Thursday, May 03, 2007

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Bully for Robert Fick for coming through with a big 2-RBI double in last night's loss to the Padres. Ryan Church had led off with a single, before Brian Schneider sliced a double down the left-field line that rolled deep into the corner. Church read the ball poorly, got a poor jump, and was unable to score when the 3B coach held him (rightly) with just one out. It was a poor base-running play on a ball that was in front of Church the whole way, but he was saved by Fick's rip down the right-field line.

But boooo to Fick for his boneheaded baserunning play. Kory Casto doubled deep off the CF wall, and Fick only made it to third base. He held up on the play, looking for the tag play, expecting Cameron to catch the ball.

With one out, that's the wrong decision.

If Cameron had made the catch, Fick would've been on third with two outs. There's not much advantage to being on third with two outs as there is on being on second. (Yeah, Wild Pitches and all that, but they're the exception). If there were nobody out, Fick's play was the right one, because he'd be on third with one out, and there are a bazillion ways that the runner on third can score with less than two outs -- not that the Nats succeed in any of them anyway.

Instead, he should've played it halfway. Had he, he would've scored easily. Instead, he was able to advance only 90 feet on a play the batter ran 180 on.

  • We've rapidly gotta be approaching the end of the Matt Chico experiment. I'm not so much worried about what it's doing to him, but to the team's pen. Last night was his shortest outing yet, and it makes 4 of his 6 appearances under 5 IP. The starters have been better of late, which has lifted some of the burden on the pen, but you can't consistently have a guy pitch this little every five days.

    What's been his undoing is the walks. Oh, man, the walks. Four more last night, gives him 20 on the season (to go with just 17 K). If he made 33 starts, he'd have walked 110 batters while averaging under 5 innings an outing. Yeesh. If you pro-rate it, he's at 6.6 BB per 9 IP, an ungodly rate.

    If you think he's been as bad as his numbers, say, you're right. His FIP ERA (fielding independent pitching), which looks at the things the pitcher has most control over (walks, strikeouts, homers) is 6.64 versus the 6.59 he's put up.

    He just doesn't have much control. Only 55% of his pitches are strikes (league ave is 62%), and he throws a first-pitch strike just 46% of the time. And 10% of his plate appearances have resulted in 3-0 counts.

    Add it up, and we've got someone who's not ready for prime time.

    He doesn't appear to be making progress, and he's hurting the team's chances for winning, and stretching the pen. It's probably time to send him down, and see what someone else -- be it Simontacchi or Hanrahan (who's nursing a bit of a groin problem) -- can do.

    He was a solid pitcher at AA, and he didn't really have control problems. Maybe it's best to give him some time at Columbus to get back to what made him successful.


    • Chris,

      I'm a casual baseball fan, trying to learn enough to call myself a diehard baseball fan.

      Chris, what do you see in Chico -- "stuff" not "makeup" -- that will help him succeed in the majors? My novice eye sees a pudgy Mike O'Connor.

      BTW, I have reserved a round trip ticket for Matt on Skybus Airlines, to/from Columbus.

      By Anonymous BrianH, at 5/03/2007 11:20 AM  

    • Good question. I haven't seen him enough (especially when he's effective!) to get a great read on him.

      He's got a pretty good curveball. Early in the game, he was getting lots of weak flyouts on it, showing that the hitters were having a hard time with it.

      His fastball looks ok -- nothing special -- which is why he needs his control. If he's hitting spots with it, he should be fine. But when he's missing -- especially when he's missing high -- he's going to get hit hard.

      The O'Connor comparison is a valid one. That was actually my first impression when I saw him this spring. The pitches they throw are similar, though Chico's curve is a lot sharper, and he's had a lot more minor league success.

      But from what I've seen, despite the control problems, it's not really a problem of nibbling. O'Connor always looked like he was afraid of the batters, trying to tiptoe around each of them. Chico seems to go after them more, but he just doesn't have the command of those pitches to be able to spot them where he wants them, whenever he needs to.

      Anyway... just some thoughts. Anyone else in comment land have any?

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/03/2007 11:24 AM  

    • I think the real issue here is for the Nats to find a quality left-handed starter. I don't know very much about the team when they were in Montreal, but I know it's beena while since they had one. They're gonna keep playing guys like Chico and O'Connor until they get somebody who can do the job.
      I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a guy like Dontrelle on this team....

      By Blogger Rob B, at 5/03/2007 11:48 AM  

    • To me, a left-handed starter is a nice thing to have, but it's not really a necessity. Given the choice between a #3 who's a righty and a #4 who's a lefty, I'll probably take the righty.

      Just give me a quality pitcher who can consistently throw strikes and get hitters out occasionally, and I'll be happy. :)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/03/2007 11:51 AM  

    • Watching the game last night was like seeing the best and worst that Chico has to offer in one setting. In the first couple innings, he threw strikes, challenged hitters in the zone, and made them hit his pitch.

      Then, he gives up the first run and just implodes.

      Personally, having seen him at RFK and on tv, I think that he has the "stuff" to be effective, but not the mental make-up. But, he is particularly bad from the stretch. I haven't looked at the numbers, but would bet he is consistently worse with runners on base. He definitely has some command issues, but I think those spring from his issues either with the stretch in general, or with pitching with runners on base. He definitely looks like he is trying to be a lot more fine with runners on than with bases empty.

      Either way, I think he needs to go down to the minors and get this sorted out.

      By Blogger Natsfan74, at 5/03/2007 11:57 AM  

    • I know what we think... but do you think the Nats will actually move Chico down? Simotacchi will come up but for Williams. Do you see them willing to move Chico down for Hanrahan or Fruto? (Preferably Hanrahan - Chico has shown what a lack of control can lead to at the major league level)

      By Blogger Harper, at 5/03/2007 12:00 PM  

    • Nats Fan -- Great catch.

      With runners on: .354 .452 .583
      With nobody on: .299 .390 .493

      Harper -- You're probably right. One's coming up for Williams. I bet they're inclined to bury him in the minors for the 30 day maximum rehab time.

      Fruto has pitched very well, but take a look at his hit and walk numbers. His ERA is fluky because he's allowed far fewer hits than he probably should've given his walk and K totals. It just looks like he's been helped by his defense, quite a bit.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/03/2007 12:08 PM  

    • we absolutely MUST get matt chico back into the minors. this isn't a case of ragging out some has-been or never-was (like williams, simontacchi, hanrahan, etc.) like driving a 1980 olds diesel, pouring in a quart of oil every 500 miles, completely unconcerned about wear and tear and long term effects.

      chico is (ostensibly) part of "THE PLAN" (yes, i am genuflecting); therefore, an asset that needs to be developed properly. he needs to work on his control (this as today's Wa Post reports that St. Clair is emphasizing 1st pitch strikes, hahaha). getting teed off on by ML batters in 4.1 inning "starts" is not the way to develop a 22 year old asset. and, let's face it, if chico doesn't develop, bowdsie blew the livo deal.

      By Blogger Bill, at 5/04/2007 9:40 AM  

    • By Blogger Sneakers hobbies, at 11/01/2009 8:23 PM  

    Post a Comment

    << Home