MLB Season in Review: Washington Nationals Pitching
By Eno Sarris //
Biggest Surprise: Stephen Strasburg
Maybe it doesn’t seem like Strasburg’s performance was a surprise – he did get his fair share of hype on the way up. That said, plenty of top prospects have flamed out, especially on the mound, so the fact that he came up and maintained his double-digit strikeout rate (12.18 K/9) was very impressive. Even better, his control held (2.25 BB/9), and he got balls on the ground (47.8%). When he was on the mound, everyone was watching, and for good reason. Now we have to wait until late 2011, most likely, as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Biggest Bust: Yunesky Maya
Maya did not live up to his somewhat lofty expectations. After dominating in his home country of Cuba and pitching well at the World Baseball Classic, Maya did not show the ability to harness his secondary stuff in the major leagues (3.81 BB/9). With the mediocre fastball that we profiled here late in the season, he’s also not showing the strikeout ability (4.15 K/9) he needs in order to succeed. As of now, he’s not really fantasy-relevant.
2011 Keeper Alert: Jordan Zimmermann
On the surface, Zimmermann’s statistics don’t seem to argue that he’s a keeper. His 4.94 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were not great in his 31-inning return from Tommy John surgery last year. However, his control was still strong (2.9 BB/9, 2.87 BB/9 career), and he did strike out an above-average number of batters (7.84 K/9). The rest of the reason for optimism comes from projecting his minor league numbers, where he struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings for his career. He’s got the punch, the control, and he keeps the ball on the ground – he’s a great deep-league sleeper keeper.
2011 Regression Alert: Livan Hernandez
Hernandez seems to have a good stretch every year, but in 2010, that stretch lasted all season. No matter. Despite some improving numbers, it’s fair to say that the portly 35-year-old right-hander won’t put up another 3.66 ERA – if only because the last time he bettered that number, it was in an Expos uniform in 2004. He’s not a terrible real-life innings-eater, but as a guy who doesn’t strike people out (4.85 K/9 last year) and allows a lot of flyballs (39.3% groundballs last year), he’s not a good fantasy starter for 2011.