A day after he surrendered seven earned runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Nationals optioned LHP Mike O’Connor to New Orleans and plan to recall RH RP Ryan Wagner from New Orleans in time for Monday evening’s game in San Francisco.
O’Connor has struggled since June 30 going 0-3 in four starts with a 12.92ERA, 2.41WHIP, 4.7HR/9IP, 6.5BB/9IP, and only 3.5K/9IP:
On Sunday afternoon, it became clearer the reason for his struggles, Bill Ladson reported:
A couple of hours after learning that he was going to be sent down to Triple-A New Orleans, left-hander Mike O’Connor informed the Nationals that he has pain in his pitching elbow, requiring an MRI.
The next issue will be to determine how long the elbow had been bothering O’Connor and more importantly, why he didn’t mention it until he discovered he’d been demoted.
Replacing O’Connor on the roster is the third piece from the July 13th eight player deal with the Cincinnati Reds, Ryan Wagner. Wagner has been pitching in New Orleans and after a rocky debut on July 15 versus Round Rock, where he surrendered four runs in only an inning of work, Wagner has pitched in five additional games:
The 24-year old Wagner is a former first round draft pick who has struggled in recent years. Apparently due to changes in his mechanics directed by the Reds. Wagner’s successes at the University of Houston were when his delivery was almost side-armed. Once drafted, the Reds tried to get him to pitch more over the top in hopes of converting him into a starter, which had disastrous results. Bowden and the Nationals have told him to revert back to the sidearm delivery and his recall will allow him the opportunity to work with respected pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
There is one potential unintended consequence of recalling Wagner, his service time clock. Wagner has spent the entire 2006 season in the minor leagues so his accrued service time remained at 2.036 (2 years 36 days) [note: one service years is equal to 172 days]. Assuming he spends the rest of the season on the major league roster, this will put Wagner at 2.099 service time.
Why the concern over a few days? During the first three seasons of service time, a team can control the salary of a player with one exception, players who are classified as “Super-Two.” A Super-Two player:
can be eligible for salary arbitration, if he has at least two but less than three years of Major League and if:(a) he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the previous season and (b) he ranks in the top 17% percent in total service in the group of Players who are can also be deemed “Super-Two” players (If two or more Players are tied in ranking, ties shall be broken consecutively based on the number of days of service accumulated in the previous seasons and if the Players remain tied, the final tie breaker will be by lot)
Wagner would exceed the 86 days, but it is unknown at present if he would fall into the top 17% of service time. As an example, the Nationals had two players who met the >86 day service time criteria in 2005. John Patterson was at 2.126 and was not Super-Two. Marlon Byrd was at 2.152 and was Super-Two. Chances are Wagner will not meet the top 17% criteria, but it is another intricacy of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with which teams must deal in making roster decisions.
Wagner will not replace O’Connor in the rotation (currently Livan Hernandez, Tony Armas, Pedro Astacio, and Ramon Ortiz). The most likely candidates to fill the number five spot in rotation are likely (July stats as starting pitchers):
Assuming there are no trades for starters (or more likely some of the four current starters being traded away), the Nationals will not require a #5 starting pitcher until August 12 at the earliest.
No Comments »
No comments yet.
Leave a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.