“He had said that that’s the job he wanted, so it’s his now,” Dusty Baker told reporters after Koda Glover tossed a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation against the Seattle Mariners earlier this week.
Baker confirmed in his post-game comments that Glover was the Nationals’ closer now.
“He’s very calm. He throws strikes. He throws quality strikes and he has a pretty good idea what he’s doing, for a young pitcher,” Baker said.
The scoreless inning against the Mariners was Glover’s sixth straight since he returned from a DL stint for a hip impingement in the same hip in which he suffered a season-ending torn labrum late in 2016.
He’s walked one and recorded six Ks in 5 2⁄3 IP since he returned, holding hitters to a combined .238/.273/.286 line.
Glover earned his fourth save in five attempts this season on Friday night, with Chris Speier managing the team while Baker is in California for his son’s graduation.
Max Scherzer went into the ninth, but was lifted with the bases loaded and two outs and Glover came on to face Hunter Renfroe, striking the Padres’ rookie out in a four-pitch appearance which saw him throw four straight 95-96 mph sliders.
Speier said Glover has that certain something that makes him a natural for the closer’s role.
“I think he’s got that ‘it’ factor,” Speier explained. “He doesn’t back away from anything and he stays with his strengths. He’s not afraid to throw what his strength is, he’s not trying to trick anybody and like I said, it’s that ‘it’ factor that you all look for for those guys that come in in the ninth inning.”
Glover pitched for the third time in four days on Saturday evening, throwing a 12-pitch, nine-strike ninth after seven scoreless by Stephen Strasburg and a scoreless eighth by Matt Albers.
Speier, asked about Glover’s outing, made sure to note that Albers got the Nationals to the ninth after Strasburg’s 15-strikeout start.
“Don’t forget about the other guys,” Speier said.
“Matt Albers came in, that was a huge inning for us, right there, for him to come in and shut the door. It’s a bridge to Koda, but like I said, if you’re going to make a run, and you’re going to be in the playoffs, you’ve got to have that guy, you’ve got to have that shutdown guy.”
The early returns on Glover as closer are positive. Baker expressed concern about his lack of experience before telling reporters he was the guy this week.
“Koda was kind of lobbying for that in the first place, but we wanted to kind of break him in slowly, because this guy — shoot, he’s what? A year and a half out of college?”
A year and a half out of college and currently looking like he could solve a lot of the questions at the back end of the Nationals’ bullpen.