

Posted by: bendersx6 | April 15, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Stammen and Walker can't walk anyone... guys are too eager to knock the snot off the ball to walk.

No way Storen arrives. Business decision, right or wrong, keeps him and SS in the minors until the start of June.

Bet Bergie isn't answering his phone today. If they can't find him then he can't be sent down.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 15, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

1) This bullpen isn't good enough to give the Nats 5, 6 or 7 innings of help in one game. The starters have to do a much better job.

2) Silly to blame McCatty, just as it was to blame Randy St. Claire. It's not like these guys were great somewhere else and it's not like any of the pitchers we let go last year are pitching great this year. It's talent.

3) SCNatsFan is right. Storen probably won't be here until June to keep his big league clock from starting. It's a money decision that directly affects the baseball side of things. Sad but true.

4) If they didn't make pitching moves after last night's game, you have to think Rizzo's looking outside the organization for help. Happy hunting, Mike.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 15, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"This bullpen isn't good enough to give the Nats 5, 6 or 7 innings of help in one game."


True, but the starters aren't good enough to give 5, 6, or 7 innings of help either.

Posted by: Section506 | April 15, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Jeff Kobernus is getting it done. I don't know if it has been updated yet, but here are his stats so far acording to baseball America.

2010 Batting Statistics
G 5
AB 22
R 3
H 11
2B 2
RBI 2
SO 3
OBP .500
SLG .591
OPS 1.091

Glad to see that injury is not affecting him.

Who is Andrew Kown he has a 1.2 era in 8 innings with 1 BB and 6 K's. I would get rid of Bergi and Bautista and bring up Olsen and this kid. He might be the next J. English.

Posted by: hansenjo | April 15, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Where'd all the positivity go?

Posted by: markfromark | April 15, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

While I can understand keeping SS down to maintain control of him as being a business decision, I can't agree with using the same rationale with Storen.

1) It seems that he is ready for, at the very least, a trial run. He ripped through the minors last year and seems to have picked up right where he left off.
2) We need effective relievers NOW.
3) As a reliever/future closer, Storen is not going to command the money that SS would as arbitration eligible/free agent. Yes, he will get a nice bump, but look at what the relievers are getting now (3-4 million).

With SS, it's definately good business. With Storen, I call BS (read:cheap) on the Lerners.

Posted by: TimDz | April 15, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I had to post this gem from Tracee's chat today about the only good team in town.

"Napitals": If Bergman came in in relief of Theodore, would he be the first goalie to give up 5 goals on 3 shots?

Tracee: Ouch, but yes.

This eased a bit of the pain from last night.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | April 15, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hansenjo - That's a 22 year old in low A ball. I think Kobernus has potential and liked the pick, and it is better he is doing well than not, but he is older than the league average and coming from a top level college program. I want to see him at Potomac soon, say early June, to start getting wowed by the numbers.

SCNats - the math is different for Storen and Strasburg. Dave's posting absolutely nailed why Strasburg has to be in the minors until late May / early June. Avoiding Super Two status is an $18m decision given Stras's contract.

Storen is much more like Jordan Zimmermann. Recall that the Nats blew off the Super Two extra arbitration issue with him when they put him on the MLB roster and brought him up to pitch on 4/19 last year or so (rain out pushed it to Monday). What was key for him, and maybe for Storen, is that they were inside 172 days left in the year. You need 172 days for a full year major league service. By waiting until about now, they gained an extra year of team control.

The Nats were willing to eat the extra year of arbitration because the stakes were less. Both Storen and JZ (I think) will be MLB minimum for their call up season and the next two, so their first arbitration year would be off of a low base, unlike Strasburg. There is much less money at stake bringing up Storen early than there would be for Stras, and the Nats have shown a willingness to do it when they called up JZ.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 15, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

jca - thanks for the update on Storen. I don't claim to know about the financial ramifications about bringing Storen up early, but if they are minimal then I'll go pick him up myself and drive him to Philly then take Bergie to the bus station.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 15, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

How long will it take Destin Hood to make it from Hagerstown to right field in DC (you'd think an ex-WR would be playing CF, but if he's got a right-field arm, then G-d bless him there)?

Previously, we learned here that Harper is getting some work in centerfield. Does he have that kind of speed, or is he more likely to play left field for the Nats?

Bullpen -- It shouldn't surprise anyone that it stinks. They brought in new pitchers, but look at the numbers those guys put up last year.

Posted by: fischy | April 15, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

When the entire pitching staff is absolutely lost, someone has to start asking fatty McCatty "what the hell is going on?"
I don't know if I should put stock in Dibble, but what he sez on TV seems so right and totally against how the Nats pitchers are approaching the opposition.
Again, someone has to start asking fatty McCatty "what the hell is going on?"

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | April 15, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I have this sneaking suspicion that Jesse English will be optioned to Syracuse today rather than Bergmann. After the Olsen/Mock fiasco, it just feels like something they would do. Will spend the next several hours hoping that I'm wrong.

Posted by: Jeff_Jackson | April 15, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Can Kevin Mench play RF? If so why isn't he being called up instead of Maxwell??? I believe most of his time was spent in LF previously in the majors.

Posted by: markfd | April 15, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"It doesn't look like they're very scared of us out there"

That's what happens when you let them stand there on the plate without fear of a 95 mph ball heading towards their ear. I've always thought that our pitchers allow the opposing batters to be too comfortable at the plate - Phillies being the most comfortable. Knock down Howard a few times and see if he wants to dig in and cover the outside corner.

Then again, we would need guys who could (1) throw 95 and (2) could accurately predict where the ball was going.

Posted by: mastroj | April 15, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I agree Jeff. He's the logical choice, although I'd hate it.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 15, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Help me out fellow posters, Randy St.Claire and F.Robby had this team almost 20 games over .500 by the all star break with a supposed patchwork roster in 2005, and the 2010 version is supposed to be a better team the only link to then and now is Livan Hernandez that being said this pitching staff is in a word horrible i know it's early but i don't see it the starter's keep making the same mistake's(falling behind in the count,can't close after getting ahead in the count, walking #8 batters)the bullpen is a mess already, in my mind McCatty head is on the block they scored seven run's last night enough to win, granted the Phillies are a modern day version of "27" Yankees murderer's row but this pitching staff............................... lacks confidence and that's part of McCatty's job.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 15, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Where'd all the positivity go?
Posted by: markfromark | April 15, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I agree! What might help is if Adam re-runs his article from right before the start of the season, the one where it says the Nats have so much pitching talent that Matt Chico had to settle for a AA assignment.

Posted by: EdDC | April 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

These pictures SUCK! There is not fixing it. They need to be replaced. The nationals should pay the money for quality pictures. Get a good picting coaches to training the quality young pictures period. THERE IS NO FIXING IT.

Posted by: billyrowland | April 15, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

These pictures SUCK! There is not fixing it. They need to be replaced. The nationals should pay the money for quality pictures. Get a good picting coaches to training the quality young pictures period. THERE IS NO FIXING IT.
__________________________________________

So THATS the problem...
We're using poster cut outs instead of humans...

Posted by: TimDz | April 15, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The Nats are making less of a commitment, salary-wise, to their pitchers than are the Pirates.

Realistically, the Nats are achieving their budgetary goals for their pitching staff. Just not their baseball goals. You can't have everything!

Posted by: EdDC | April 15, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

SORRY GUYS, I MEANT TO SAY PITCHING COACHES AND PITCHERS NEED TO BE REPLACED

Posted by: billyrowland | April 15, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

SORRY GUYS, I MEANT TO SAY PITCHING COACHES AND PITCHERS NEED TO BE REPLACED

Posted by: billyrowland | April 15, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Just yankin' yer chain billy...it was good for a laugh...God knows we will need all the laughs we can get this season!

Posted by: TimDz | April 15, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

GOT IT, BILLY! GEE, THIS IS SOME GALE-FORCE WIND WE ARE EXPERIENCING, EH?

Posted by: Section506 | April 15, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

BillyRowland - do have any relations with Emily Litella?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 15, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see the pitchers move the Phillies off the plate. That is what Bergmann is saying I believe. I like the fact that Riggleman will get his butt heaved for the team, but let's give the Phillies and their mf fans something to remember us by.

Posted by: Juliasdad | April 15, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of pictures...maybe we'd do better if our hurlers were facing cutout batters, kinda like Verlander in that commercial for MLB 2010, where he rips the top off the cutout's bat to illustrate the hitter's result after facing him. What? Oh. Never mind...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

When something doesn't work, you don't wait and wait for it to work. And you don't resign yourself to mediocrity or allow a pattern of mediocrity to take hold.

The Nats need to make it clear that anybody who cannot pitch a decent game will be benched and somebody else will take his place. Riggleman needs to lose the Mr. Nice Guy and get in the face of the loser pitchers who accept defeat as if it's their role in life.

Bring new blood up if old blood won't work. Try other things. Doubt your assumptions and analyses if the results facing you indicate failure. Face the music.

Stop thinking that non-performing pitchers who have been around awhile are somehow "OK" because they have experience. I don't care how much experience anybody has. I will take a young rookie any day over an old guy who can't cut it any more but who the coach sympathizes with, gives extra chances to, all because of his "experience". You know who I am talking about on the Nats...

The Nationals needs some tough love and they need it NOW. Riggleman, grow a pair and draw the line in the sand with your pitching coach and staff. This is pro ball, not a tobacco chewing contest.

I will come back to watch a game live again once I see the pitching staff behave like they actually want to win. I don't want to hear any more compliments from our coaches to other teams' hitters to try to somehow make our pitchers' ridiculous failures seem less bad. No more. You win, or you lose a fan, and another fan, and then 100 more. Don't assume we'll hang around just to pay for overpriced hot dogs. Washington fans' patience is very thin.

DWS

Posted by: dstafford2 | April 15, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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