Thursday, September 08, 2005

We want a pitcher, not a ...

Fla 12, Was 1

After returning from wandering in the wilderness, Chris Needham wrote a pretty good blog entry about Tuesday's loss. He talked about how every emotional reaction is intensified this time of year. Big wins make you the favorite to win the World Series, while crushing losses suddenly make you the worst team ever to trot onto a baseball field.

Being very busy this month, I've fallen prey to this quite often over the past week. I'll glance at the boxscore and either be elated or crushed. Yesterday, I think the bubble of this remarkable season finally popped for good.

Dontrelle Willis dominated the Nationals, who did everything in their power to lose this game. Seven Nationals pitchers were trotted out, all of them allowing at least one run. The Fish scored 12 runs and left 17 men on base. That's a pretty good indicator that your pitching stinks.

Washington managed only five hits, three of them by September call-ups. Young Ryan Zimmerman got one of those hits, but his inexperience at shortstop showed when he made two errors that each led to an unearned run.

One of Frank Robinson's major strengths has been his handling of the pitching staff. But John Halama, the stop-gap fourth starter, was only given the opportunity to pitch 2/3 of a inning, allowing a single run. I mean, sure, the guy stinks. But when you don't even have a fifth starter, do you really want to make your bullpen pitch 8 1/3 innings? I just didn't get it.

Last night was primarily about starting pitching depth. At the beginning of the year, the Nats had extraordinary depth. There were probably 7-8 guys that would be at least a serviceable #5 starter on many Major League teams. Now, thanks in part to injury but mostly to pure stupidity, the Nats can't even put a fourth starter out on the field.

Boswell jumped on this line of thinking (FINALLY!) in yesterday's e-mail column, and St. Barry continues the thought process in last night's game story. Right now, it would be nice to have at least one guy out of the group of Zach Day, Tomo Ohka, Sunny Kim and Claudio Vargas. One can debate endlessly the merits of the trades involving Zach Day and Tomo Ohka. But letting Sunny Kim get snapped up on waivers was careless. And Jim Bowden even waiving Claudio Vargas was stupid to begin with, since he apparently had an option year left. He could have been sent to the minors without putting him on the waiver wire!

Apparently Frank is considering going to a four-man rotation by the end of next week. That's alarming by itself, even though it's probably necessary. But what's flat out frightening is that the fourth starter would be the bullpen!

Jim Bowden you stink. Nats hitters - you stink too.

Tonight is about as must-win as it gets. Barring a minor miracle, losing tonight would likely doom the Nats - especially with how well Houston is playing as of late.

It would hurt a lot to miss the playoffs. But the fact we actually are hurting over baseball is a wonderful thing. This could be the first time in 34 years that Washington baseball fans get to say, "Wait 'till next year!"


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