Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reds Series Preview

That is, unless the stadium got swept down the river this morning.

Tuesday: Johnny Cueto vs Jordan Zimmermann

Wednesday: Aaron Harang vs Ross Detwiler

Thursday: Micah Owings vs Shairon Martis

It is clear the state of pitching depth within the Nationals organization is now at epic fail. Ross Detwiler was really only supposed to be up for a couple starts before returning to Harrisburg, or maybe Syracuse. Remember, he only had 124 innings of unspectacular high-A ball under his belt, and until this May, his major league potential was a question mark. Now that he is here, and has proven he can pitch at this level for a while, what the heck is his deal? He strikes out batters, walks a few… yet has yielded a freakishly high .358 BABIP in his pro career. This has been the norm when he was wild at Potomac last year, solid at Harrisburg, and now with the big club. It seems to be just him as all the other young Nats pitchers’ BABIPs seem to vary from club to club. So what is making Detwiler so hittable, as opposed to John Lannan, who apparently has adopted a Zen-like power to induce double-plays and cruise through games without strike outs? Something that will be looked into this week…

Lucky for the Nationals they do not have to face the Reds’ best hitter or pitcher. Sorry Mr. Harang and Mr. Cueto, but this guy, when healthy, is the #1. Joey Votto also continues to deal with some sort of condition that really is not being fully disclosed. Both are on the DL. The Reds have gone 6-11 in games Votto did not start and complete since May 15th, including 2-8 on the road. The Reds really have to adjust their strategy to generate runs without much power in their lineup right now. Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Laynce Nix will hit home runs if they get contact, but they fail to do that pretty often. They do not steal many bases, and also find themselves at the bottom of the table in doubles, despite having Willy Taveras’ speed. The Reds thrive off the long ball, but cannot get things going if it isn’t there. This should help the Nats mask their poor defense.

In the end, though, the Nats really have to find some offense of their own to take some pressure off the pitching staff (which looks like it got to Stammen Sunday). They can start by parking Austin Kearns on the bench for a couple days. An outfield of Dukes, Harris, and Dunn will be much more efficient. Getting Willingham out of bed would also help, as he was starting to round into form; with the Nats luck, he has swine flu. Is Alberto Gonzalez better than Anderson Hernandez? Probably, not that that is difficult. Improving the defense up the middle would be nice, but it is hard to tell with these options.

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