Garrett Mock Wins Final Spot in Washington Nationals' Rotation

Farid RushdiAnalyst IApril 3, 2010

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 10:  Starting pitcher Garrett Mock #49 of the Washington Nationals squats down as third baseman Pete Orr #24 attempts to field a ball and throw to first base against the St Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on March 10, 2010 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images beat reporter Bill Ladson is reporting that Garrett Mock has been named the team’s fifth starter.


Heaven help us all.


Mock, who entered spring training in a neck-and-neck battle for that final spot in the rotation with J.D. Martin and Scott Olsen, won with by far the worst spring performance of the three.


Though Martin’s ERA of 6.30 was the highest of the three, his internal numbers were perhaps the best. A little bad pitching, and a little bad luck, hurt him in his quest to rejoin the rotation.


In 10 innings this spring, Martin allowed 10 hits and just one walk while striking out six. Pretty good numbers overall.


Olsen went 1-2 with a 5.49 ERA, allowing 35 hits in just 19 innings. But most of those hits came in his first starts, when his surgically repaired elbow was still causing him problems. He walked just two and struck out 13, tops on the club.


But Olsen got better each time he pitched.


In his last two starts, he pitched 10.1 innings, allowing just two runs and a walk while striking out 11. His ERA was just 1.78.


Mock was 0-4, with a 5.79 ERA in 18 innings this spring. He allowed 25 hits while walking six and striking out 12.


But as Olsen got better, Mock got worse. In his last two starts, he pitched 9.2 innings, allowing 13 hits and five walks. His ERA over that span was 7.82.


So, from a clinical and unbiased perspective, the Nationals chose the worst pitcher as their fifth starter.


Martin pitched very well as a starter for the Nationals last season, but he is now part of the team’s Triple-A rotation at Syracuse. Olsen, who both improved and impressed in his last two starts, joins Martin at Syracuse.


And Garrett Mock, who started the spring pretty well but got worse each time he took the mound (including getting pelted by a Houston lineup full of minor leaguers), will likely face the Mets this coming Friday.


Why Garrett Mock? I think the question really should be, “Why not Scott Olsen?” I think the Nationals are concerned that Olsen’s arm is still not 100 percent and want to let the 26-year-old work out the kinks and regain his strength in the minor leagues.


I can understand that.


But the Nationals are a team desperate to get off to a fast start, a team who needs to put as much distance between themselves and back-to-back 100-loss seasons.


But Mock is just 4-13 with a 5.17 ERA for his career. He’s allowed 10.3 hits and 4.6 walks per nine innings and opponents have hit .288 against him while fashioning a .367 on-base percentage.


In other words, he’s never tasted any real success at the major league level, and pitched even worse than his career numbers this spring.


And he wins the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation?


I’m not a major league general manager and I wasn’t particularly good at picking out the talented players on my son’s Little League team.


But it doesn’t take a professional scout to see that Garrett Mock isn’t going to give the Nationals much of a chance to win, at least not at this point in his career.


Fine. Let Olsen get stronger in Syracuse. But put J.D. Martin in the rotation, at least for now. At least he won’t embarrass himself or the team when he takes the mound.


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