Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scouting Report: Nationals at Phillies (4/28)

The Scats try to bounce back from their biggest heart-breaker of the season. I don't have much to say, but I am starting to wonder who are the 32% still saying this team is on the right track?

Oh, and yes this should be it for Hanrahan. Blame Bowden for deciding he was worthy of getting the closer job with no real plan B. The question of course is "who else?" Really it doesn't matter. We don't have an ace, so Manny should just play match-ups. He's managing the bullpen as if Julian Tavarez is his highest leverage coser, probably putting more stock in "experience" than he should, but I would guess he gets the next save opportunity. Mock's been discussed as Rizzo's closer-of-the-future, so he could get some test runs. There isn't really a good solution here. Hey--what's Rocky Biddle up to?

Here's my look at the Phillies' game two starter and prediction. You can check out my preview of the series here for breakdowns on their hitters and bullpen.

On the Mound

Cole Hamels: The Verducci Effect refers to the pattern of underperformance and/or injury when a pitcher under 25 sees an innings jump of more than 30 from year to year. Cole Hamels (in the course of winning a championship, of course) in his age 24 season went from 189 innings to 262.1. There were plenty of times in August and September that Manuel could have gone easier on his young ace, but there wasn't really any chance of keeping Hamels's innings jump in the "safe" zone.

In the spring, he reported elbow soreness and had an MRI done. The results showed swelling and nothing more, and he says he feels great. Still, in three starts he's got a 6.97 fielding independent ERA, 9.69 "real" ERA, and he's giving up long balls at nearly triple his career rate. It's not terribly shocking that his velocity isn't quite there yet since he didn't have a full spring, but it's definitely not too soon for Phillies fans to worry that Charlie Manuel broke Steve Carlton.

Still, flags fly forever.

Fearless Prediction
Season record: 13-6
Phillies, 8-4.


Anonymous said...

I'm still voting "Right Track" but it's mostly because of the following:
1.) The offense is better than expected
2.) Zimmermann
3.) No more JimBo

If JimBo was still running this team, it wouldn't be a question, but don't we have to give Rizzo an offseason to build a better team? This season is already (in my mind) a rebuilding year - it was from the beginning. Let's get Zimmermann some outings, see what young kids can play, get Strasburg in the rotation and we can blow things up in the offseason (when we can get rid of some of these albatross contracts).

flippin said...

Is it trite to say it is always darkest before dawn? I think the Jimbo stink is still lingering. Acta plugs in Hangarunonme in a situation in which he should excel and the dude blows up, again. I really feel sorry for Manny.

redcottageaudio said...

Specifically it is always darkest at the exact mid point between sunset and sunrise.

I think the metaphor would hold if it were accurate. Sun set when Jim Bowden was signed, and with any luck this is as dark as it gets so we can all do the maths.

Elan said...

I think I've said this before, but by far the bullpen is the easiest part of a team to improve. I can smell some free agent signings on the horizon, and we'll fix our course. what's our record with an average bullpen now? I think we're over .500. sigh...

Steven said...

Elan--your point is right on. If your perspective is, "how close are we to contending," and you don't sweat the difference between 100 losses and 90, then there are things to like about the early going. Zimmerman is back to being the guy we thought he was. Dukes is doing great. Flash Jordan. Who of the players underperforming would you say are part of that contender? Some might have said Scott Olsen, but they were wrong. Milledge, clearly. Otherwise?

Elan said...

hmm...thats a great question. there are about a handful of guys that make up our "future" I think. Obviously Ryan and Dukes like you said. Then rounding out the fielders category I would add J-Max, and Flores. Adding to that the players we have for the next two years we have Nick, Dunn, and Guzman. That's not a bad roster for the next two years - while we wait for the "slime" as phil wood said, to wash off - but we know our hitting is solid. Pitchers that make up that unit are Lannan, Zimmermann and hopefully Detwieiler (and hopefully Strasburg).

So I think we've got something. honestly you add a starter (Pedro - come you know you want to) and a, er, entire bullpen thats a .500 team.

John O'Connor said...

Elan's last post is similar to what I've been thinking today. This team is actually well positioned to make a significant improvement in record next year.

First, the team's record this year is (so far) worse than its talent because the bullpen has been killing it.

Second, the bullpen is one of the easiest (and cheapest) things to fix.

Third, if the starting pitching is better, then that also reduces the number of good relievers you need because the starters will go farther into games.

This all might be wishful thinking, but what if Jordan Zimmermann is the real deal? What if he is a legitimate #2 starter? And what if Strasburg comes in next year as a legit #1 guy? Lannan could be a credible #3 guy. The offense is good enough to compete. So, if those few things fall into place, and you shore up the bullpen and add a middle infielder, that has the makings of a pretty decent team. And the Nats will still have a very very high draft pick next year (right now, they are three games "ahead" in the race for the #1 pick).

I'll be the first to admit that this is all predicated on having a legit #1 starter and a legit #2 starter from two guys who have all of two major league appearances (though they win every time they pitch). But stranger things have happened for sure.

Steven said...

Nick Johnson's a free agent after this year, and Detwiler's crapping the bed (again, or still, or whichever you prefer) in H-burg.

Otherwise, points all well taken.

Elan said...

they look the way i feel. there was no way they were going to come back from yesterday and win tonight. maybe coming home thursday will help...maybe.

Forrest said...

The bullpen has been an absolute disaster and has been the reason why the Nationals have struggled so much. Hanrahan is talented but needs time to figure things out, and should be removed from the closer role. The Nats should look to the farm for a tryout short term fill-in.

Any way you slice it, this team needs to find solid late-innings pitchers, or it will be a long season.