Monday, March 17, 2008

The Ian Desmond Effect

Here, and around, I've read a few comments already about how John Patterson is toast based on yesterday's shellacking by the O's.

It reminds me of spring training '05, when everyone latched on to Ian Desmond as the next Alex Rodriguez because he had a big hit and a pretty spectacular play or three in the field.

That was our only exposure to the kid (thanks, MASN!), so that's what lingered in our mind, elevating a pretty rough prospect into a finished diamond in our eyes.

Is that what happened in reverse with Patterson yesterday?

I see his overall numbers on the spring, and the 7.00 ERA looks scary, but as I've said before, you should pay almost no attention to ERA, nor really any spring training stats.

The one that I've cited is his K/BB ratio, and with a 7.00 ERA, it's gotta be terrible, right? Try 7 K, 0 BB. He's clearly doing a few things right.

He's getting hit, but some of that could be defense behind him. Some of it could be random luck. Some of it could be him tinkering with his other pitches and building arm strength.

There are any number of reasons why he's getting hit beyond "he's toast."

That he's still striking guys out, and not walking anyone is a pretty good indication that we don't need to pull the fork out from between his shoulders. Is he perfectly ready? Nope. But there's hope buried in there. You just need to squint your eyes and look beyond the Desmond effect to notice it.

24 Comments:

  • Money says he's on the mound to christen Nationals Park on the evening of 3/30, and therefore gracing photo posters for thousands of Nats fans for a generation to come. I pray the memory does not turn out to be a painful one.

    By Anonymous http://www.cafepress.com/letteddywin, at 3/17/2008 10:26 AM  

  • First off, I respect your opinion, Chris, but you're dead wrong. Patty is done, at least as a starter. Best case scenario is he reinvents himself as a seventh-inning setup guy, but I don't think he has the makeup for that. Reasoning:
    1. He's a power pitcher with an 86 mph fastball. End of argument.
    2. He has not second or third "out" pitch. His breaking ball is average, at best.
    3. He's been damaged goods his entire career. The only way he looks durable is standing next to Shawn Hill.

    Cafepress, I'll take all the action you want on Patty pitching opening night. No way. He's penciled in for the Phillies home opener the next day.

    My opening night guess: O. Perez.

    Which says volumes about our starting pitching. God bless Manny Acta with this crew. He's going to need JimBo's Segway for those hundreds of trips to the mound he's going to make.

    I still think they can be .500, but it won't be because of Patterson and Hill.

    Just my opinion. I could be wrong.

    By Anonymous Friend of STAN, at 3/17/2008 10:59 AM  

  • 1) There's reason to believe that the velocity will come back with more work. He's not ready now, but he's basically had two years off, and he'll need time to get his strength back.

    2) Then why the Ks? It's not bc of the fastball? He's not commanding the curve, but the change wasn't too bad yesterday. We haven't seen the other outings to know one way or another.

    3) Can't argue with that, but if the nerve problem has been solved... (A big if, of course)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/17/2008 11:03 AM  

  • I hear what you're saying Chris, but:

    I heard an interview on WTOP this morning, and Patterson said that the last two innings he pitched he felt is arm was dead and that he was trying to throw bowling balls.

    No, I don't know how to reconcile that with 7 K's, but when a pitcher, with a long injury history, admits that his arm is dead, that can't be good

    By Anonymous A DC Wonk, at 3/17/2008 11:17 AM  

  • I don't think he means that he's injured.

    I think that he means that he's gassed.

    He just doesn't have the arm strength to be an effective SP now. I won't disagree with that. But he CAN work himself into shape.

    He's had two years off. Arm strength will come in time. And since he's not feeling arm problems -- as evidenced by the number of curves he's throwing -- then there's no reason to believe that he won't get that strength (and velocity) back.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/17/2008 11:19 AM  

  • Chris,
    Do you live with a few bad outings by Patterson until his arm strength reemerges (and maybe suffer a horrible start to the season as happened last year), or do you rehab Patterson? Why not first make sure his velocity is there, and then start him in the majors?

    By Anonymous EdDC, at 3/17/2008 12:48 PM  

  • I think early struggles are the likely scenario IF it is an arm strength thing.

    We kinda have to live with it. Even when he struggles, he'll have some outings that won't kill us, and some that will!

    It's going to be hard -- even with a healthy Patterson -- for the team to contend, so it's not like we're throwing away our chances for the playoffs... and our chances for the playoffs in future years ARE improved if Patterson can get back on form.

    If it's July and he's still going 5 and giving up 6, then we can worry about it! :)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/17/2008 12:52 PM  

  • OK, so the answer is to rehab him on the job in the majors, hoping that the Nats won't get too discouraged over giving a few games away.

    Personally, I would get him healthy and ready first, before starting him in the majors, but I see your point (which is, as I understand it, that the games are meaningless anyway). Thanks.

    By Anonymous EdDC, at 3/17/2008 12:58 PM  

  • Chris,

    Are there any examples of past pitchers to backup what you are presenting as true about arm strength coming back? Most examples I can recall show that these types never get the fastball back and they must develop alternate ways of getting people out. This may work for Patterson but I think the contention that he will ever break 90 MPH again are not supported by those who have surgery and had time to recover and pitch 6 weeks......either they have or not.....Patterson is a not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/17/2008 12:58 PM  

  • ideally, he'd get some rehab time in the minors...

    but he's not really injured, so they can't really send him down.

    and as prissy as he is, he most definitely wouldn't agree to it.

    You're right, though, in that it would be the best bet for him and us.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/17/2008 12:59 PM  

  • Well, look at any pitcher in spring training and early in the season.

    I remember the opener in 2005, being amazed when Billy Wagner came in to close the game and was only throwing 90-92.

    It takes time for the arm to get strength.

    I think he's showing that his secondary pitches are able to fool some of the batters some of the time... and that him throwing them shows that his arm isn't in pain.

    If that's the case, then the problem is probably arm strength. He hasn't pitched regularly in two years, so it's understandable that he'd have to work back up.

    (Now if he's still throwing 89 in July, forget I typed this!)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/17/2008 1:01 PM  

  • Just one last comment from me on Patterson.

    You say that if his velocity is not there, we will have to live with some subpar outings in the majors, because Patterson is to prissy, to use your word, to agree to a minor league rehab.

    Does everyone get to be a star these days? Patterson is 18-25 lifetime in the majors, and he is 30. He does not even have a winning record in the minors, lifetime.

    The guy is making over a million dollars, which counts as money in the real world, yet he is too big a star to go on rehab? Something is wrong here.

    By Anonymous EdDC, at 3/17/2008 1:29 PM  

  • Patterson is a bum. Lets see how Chico's new kick fairs. Our rotation rocks!

    By Anonymous The Big C from DC, at 3/17/2008 3:26 PM  

  • Our rotation rocks if leading the league in #4 starters counted for something.

    By Anonymous Presidents Race, at 3/17/2008 3:42 PM  

  • Yeah, this could get ugly, but I think everyone assumed that Patty and Hill weren't going to be innings eaters for this team anyway. You just can't count on them. I think we can hold the fort with O, Chico, Bergmann, Redding and someone else.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/17/2008 3:52 PM  

  • For those who want to get rid of Patterson or give up on Hill, I ask why?

    Sure, Patterson may be sucky and he may not throw particularly well, and he may only have an 86 mph fastball. His arm may be dead, and in fact it may just be reanimated flesh at this point. However, if you want to toss Patterson under the bus and totally give up on him, who do you plan on replacing him with, hmm?

    Sure, he's probably going to go on the DL at some point this year with another freak injury and I'd almost guarantee he doesn't give us anything below a 4 ERA, but we're not paying him anything substantial and we've exactly diddly squat--except a bunch of guys we know will be even worse (Bacsik, I'm talking about you)to replace him.

    Yeah, he might be done, but we're not losing anything by trying him or devoting more rehab to him and Hill than half of Hollywood. Let's look at the facts--we don't have any ready aces who can just come in and toss six good innings, and you Livan fans out there have to face that facts that 180 innings of Livo will be expensive and will have a 5+ ERA, things we can already get without the expense with our current crew.

    The Nats aren't going to have good pitchers this year and probably won't have any good ones next year. We don't have anything to trade with to get them, we don't have any ready rookies and there won't be any good free agents on the market. The people who are whining about Patterson need to consider this. Even if he gives us 50-60 innings of ~4.5 ERA or 5 ERA, that's still better than Bacsik giving us 50-60 innings, or some other journeyman doing even worse.

    As long as Patterson isn't dead, there's no real point to tossing him under the bus, since we don't have any better alternatives anyway. When we do, you better believe he'll be packing his bags pronto, but until then, what point is there in stressing about it?

    By Blogger Michael, at 3/17/2008 4:29 PM  

  • Has more ink ever been spilled over a 18-25 lifetime, soft-tossing, sore-armed, 30-year old, washed up pitcher? I saw him pitch last week against the Braves. He was awful. 60 pitches through three shut-out innings. Do you realize Mike O'Connor throws harder now? It would be a big mistake to take Patterson north and leave Chico behind!

    Tony Armas is 3 months younger, has won almost 3 times as many games in his career. Armas has won 20 games over the last three years, compared to Patterson's 11. You could probably get Armas for Langerhans from Omar. Would anyone go for that? Seriously, Patterson reminded me of Armas on Tuesday at Disney World. 20 pitches every inning. Full counts.

    When can we move on?

    By Anonymous Dick, at 3/17/2008 6:35 PM  

  • All this talk about pitching leads me to one conclusion.

    We are fucked.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/17/2008 9:09 PM  

  • Chris, every Nat's beat writer has reported that Patterson was sick with the flu when he pitched on Sunday. These so-called fans apparently aren't willing to take that into account and concede that might have some effect on his arm feeling dead. He was pitching well before Sunday, as you pointed out with his K/BB ratio. He does not have his full velocity yet, but he does (sometimes) have the hop on his fastball and that is more important than the velocity in the long run. As Acta and Bowden have said, the most important things are the fact that he is pain-free that he is extending his arm and they have seen the hop on his fastball. They believe the velocity will come.
    Some have suggested sending him to the minors to rehab, but these suggestions are made with utter disregard for the facts of the matter. He cannnot just be sent to the minors because he is out of options. He cannot be put on the DL unless he has an injury and his arm is fine it is only his velocity that is "injured". Except for those 2 innings yesterday when fatigue from the flu caught up with him, he has pitched well. It is very encouraging that he has not given up any bases on balls and that he can throw his curveball - which he could only rarely do the last 2 years because of the throbbing pain in his arm. Let's see how he pitches when he gets over the flu and not be so quick to give up on him now that his arm is finally pain-free!

    By Blogger thunderstrucknatsfan, at 3/17/2008 11:14 PM  

  • " EdDC said...
    "Patterson is to prissy, to use your word, to agree to a minor league rehab...

    The guy is making over a million dollars, which counts as money in the real world, yet he is too big a star to go on rehab? Something is wrong here."


    I'd like to make a couple of comments here. In the first place Patterson is not making over a million dollars - I don't know where anyone got that idea. His salary is $850,000 which is chicken feed compared to what most pitchers make. This is a reflection of his injuries and not his talent.
    Second, he is too prissy to accept a minor league rehab??? He has no say in it. As I stated before, he is out of options to be sent to the minors and no injury to be put on the DL. And calling him "prissy" is just plain ridiculous!

    By Blogger thunderstrucknatsfan, at 3/17/2008 11:28 PM  

  • Well, I'm the one that called him prissy. I'll stand by it.

    The guy is VERY particular about how he likes things to the point where it's obvious that things distract him that shouldn't. I'll never get the image of him running all over the mound kicking and scratching at the dirt like a big ol' hen back in '05.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/17/2008 11:31 PM  

  • "I'll never get the image of him running all over the mound kicking and scratching at the dirt like a big ol' hen back in '05."

    Chris, the mound was terrible at the beginning of 05. This might be the reason Patterson is so particular about the mound: In 04, his first year with the Expos, he started out the season great guns. One month into the season, his back leg slipped on the mound in San Diego and he tore his right groin muscle. He was out 2 1/2 months with that injury and was never right the rest of the season. He didn't want to go back on the DL and tried to pitch through it, but it ruined what had started as a very promising year. When he pitched a couple of rehab starts at Potomac in 06, he found the mound there in such bad shape that he told the Nationals about it and they sent the major league ground crew down there to fix it. I'm sorry, but I don't see this as being "prissy". He may have saved some other pitchers from injury.

    I think you have been brainwashed by Barry Svrluga!

    By Blogger thunderstrucknatsfan, at 3/18/2008 2:31 PM  

  • Hey Chris,

    So much for your building arm strength.....Lopez is next not because of stats but what Jimbo SEE in him.

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