Saturday, September 20, 2008

Give Him One More Start, Manny

Went to my first Nationals game at Nationals Park in a while tonight, and the best thing I saw: Jason Bergmann.

He first came on with no outs and runners on first and second and got the double play and a strike out. He then retired the Padres 1-2-3 with a strikeout and two groundouts. That's three groundouts, two strikeouts and no flyballs. His left shoulder was closed, he wasn't overthrowing, he threw 16 of 20 pitches for strikes, and that snappy little curveball of his, still one of the best pitches on the staff, killed.

Hey, I'm 100% for developing the kids, but anyone who thinks 21-year-old Shairon Martis right now or on Opening Day 2009 will give us a better chance to win than Bergmann is nutso, all due respect. For all
Bergmann's troubles, he has an ERA a full run better than Martis, who in fact is damn lucky to have an ERA under 10 right now. Now, long-term, I like Martis. But he's not ready. We know that now.

If Manny's filling out his rotation for next year right now, it's Lannan, Balester, Redding, Bergmann, and either Zimmermann or someone new. Maybe we sign a free agent or two, but even then there will be some injuries and some spot starts, and we're going to be a lot better off if Bergmann can go a significant number of starts next year.

I know, most Nationals fans see a guy who is inconsistent, loses command, tries too hard and crumbles at the first sign of failure. I guess to some extent that's fair. But I also see a guy who on August 7 had a 4.13 ERA, then in one horrific inning lost command and was forced to throw 51 pitches en route to allowing 10 runs. After that, he was overthrowing and his command was gone. He walked a very good 5.9% of batters faced in 106.2 innings before that start and walked 10.8% after that until tonight. Maybe it's that he's a head case and lost command. Or maybe it was the after effects of that 51-pitch marathon inning.

It's not that he just sucks. You don't throw 220 innings of 4.30 ERA ball like he did from Opening Day 2007 through August, 2008 if you just plain suck or are a mental weakling. Is. Not. Possible.

All I know is that the guy I saw tonight is a legit major league starting pitcher. Not an ace, but I will stand on Manny Acta's coffee table and shout to the heavens that Jay Bergmann is in the top 150 starting pitchers in MLB right now.

So give him one more start, Manny. He finished that 51-pitch third inning against the Mets because you were short-handed, the 'pen was fried, and you needed it. Now you owe him.
  • Otherwise, re: tonight's game, if the Nationals catch the ball, it's a 1-1 game after 9. Zimmerman, Harris, Bonifacio, and Guzman all contributed to one of the ugliest games I've seen from the Nationals that didn't feature Paul Lo Duca at first base or Josh Wilson at shortstop.

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