In addition to predicting where Bryce Harper might end up if he leaves Washington via free agency after 2018, [ed. note - “TL;DR version: The Philadelphia Phillies? Seriously? + Did you know Harper was a New York Yankees fan as a kid? + Harper’s now-standard Washington is a ‘monumental” city quote.”], FanRagSports.com’s Jon Heyman wrote a little about the Nationals’ closer candidates this week.
“Scouts seem to like Blake Treinen to win the closing job,” Heyman began, quoting one scout in particular who said simply, “‘He has the best stuff.’”
“But it’s going to take more than stuff, Nats people believe,” Heyman noted, while also mentioning that Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker and GM Mike Rizzo cited Koda Glover’s make-up, “... as giving him a shot to pull off the upset.”
He also mentioned Enny Romero and Shawn Kelley as potential options, but in Kelley’s case, suggested that the 32-year-old reliever, “seems to be more suited for set-up due to two Tommy Johns in his past, they say.”
Treinen, 28, earned his first career save last season, finishing his third major league campaign with a 2.28 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 31 walks (4.16 BB/9) and 63 Ks (8.46 K/9) in 67 innings, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .220/.314/.333 line.
Dusty Baker told reporters earlier this Spring that Treinen would end up “somewhere back there,” in the late-inning relief corps, while also asking if they might be rushing the right-hander, who struggled against left-handers before turning the corner in 2016.
“Everybody is in that situation where you have to learn and he learned,” Baker said, “... and he ended up getting lefties out equal to righties.
“So is that fair to say that he’s a candidate for that situation or are we rushing him because you want to him evolve rather quickly?
“But you want to evolve and not destroy him. I’ve seen guys’ confidence get destroyed too, and so I’m going to call upon my past and what I’ve seen.”
Baker said earlier this Spring that he’ll rely on his own knowledge, his coaches’ opinions and even seek insight from his catchers when it comes time to make a decision on who closes out games this season.
“I’m going to rely on my knowledge, [Pitching Coach] Mike [Maddux’s] knowledge, and also I told my catchers today that I’m going to ask your opinion on who you think might have the demeanor, who you think has demonstrated control, which is No. 1 as a closer, cause you can’t have your closer coming out and walking people just because he throws hard, so I depend on my catchers also to get in the equation and give me their opinions.”
So now that we’re less than a month away, who’s going to be closing on Opening Day?