Decision 2013: H-Rod or Romero

I may be among some of the last people on this planet who still believe in
Henry Rodriguez, but I still believe in Henry Rodriguez. Anyone that has
watched him pitch over the last two seasons has seen the flashes of brilliance
like the time he was so dominant David Ross bunted with two strikes and two
outs, or the time he made the Reds look foolish in route to getting a save on
just 10 pitches. But it cannot be denied that Henry Rodriguez has pitched
poorly this spring. He has walked ten batters and struck out only seven in 8 2/3
innings pitched against talent that Baseball Reference ranks around the AA

From the looks of things the Nationals
are more than likely going to start Henry Rodriguez on the DL. He hasn’t gotten
it together in a number of days and has pitched like the strike zone is a
mystery worthy of Hercule Poirot. He could use the time in extended spring or
AA to find even a modicum of command, because even in a mop-up role a 10.4 BB/9
is going to turn a blowout into either a bigger blowout or a close game, and it
could end up that the other Nationals relievers can’t put out the fire that
Henry Rodriguez is going to start.

The fact that Henry Rodriguez hasn’t
pitched well enough to earn a job on the Opening Day roster doesn’t mean JC
Romero should. Romero has pitched only two innings walking one and striking out
one, but for his career command has been as much a mystery for him as it has
Henry Rodriguez. Romero’s career BB/9 of 5.1 is only slightly better than
Rodriguez’s of 5.8, and Romero doesn’t have the benefit of being able to miss
bats as his career K/9 is only 7.2. What Romero can do is pitch to lefties, but
if it comes down to it with the game on the line it would still be better to
have Mattheus, Stammen, Clippard, Storen, or Soriano in there against Joey
Votto, Jason Heyward, or Chase Utley. 

Romero in recent seasons has not been a
good pitcher. His ERA in 36 2/3 innings over his last two seasons at the major
league level is 5.65 and he has spent time in the majors with the Phillies,
Rockies, Cardinals, and Orioles as well as part of the Nationals, Yankees, and
Indians minor league systems. No team has been interested in keeping Romero for
longer than the 16 1/3 innings he pitched for the Phillies in 2011. JC Romero
has had very limited success at getting outs at the major and minor league
levels over the last couple seasons. This is not the pitcher the Nationals need
to replace Henry Rodriguez. 

This means we’ve reached a cross roads.
Henry Rodriguez hasn’t shown he is ready for the start of the major league
season and the guy the Nats have remaining in camp has all but proven he is no
longer a major league pitcher. The answer to this is simple. Henry Rodriguez
should start the season on the DL, and JC Romero should not come north with the
team. The player that deserves the final roster spot is a newly made reliever
and by seasons end will be in the Nationals bullpen. Some may question if he is
ready but he was in Nats camp early in Spring Training and in 8 innings pitched
against the same level of competition that both Henry Rodriguez and JC Romero
faced put up a 1.13 ERA, 9.0 K/9, and most importantly a 2.3 BB/9. Eight
innings is an extremely small sample size, but over 48 appearances and 73
innings pitched this pitcher in his first full season as a reliever had a 2.71
ERA with a 9.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

This pitcher is Nationals prospect Erik
Davis and he is more deserving of being the Nats 25th man on the roster than
either Henry Rodriguez or JC Romero. He is another right hander, but he is a
talented right hander, and a talented right handed pitching prospect should be
able to beat out an untalented left handed LOOGY. The big thing about Erik
Davis is that in 48 appearances he pitched 73 innings. That is an average of
1.5 innings pitched an appearance. The only two Nationals relievers that came
close to that in 2012 were Craig Stammen and Tom Gorzelanny. With Stammen
moving up in the pecking order from long reliever Davis could slide into that
vacated spot, pitch in low pressure innings, and give the Nationals a stronger
and deeper bullpen than either Henry Rodriguez or JC Romero are capable of
doing right now.

Erik Davis is the future of the
Nationals bullpen, and while he was sent out from camp a while ago he pitched
against no less competition than Henry Rodriguez or JC Romero have, and
outperformed both. He also has a track record of excellent control and
strikeout stuff in the minor leagues. Erik Davis is the future of the Nationals
bullpen. He offers higher upside than JC Romero and better production than
Henry Rodriguez, and if the Nats are trying to pick their seven best relievers
for Opening Day then Erik Davis is the seventh.




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  1. Or they could go with a 6 man bullpen and bring someone like Eury Perez north to Pinch run. Not likely, but hell the 7th reliever might not see action till may.


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