Next in line for my new plan for the Nats are Starting Pitchers. Follow along with the series here.
John Lannan (LHP, under team control for 2010)
Lannan is the one sure thing the Nats have. He's the only pitcher on the current 25-man roster that would be worthy of a rotation spot for a playoff team. For a rotation lacking stability, he's really the strong point.
Stephen Strasburg (RHP, under team control for 2010)
I do not believe Strasburg is Major League ready yet (subject to change after the Arizona Fall League/Spring Training). I do believe the Nats will push him into the Majors either for the start of the season or at least by the All Star Break. His other-worldly talent is well-known...let's just hope he can translate it to major league success.
Ross Detwiler (LHP, under team control for 2010)
I usually group the Nats' young starting pitchers together, but I believe Detwiler should be considered separately. Detwiler is more talented than Stammen, Martis, Balester, Mock and Martis. And while he didn't necessarily look good in his 10-start stint with the Nats this summer, he was the only one out of the six with an FIP that would look particularly desirable in a major league rotation (3.89). I have high expectations for Detwiler to put up better actual numbers next year, and for his rate stats to improve as well. If I had to name a breakout candidate for the Nats in 2010, I would go with Detwiler.
Livan Hernandez (RHP, needs to be resigned)
Call me crazy, but I believe Livan when he says he'll be better in 2010. Maybe not a whole lot better, but I could see him posting double digit wins and an ERA in the 4.75-5.25 range. His FIP hasn't been lower since his memorable 2005 campaign and his K rates are back into an acceptable range. He won't break out next year, but I do think Livan can certainly be a passable #5 starter.
Garrett Mock (RHP, under team control)
Here we go, from Livan to one of the guys the Nats got for Livan back 2006. After his 2008 season, I felt like Mock was best suited as a reliever for the rest of his career, but I think he took a step forward in 2009. I don't expect him to light the world on fire next year, but I could see him continuing his progression to around a 4.50 ERA or so...not great, but acceptable.
J.D. Martin (RHP, under team control)
I'm a big J.D. Martin fan, but I don't think the Nats should count on him for the rotation next year. His FIP, BABIP and LOB% all suggest he's been lucky this year (and not just a little lucky, either). Unless he can greatly reduce his HRs allowed and increase his K's to at least 5-6 per inning, I don't think Martin will be able to cement himself into a starting role. Long relief, sure, but not a starting role.
Craig Stammen (RHP, under team control)
Looking at Stammen's AAA and ML rate stats, his K rate has dropped at an alarming pace in 2009, from 7-8 K/9 in each level in 2008 down to 3.15 in AAA and 4.08 in the Majors. I'm guessing it has to do with his elbow issues. If that's the case, Stammen could be another breakout candidate in 2010, as he is the anti-Martin in terms of luck-his FIP, BABIP and LOB% all suggest he was unlucky in 2009.
Shairon Martis (RHP, under team control for 2010)
I'm going to get this out of the way: I'm not a Shairon Martis believer. He walked more batters than he struck out this year and somehow earned his 5.25 ERA with a large amount of luck in terms of LOB% and BABIP. Martis is my #1 disappointment candidate for 2010. He'll still only be 23, though, so he has time to get those K rates back up. Then I'll be a believer again.
Collin Balester (RHP, under team control for 2010)
Like Martis, Balester deserved worse than his 2009 numbers. Hard to do when you have a 6.82 ERA, but he did it. Balester is a bounceback candidate for me because he has the physical tools to succeed again.
Sleeper Pick (from the organization): Brad Meyers
Wait, the Nats have a young pitcher who didn't regress in 2009? Believe it or not, Meyers had an awesome 2009, dominating both high-A ball and AA in about half a season in each. At both levels, he averaged at least 3 K/BB and kept the ball in the yard at an awesome rate, giving up only 3 HR all season. His semi-low innings count this year (136 and 1/3) says that he'll either be up pretty fast or not at all. He won't be a September call-up, because he'll be beyond his limit.
For the record, I do not think Matt Chico or Scott Olsen will be seen in Nats uniforms in 2010. I expect both to be non-tendered this offseason.
2009 production by Nats Starting Pitchers to date: 30-55, 5.07 ERA, 6 CG, 1 shutout, 779 and 2/3 IP, 5.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.485 WHIP
2010 projection: Better peripherals, more innings pitched, similar ERA.
A list of the Nats currently under contract can also be found at Cot's.
The latest projected Elias Rankings (for Type A/B Free Agent purposes) can be found at MLB Trade Rumors.