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Stock Watch: Bullpen has a rough week

Jun 3, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

Washington Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton (59), shortstop Ian Desmond (20) and relief pitcher Blake Treinen (64) talk on the mound during the seventh inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, in Washington. The Blue Jays won 7-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 2-4

Team slash: .230/.307/.320

Team ERA: 4.94

Runs per game:  2.83

 

STOCK UP  

Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-0/ 8.0 IP/ 0.00 ERA

During a week in which most of the starters had off-nights or were injured, Zimmermann’s performance Tuesday afternoon start against the Blue Jays was the rotation’s bright spot —  and it wasn’t even close. He didn’t allow a run over eight innings, helping out a struggling bullpen (more on that later) while handing Toronto its first shut out of the season. The outing also continued a hot streak for Zimmerman, who is starting to resemble his old self lately; in his last four outings, he’s allowed just three earned runs combined over 28 innings. As a result, his ERA has now dropped to 2.88 while he’s run his record to 5-2.

Bryce Harper, RF: .313 AVG/ 1.063 OPS

Interestingly enough, this has been the week where Harper’s cooled off a bit, and yet he still lead the team in average and OPS over the last seven days. Indeed, everyone’s favorite selfie-taking, beef-creating right fielder keeps chugging along, continuing to stake his claim as the best player in the NL this season. The 22-year-old who was voted the sport’s most overrated player before the year started now leads the league in home runs (18), walks (45), slugging (.718) and OPS (1.188). Hard to overrate that, yeah?

Yunel Escobar, 3B: .304 AVG/ .385 OBP

Of all the moves the Nats made over the winter, perhaps the most underrated to this point was the team’s acquisition of Escobar. Through two months, he might be the team’s most consistent hitter (besides you-know-who, of course). He hasn’t provided big-time power, but he’s a steadying presence in a lineup that’s been without key pieces for stretches. In fact, it’s not Harper who leads the team in hits — it’s Escobar. And to think, he wasn’t even slated to be the everyday third baseman before the season started.

 

STOCK DOWN

Blake Treinen, RP: 3 GP/ 15.43 ERA/ 2.57 WHIP 

For the majority of May, the bullpen looked like it had finally turned the corner. But after an ugly series in Cincinnati and a poor showing Tuesday night against the Blue Jays, perhaps the journey to get to Drew Storen in the ninth could be a struggle all year. To be fair to Treinen, the Nats were already trailing in two of his three appearances this past week, albeit by small margins. But he was unable to keep those deficits manageable, leading to a 5-2 loss in Cincy and a 7-3 defeat at home against Toronto.

Casey Janssen, RP:  3 GP/ 12.00 ERA/ 2.33 WHIP 

Janssen’s return from injury gave the Nats hope that perhaps the back end of the bullpen would be stabilized. And though it’s too soon to say whether or not he’ll do that, his weekend outing against the struggling Reds can’t be encouraging. Clinging to a 5-4 eighth inning lead, the 33-year-old righty couldn’t make it stand up, as he was shelled for four earned runs and was charged with a loss. Even with Janssen back in the fold, it seems Matt Williams hasn’t been able to rely on someone to handle the eighth inning with consistency. Whether he goes with Janssen, Treinen or someone else, so far none of the options have been able to fill the void created by Tyler Clippard’s departure.

  1. adcwonk - Jun 3, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    Resposting a response I just made to a comment last night. The debate is how good/bad the BP is.

    I noted

    They were scoring lots of runs. Im sorry but I disagree with you. The bullpen is unreliable and are costing them games.

    Yeah — sometimes. Do we remember the pair of 1-0 games over the Mets in early May? Or towards the latter part of May when we had a stretch of 5 games where we only scored a combined 12 runs, yet won 4 of them.

    In those 4 victories, 6 different relievers pitched (Storen, Grace, Janssen, Barrett, Treinen, and Thornton), a total of 9-2/3 innings, without allowing any runs.

    Yes, the BP has cost us games. They’ve also saved the Nats b#tt a number of times, too. I think that after a bad BP stretch (like now), that’s easy to forget.

    • David Proctor - Jun 3, 2015 at 2:16 PM

      Matt Grace has a 6 BB/9 and that’s not a recent development. Even when he was getting thrust into big situations, he was walking far too many guys. He also allowed 19 hits and 12 innings. Even if you take away the disaster in Cincy, those are not good numbers. They’re actually horrible numbers. He allowed 28 baserunners in 12 innings.

      Obviously Grace isn’t here now. But it’s not limited to him. Treinen is walking 4.5 per 9 innings. He’s allowed 26 hits in 21 innings. Not great for a reliever, particularly when combined with the walks. The one encouraging thing with Treinen is he’s missing more bats than he ever had before.

      Barrett I like and has been unlucky. He’s striking out over 12 per 9 and not walking many (though the walks have been up lately). He has an absurd .381 BABIP against. He’ll be fine.

      Janssen was a gamble. We’ve only seen him a few times and he’s been good in 3 of them. His success in Toronto was never predicated on velocity. Having said that, he’s throwing 86mph fastballs. He used to at least throw 90. I don’t trust a reliever who throws that soft and especially one without much deception or sink. He’s not exactly Brad Zeigler (who would be a decent trade target if/when the D’Backs sell).

      I think it’s clear that the bullpen needs another arm. It doesn’t have to be immediately and I wouldn’t expect it to be. But I just can’t imagine anyone feeling comfortable with the bullpen, as currently constituted, in October.

      The Nationals have 8 blown saves, tied for the third most in baseball. And that doesn’t include how many close games they’ve let turn into blowouts (as was the case last night).

      • adcwonk - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:06 PM

        The Nationals have 8 blown saves, tied for the third most in baseball.

        OK — but they also have 19 saves, the second most in baseball. 😉

        Probably a more fair stat — perhaps — is save pct. The Nats are at 70% which is just slightly above league average. Same with Runs/IP.

        And that was my point — we don’t have a terrible BP. We have an average one. My other points (from other threads) is that it’s early, a number of these guys are pretty young, and, with play, presumably _some_ of them will grow into their role and do well.

        And if not, we’ll get some help by the deadline.

    • nattygoats - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:44 PM

      You can’t defend this BP. They Stink. Keep Drew and Thornton and dumped all the rest.

      • adcwonk - Jun 3, 2015 at 4:19 PM

        My two responses to you are:

        1. On Apr 27 you said the season is already gone. So what are you still doing here?

        2. I’m saying that the stats show the BP to be average for the NL.

  2. mauimo22 - Jun 3, 2015 at 12:42 PM

    Stock down:

    Ian Desmond, the new “Danny K”.

    Always takes a HR swing, cannot hit for contact, horrible with RISP, poor defense in the field.
    And yet MW bats him in the #2 spot.
    Give him a day off and insert the former Danny K at SS!

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Jun 3, 2015 at 1:11 PM

    As someone else (maybe Candide?) pointed out, last week the Nats had a winning record despite scoring fewer runs than the opposition. This week the averages caught up with them. While the bullpen certainly does deserve the criticism it’s received, the offense scored more than a full run below league average. A bad stretch had to come sometime. The real test of a good team, however, is to minimize the length of that stretch. I still believe this is a good team. But it will be a better team, I hope and expect, once Anthony Rendon finally begins his season.

    • natsguy - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:26 PM

      Back in 2005 they were about 20 games over .500 and had scored less than given up. Those odds came back to haunt also. Granted there was a lot less talent on that team, but it is a pretty reflective stat.

      • jd - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:37 PM

        We are at +14 runs.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 3, 2015 at 4:07 PM

        For last 14 days, Nats have scored 31 runs (fewest in NL) and given up 44 runs, for a -13 differential.

        They are 6-6 over the same stretch.

    • jfmii - Jun 3, 2015 at 5:24 PM

      They will essentially be replacing Espinosa with Rendon. Given Danny’s overall play and decent hitting, it isn’t going that big of an upgrade for the team as a whole — even making the big (unreasonable?) assumption that Rendon will pick right back off where he left off last year. It will likely take him a while to get into full swing.

      Yesterday I said they should move Desmond to left and Espinosa to short. But I was off a little — they should just move Escobar to short and Desmond to left. I love Ian, but at this time he represents the biggest hole that Rendon will eventually fill. Escobar is slated for short next year, and although he doesn’t have Desmond’s range, he is going to be more stable and make less errors there. And Desmond will be a fabulous outfielder–I have no doubt. And while it probably will lower his market value, and make him temporarily unhappy, I think it would be best for the team. Hopefully he would make the most of such a move, and who knows, might turn into an offensive monster after leaving behind the pressures of playing shortstop.

    • ArVAFan - Jun 3, 2015 at 1:38 PM

      How soon can we play them? Later this month? I’ll take that. And don’t change their bullpen between now and then . . . I’m sure they’ll figure out something . . .

  4. David Proctor - Jun 3, 2015 at 2:20 PM

    The Yankees just DFA’d David Carpenter. He was awful for them, but that’s a move Rizzo should make. Power arm and he’s had success in the NL (1.78 and 3.54 ERA the past two years with Atlanta). With it being a DFA, there’s virtually no cost or risk involved. If he’s bad, cut him and move on. If he’s good, he can be a power arm at the end of games setting up Storen.

  5. nats128 - Jun 3, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    Treinen getting charged for a earned run on that botched double steal due to a absurdly bad throw from Lobaton is hard to collar Treinen for that but theres the breaks.

    From my perspective in the stadium I also thought the 2nd single of the inning was a tailor made doubleplay ball that Espi had to glove and flip to Desi as he was shaded up the middle but instead Espi dove for the baseball which I didnt think he needed to do as it wasnt hit hard. When Espi dove the ball looked like he dove way over it as the ball was near his chest. Hard to tell but when I watched the video later thats what happened. The 3rd hit was between the Esco and Desi and thats the problem with Treinen as he didnt seem set on gettting strikeouts with men on 1st and 2nd and still seemed to be sniffing a doubleplay ball like JZ got in Game 1 with bases loaded.

    I think some times the stats are worse than what actually happened. 3 singles a Sac Fly and a botched steal at home equals 3 runs.

    • jd - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:30 PM

      Actually nats128 Treinen’s stats speak volumes as to how he has pitched overall. 26 hits in 21 innings as well as a 4.44 Walk per 9 innings can’t be rationalized as bad luck. As you said yesteday about Barrett Treinen is nearly 27 years old which is the same age as Barrett. Barrett has a better K/9 and BB/9 than Treinen but a much worse BABIP. Let’s try to be consistent in the way we evaluate the players we like vs. the players we like less.

    • nattygoats - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      Treinen is Michael Westbrook. Potential potential and nothing. He too can’t cut it.

  6. Doc - Jun 3, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    “…had a rough week…” is a gross understatement! Another week like that, and some of them will be pitching in Japan before the season is over!

  7. exposedindc - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:38 PM

    Bad week ? Can think of a few more colorful words to describe it.

    • nattygoats - Jun 3, 2015 at 3:49 PM

      What I saw from the BP made me sick.

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