In his first campaign in the Nationals’ organization, following last December’s trade with the Los Angeles Angels, hard-throwing right-hander Trevor Gott spent most of the season at Triple-A Syracuse, where the 24-year-old reliever put up a 4.35 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 13 walks (2.97 BB/9) and 31 Ks (7.09 K/9) in 33 appearances and 39 1⁄3 innings pitched.
Called up to the majors in September, Gott, who made his major league debut with LA in 2015, put up a 1.50 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, three walks (4.50 BB/9) and six Ks (9.00 K/9) in nine games and six innings.
As he explained it this winter, the opportunities weren’t there this season, with the bullpen arms in the majors enjoying success, which, he noted, isn’t a bad thing.
“You’re not mad at all,” Gott explained when he spoke with reporters in December, “... because all those guys are my friends. I like seeing them succeed and if they’re pitching well, the team is doing well, so you’re not mad. I’m still young. Those guys were pitching well and it’s just how it goes. It’s part of the business. So you just wait your turn and if you get the opportunity, take advantage.”
Gott dealt with inflammation in his right elbow, missing time in June and July, but he returned to the Chiefs’ bullpen in early August and was called up to the majors when rosters expanded in September.
He said, things, “didn’t go as planned,” in his first season with Washington, for a variety of reasons, but overall he was happy with his first campaign pitching for the Chiefs and Nationals.
“Obviously everyone was pitching well on the big league team, which is great,” he reiterated, “and there just weren’t a whole lot of opportunities, which is fine.
“Then went through that injury and I thought I came back a lot stronger after the injury and I was just glad to get up for that last month and play with these guys and experience that. Overall, I think it went well.”
Asked about the extent of the injury, Gott said he was past it and it wasn’t anything that was affecting his ability to prepare for 2017.
“It was just a little strain, I had some inflammation and we just wanted to be cautious about it and not push anything,” he explained.
He was happy he got the opportunity to pitch in the majors late in the season.
“Just being around those guys and pitching in front of them, having success. I think it showed people that I belonged there, I can pitch there.” His goals this winter?
“Obviously tighten up the offspeed stuff,” Gott said. “Get that better and just get stronger and make sure no more injuries happen. The key is staying healthy and it’s tough to do, so really just working on strength and keeping everything healthy.”
He said he got some help from the Nationals’ pitching coach, Mike Maddux, in September, and thinks it could help going forward. He was already working on improving secondary pitches before he got the call late this year.
“I worked on it a lot before the injury and obviously that kind of set me back,” he said.
“We worked on a few things up here, me and Maddux, that I’m taking into the offseason that I think is really going to help for next season.”
When he was acquired last winter, in a deal that sent Yunel Escobar to the Angels, Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo was asked if he saw Gott as a potential closer option?
“That's always the hope for guys who have great arms and have the mentality to pitch later in the games,” Rizzo said.
“He proved with the Angels that he's capable of doing it. We foresee putting him in the mix with our other bullpen guys that really have plus stuff and we feel good about the depth and the quality of guys that we have in there."
With the closer’s role as yet unfilled, and some other opportunities in the bullpen this season, Gott was asked if he’d been following the Nationals’ moves this winter?
“I haven’t paid attention to anything, really,” he said. “What happens, happens, so we’ll see.”
With a fastball that sat between 94-96 in the majors, a low 90s changeup and high-70s to low-80s curve, Gott certainly has the stuff to succeed as a late-inning reliever, and there are opportunities in D.C. in 2017.