Zuckerman, Ladson Think Miguel Batista Might Crack The Nats Rotation

Farid RushdiAnalyst IFebruary 2, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 31:  Miguel Batista #43 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on May 31, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

When bloggers like me suggest it, you shouldn’t worry. We don’t know what we’re talking about. But when someone like Mark Zuckerman—former beat writer for the Washington Times—says it, you better take notice.

 

This afternoon, Zuckerman posted on his blog his vision of the 2010 Washington Nationals. And there he was, right there, in the fourth spot in the rotation, in between Scott Olsen and Ross Detwiler.

 

Miguel Bastista.

 

I haven’t heard such gnashing of teeth and screams into the night since Gene Wilder uttered that famous phrase, “Frau Buchler!” in “Young Frankenstein.”

 

Miguel Batista.

 

Aahhhhhhhhhhhh!

 

I noticed his signing in the transaction log a few days ago but didn’t give it a second thought. He was just another arm that would probably reside in Syracuse if he remained on the team at all.

 

He would be “inventory,” as general manager Mike Rizzo likes to call his surplus players.

 

Maybe, just maybe, if he had a great spring he could find himself in the bullpen as a long relief man, but even that would be a long-shot.

 

But now even Nationals.com beat writer Bill Ladson thinks there is a chance that the former Mariner could be that second starter that Rizzo has sought all winter.

 

Miguel Batista.

 

Aahhhhhhhhhhhh!

 

Over a 17-year career, the 38-year-old has started 237 games. Take a look at his stats:

 

Record:

73-80

 

ERA:

4.51

 

Opponents BA/OBP/SLG Pct.:

.271/.350/.426

 

Hits/Walks/Strikeouts Per Nine-Innings:

9.4/4.1/5.8

 

And no, that’s not a typo. He’s averaged 4.1 walks per nine-innings for his career.

 

He hasn’t started a game since 2008 when he was with Seattle. In his last 10 starts, he had a record of 3-6, 6.09, allowing opponents to hit .314/.400/.489. He gave up 11.7 hits and 5.7 walks per nine-innings.

 

And he’s 38!

 

Miguel Batista.

 

Aahhhhhhhhhhhh!

 

The person that Batista would force out of the rotation in all likelihood would be 26-year-old J.D. Martin, a former first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians. Last season Martin started 15 games for the Nationals, going 5-4, 4.44.

 

But the rookie got better as he gained experience at the major league level. We’ve seen Batista’s stats over his last ten starts. Let’s take a look at Martin’s as well along with his first five starts in parenthesis for comparison:

 

Record:

4-2 (1-2)

 

ERA:

3.78 (5.91)

 

Opponents BA/OBP/SLG Pct.:

.264/.332/.454   (.315/.365/.573)

 

Hits/Walks/Strikeouts Per Nine-Innings:

8.9/2.5/1.8   (12.4/3.4/4.4)

 

With just 77 innings under his belt, Martin will continue to get better, just as he improved over his last 10 starts last year. After more than 1,700 innings, Batista is who he is and will not give the Nationals any more than he gave Seattle the past three seasons (27-29, 4.84, 10.0/4.8/6.1).

 

Probably less.

 

I am in no way suggesting that Martin is a Stephen Strasburg clone. He’s not even a John Lannan clone. But he has shown that he can be an above average back-of-the-rotation starter, something all teams desperately need.

 

Martin has nothing more to learn in the minor leagues. Over the past two seasons—with the Indians and Nationals—he has a stellar 20-6, 2.55 record, allowing just 7.9 hits and 2.1 walks per nine-innings.

 

In what world would sending Martin to Syracuse and keeping Batista make sense? Certainly not this one.  

 

Miguel Batista is a tremendous human being and a great clubhouse player. He is a writer and a poet. I got it: he’s a great guy.

 

But J.D. Martin has the potential to shore up the back of the rotation. And if he pitches in the major leagues for another 12 years, he’ll be the same age then that Batista is now.

 

No Nationals’ pundit is suggesting that Batista will make the rotation, but they are saying that he could.

 

A 38-year-old poet who hasn’t started a game in two seasons pushing aside a promising young pitcher would be a terrible signal to send to the Nationals’ faithful. It would bring back dark memories of Pedro Astacio and Odalis Perez, pitchers that no one else wanted and pitched that way.

 

Memo to Mike Rizzo: Listen closely.

 

Miguel Batista.

 

Aahhhhhhhhhhhh!

 

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