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Spring Training Pitching Update – March 16

March 16, 2010

Nats fans have been trying to gloss over the Nats woeful pitching effort this spring by claiming that the struggling pitchers won’t be on the 2010 25 man major league roster. Let’s look at the numbers to see if it’s true.

We’ll take 10 pitchers that will likely make the roster.

  1. John Lannan
  2. Jason Marquis
  3. Scott Olsen
  4. J.D. Martin
  5. Garrett Mock
  6. Matt Capps
  7. Brian Bruney
  8. Tyler Clippard
  9. Jason Bergman
  10. Sean Burnett

This should improve the Nats team numbers, but by how much?  I went back and computed the team ERA, WHIP, SLG, OBA, AVG, K/BB, K/9, and H9 using only these pitchers. (I didn’t try to compute FIP, etc.  With the rotating rosters and free substitutions, it would take more time and effort than I have.) Here are the new team results.

Hmmm – it doesn’t look that much better. We can compare every team’s 2010 spring ERA with this subset.

At least the Nats subset roster is better than their entire roster. Unfortunately, even the subset has a higher spring ERA than anyone else in baseball.  Next we can compare SLG.

Same as ERA.  The Nats subset roster of likely pitchers has a higher SLG than any team this spring.

Here is the WHIP chart (Walks + Hits per inning).

We’ll the Nats subset roster has a lower WHIP than the Astros entire spring roster (including their minor leaguers).  It’s still a remarkably poor showing.

Finally, lets look at the ground ball to fly ball (GO/AO) ratio. Nats fans have worried that the Nats middle infield isn’t strong enough to handle a lot of ground balls. A ratio of 1.0 means that pitchers are throwing an equal number of ground balls to fly balls. A ratio greater than 1.0 means more ground balls, less than 1.0 means more balls in the air.

The Nats full spring pitching roster has a below average GO/AO of 1.3. Look at the subset roster – the GO/AO is 0.77. That’s a lot of balls in the air!

The lesson here is that the Nats pitching is terrible. There is no way to spin it – it’s not just the pitchers who won’t make the roster, it’s all of them. This can’t be a surprise to anyone who followed the off season. The Nats had the worst pitching staff in baseball  in 2009. They added a middling starter who, more often than not, was left off of his team’s post-season roster (Marquis). They added a pitcher that even the Pirates didn’t want (Capps). They did pick up a spare part from the Yankees (Bruney). Other than that – nothing. I don’t believe that Guardado, Villone, Hernandez, or Walker will be making their way to Cooperstown (unless they buy their own ticket). And as of Monday, Guardado and Villone are gone. So, another year of “the plan”. Put the cheapest product on the field that you can muster, and, on your way to losing another 100 games, promise the fans that “we are actually ahead of where we thought we would be at this point in the plan”.

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