A last gasp mailbox from MLB.com beat reporter Jamal Collier, starting off with the question on everyone’s mind….
Q: Dusty says the Nats have basically chosen their closer, but they have not told the guy. Who do you think it is?
A: I still think its the veteran Shawn Kelley to start. Koda Glover waits in the wings though. I don’t like Blake Treinen‘s historic splits against lefties (career .834 OPS) enough to trust him as the closer yet. I say this less thinking about Kelley’s twice-cut elbow, or as any indictment of Glover’s stuff. I say this primarily because Dusty Baker seems like the kind of manager to stick with the “established veteran” until proven otherwise.
Collier thinks its Glover from day one. He mentions the organization’s repeated discussion of Kelley’s durability and Treinen’s ground ball rate. We’ll see!
Q: I know innings totals are big deal for rookie starters. Not an issue for relievers? I believe Koda has never pitched more than 45 innings. Would a 60-inning season (w/ playoffs) be a concern for a reliever?
A: IP workload for relievers? No way; nearly 100% of these guys were starters in HS and College, only converting to relief in the minors due to lack of a complete repertoire or injury. The bigger concern for reliever arms in my view is the ability to go multiple days in a row. Two on, one off, another two to three on, then one to two off. That’s a different kind of wear and tear on arms … but (not to be cynical) that’s why you ride reliever arms like a work-horse; they’re replaceable.
Collier says not a concern for now .. but perhaps a concern for Glover later this year since he will be throwing a career high as a professional.
Q: Is Trea Turner playing good shortstop this spring? He looks good to me. —
A: Well, based on my extensive time watching Nats spring training games (which’d be practically zero), I’m going to recuse myself like a politician who secretly met with the Russians recently.
Collier says Turner looks inexperienced and needs patience. Not to call the man out, but that sounds like cliche’d sportswriter BS to me. Turner’s likely been playing shortstop since he was 6 or 7. Yeah everything is faster in the majors, blah blah, but the scouting report on him coming out of college hasn’t changed. He’s got a good but not great arm, good range, good fielding and 70 speed.
Q: What impact if any will Fedde have this year and for years to come?
A: I think Fedde’s presence at MLB camp easily jumped him to the top of “best SP prospects in the system” line (if he wasn’t already there thanks to the Eaton trade). But it also may have jumped him to the top of the “who do we call up to cover for 6-weeks of injury” list. In reality: I think he gets a couple months in AA, and then either goes to AAA or gets called-up if there’s a rotation spot opening. If someone goes down with injury early then its probably still A.J. Cole, but at this point, I think we may know what we know about Cole. Where this leaves Austin Voth i’m not sure; perhaps Voth is the guy who will cover a spot start in May. Either way, Fedde gets called up at some point in 2017.
Collier says he was impressed by Fedde this spring … and that he may have trade value this summer?!? If the Nats trade Fedde, their last remaining “anywhere close to the majors halfway decent” starting pitching prospect, after shedding their other three best starting pitching prospects, I’ll be rather irritated.