Who could replace Luis Atilano?
So the Nationals will "re-evaluate" Luis Atilano's place in their starting rotation, Manager Jim Riggleman said late last night. For the first portion of his rookie season, Atilano provided the Nationals a reasonable fascimile of Jason Marquis, the starter he replaced. Here's a look at Marquis's career and Atilano's first nine starts:
Marquis: 4.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 1.49 K/BB, 5.2 K/9, .269 average against
Atilano: 4.24 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 1.0 K/BB, 3.9 K/9, .264 average against
For a while, he really was an adequate stand-in that helped stabilize the Nats rotation. Those days, as last night hammered home, are over. In his last seven starts -- not including his 2 1/3-inning disaster at Class AAA Syracuse -- Atilano has a 6.49 ERA and the Nats are 1-6 in those games. Part of it could be poor luck -- his 1.8 K/BB ratio is actually twice as good as his start to the season. Still, Atilano may have reached the end, at least for now, of his time as a Nats starter.
Atilano is down to start Sunday in Milwaukee. If the Nationals' re-evaluation determines Atilano heads back Syracuse, then who might take his spot? A few candidates, chosen with just speculation and presented in no particular order:
Matt Chico: Chico has already made one start this season for the Nationals, helping them beat the Florida Marlins and Josh Johnson back on May 8. He's had one of the best seasons of any starting pitcher in Syracuse, slapping up 3.55 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. In his last two starts, both against Pawtucket, Chico has allowed no earned runs, six hits and two walks in 14 innings.
Erik Arnesen: His start last night means he's on schedule, and it also means he's on something of a roll. He allowed one single in the first inning and then did not allow a base runner for the remainder of his six-inning start. Arnesen, 26, began the season in Class AA Harrisburg's bullpen. In all of his innings, he has a 3.65 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Arnesen, 26, is a strike-thrower -- he has only 24 walks in 91 1/3 minor league innings this season.
Ross Detwiler: He's made six starts and pitched 25 2/3 innings. He's got to be ready to come back at some point, right? One issue is that he is scheduled to pitch
tonight today, and he might not be at a point in his rehab where altering his schedule makes any sense.
UPDATE, 3:32: Detwiler made his start this afternoon and was tremendous. He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out seven.
John Lannan: The Nats' opening day starter has thrown 30 2/3 innings with Class AA Harrisburg and had modest results in five starts, going 1-2 with a 4.11 ERA. But it's not like Lannan's stuff is going to overwhelm any batters, even in Harrisburg. So the best way to measure any corrections he's made to his sinker would come back in the majors. Even if they haven't come, what's the harm in finding out?
Shairon Martis: Remember him? Martis has put together a respectable year in Syracuse, going 6-5 with a 3.82 ERA in 18 starts and 101 1/3 innings. He's still only 23.
Aaron Thompson: Probably not ready yet, but he pitched last night for Class AA Harrisburg, so he'd be on schedule, and has shown flashes of why the Marlins chose him in the first round in 2005. In three of his past 10 starts, he has not allowed any earned runs. But in three others, he's allowed at least five. (In one start, he no-hit Portland for six innings but allowed six walks.)
UPDATED, 1:17: A couple folks asked about Scott Olsen. He is coming along better in his rehab, and he has a start scheduled for Thursday with Class A Potomac. He has yet to throw more than four innings in a rehab start, so there just isn't enough time for him to be ready by Sunday.
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