The Washington Nationals promoted right-handed relief-pitcher Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse. The move is considered the last step before the 2009 first-round pick makes his plunge to the majors for the second half of the season.
In seven appearances this season at Double-A Harrisburg, the 22-year-old has recorded four saves while posting a 0.96 ERA. In 9.1 innings pitched, Storen has struck out 11 while only walking one. His latest placement was just one in a line of several successful stops since signing with Washington last summer. In 35 appearances as a professional, he has posted a 1.75 ERA while averaging 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
While the Nationals drafted Storen in an attempt to gain instant help to a floundering bullpen last summer, Washington has upgraded it's relieving corps this winter and has had early success this season. Perhaps most notably, Matt Capps has dominated as the Nationals closer this season saving 11-out-of-11 chances while posting a 0.68 ERA. As a result Storen will likely have to wait his turn to become the Nationals full-time closer. While the 22-year-old may have envisioned being Washington's full-time closer by 2010, he will likely have to serve as a set-up man along with Tyler Clippard to the 26-year-old Capps until he is traded or his contract expires.
Clippard's last start as a major league pitcher came on Jun. 14th against the Seattle Mariners. He picked up the win in six innings pitched, letting up two runs off of two solo home runs. He struck out two batters and walked three. Despite the win, the start was a showcase of everything that was wrong with Clippard as a starter. While he made it through the first few innings with little trouble, he started to fall apart the second time through the order. Batters were picking up on his best pitch, the changeup, because he was releasing it from a different plane than fastball. He was having trouble spotting his fastball and getting it past hitters. He nibbled too much and was walking batters that he could have finished off. A switch from starter to reliever would not be enough to fix his problems. He would have to work on his mechanics and change his mentality in order to be successful, but the switch to reliever would at least help some of his problems.
Last year when Clippard switched to a reliever, his WHIP, BB/9, and HR/9 all dropped while his K/9 rose from the 7 range to 10.8 in the majors. His fastball picked up some velocity, going from the 89-90 range to the 92-93 range, allowing him to gain more confidence in the pitch. As a result, his contact% dropped by more than 10% and his swinging strike% rose by 7%. When he got ahead in the count, his fastball became his new out pitch. He began using his curveball less and started employing a slider, gaining enough confidence with the pitch so that he was able to throw it when he got behind in the count.
While the Nationals are off to a hot start, some question their ability to maintain their current level of success. Offensively, however, the club only has one batter who is clearly over-achieving and who will likely see a sharp decline in the near future, Ivan Rodriguez.
Entering today's day off Pudge is hitting .400/.422/.517 with 10 runs and 8 RBI on the season. No matter how improved Rodriguez may be off of his poor 2009 season that saw him hit just .249/.280/.384, he is simply not a .400 hitter, especially at the age of 38.
The instability of Rodriguez's success can be seen in his tremendous .436 batting average on balls put into play. His career mark in that category is only .323, so right ow he is hitting about .100 points above where he should. Never-the-less a .300 batting average from a guy who only hit .249 last season is nothing to sneeze at.
Rodriguez has been successful outside of just his unsustainable BABIP. The 38-year-old catcher has cut his strikeout percentage in half from 21.6% to 10.0%. Is this sustainable? It's hard to say, the 21.6% strikeout rate which he posted last year was the highest of his career by far. Rodriguez's career strikeout is 15.2 %, but there is reason to believe that Rodriguez could sustain a number closer to 10. Pudge's power numbers are way down early on in the season which may indicate he is focusing more on making contact with the baseball for singles and getting on base rather than trying drive the ball like he was able to earlier in his career.
When the Nationals signed him to a two-year $6 million deal, many thought they overpaid. However if Rodriguez can manage to hit between .280-300 and get on base at .330 or better, it may have been one of the steals of the offseason. Besides, regardless of performance, everybody in the locker room has attested that Rodriguez is one of the driving forces in bring back a winning culture to Washington baseball.
In the field he has helped a Nationals club that was the worst defensive team in baseball last year. At catcher he is able to provide veteran leadership and serve as an anchor to a club that made errors at ridiculous rates last season, but have been able to cut them down substantially this April. Behind the plate, his arm is still one of the more intimidating arms in the majors. In the last three seasons the future hall-of-famer has thrown out 49% of would-be base stealers, showing he still has the arm that made him famous over a decade ago.
It makes perfect sense, I mean the Mets had a full "Not Top 10" of all their blunders on ESPN last year...and that only was at the All-Star Break. Dropping fly balls, base running mistakes, and not knowing what to do in certain situations were only a few of the several issues that contributed to last years poor play. But during this past home stand it wasn't the Mets making bone head plays, it was their opponents, and most importantly New York took advantage of the mistakes. Perhaps all the injuries to the team did contribute heavily to the poor play. There was no consistency with the lineup as players were being shuffled in and out of positions; it got to the point where I'm sure David Wright didn't even know who he was throwing to at first base. With Reyes back and the promotion of Ike Davis, the Mets finally have an everyday infield with players at their natural born positions. If they keep putting out this same lineup everyday, who knows...maybe the Mets are for real.
Marlin Maniac profiles left handed reliever Renyel Pintos 5 year tenure with Florida and comes to a "shocking" conclusion.
These days, it is rare that a reliever sticks with one team for at least a five year time period, but that is exactly what Pinto has done. His arm "sweeps" through in his delivery making it
In Spanish, the name Atilano means "conqueror," in Hungarian it means, "father like." Both were appropriate Wednesday as the rookie became the Cubs daddy as he earned his second win of the season in the second start of his career, helping the Nationals hang on to grind out the 3-2 victory in Wrigley this afternoon. The win helped Washington improve to 12-10 on the season and helped them claim the series two-games to one over Chicago.
Atilano allowed six hits over six innings while only allowin two earned runs but struggled at times with control, allowing three walks on the night and only throwing 58-of-91 pitches for strikes. His wildness got him into trouble at times as he walked a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the first (eventually allowing him to score) and walked two batters to help load the bases in the fifth. Atilano also allowed four-out-of-six leadoff batters reach base for the Cubs, a major baseball fundamental faux pas. However despite pitching into trouble, the rookie was able to pitch himself out of those situations giving up only two runs on what could have been major mistakes.
Rookie gaffs aside, Atilano was succesful by feeding the Cubs batters a steady diet of sinking fastballs. In total he threw 31 of his 91 pitches for sinkers, which helped him induce 12 ground balls on the night. He also kept the Cubs off balance with a change up he threw 29 times, 17 for strikes. While some may argue he got lucky by finding his way out of so many jams without outstanding stuff, Atilano did his best John Lannan impersonation on the mound today proving that sometimes a well placed fastball with good movement can get you out of just about anything. no comments
The Nationals called up Roger Bernadina from Triple-A Syracuse to help with a banged-up bench, while optioning lefty Jesse English to make room. Bernadina got the nod after going on a tear, he's batted .377/.426/.541 in 61 at bats in Syracuse while stealing two bases. English on the other hand had been very effective in the bullpen, posting a 3.86 ERA in seven appearances.
"We told him, 'This is not a demotion. This is a strategic roster move, because we feel that we need to get a healthy position player in there. He didn't get as much work as we wanted to. We want him to go down there, pitch and get more work."
Analysis: This is exactly the opposite of what we suggested earlier this week. The Nationals extra inning loss to the Cubs on Monday was a direct result of having an exhausted bullpen. Clippard, Capps, and Batistia were seemingly unavailable and Brian Bruney was forced to pitch in a situation he obviously wasn't comfortable in, resulting in the walk-off-walk. We at The Nats Blog suggested the Nationals bring up Storen or perhaps a Triple-A starter to throw in the bullpen until the starting pitching gets more stable. Now, instead of getting more help for a bullpen that has had to chew up a lot of