Trade for fifth starter more likely? Hold on

While Andy Oliver walked five batters over 3 2/3 innings — and let’s be fair, that’s more of the question about his outing than the three-run homer — John Lannan tossed four scoreless innings for the Nationals Wednesday afternoon against the Braves. That was obviously a pretty big contrast in the question about the fifth starter job, though the tables were turned on Oliver and Lannan before that.

But then came the postgame word from Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who apparently gave the impression to reporters — including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson — that they’re not expecting Chien-Ming Wang to be ready for the start of the season.

John Lannan’s rumored availability on the trade market centered on the expectation that Washington won’t have a rotation spot for him. If Wang opens the season on the disabled list with his hamstring injury, then the Nats have a rotation spot to fill. One would expect they’d do it with Lannan.

Whenever the idea of trading for a starting pitcher has been mentioned, Lannan has been the oft-mentioned name. In fact, there aren’t a whole lot of names that have been mentioned after that. Some have speculated that Freddy Garcia could be available if the Yankees open the season with Andy Pettitte back in the rotation,  but even if he is, he isn’t a name that should be linked with the Tigers. Roy Oswalt doesn’t sound like a realistic option at this point.

At some point — and maybe you have already — you have to ask yourself: Is what’s out there on the market really better than what’s in the system right now? And if it is, is it important enough to go get right now?

Bottom line: I’m not so sure Oliver’s struggles Wednesday make a trade any more likely than it was 24 hours ago. Drew Smyly will get his shot to answer against Nationals minor-league hitters tomorrow at noon, and Duane Below gets a crack at the Yankees on Sunday in Tampa. After that, the Tigers still have nine days of Grapefruit League games left, essentially two more turns through the rotation. Two turns provides ample chances for a pitcher to bounce back from one struggling outing.

That’s not to say a trade won’t happen. It’s certainly not unthinkable anymore. But using one start as a reason for it seems like an overreaction.

What we learned today: That inconsistent command Andy Oliver had last year might not completely be in the past, though it would be incomplete to grade it now.

For what it’s worth, Jim Leyland said after the game that he felt like he noticed something that could help out Oliver, and he passed it along to pitching coach Jeff Jones.

What to remember: Austin Jackson’s stolen base on Liam Hendriks’ first pitch to Brennan Boesch wasn’t called. He had the green light, and he wanted to test out leads and reading pitchers. He wants to get some work in on that between now and the end of camp, which could be a good sign for Tigers fans who wonder why he hasn’t stolen more bases.

Hey, it’s only Spring Training: Brennan Boesch, who was belting the ball earlier this spring, is now batting .211 in Grapefruit League play after going 0-for-2 Wednesday. Here’s guessing he will not do that come the regular season.

8 Comments

Ross Detweiler could potentially fill that fifth spot in Washington’s rotation, but I still would rather see what our home grown kids can do before bringing in a fairly mediocre pitcher like Lannan over from the National league.

I rank them Smyly, Below, Oliver, and Turner as of today. I have a feeling that the two outings of good control were more the outlier for Oliver than his two outings of wildness. The wild ones fit his career profile more accurately. Hope I’m wrong, but I’m skeptical.

We also learned today that Adam Wilk isn’t long for the major league roster. He has such limited upside that every mistake he makes seems to wind up in the seats, or on the berm as the case may be. He’s like a lefty version of Casey Fien. Great control, not big league stuff. He should be on the next bus to minor league camp, IMO, where he’ll have to perfect (and I mean perfect) his command, even though he has the best command of the group vying for a rotation spot.

Jackson has been swinging more often and getting results. His leg kick remains a thing of the past so here’s hoping he’s settling into his new approach. He looked like a confident hitter (and baserunner) today.
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As mentioned, Oliver got into trouble with his walks but falling behind in the count also cost him the 3-run dinger. It was one of those that you could feel coming.
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We had a dog throw out the first pitch today. A police dog and handler were honored and the dog ran the ball up to Ciriaco at the plate. Any jokes about the dog displaying better control than our pitchers are probably obvious.
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That’s my last game for this spring. We went 4-2-1 with one rainout. The crowds were large and the weather hot. Pretty good ST.
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I’d be surprised if we traded for a starter. Most all of the guys have had good and bad moments and the 5th starter issue isn’t settled yet. The good thing is that this seems to be the only really unsettled issue.

looking at April, it appears that the 5th starter won’t go until the White Sox series, over a week into the season. whoever is appointed that slot, hopefully will either get a start at Toledo or an inning or two in relief to avoid being on ice for that long.
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have a feeling that Balester is going to be an important part of the pen as the young 5th guy goes through his ups and downs. Penny went 5 or more innings in 27 of 31 starts last season. is there anyone among the current group who can accomplish that?

Haven’t posted in a while, for some reason with my usual account it would not allow me anymore, said I had a wordpress or gravatar account and had to sign in that way. But I don’t have one – so I guess I’ll go via my facebook login for now.

Rich – hope you had an enjoyable trip – always appreciate your insights from being there first hand. The season is right around the corner!

tiger girl

Sorry guys, just posting a test to see if I understand my wordpress account – I swear I never set one up but somehow I did!

Hey, that is what I was crying about several days ago. Couldn’t sign in. I finally created a new WordPress password. Very confusing.

So if Cabrera is not ready this could be the lineup against Jon Lester?
Austin Jackson, CF
Raburn, Ryan, DH
Delmon Young, LF
Prince Fielder, 1B
Alex Avila, C .
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Brennan Boesch, RF
Ramon Santiago, 2B
Brandon Inge, 3B

mmmm i see u switched Boesch and Raburn….the spring training numbers back up your decision.

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