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Posted at 6:34 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Jason Marquis's efficiency, Danny Espinosa's big day, Todd Coffey's dominance

By Adam Kilgore

marquis pitch.jpg

Once Jason Marquis finished pitching his four innings today, he headed not for the clubhouse, but the bullpen in foul territory down the right field line. He had used a scant 42 pitches, so he needed extra work to build stamina. He threw more pitches before jogging to the clubhouse, where he lifted weights.

So far this spring, Marquis has made easy work of the times when he's actually on the mound. Today, Marquis allowed the Marlins no runs on two hits and a walk, striking out three. For the entire spring, Marquis has pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk.

At his best, Marquis efficiently produces groundballs. This spring he's needed 70 pitches in seven innings, and today he induced eight groundball outs.

"I'm excited that I'm getting the results I am this early," Marquis said. "I just want to build on it and stay where I'm at. It's not really the results I'm happy about - obviously, I'll take it. But I'm making my pitchers. I'm throwing my sinker down in the zone, my changeup, my slider are down in the zone with good arm speed, good action."

Marquis's sinker is the key to his success, and it's been on. Manager Jim Riggleman also said Marquis had an excellent slider today. "He was just real sharp, real crisp," Riggleman said. Despite his success, Marquis said he actually struggled early with spotting his sinker, keeping it down in the strike zone. Thanks to a few adjustments he's made this spring, Marquis quickly found his control.

"I think every pitcher should have keys within their delivery that they can go back to if things aren't going right," Marquis said. "I found one or two of them this spring that have really helped me, stuff that I hadn't done in the past."

>>> Danny Espinosa is officially having a monster start to his first spring training as the Nationals' projected second baseman, also his first major league spring training. Today, he went 3 for 3 with a home run, a double, a hit by pitch and four RBI. He's 10 for 22 with two homers and a double for the spring.

The most promising part of Espinosa's big day today was his success from the left side of the plate. Espinosa, a switch-hitter, smashed his home run while batting right-handed, off left-hander Mike Dunn. But his RBI double to the left-center gap in the second came left-handed, off Javier Vazquez. Later, batting lefty again, Espinosa hooked a grounder through the hole.

"He's really working on things from the left side," Riggleman said. "The right side, we feel like he's pretty good there. The left side is a little work in progress. He's putting time in the cage with Rick [Eckstein]. Hopefully, we start to see more games where he's squaring it up like that."

>>> Todd Coffey struck out the side today, his fourth scoreless inning in four tries. Coffey has probably been the most dominant Nats pitcher this spring. He's struck out six, walked none and given up one hit. A pretty solid 13-batter start to his Nationals career.

Coffey pitched the fourth inning today so he could pitch before Ivan Rodriguez left the game. The Nationals feel like Coffey's addition will be a key to maintaining the great success their bullpen had last season.

"We need Coffey, [Tyler] Clippard, [Sean] Burnett, [Drew] Storen, [Henry] Rodriguez, we need them to be a force for us," Riggleman said. "They're doing fine."

Riggleman said he "wouldn't hesitate" to pitch Coffey in the ninth inning once the regular season, but he continued his assertion that the Nationals, at the moment, don't even have a closer by title.

"We came into this spring not even really using that term - closer," Riggleman said. "Just try and get outs in the ninth. See if somebody can finish the game in the ninth, regardless of who it is at that particular time. If somebody emerges, that's better yet."

We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention Craig Stammen. On his 27th birthday, he retired all six batters he faced.

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 6:34 PM ET
 
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Comments

Adam,

The bullpen seems to be remarkably full of riches right now. Could you do a recap of where things are at this point in ST? Who's got the inside track to make the team?

Posted by: stantonpark | March 9, 2011 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman and McCatty haven't really gotten a chance to see and evaluate Elvin Ramirez and Henry Rodriguez yet. Have to wait for that to occur first.

Posted by: periculum | March 9, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

With the bullpen appearing to be deep (though you never really know with the pen) is there any thought to re-converting Clippard to a starter? I remember this coming up last year, but can't recall what was said about it.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | March 9, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

It's still early, but as far as Starting Pitchers go...
Marquis = Rock solid in two starts; .136BAA, 4.6:1 GO/FO ratio, 0.57WHIP, .
Detwiler = High pitch counts, needs to be stretched out further; .176BAA, 2.5:1 GO/FO ratio, 0.571WHIP, 14.4/9 K ratio.
Broderick = Rule5(StL) who could be worth a long look in a swing (Long relief / Spot starter) role; .182BAA, 2.5:1 GO/FO ratio, 0.67WHIP.
JZimm = High pitch counts, but looking good; .217BAA, 0.8:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.33WHIP.
Stammen = another 'tweener (Long relief-Spot starter) candidate; .227BAA, 2.3:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.167WHIP, 7.5/9 K ratio.
Livo = He is who/what he is; steady & golden; .250BAA, 0.8:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.00WHIP. A little high on flyball outs.
Lannan = Steady as ever; .273BAA, 1:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.67WHIP.
Maya = Still might be a little below the top 5; .368BAA, 8:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.71WHIP.
Gaudin[NRI] = In an uphill battle to gain a roster spot; .296BAA, 3:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.50WHIP, but a 9.0/9IP K ratio.

Still untested = Gorzelanny, Wang; Gorzelanny gets his 1st chance tomorrow, while Wang will probably start the year on the DL.

Posted by: BinM | March 9, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nats Fans! Marquis is sharp, Coffey is sharp! Got some bats working! As Miley Cyrus would say, "...and that's pretty cool!" LOL! Go Nats!

Posted by: patsgrill4U | March 9, 2011 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love Natinal fans getting all giddy about their scrub pitchers pitching mediocre, at best, against players who will be stocking shelves in Target in a few weeks.

Of course when the real season starts, the National pitchers will get lit up left and right by the big boys and the remaining few Natinal fans will talking about how 2019 is the year the Natinals finally start to turn it around.

Natinals fans notice the O's Varsity team took a monster poop on the Twins today?

Too bad it will take the Natinals at least 3 weeks to score 12 runs.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 9, 2011 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love Natinal fans getting all giddy about their scrub pitchers pitching mediocre, at best, against players who will be stocking shelves in Target in a few weeks.

Of course when the real season starts, the National pitchers will get lit up left and right by the big boys and the remaining few Natinal fans will talking about how 2019 is the year the Natinals finally start to turn it around.

Natinals fans notice the O's Varsity team took a monster poop on the Twins today?

Too bad it will take the Natinals at least 3 weeks to score 12 runs.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 9, 2011 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh POOPY,
The O's lose again! On your way to 0-22!

Posted by: stantonpark | March 9, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

For the bullpen, things are no less interesting...

>Stammen, Broderick[Rule5], and possibly Gorzelanny are in the mix for the Long-relief / Spot-starter role.
>>Middle reliever spots are open, with the following candidates:
Clippard = Solid, but needs to start inning, avoiding inherited runners whenever possible; .143BAA, 0.5:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.50WHIP, 13.5 K/9 ratio.
Kimball = .214BAA, 1.3:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.00WHIP, 11.3 K/9 ratio.
Balester = .357BAA, 1:1 GO/FO ratio, 2.33WHIP, but a 9.0 K/9 ratio.
Rodriguez = Untested.
Ramirez[Rule5] = Untested.
Wood[NRI] = .286BAA, 1:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.80WHIP.
>>> The Left-handed specialists' job comes down to:
Severino = .182BAA, 3:1 GO/FO ratio, 0.68WHIP.
Slaten = .250BAA, 0.75:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.00WHIP, 11.25 K/9 ratio.
>>>Set-up / Closer candidates include...
Carr = .077BAA, 2.3:1 GO/FO ratio, 0.25WHIP.
Coffey = .083BAA, 2:1 GO/FO ratio, 0.25WHIP, 13.5 K/9 ratio.
Burnett = .273BAA, 2.5:1 GO/FO ratio, 1.00WHIP, 3.0 K/9 ratio.
Storen = .474BAA, 0.67:1 GO/FO ratio, 3.00WHIP, 12:1 K/9 ratio.

Posted by: BinM | March 9, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse

BinM,
who's got options left? It seems like Severino, Carr, Kimball, and Balester (and maybe Storen) could all end up in the minors without the Nats losing them.

Slaten and Clippard would have to really tank not to make the team, I think. Stammen seems like he will have to really impress to stick around. The 2 Rule 5 guys really might gum up the works. Do i see a mysterious sore arm or strained muscle in their future?

Posted by: stantonpark | March 9, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love delusional Natinal fans thinking the O's JV team losing by a run means anything.

Anything to make them sleep better at night, especially knowing their stolen team from Montreal are worse than the nonsense that Vinny Cerrato has been spewing lately.

And that's saying something.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 9, 2011 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love delusional Natinal fans thinking the O's JV team losing by a run means anything.

Anything to make them sleep better at night, especially knowing their stolen team from Montreal are worse than the nonsense that Vinny Cerrato has been spewing lately.

And that's saying something.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 9, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of stocking shelves, I understand that they're looking for an AWOL stock clerk at Albertson's, P00P. Better get there before you're pink-slipped.

Posted by: bertbkatz | March 9, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh POOPY,

The 0's didn't play the Twins, that was the Beloit Snappers. The Twins are a Major League Team. They don't waste their Spring Training playing a AA affiliate like the 0's.

Posted by: stantonpark | March 9, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Only good teams are hated on. Personally, I think the Nats are more average than good, but if someone wants to come on this page and give us Nats fans a taste of what it's like to be feared, I say make yourself at home.

Hate + Poop = Hope.
Thanks Poopy.

Posted by: jmorrisa | March 9, 2011 11:13 PM | Report abuse

jmorrisa,
In POOPland, the Nats are the '27 Yankees!

Posted by: stantonpark | March 9, 2011 11:22 PM | Report abuse

If Desmond's fielding doesn't improve, I can see Espinosa at SS sooner, rather than later.
Sec314

Posted by: arlingtontwb | March 9, 2011 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah, McPoop's all Brown as in the St. Louis Browns and the Cleveland Browns and Innuh Hahbuh brown. And stinky rinky dink just like the Angel'O's.

Posted by: periculum | March 9, 2011 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to add Rodriguez and Kimball to those Closer candidates...

Posted by: dabagley | March 9, 2011 11:30 PM | Report abuse

This is Riggleman ... so its a veteran[s]. His choices for closer will likely be a tandem of Coffey and Burnett ... Pena and Knowles, Richert and Watt (for McPoop Browns), etc. unless Storen 0or Rodriguez leap ahead of them.

I can see Riggleman going old school and splitting the saves between a lefty and a righty.

Posted by: periculum | March 9, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I tell you what I'm not interested in -- being told that players I have labelled flops might actually be good. Not interested in the least. Because that would suggest I don't know everything.

Posted by: markfromark | March 10, 2011 5:30 AM | Report abuse

The way it is looking right now after ST the AAA roster head to toe is looking like a monster.

Posted by: hansenjo | March 10, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

If I read correctly what I saw on my computer screen (the only way I had to follow yesterday's game), Todd Coffey pitched one inning, he threw nine pitches total, and got three strikeouts, each on three swinging strikes.

Now, THAT'S what I want in a closer. On the other hand, however, it appears that we may have brought Drew Storen along a little too rapidly. He might be fine someday but I think he might benefit greatly from a little more seasoning in Syracuse, particularly since we seem to have such a rich crop of relievers on the staff.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 10, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

anyone know that status of todays game? cancelled or postponed? its rainin bad but if they wait a few hours they could get it in

Posted by: ell2c | March 10, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

arlingtontwb posted:

If Desmond's fielding doesn't improve, I can see Espinosa at SS sooner, rather than later.

I can see a switch in the future.

Posted by: richs91 | March 10, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

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