Been a while, but I’ve got a bit of work that needs doing, so I thought I’d weigh in with a quick thought on spring training (funny how that works).
Yes, Jesse Litsch is still in the running for the 5th spot in the rotation.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Much as it might echo the cliché, pitchers will be pitchers – which is to say, they tend to be batshit crazy and like to get themselves into tight spots…car doors, phone books and the like. Statistically, they’re incredibly volatile. For all the loving given Doc and the hate for poor A.J., it’s surprising how often we forget that it’s what’s behind the freckles that really matters, and that Litsch has already had one initiation-by-fire and survived it (albeit after a couple of weeks in AAA).
I know there’s a tendency to look at McGowan and see a hybrid of the best features of Doc and A.J. And I know those six-inning no-nos really teased us into thinking that Marcum is the real deal. And that Janssen added a couple of miles after rehabbing the back so that if he’s to be believed, ’07 was much more indicative of his talent than the previous season. I know all that.
But if Litsch earns the spot, let him have it. Stash Casey in the pen for a while if you have to and extend him on the side when the need arises. I know it’s inconvenient, and the Zambrano experiment cowed everyone to that line of thinking, but another few months in the bullpen won’t kill the guy if he’s got the stones to start in this league. Sure, Litsch might not outpitch Janssen this year, but that doesn't mean he won't outpitch Marcum, or McGowan, or even A.J (I wouldn't put my money on Doc, though). If the kid deserves it, then give the sod a chance.