Stop me if you've heard this one before. Lots of pitching woes to talk about over the last few days. The Post alone has stories on Patterson's mechanics, Cordero's location and Matt Chico's remarkable, heretofore unadvertised ability to pitch sideways. You guys in the Marlin's dugout better NOT be drinking any F@&$*#g Merlot! (What do you want from me, Dave Shenin already covered all the obvious Major League and Bull Durham jokes.) But seriously, he does this 3-4 times a year? He does it down in the bullpen during warm-ups?! I know this team is on a budget, but can we please all chip in a get this kid a rosin bag before an errant 5th inning pitch takes out big-headed Abe Lincoln?
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Natosphere Cap Pun and OMG go into greater detail on the pitching struggles of the Big Unhealthy, and Federal Baseball has a much expanded post on the myriad Pattersonian possibilities, featuring a guest appearance by Bill James. What it all boils down to is that some combination of injury, insufficient rehab time and fatigue have combined to render J-Patt our least effective starter (though Chico seems determined to make a run at that title.) And that's the best case scenario. The other two possibilities are that J-Patt has developed a new injury that he hasn't felt the need to disclose, or that the repeated cycle of injuries and surgeries have completely destroyed his mechanics. Time will tell, but Patterson's struggles, combined with Chico's wildness, Williams' lack of confidence, Bergmann's inevitable return to Earth, and Shawn Hill's ill-advised Alex Escobar impersonation, put even more pressure on our indentured serv... I mean, relief pitchers.
Bad pitching is like an Ouroboros, the serpent that devours its own tail. It is its own cause and effect, a vicious Catch-22. Bad starting pitching forces relievers into games earlier. Relievers get overworked and tired, and pitch badly. Managers, in an attempt to spare the bullpen, leave struggling starters in the game longer, which wears them out both physically and mentally, and usually doesn't end up sparing the bullpen much anyway. Really, the only cure for the Nats current pitching problems is to take every pitcher on the 25-man roster with an option to burn and start shuttling them back and forth to AAA Columbus to rest them. If we're going to use six pitchers a game every night, we ought to at least try to guarantee that they aren't the same six pitchers.
Ouroboros image courtesy of Undecidable.net