In a recent MLB Network Radio interview, Nationals’ General Manager Mike Rizzo told hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette that the search turned inward this winter after a few well-publicized pursuits.
“We felt that ever since early in the offseason when we didn’t get one of the big three closers,” Rizzo said. “We feel that he’s here, we’ll figure out which one it is.”
Dusty Baker told reporters this week that the Nats’ brass had not yet decided which pitcher will close out games come Opening Day, though they would put their heads together soon and make a choice.
Though he speculated recently that, “in the end,” the Nats, would, “... probably need to pick up a bona fide closer,” while suggesting a trade for Robertson would make sense, especially with the White Sox reportedly willing, “to pay down some of the $25 million remaining over two years on Robertson’s deal,” FanRag.com’s Jon Heyman reported on Thursday night that the two sides haven’t picked up discussions in quite a while.
“[The White Sox] haven’t talked to the Nats about David Robertson in ‘over two months,’” Heyman wrote, citing, “one person familiar with those talks.”
Heyman went on to handicap the in-house race for the Nats’ closer’s role in the article, writing that, “there’s no indication it’s coming from anywhere but in-house.”
Noting that Nationals’ relievers Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen and Koda Glover all remain in the running, Heyman added that, “some see the two past Tommy John surgeries for Kelley as a deterrent,” but, “Rizzo differs, saying the closer job is the most regular job.”
Kelley made the same argument earlier this winter, telling reporters, including Todd Dybas of The Washington Times, that the closer’s role provided some consistency:
“You actually minimize some of the proverbial ‘dry humps’ where you have to get going and then you don’t get in and then it’s like ‘Well you didn’t pitch yesterday, you should feel good today... well I warmed up three times so I’m actually kind of sore.
“So as a closer you minimize a lot of that so you can kind of, I think you can take a little bit better care of your arm being in the closer role.”
While Treinen is seen as having the best stuff among the in-house options, Heyman added, “Nats people are intrigued by Glover, who’s seen as exceptionally tough.”
“He has the stuff to eventually be [the closer],” Baker told reporters, as quoted by the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes, earlier this week.
“We just have to decide: Is he ready? Or not now?”
Though a number of recent articles have noted the fact that Glover worked the ninth in a number of recent outings, Treinen got the ball in the ninth inning with a one-run lead over the New York Mets on Thursday afternoon.
He worked around a one-out single in a quick, 17-pitch frame.
Some day soon, with Opening Day fast approaching, the Nationals’ brain trust will get together to make a decision and clear up any doubts about who will get the first shot at closing out games.
Who will be the Nationals’ closer on Opening Day?
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