IS the Cavalry Coming?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, July 01, 2010 | , , , , , , | 4 comments »

Almost any time someone from the Nationals talks about the rest of the season, they mention the reinforcements coming -- specifically the return of injured starting pitching.  But just how realistic is it that any of the pitchers currently on the disabled list will actually contribute meaningfully this season?

Ross Detwiler:  Detwiler is recovering from hip surgery and is probably the closest to returning to the Nationals.  He was on a rehab assisgnment in Potomac and Harriburg, and last week was activated from the MLB DL and assigned to Harrisburg.  In three games, Detwiler has a sparkling ERA (0.84) but is putting a lot of runners on base (1.594). 

He went six innings his last time out, and officials have described his time in the minors as his "spring training", in order to build his arm strength up.  He could return to the rotation at any time once the team is comfortable that his arm is game ready.  In 15 games last season, Detwiler went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.586 WHIP.

FORECAST:  Detwiler will return to the MLB rotation mid-July.

Jordan Zimmerman:  Zimmermann underwent Tommy John surgery and has speadily progressed in his rehab, to the point that the team has slowed him down on occasion, and he has not met any setbacks that are common with TJ rehabs.  He has thrown a couple of simulated games at Nationals Park and is set for his first rehab assignment, this Saturday in Woodbridge for the P-Nats.  He is expected to throw two innings.

He's had good velocity in his simulated games, but the Nats are going to be very cautious with Zimmermann, who they envision to be the No. 2 starter behind Stephen Strasburg in 2011.

FORECAST:  If things progress smoothly through his rehab starts, Zimmermann could make a couple of MLB starts in September.

Chien-Ming Wang:  Wang has been slow to recover from his shoulder surgery, with GM Mike Rizzo describing it to the Washington Post the other day as more of a "football injury".  Regardless, Wang hasn't had any real setbacks, per se, just that his recovery has been slow.

He's been throwing live BP at extended spring training in Viera, FL and is schedueld to throw 45 pitches of live BP tomorrow.  There is no timetable on his return to action of any kind, including a rehab assignment.

FORECAST:  I'll be surprised if Wang makes an appearance for the Nats this season.  I was intrigued by this signing, hoping that Wang could return to the form that made him a two-time 19-game winner for the Yankees.  But every time he is talked about by Nats officials, the plan gets moved back a little bit more.

Jason Marquis:  Marquis played catch in the outfield from 90 feet on the last homestand, and has since returned to his off-season home in New York and the team's facilities in Florida to continue his rehab.

After he has his surgery, the Nats put an August timetable on his return, but considering we're at July 1 and he hasn't thrown from a mound yet, that looks doubtful.

FORECAST:  The first year of Marquis' contract is full-bust.  He might get an appearance or two in September, but significant progess needs to be made in the next couple of weeks or even that is in jeopardy.

Garrett Mock:  Mock was sent to the minors after one start, then discovered a nerve injury in his neck that caused tension in his shoulder.  He had corrective surgery, and had been throwing as late as mid-May.  But considering the dearth of information about Mock's injury and lack of a timeline from team officials, it's hard to be enthusiastic about a return to the majors this year.

FORECAST:  Mock will resurface later this summer and spend the rest of the season in the minors.  Even when he does get healthy, Detwiler, Luis Atilano, Matt Chico and others have stepped in front of him for now.

Scott Olsen:  Olsen went on the DL May 22 with tightness and weakness in his surgically repaired shoulder.  He was undergoing therapy and actually threw 33 pitches in a bullpen session in early June.  But Olsen experienced soreness the next day and was again shut down.

He was sent back to extended spring training in Viera and as of June 22 had just started a throwing program.

FORECAST:  Olsen doens't throw another pitch for the Nationals this season.

John Lannan:  I saved the most frustrating for last.  Lannan, expected to be a major part of the Nationals pitching staff this season, was ceremoniously dumped to Double-A Harrisburg last week after three consecutive miserable starts where he allowed 10+ hits in less than five innings.  He did have a stretch of four games earlier this season where he gave up two earned runs or less in each.

Lannan has had two starts now for the Senators.  His first was sparkling, giving up just one run on four hits in seven innings.  Last night, however, Lannan was rocked for six earned runs on 10 hits and three walks in five innings.  In Double-A. 

Lannan insists that the soreness he had in his elbow, which caused him to miss a start earlier this season, is not troubling him.  Yet, he is confounded why his sinker does not have the life on it that causes him to generate weakly hit grounders.

He does not strike anyone out, and his K rates have gotten worse every year in the bigs, leading Fangraphs to call Lannan the Luckiest Man in Baseball.  This year his walk rates have gone up in addition.

FORECAST:  If Lannan does not have a physical problem, then he really needs to figure out why he can pitch well one game and get hammered the next.  Still, I think we'll see Lannan get his troubles figured out and return to the rotation by August 1.


  1. Anonymous // July 1, 2010 at 4:31 PM  

    Mock was placed on the 60-day DL amidst one of the recent series of roster moves. Either the Strasburg move or the Lannan move, I forget which. But my point would be that with him on the 60-day and Olsen only on the 15-day, Olsen's more likely to be back first. Mock is effectively out for the season at this point.

  2. Dave Nichols // July 1, 2010 at 5:09 PM  

    the DL manipulations are, in my opinion, immaterial. they were simply a function of adding a man to the 40-man roster. Mock has been on the DL over 60 days already, so he theoretically could be back tomorrow were he healthy.

  3. Souldrummer // July 2, 2010 at 12:46 PM  

    Detwiler got hit hard in his start last night. At least 3R in 4IP. Thankfully they went with Stammen for the callup.Plus his start had been pushed back a couple of days due to back spasms. I think it's late July at the earliest for Detwiler. Who would you send down for Detwiler if you got 2-3 more solid starts out of Stammen. Martin, I guess.

  4. Anonymous // July 2, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

    From the MLB Roster Rules: "There are two disabled lists, 15-day and 60-day. Players may be disabled retroactively, up to a maximum of 10 days, beginning with the day after the last day they played."

    Ergo, Mock's time on the 60-day DL can only be backdated a maximum of 10 days from the date he was placed on the 60-day, not all the way back to the last game he pitched as you state.