Thursday, December 09, 2004

We interrupt all the stat head talk ...

... to mention an actual Nats player. Amidst the "spirited" discussion over new stats and fiddling with the 2004 data, one Nats pitcher kept popping up pretty high on the lists of good pitchers -- Luis Ayala. He seems to be a real solid middle reliever, which is an indispensible part of pitching staff these days. According to SuperNova's formula, he saved about 0.52 runs per 9 innings he pitched, which is second best on the team behind John Rauch. He is also only 26 years old. I'd love to hear what El Gran or anyone who followed the Expos closely thinks of him.

I don't know if this is wishful thinking or not, but I'm starting to convince myself that the Nats pitching staff is really not that bad.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger John said...

It isn't when healthy. Even Tony Armas is significantly better than his numbers from the last couple of years would indicate.

What we do lack is depth, and we've had a lot of injury problems. Last year, people who should have been in the bullpen ended up starting way too many games.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger El Gran Color Naranja said...

If you insist...

Ayala was probably the second most valuable pitcher for the Expos last year, behind "Preacher" Hernandez (and old-school complete game pitcher like Livan needs an old-school nickname. "Pops"? "Five-Finger"?) The knock on Ayala had been that lefties hit him real hard, but last year he kept the slugging down to a reasonable level. They still got on base against him, but there are far worse things than a righty reliever who gives up some singles and the occasional double to lefties. He has a good (boredering on great at times) control and killer stuff against righties. At one point went 20+ appearences without giving up a run. I think he'll be a lights-out set-up guy next year.

For a good 1.5-2 months from like mid June to mid August, the bullpen might have been tops in the majors. Or at least a segment of the bullpen, which I called the Fantastic Four (that name may have been used elsewhere, I'm not sure):

You all know about young Cordero but Joe Horgan was great as a situational lefty, and TJ Tucker was very effective as well. TJ I like alot because every time he comes up from the minors he seems to pitch better. The team also likes Joey Eischen and Gary Majewski (though I don't as much) and Francis Beltran probably has the best stuff in the pen, if he can get it under control. Almost all these guys are between 25-29 too (I think like 75% of the pitching staff was, oddly enough). If Bowden can get Steve Kline or another good reliever in here, I think your looking at a real strength.

Of course the problem last year was that the starters could never last long enough and the bullpen got overworked. This is even accounting for "Country" Hernandez pitching into the 8th almost every game. All the rest of the staff were either young or coming off injury or just bad. A true #1 or a solid innings eating #2 could really help this team. Of course for 4 million dollars, prepare yourself to say hello to Shawn Estes, the newest Washington Nat.


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