Sunday, April 12, 2009

Scouting Report: Nationals at Braves (4/12)

People are talking about today as a must-win. I don't know about that, but it doesn't seem like an 0-6 start will help walk-up sales for the opening series at Nationals Park very much.

But look on the bright side. We're no worse than the Indians, who a lot of people thought would win the AL Central. And we're not even one-third of the way to these guys, who some of you probably rooted for.

Check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on the Atlanta' hitters and bullpen. Here's my look at the Braves' starter for the series finale and prediction.

On the Mound
Jair Jurrjens: The 23-year-old Curacaoan and teammate of Roger Bernadina and Shairon Martis in international competition came came over from the Tigers in the one-sided Edgar Renteria deal. He's a fastball-slider-change up guy with very good groundball rates (51.5% last year) and average strikeout and walk rates (17.1% and 8.6%, respectively).

As is typically the case with guys with this repretoire, he has a big platoon split. Righties hit him like Yuniesky Betancourt in 2008 (85 OPS+), while he turned the average lefty into J.J. Hardy (112 OPS+). The slider is simply a much tougher pitch running away from righties, and the change-up becomes the out pitch against lefties.

Though he's still just 23, he's noted for his advanced maturity and make-up. He threw more innings than the 30-innings jump limit advised by the "Verducci Effect," but barring injury he should again be one of the best 30-40 starters in the NL.

Fearless Prediction
Season record: 4-1
The Nationals score, and Olsen is better (hey, he's terrible, but he's not 24.00 terrible). But not enough. The Scats come home 0-6, dropping this one 7-4.


e poc said...

After noting the platoon splits against Jurrjens, I can't help but be exasperated by the fact that Johnson is sitting so that Willingham can play. It looks like Manny's going with the classic get-your-subs-in-for-a-day-game-after-a-night-game instead of the less popular but more effective play-the-players-that-give-the-team-a-chance-at-winning strategy.

I understand playing Willingham and Kearns as a showcase in an attempt to get some sort of value for them in trade, and I'd even approve of that strategy, even if it meant losing a few more games, since there's no chance of making the playoffs this year anyway and the Nats' hope is in the future, but if that's the strategy then at least showcase these guys in situations that are favorable to them. Geez. Wouldn't you think that someone in the organization would think things like this through?

Steven said...

It would be better if Nick was there, but I'm glad Manny's sitting him 2x a week. even if they didn't have the logjam, I would want that. The problem is that they still haven't seen an LHP, so there's been no opportunity to spell Nick and gain a platoon advantage. Maybe Kawakami will have less of a split, but I don't ahve the japan league numbers on that. It's possible Nick should have sat last night. Bard is playing and batting lefty, btw.

e poc said...

They're facing Moyer tomorrow and have an off-day on Tuesday. Bard's catching because it's a day game after a night game. Still, I buy your explanation and back off my aggressive accusation of organizational stupidity.

Steven said...

Your critique is valid, it's just not a no-brainer. If Nick had played today they may very well have won.