Everyone who writes about the Washington Nationals is likely to do some variation of this post, so I thought I should get mine in early. I try to base my grades upon performance, NOT expectations (ergo, no downgrading Strasburg for NOT being Clayton Kershaw). Anyway, feel free to argue with my grades, or agree if you will, in the comments.
Stephen Strasburg – B Heading into the stretch run, Strasburg’s year was looking a bit shaky, but he dominated in season’s last month and ended up leading the Nats in innings pitched (by a margin of 15) and leading the NL in strikeouts. On the other hand, he was 4th on the staff in ERA and had no complete games (and has only 1 in his entire career), which is a real deficiency in a guy who is supposed to be the staff ace and the “stopper.”
Jordan Zimmermann – A Only a bad month of May, in which he sported an ugly ERA of 5.06, kept Zimmermann out of discussions for the Cy Young Award. His season-ending no hitter and almost as strong a performance in Game 2 of the NLDS show him to be a pitcher who has reached the absolute the top of his game.
Doug Fister – A It kind of got obscured by Zimmermann’s no-no, but Fister was almost as dominant in the 3-hit complete game shutout he threw just two days prior. Had the Marlins decided to rest Donovan Solano in the first game of that Friday doubleheader, the Nats might have pulled off the unprecedented feat of having pitched two no hitters in the same weekend.
Gio Gonzalez – C+ Like Strasburg, Gio pitched well down the stretch, which in his case salvaged his season from true mediocrity. Unfortunately, he then got the nod for the playoff rotation over Tanner Roark and once again proved that he just isn’t a good postseason pitcher.
Tanner Roark – A- Fantastic as Roark was, his peripheral stats suggest merely an above average pitcher who had a little luck on his side rather than another staff ace. Still, that’s a great thing for a team’s number 5 starter to be.
Blake Treinen – C+ Treinen pitched both as a starter and a reliever this year, but had far more innings as the former than the latter. Weirdly, Treinen had a much better ERA and K/9 ratio as a reliever, but as a starter had a much lower WHIP and held opposing hitters to an OPS that was over .100 points lower. Still, it would seem that unless he’s traded, Treinen’s future lies in the bullpen.
Taylor Jordan – F Winning a rotation spot out of spring training, last year’s pleasant rookie surprise turned out to be a dud in his sophomore season. Jordan pitched well in his first start, but then imploded and was demoted to AAA when Doug Fister came off the DL at the end of April. Jordan wasn’t much better at Syracuse, and then spent the season’s second half on the DL himself.
Drew Storen – C In giving out postseason awards, MLB only considers a player’s regular season performance. Since I don’t have to do that, Storen gets docked two letter grades for his awful NLDS performance after what had been an outstanding season.
Rafael Soriano – B- It particularly grates that Soriano pitched very effectively in the playoffs, for it was his August implosion as the closer that caused Storen to be returned to the role. I’ll bet I speak for most Nats fans when I say I’ll be glad to see the back of Mr. Shirt Untuck this offseason.
Tyler Clippard – A I’ll be the first to say it. Since (assuming he isn’t traded) next year is Clippard’s last with the Nats before he hits free agency and he will likely be their highest paid reliever, they should FINALLY give him the closer’s job that perhaps he should have had all along.
Jerry Blevins – C- Acquired from Oakland via trade last offseason to be the bullpen’s lefty specialist not long after the Nats had oddly enough let lefty reliever Fernando Abad go to Oakland, Blevins had a “meh” season. He turned in a lot of bad outings and had the worst ERA of any Nats reliever who spent the whole season on the big club roster, but righted the ship down the stretch and into the playoffs, not allowing a run after September 10th.
Matt Thorton – A- Until Game 4 of the NLDS, Thorton hadn’t given up a run in a Nats’ uniform. Though he was not on the mound when the runner he put on base scored what turned out to be the series clinching run, it was a heck of a time for him to allow his first one.
Aaron Barrett – C Like Storen, the rookie pitched well in the regular season (but for a rough midsummer patch that led to a brief demotion to AAA), but then totally screwed the pooch in the playoffs.
Craig Stammen – B- Stammen had his worst year as Nats reliever, a fact emphasized when he allowed 5 runs on 6 hits without retiring a batter in his last regular season game. Nevertheless, he was outstanding in the playoffs, which gives him a bit of a bump up grade-wise.
Ross Detwiler – D Former starter Detwiler did nothing after his demotion to the bullpen to prove the Nats were wrong for making the move. Left off of the NLDS roster, Detwiler has likely pitched his last inning in a Nats uniform.
Tomorrow, we’ll do the position players.