With the Joe Blanton signing, one has to think the team is done augmenting its bullpen until the trade deadline.
Instant Tangent: Blanton is actually an excellent example of why i’m pretty much A-OK with the Nats not overpaying for a closer. Here’s Blanton’s career splits as a starter and reliever:
- Starter: 1553 innings, 4.47 ERA, 1.354 whip, 6.2 K/9 and a 2.65 K/BB ratio.
- Reliever: 169.2 innings, 3.24 ERA, 1.138 whip, 8.9 K/9 and 3.57 K/BB ratio.
Last year specifically as a middle relief workhorse for Los Angeles: 80 innings across 75 appearances, 2.48 ERA, exactly a 9.0 K/9 rate.
So basically Blanton was a sub-mediocre starter; his starting career was with Oakland (pitcher’s park), Philly (National league) and then stints starting for both Los Angeles clubs (again, both pitcher’s parks and/or NL teams facing pitchers and weaker lineups). But suddenly he’s a stud when moved into relief.
This is nothing new. Go look at Mariano Rivera‘s stats starting; in one brief season for the Yankees he got 10 starts and threw to a 5.51 ERA. The next year he’s moved into the bullpen and he posts a 2.09 ERA and comes in 3rd in Cy Young. After that, eleven seasons where his ERA for the year was sub 2.00. Not to be too blunt about it, but Rivera was a failed MLB starter who turned into a Hall of Fame reliever.
There’s no reason the Nats can’t find their own Mariano Rivera.
I’m not saying Shawn Kelley is the answer. For a while i’ve thought that Blake Treinen was the answer. Maybe now Koda Glover will be the answer. Or perhaps Joan Baez will rocket up the system and throw 100 mph bee-bees by September.
In any case … I’m happy with the bullpen now, moreso than I was yesterday, and I still think it’d be a mistake to trade valuable assets for a mediocre closer like David Robertson.
So, to the question at hand. How’s our Bullpen looking?
Here’s the relievers on our 40-man roster now, in rough order of depth: Kelley, Blanton, Treinen, Glover, Solis*, Perez*, Romero*, Adams, Gott, Martin, Cordero, Grace*
So what do I think is going to happen?
- Closer: Kelley. Good stuff in short bursts, veteran guy to meet the “pressure” requirement of a closer.
- 8th inning guys: Treinen and Blanton: no arguments here; they’ll both throw in 70-80 games this year, switching off and perhaps spelling Kelley in the 9th.
- 7th Inning guys: Glover and Solis: I like Glover’s stuff, I think his downturn in performance last year was entirely related to the unreported hip issue, and I think he could be the closer in waiting. Solis is lefty but offers more than just a matchup; he’s not that far removed from starting and he’s not unlike Andrew Miller in that he depends on a good pitch (his two seamer) slung from a lower arm-angle to get guys out.
- Lefty specialist: Mr. Swashbuckler Oliver Perez. He can also pick up the slop in a pinch and give the team twisty-turny rubber armed high sock slinging mud as needed. (Yes, I like Perez).
Ok that’s 6 guys who are practically guaranteed their slots. Maybe Glover isn’t a guarantee to you but he is to me if he’s healthy.
So who is 7th reliever? Maybe its easier to talk about who I do NOT think it will be:
- Grace: I think he’s not long for the org, clearly now 4th in line for lefty relievers for a team that only needs two. DFA candidate if it comes to it.
- Martin: He doesn’t seem to have the same magic he had when he first got called up; he’s also fallen down on the depth chart, now behind the above named guys plus recent acqusitions.
- Adams, Gott, Cordero: all are new(er), all have things to prove, make perfect sense to start in AAA
- Romero: option-less, could be on the opening day roster just to avoid a waiver wire exposure … but we paid little for him so there’s little lost cutting him. Maybe he starts on the roster in lieu of a 5th starter for the first few days (we don’t need a fifth starter until like the 6th or 7th game of the season, assuming everyone is healthy and making the roster).
So who is 7th guy? Someone who’s not even on the 40-man; Vance Worley. He sots into 7th man, long guy, spot starter, insurance guy.
That’s what i’m going with for now. But good or bad spring performances could scuttle this by the time we hit April 1.