The Washington Nationals have had a whirlwind of emotions in the past 24 hours. They lost a game, found out their fifth starter, Ross Detwiler, will miss about another month because of a herniated disc in his back after seeing a specialist yesterday, all before their 12:35 finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team they were absolutely dominated by. Well, today’s game was the most positive part of Washington’s young second half, as they won on a Bryce Harper walkoff two run home run, 9-7.
With Detwiler’s injury, Washington has an in-house candidate to take his spot in Ross Ohlendorf, and Taylor Jordan has proven his worth as well. The problem is Jordan is on an innings limit, and Ohlendorf is probably much more valuable out of the bullpen, because his presence frees up Craig Stammen for more of a set-up role. However, with Ryan Mattheus on his way back, Ohlendorf could make the transition.
The fact of the matter is that Washington’s pitching depth is not what it once was, and it probably makes more sense for Mike Rizzo to go outside of the organization to acquire a solution to Washington’s suddenly thin rotation. We know all about Rizzo’s mission when he makes a trade — make a deal that helps the Nationals now and for seasons to come.
Before Washington acquired Gio Gonzalez in 2011, the Nationals were in pursuit of then free agent Mark Buehrle, who ended up signing with the Miami Marlins for four years and $58 million. Well, we know what happened with that decision. Buehrle was his usual self for Miami, going 13-13 with a 3.74 ERA and eclipsing 200 innings for the 11th straight season. Of course, Miami was also their usual underachieving selves, going 69-93, and, following the season, making a huge deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that included Buehrle and just about every Marlin making any significant salary.
Buehrle spent his entire career prior to 2011 in the American League but has a career 4.70 ERA versus AL East teams, and when you play 19 games against each of those teams, you probably will not have the best of years. That’s exactly what has happened to Buehrle, as he has gone 5-7 with a 4.83 ERA, allowing 139 hits in 123 Innings Pitched. Much like Washington, Toronto has had a very rough year and are probably much less likely than Washington to make the playoffs, which is a pretty strong statement.
Toronto may be at a point where they start to look to 2014 and try and tinker with their current roster. If Buehrle becomes available, Washington should be the first team calling Toronto. He may be even more likely for Washington than just about anyone available, because Rizzo pursued him and he did not seem opposed to signing with the Nats had Rizzo met his contract terms. Buehrle may not come cheap, but things tend to change when a team offers to take on salary.
Washington could get Buehrle for a bargain, but they are in a beggar’s position. And you know what they say: beggars can’t be choosers.