Nats Manager Davey Johnson Says His Rotation is as Good as the Phillies’


Photo: St. Pete Beach Photo


What did you say?

You heard me.

May 4. 7 p.m. At our field. Be there, Buffalo Butt Breath.

Count on it, Pee-Drinking Crap Face.

Davey Johnson has just stoked the fire, tossed a bit of gasoline on the burning ambers.

There’s no sense recounting all the posturing between Phillies and Nationals folks this winter, because, for the most part, that chatter has remained outside the lines. Yesterday, however, Nationals manager Davey Johnson had some interesting things to say about how the top three pitchers in his rotation (Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzelez, and Jordan Zimmermann) compare to the Phillies' aces (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, in case you were unawares).

Here’s what Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

“I mean, he has the chance to be one of the best pitchers in the league,” Johnson said of Strasburg. “With the addition of Gio, [Edwin] Jackson, Zim has proven he’s up there. He’s going to be part of one of the best staffs in our division. I’d take my staff, all five guys or six guys, over any staff in the league.”

“Even the Philles?” Johnson was asked.

Given the Nationals’ youth and potential, Johnson replied, sure.

“Their top three versus our top three, stuff-wise, we match up as good,” Johnson said.



Let’s break it down.

Roy Halladay vs. Stephen Strasburg: Interestingly, this one is probably the closest comparison. Halladay is, obviously, a more experienced ace and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball. But, stuff-wise, there may be no one on the planet who can match Strasburg’s 100 mph fastball and 12-6 curveball. We’ll take Halladay for this year and until his arm falls off, but, if you were building a team, which the Nationals are, you can certainly make an argument for Strasburg (though you are dealing with a small sample size and a guy coming off Tommy John surgery).


Cliff Lee vs. Gio Gonzalez: Picture response:

image from

But seriously, Gonzalez, 25, who was once traded by the Phillies for Freddy Garcia (ouch), had an outstanding season in pitcher-friendly Oakland last year (16-12, 3.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP– walks + hits per inning pitched). 

Lee, 33: 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP. Excellence.


Cole Hamels vs. Jordan Zimmermann:

Zimmermann, 25, is another young, bargain bin pitcher (8-11, 3.18 ERA, 1.14 WHIP).

Hamels, 27: 14-9, 2.79 ERA, 0.98 WHIP.


Advantage: Phillies.

But not by as much as I thought.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen other examples of players, coaches, and writers comparing our beloved, almost mythical Phillies to players who we perceive to be inferior.

In 2010, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said he was better than Chase Utley. At the time, we chuckled. But who would you rather have right now: the 2011 All-Star or an aging and ailing Utley? I'd take Phillips.

We laughed when SABR nerds ranked Nats first baseman Michael Morse ahead of Ryan Howard last summer. Who would you rather have for this season?

Last spring, crusty, old writer Pat Jordan called the Phillies’ four aces a bunch of “one trick ponies,” citing their work ethic and accuracy, rather than “stuff,” as reasons for their success. He wasn't wrong, but the tone of his article was grossly unfair to three of the best pitchers in baseball. 

That brings as back to Johnson’s comments: I’ll admit that my knee-jerk reaction to reading them on my iPhone while working on drink number two last night was less reasonable than this post. His comparison isn’t crazy— Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmermann are a formidable top three, perhaps among the best in the league. They are young and largely unproven, but talented… and pitching in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.

Pleasantries aside, though, Johnson chose the wrong rotation to make his comparison. The Phillies have the best in baseball and one of the best ever. 

And don’t be surprised if they add Roy Oswalt to the mix, again, this summer.

Advantage: still Phillies.


24 Responses

  1. Somewhat believable. Wouldn’t be surprised if Phillies finished 3rd\4th in the division this year either.

  2. Why does everyone think Cliff Lee pisses excellence? Does anyone remember the game he blew in the playoffs? I do. He’s overrated.

  3. I think you guys are really taking what he said too literally
    also, they are gonna be a good rotation, but alot depends on where Starsburg is at this point.
    def scary team in another year or two.

  4. People are forgetting this team won 102 games last year. It could have been but we “rested” our starters. Not to mention we played almost the whole season without our regular starters all being healthy. Speaks volume about our statistically best rotation in all of baseball. Oh and cliff lee had 2 of the best months ever in baseball. Had a bad game. You’re not overrated when you put up numbers only maybe 4-5 guys had better #’s, one of which was on your team

  5. Here’s the thing about Strasburg’s stuff vs Halladay’s. I would say their arm strengths are almost equal but Halladays fastballs get so much more movement in them. Same with Verlander, if he had as much movement on his pitches he’d be hitting the low ninties as well.

  6. We might not lose to them this year. yeah our offense sucks but im pretty sure the top 3 in NL cy young voting this year will be hamels halladay lee. Have fun washington well light up strasburg because no matter how shitty a team is at hitting breaking balls once he throws a fastball just like every other hard thrower against the phils we will light them up llok at huston street jonathon broxton the really hard throwing guy from the reds. we torched all of them because they rely on their overpowering fastball. strasburgs in for a wakeup call. and so is bryce harper. i bet he wont be so cocky after going 0 for 12 in a three game series against the phils top 3 starters. fuckin hack

  7. Phillies fans SHUT UPPP…let the season do the talking for gods sake….if their manager wants to prop them up…LET HIM. The stats and results are all that matters..its a long season let the Nats do their “cock show off” now…..once season starts lets see whos cock is really bigger/better….

  8. Fat Joe pitches well again today…. Looks like this rotation is going to be tops in baseball again. Once Cole walks, Blanton slides right into the #3 spot and the phils don’t miss a beat.

  9. Yeah I seen that move…pretty badass.. I hope he isn’t a cap casualty after the season

  10. Young = Unproven.
    Let’s see what Washington’s top 3 do this year, and we’ll compare how they match up against Philly’s top 3, who have an absolute, lead-pipe-lock track record.
    I say everyone falters except for Strasburg, who will become the league’s top pitcher within 2 years.

  11. Cliff Lee is overrated? LOL you’re delusional. HE BLEW ONE GAME!!!! What about how our offense was non-existant the rest of that game? and how they couldn’t manage ONE run in game 5? Get the fuck over it and stop blaming Cliff Lee for our playoff failures last year. Yeah I wish he didn’t blow that game but saying he’s overrated….? Come on now. You’ll be the first person to praise him when he throws his first shutout this year.

  12. @truth
    you do realize the phils won 102 games last year, without utley for a while, without victorino for a while, without polanco doing much, without oswalt for a while, without hunter pence until the late july. all with a weak bench.
    beat it dude. you’re out.

  13. Strasburg doesn’t throw 100mph any more FYI….after his Tommy John surgery, he will be 88-92 tops

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