Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Holy Cow Romero has been called up!


Romero gets the call. Photo via

Romero gets the call. Photo via


I first saw this tidbit on Keith Law‘s chat today and was kind of shocked.  Then i confirmed it via the nats transaction page; Seth Romero has been called up.  Thanks to a spate of injuries and ineffectiveness-driven-dl trips (ahem Sean Doolittle), the Nats bullpen suddenly has zero left handers, and Romero has reportedly been impressing the Nats brass in Fredericksburg.

So he’s up.  Big board updated as well as the Draft tracker for all our still-signed draftees (everyone is now either Washington, Fredericksburg or XST for 2020).

So, part of me is not entirely surprised at this move … despite his limited minor’s experience, he’s rule-5 eligible this coming off-season (as is all the rest of the college-aged 2017 draftees, most notably Wil Crowe), so it seemed  highly likely that the team would be adding him at some point anyway.  He’s far enough past the deadline to ensure an extra year of control.  And they have a need.  I suppose they could have tapped a few of the other options they have in Fredericksburg (Matt Cronin and Nick Wells are both lefty and both relievers) … but having Romero up seems to give a higher-ceiling guy in the pen.

I gotta say; quite a turn of fortune for Romero after all he’s gone through.  Can’t wait to see him throw against real MLB hitters.

this by the way makes for the following roster chagnes:

  • 28/28 on active roster: Freeman, Doolittle to DL, Harris back, Romero called up.
  • 38/40: Romero added to 40-man
  • 57/60 on extended; no change here.

Written by Todd Boss

August 13th, 2020 at 2:02 pm

38 Responses to 'Holy Cow Romero has been called up!'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Holy Cow Romero has been called up!'.

  1. . . . and clobbered, completely blowing a close game.


    13 Aug 20 at 3:13 pm

  2. He faced 11 batters and got 5 out.
    You could make a point it was the wrong spot for a debut but they have a lot of innings to cover this weekend.

    I’m hoping to read somewhere what his maturity level is these days. When he was drafted he was essentially a 14 year old.

    Mark L

    14 Aug 20 at 5:47 am

  3. I did not see video of anything other than his K and the grand slam. he looks like he’s in much much better shape than before?

    Was he “clobbered?” 3 hits, 3 walks. an ill timed homer with bases loaded. Per the play index he went K, soft tapper, hard single from Alonso (no shame there), then 4-pitch walk to load bases. He goes 0-2 on Nido and makes a mistake. Next inning he does get two more Ks against top of the MEts order. Was this just all due to one bad pitch?

    (yes, trying to be positive)

    Todd Boss

    14 Aug 20 at 8:54 am

  4. I didn’t see it, either, just the results. I think the larger question is why do you put the greenest of green rookies into a close game against a good divisional opponent?

    A couple of other points: Romero has been a starter all through college and his brief pro career. The rhythms of relieving are new to him, even if he was doing it in the simulated-game situations in Fredericksburg.

    Ah yes, Fredericksburg, where Romero was said to be looking good. Let’s remember that the only player there with an outside shot at being an MLB regular is Luis Garcia, who slashed an anemic .257/.280/.337 at AA last year.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m very glad that Romero has apparently shaped up and perhaps is close to realizing his top-tier talent. But no matter how good you think/hope he is, you still need to put him into situations where he can succeed.

    Also, Romero’s arrival is another reminder that the prospect rankings, in which he had dropped considerably, are silly. If you’re going by actual talent, Romero is miles ahead of Cavalli (who I think all of the lists are overestimating), as well as several others.


    14 Aug 20 at 10:21 am

  5. I watched. Romero was surely better than the results, but that doesn’t mean he looked good. He looked to be rather slim, so I think concerns about him being out of shape or not a hard worker ought to be tabled, at least for a bit.

    I thought his offspeed stuff looked pretty good. He was able to throw his slider and changeup in the zone, which I think is unusual for someone who hasn’t pitched in the high minors. He had trouble with fastball command, and his fastball did not look overpowering. Four Ks in five outs reveals decent stuff, IMO. I’m much more concerned about the three walks than the homer.

    And I definitely agree that a close game situation like that wasn’t the ideal spot for his debut. Davey M. tends to like to “see what he has” with new relievers, and often tries to use them as quickly as possible. Maybe not such a good idea this time.


    14 Aug 20 at 10:51 am

  6. His stuff looked good to me. His command was shaky, although that might have been nerves more than anything else. I think FP Santangelo was right(!) about the meatball to Nido being a case of him getting him 0-2 and being too eager to end the inning; we’ve seen that from Wander Suero before as well, and even from Patrick Corbin. So that’s hopefully coachable.


    14 Aug 20 at 11:54 am

  7. Now Dakota Backs has been called up. Big news!

    Mark L

    14 Aug 20 at 4:29 pm

  8. Dakota Bacus. Damn auto correct.

    Mark L

    14 Aug 20 at 4:30 pm

  9. Congrats, Mark. You’ve been on the Bacus train for a long time.

    The Nats received Bacus from the A’s in a trade for . . . Kurt Suzuki in 2013, who the Nats had obtained from the A’s a year earlier.


    14 Aug 20 at 5:12 pm

  10. He’s toiled for 8 years in the minors, 7 for the Nats.
    Gotta love these stories.

    Mark L

    14 Aug 20 at 5:49 pm

  11. Six up, six down for Bacus. That’s one glimmer of good news.

    But Castro broke is wrist! Definitely a black cloud over this season, in more ways than one. I’m not particularly high on Luis Garcia, but I hope I’m wrong. I would put Cabrera and his hot bat at 2B and hope Kieboom is ready full time at 3B.


    14 Aug 20 at 8:49 pm

  12. Fantastic pitching performances last night by Fedde (5 1/3rd, 2 hits zero runs with no warmup time and afer throwing just two nights ago) and by Bacus (6 up 6 down in MLB debut). Can’t ask for more.

    Big board updated for all the moves. Additions of Bacus and Garcia put the 40man back to full, then Freeman -> 60/day dl put it at 39/40

    Todd Boss

    15 Aug 20 at 7:44 am

  13. Also, just an observation on the recent call ups:
    – Garcia called up instead of Noll. Noll made the team last year, and then never even got called up at the roster expansion, now gets passed over by a kid who struggled in AA last year. Makes you wonder why they bother to keep him rostered.
    – Bacus called up instead of other RHP reliever options already on 40-man like Williams and Barrett. Barrett i get; i think his 40-man appointment was a reward for lots of hard work …. but Williams? is he still hurt?

    I guess they’re not exactly hurting for 40-man spots but it does seem to me that Barrett, Noll, AWilliams are the first 3 guys off right now.

    Todd Boss

    15 Aug 20 at 7:57 am

  14. Now Stras probably hurt, again. This whole “season” has been stuck in first gear . . . and yet the Nats are still only two games behind the Braves (not worried about the Marlins). (And why, oh why were they shut out by this same Tommy Milone last week?)

    Great results by Fedde, but zero strikeouts. At some point that will bite. Fedde and Voth look solid in their starting roles, but if Stras is out, not sure what they’re going to do if Sanchez continues to stink. I wonder who is next up as a starter on the mysterious list they’re keeping at Fredericksburg: McGowin? Crowe? Rutledge?

    Here’s what you need to know about Noll: at Fresno last year, his OPS was 74 points lower than . . . Difo. Noll just isn’t very good. His false spring in 2019 put him on the 40-man and briefly in the majors.

    Barrett before injury was a quality major-leaguer. He’s wasn’t particularly good in the spring this year, though. It is fair to question where everyone is in the pecking order if Bacus is being called up ahead of others, not to mention Romero.


    15 Aug 20 at 9:03 am

  15. So many highs and lows the last few days.
    Feel so bad for Freeman, not only a feel good story but his ERA was zero and now his year/career may be over.
    The Nats are going to miss Castro, it’s hard not to.

    The good news is very good. Love, love what Bacus did yesterday. Let’s hope he can keep going.
    If Garcia has turned the corner that’s potentially a big star added. Last time I looked he was still wearing braces. ☺

    Mark L

    15 Aug 20 at 11:13 am

  16. I almost forgot — Kieboom sets a Nationals record with 11 assists along with a putout. Flawless!

    As the great philosofer once said “The Kids Are Alright!

    Mark L

    15 Aug 20 at 11:31 am

  17. In response to MarkL’s comment on Kieboom, I thought i’d check in on his defensive stats so far for 2020.

    Now, before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, yes this is SSS. No you cannot draw “heavy conclusions” from some of these defensive figures yet, and yes these figures often conflict with each other. So far Kieboom’s defense is coming in at a mixed bag; he’s accounted for 4 DRS through 80 innings at third (good), and has already accounted for 13 out-of-zone plays (Rendon did 35 all of last season). These are good figures so far for sure. But on the flip side, his UZR component figures have been awful, accounting for a ghastly UZR/150 figure so far. While its rare to see UZR/150 and DRS so drastically disagree (even over a full season), it does happen, and even with a “full” 2020 its going to be hard to conclude much of anything from an advanced stats analysis perspective of his time at 3B.

    Todd Boss

    16 Aug 20 at 8:09 am

  18. Thanks Todd. I was especially effusive because his defense was so bad in the spring.
    The Nats didn’t do him any favors by hardly ever having him play 3rd last year in the minors.

    Mark L

    16 Aug 20 at 9:12 am

  19. Tanner Rainey is the Truth. He has Treinen’s stuff combined with Doolittle’s stones. Current opponent BA against: .034.

    Soto’s current slash line: .425/.500/.950. He IS the player we thought #34 is was going to be. He’s going to be a legend.

    Speaking of Soto, umpire Will Little should be fined and suspended. His K call on Soto on Sunday was ridiculous, bush-league, and petty. And robo-umps can’t get here soon enough.

    Michael A. Taylor’s OBP: .206. Time for a DFA to bring up Stevenson. Meanwhile, Difo’s slash: .100/.182/.100. The party’s over, guys. I had no idea why either one was tendered, and they’re absolutely proving me right.


    16 Aug 20 at 8:37 pm

  20. if you dump Difo and Taylor, who do you bring up though? Its not like they have much in teh way of depth

    60-man infielder options: Snyder (1b only), Noll (who just got passed over by Garcia) and Antuna (who is even less prepared for hte majors than Garcia)
    60-man outfielder options: Stevenson (do we really think he’s a mlb player?) and Yasiel Hernandez (who is now 32 and is a corner only).

    Both players may suck at the plate, but they both have utility defensively. I mean, sometimes that’s what you stick around for. What was Mark Belanger’s career batting line? he played in parts of no less than 18 seasons with a career slash line of .228/.300/.280. He had more than 6,600 plate appearances with a batting line that weak.

    Todd Boss

    17 Aug 20 at 12:16 pm

  21. Wow, great peek into Mark Belanger. He was so great defensively and his hitting predates modern stats. Had no idea his OPS was .580.

    Let’s not forget Michael Tayler is the best c.f. in baseball and for some reason is a terrific postseason hitter consistently.

    Mark L

    17 Aug 20 at 1:33 pm

  22. I thought Kieboom looked terrible defensively early in the year but has looked much better over the past week. I think playing everyday will help him.

    I think the goal for the season has to be to stay close to .500, hope Strasburg gets healthy by the end of September, and hope for the best during the playoffs if they make it.

    Soto is on the way to being the best hitter in MLB.

    Perhaps my favorite characteristic of the Nats front office is their willingness to try very young prospects in MLB. It doesn’t always work out, but I can’t think of any disasters (Kieboom’s debut last year wasn’t good, but it didn’t cost the team too much and it hasn’t ruined Kieboom).


    17 Aug 20 at 4:14 pm

  23. I have too much respect for Trout to start claiming that Soto might be the best hitter in baseball, but I don’t think it’s too outlandish to say that he’s probably in the top 10, at age 21. I also think/hope that his approach make him more slump-proofed than Harper and particularly Stanton have been.

    The Nats thought so much of Taylor and Difo that they, um, kept them at Fresno for most of last season. Yet they tendered both of them and are paying them a collective $4.25M for 2020. It just boggles the mind that they didn’t spend that money on other options. I mean, Maybin is making $1.5M, guys like that. And yes, I’m sure Stevenson will be a better MLB hitter from now forward than MAT, although neither likely will be particularly good (Stevenson’s MLB numbers in 2019 actually were good). I could guess that Yadiel’s numbers would be better, but he did nothing in the spring, so it’s hard to say. Difo isn’t really needed. Cabrera and Garcia are both SS-capable, and Cabrera, Garcia, Harrison, and Kendrick can all play 2B. They’ve got in the INF pretty well covered.

    I’m trying not to stress too much about the season, particularly with the expanded playoffs. This is a big week with Braves and Marlins to at least not lose much ground, though. The Braves have a lot of pitching issues, despite their great lineup. I agree with Derek that if they can get to the end of the year and make the playoffs plus have Stras healthy, then they’ve got a chance.


    17 Aug 20 at 6:42 pm

  24. Well, Monday night was a gut punch. Hard to fault Davey’s bullpen usage, other than for maybe staying with faltering Hudson for too long. His problem — and perhaps an even bigger problem for the next few days since the main guys are tried — is that they’re carrying a lot of relievers that he doesn’t really trust in tight spots right now: Doolittle, Romero, and Suero in particular. If Doo and Suero still aren’t right, IL and give looks to some others from the young stockpile are arms.

    Some big games this week. They had the first one won and absolutely gave it away.

    I’m a Garcia skeptic, but there’s been a lot to like thus far. He doesn’t look intimidated at all.


    18 Aug 20 at 7:58 am

  25. Soto: not a hard leap to claim he’s at least top 10 right now. He was just outside the top 10 last year in some significant offensive categories (wRC+, offensive fWAR, WOBA) and he’s clearly improving (albeit … again like everything SSS so far in 2020). Best in league? hard to make that claim until he shows the kind of sustained production that Trout has done (he’s led the league in OPS+ and wRC+ 4 years running). I’m just happy to have him!

    Todd Boss

    18 Aug 20 at 10:35 am

  26. Garcia: Kind of shocked at his homer … i guess I had this impression of him as being a dinky slap hitter.

    Here’s something interesting: right now it seems like the Nats are starting four players who are in their early 20s. Garcia: 20, Robles: 23, Kieboom; 22 and Soto: 21. That’s a pretty far cry from being the oldest team in the game. Talk about having a youth movement all of a sudden.

    Todd Boss

    18 Aug 20 at 10:39 am

  27. Yeah, I certainly didn’t mean to suggest Soto is the best hitter in baseball right now. Trout has eight consecutive full seasons with a wRC+ above 165 and Soto has zero. But Soto is “on the way” in the sense that he’s (a) very young; (b) very good; (c) looks to be improving; and (d) Trout has to get old some time. I think it’s better than 50/50 that Soto will have a higher wRC+ than Trout some season during the next five years. But that won’t (necessarily) make him the best hitter in baseball. And if he doesn’t, he can be the second best hitter in baseball behind one of the top five hitters ever to play.


    18 Aug 20 at 10:55 am

  28. Also, I think Doo is on the IL, isn’t he?


    18 Aug 20 at 10:55 am

  29. You’re right, Doo is on the 10-day. I thought Ryne Harper had been optioned, but apparently he’s still active . . . but among the untrusted.

    I had seen in the spring games that Garcia had filled out quite a lot. We’ll see if that translates to more power. He not only had the homer but the liner down the 3B line that the 3B snagged to double off Soto. He’s got to watch Soto and work on his plate discipline, though, judging by his 17/86 BB/K number last season.


    18 Aug 20 at 12:38 pm

  30. I have a good feeling about a (near-)future back end of Finnegan and Rainey. Finnegan got out of a big 8th-inning jam on Tuesday with relative ease.

    Romero got lucky. Freeman was really mad that he didn’t crush the fat pitch that Romero gave him. Romero was only throwing around 92, didn’t have great control, and wasn’t that impressive to me. He does look like he’s in shape, though.

    Garcia had a highlight-reel play throwing Ozuna out from left field. (He was out, by half a step. That was an awful non-overrule.) Garcia also was on base four times in five trips. SSS, but he’s certainly off to a better start than Kieboom was last year.

    The Braves have a lot of hitting, but I just don’t see enough pitching there for them to hold up over the long haul. We’ll see how that goes.


    19 Aug 20 at 8:53 am

  31. I missed Romero last night. No walks is good, but facing Freeman on the road in a one-run game is definitely throwing him to the wolves. Better to be lucky than unlucky, I guess.

    Garcia looks very smooth, both at the plate and in the field. For me, it’s quite different from Kieboom, who looks much more mechanical (I think Kieboom has had many very good ABs – the K-rate is still high but I’ve watched him turn a lot of 0-2 counts full, which is progress, I think).

    All the NL East teams are flawed in significant ways. Nobody has the talent (or the health) to run away from the pack, IMO. Stay close and hope things break right at the end…


    19 Aug 20 at 9:48 am

  32. Everybody who thought Garcia would be this good right away raise your hands…… Didn’t think so. My, he looks like he belongs.
    When the Nats go in to their shifts, Kieboom seems more comfortable when he’s in the 2nd base spot.

    I had to look up Finnegan, he’s a lot like Bacus in that he spent 7 years in the minors before this year.

    Romero doesn’t look ready.

    Mark L

    19 Aug 20 at 10:42 am

  33. I was just catching up on some things in the Natosphere and saw Ghost’s post reminding us that we’re just a week and a half from the trade deadline. Todd, please remind us how much wiggle room the Nats still have under the luxury tax line.

    For the first time in the history of when the Nats have been competitive, I don’t think DC needs to be in the market for relievers, unless they think they need a lefty. Doo is iffy, Elias is iffy-er, Freeman is out, and Romero is the greenest of the green. Do they give Cronin a look at some point? Or Cate?

    The biggest trade question is whether the Nats think they need to try to get a mid-level starter as Stras/Sanchez insurance. Kevin Gausman (SF) is the best target I’ve spotted in limited browsing. The Braves, of course, might be looking for as many as three starters, so there’s going to be competition in that market. Might be time for a Rizzo scoop by striking early. Do the Nats need a guy like that, though? Is Crowe enough of a reserve? A lot probably depends on Stras’s medicals.

    Definitely would be good to pick up a 4th OF to upgrade from MAT and Stevo. How about a Brian Goodwin reunion? The Nats sure made the wrong choice in keeping Taylor over Goodwin. And man, the Angels have a mess with all their bad contracts and no pitching. (See also Red Sox, Boston). I’m not as concerned about “replacing” Difo as a utility INF; just please don’t use him as a starter! Maybe they would take on the last part of the last year of Simmons’s contract as part of a Goodwin deal? He may not hit much, but he’d be the greatest defensive sub ever.

    For now, let’s just sweep the Marlins and establish that we’re actually in contention.


    20 Aug 20 at 6:44 pm

  34. Some interesting commentary here about Soto, including the ZiPS projection that he’ll surpass Trout by 2023:

    That seems plausible. His fWAR projections outpace even Acuna even though Soto’s value comes almost entirely from his bat.


    21 Aug 20 at 11:23 am

  35. Possible available starters listed by MLBTR: Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, Taijuan Walker, Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Alex Cobb, and perhaps Dylan Bundy.


    21 Aug 20 at 11:42 am

  36. It’s amazing to think that the Braves pitching is suspect. Two years ago in the spring I read about the 10 best pitching prospects in baseball and the Braves had 3(!!!) of them. Very scary if you’re in the same division.
    So far only one of them have broken out,Sirotka, and he just blew out his achilles.

    Mark L

    21 Aug 20 at 5:22 pm

  37. Tanner Rainey has big stones. But other than that, the Friday game was disheartening. How can they be so lifeless against the Marlins? They played the Braves tough but never joined the fight in this one. The Nats keep acting like they can just flip the switch at any time and contend. I just watched a certain local hockey team act the same way in a playoff series. It didn’t end well.


    22 Aug 20 at 8:56 am

  38. Catching up here. Nats 2020 salary:

    I have no idea where they stand with proration and what not. I *think* they were $!6M under the cap. now? hwo knows.

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 20 at 3:06 pm

Leave a Reply