Nationals' Ayala Out for Year
I don't think I need to tell any of the astute readers of this humble blog that today's announcement that Ayala is out for the year is a considerable blow to the Nats' bullpen. Ayala has born the brunt of Frank Robinson's bullpen needs over the past two years, pitching in a 149 games and throwing 161 1/3 innings in 2004-2005. He's done it with a sparkling ERA - 2.69 in 2004 and 2.66 in 2005.
Those innings will have to come from somewhere. The Nats' bullpen was excellent last year - starting at the top with the Chief and falling all the way down to Joey Eischen. By God, the Nats even got 30 games and a 3.58 ERA out of Mike Stanton, even if Stanton's MO was to clear the bases as soon as he came into the game. (Or so I'm told by Dexy's).
After being taxed so hard last year - probably something that led to Ayala's injury anyway - it's going to be hard for Robinson to lean on the 'pen much more this year. But since the starting pitching situation is woeful at best (and frightful at worst), there's fat chance that these guys will get much rest. Add the departure of bullpen star Hector Carrasco, and the Nats are really going to need some heroes to come through this season for the Nats to finish ahead of the Marlins.
So what does the 2007 draft look like again?