Here is the look at the guys that are going to have a direct effect upon - or could potentially be - pitching in Syracuse this season headed into spring training.
Gio Gonzalez - Whoa! “Meyers, you have lost it. Gio isn’t going to be in Syracuse,” said every competent Washington Nationals fan. True, but how this whole Miami-PEDs things shakes out is going to have big implications in Syracuse. If Gio is out, then you have to think Maya, Duke, Garcia, Ohlendorf, or possibly Torra are in the mix for the No. 5 starter spot as the ripples expand outward.
Yunesky Maya - He went 11-10 last season for the Chiefs and pitched one of the best single games of the season with a near perfect outing. However, pending a change to the MLB starting rotation or him mowing through batters he is a likely a Chief again. He has an option left to come down to Triple-A too.
Jeff Mandel - He split the season between Harrisburg and Syracuse last season with 22 starts in 30 appearances (ironically he has made a pair of stops in the Washington chain every year since 2007). He was 2-1 in the Mexican League this offseason mostly in relief. The Mexican League work was in late November and early December.
Tanner Roark - The 6-17 record last season is a little bit deceptive. He had 130 strikeouts and 47 walks in 147.2 innings pitched last season in Syracuse and his second half of the season was much better than the first. He finished with 7.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 ratios last year.
Ross Ohlendorf - Most recently he was 4-4 with a 7.77 ERA for the San Diego Padres last season, but he is likely more famed for going 1-11 in 21 starts with the Pirates in 2010. He was 5-4 in 10 Triple-A starts split between Pawtucket and Tucson last year.
Matt Torra - He was 12-7 in 23 starts last season with the Triple-A Durham Bulls in the Tampa Bay system and he will pitch in the World Baseball Classic this spring. He is not a big strikeout guy with 78 Ks in 147 innings last year.
Christian Garcia - Aside from Carlos Rivero and Corey Brown, he is the most interesting Syracuse/Washington guy this spring. There has been talk that he is going to be converted into a starter, but if the Nationals want to take advantage of his arm now then he could stay in the bullpen. If he becomes a starter than expect to see him in Syracuse. If he remains in the pen then he is likely Washington bound.
Erik Davis - He made eight appearances with the Chiefs last season, but Davis is a Double-A (in my estimation) guy to start out. The record is starting to break, but if he does nice work in the spring he might get some consideration for staying with the Triple-A club.
Ryan Perry - When Rafael Soriano signed on a spot needed to be opened up and Perry’s spot might be just that one. He has an option left (due to injuries before) so he might be a guy that gets stashed in Central New York and called upon when needed and pending on how he throws here. This is a guy that could make a spot for himself if he throws great this spring though.
Henry Rodriguez - He is in a similar situation to Carlos Rivero in that he has less than five years of MLB service, but he is out of options when it comes to moving down to Triple-A. His arm is more than capable of hitting triple-digits but the location will always be the issue. With the acquisition of Soriano, he could be a piece of a potential trade.
Bill Bray - He was actually 4-1 for the Washington Triple-A team in New Orleans back in 2006 before logging some time with the Nationals that year. More recently he appeared in 14 games with the Cincinnati Reds last season, but only went 8.2 innings which writes “specialist” all over his resume. Considering the lack of lefties in the Nationals bullpen he is in the mix for one of those spots with the newly acquire Ohman.
Pat Lehman - He is another homegrown pitcher by the Nationals ala Jeff Mandel, but instead of being a starter he has stuck to the bullpen throughout. He appeared in 37 games last year for the Chiefs with 43.1 innings where he gave up 42 hits and walked 17. His ERA was 3.32 though.
Jeremy Accardo - He has been in Triple-A since 2008 where he pitched in...Syracuse when it was the Toronto affiliate. He split time between Sacramento (Oakland) and Columbus (Cleveland) last year where he made 20 appearances and pitched 24 innings.
Hassan Pena - His trajectory is similar to that of Lehman, but Pena had a little bit better 2012 in Syracuse. In 42 appearances he finished off 20 games as he pitched 56.2 innings of relief. He gave up 53 hits and walked 22 while he struck out 36 with a 3.81 ERA.
Fernando Abad - He was a Houston Astro through and through as he worked his way up the chain and appeared in at least 22 games a year since 2010. Last year he made 37 appearances for Houston and went 0-6 as he gave up 57 hits in 46 innings and he walked 19 while he struck out 38. The thing is that he is left-handed.
Will Ohman - He is the latest addition to the fray as he signed with the Nationals on Monday. The Nationals is the seventh organization of which he has been a part and he missed 2002 and 2003 due to injury. WIth his major league experience he might not come to Syracuse if he can avoid it, but he is left-handed and potentially a specialist that the Nats lack right now. Lefty bullpen help is one of the few things the Nats need.
Overall, going into spring training it is best to take a big picture approach at first. Any one of the guys here could tear it up in the exhibition season and garner a ticket to the big leagues or someone could get off to such a slow start that they are bounced from certain consideration.
The best part is that we are all talking about baseball again.