Before the series opener with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night in Dodger Stadium, Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters he expected Gio Gonzalez to step up with a big start, but if he struggled, Baker said, “.... our bullpen is relatively rested.”
Gonzalez went six innings against the Dodgers, giving up four hits and two earned runs, and Enny Romero, Matt Albers, and Oliver Perez combined for three scoreless innings in a 4-2 win.
Baker was asked after the game if that was his plan for the pen going in to the series opener in LA.
“It was pretty close,” he said.
“I found out right before game time that Koda was a little sore, so we decided not to use Koda and we didn’t want to use all our bullpen, but we would have done whatever was possible to try to win that game, and so the guys performed well.”
Glover threw five pitches in the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon, in what was a two-run game when he took the mound after Tanner Roark struggled to finish off the A’s.
The Nationals went up 11-4 with a five-run top of the ninth, and in spite of the long break between innings, Baker sent his closer back out for the bottom of the ninth.
Glover struggled, throwing 17 pitches without recording an out and giving up a four straight singles and a bases-loaded walk.
He was charged with three more runs after he left the game, when Shawn Kelley allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a grand slam.
Baker was asked on Monday night in LA if he was concerned about Glover or if it was just a “day after thing” after he threw 22 pitches against the A’s.
Glover has, of course, already undergone Tommy John surgery, and last season suffered a torn labrum in his hip, which acted up again early this season leading to a DL stint.
“I don’t know,” Baker said. “Tell you the truth, I don’t know.”
[ed. note - “Glover returned to the mound in the second of three with the Dodgers on Tuesday night after assuring reporters he had just thrown too many pitches on Sunday. He earned the save and almost got into a brawl with Yasiel Puig.”]
Heading into play on Tuesday night, the Nationals, who owned the best record in the NL, had, as a group, the highest ERA (5.05), second-highest FIP (4.76), highest BAA (.275) the second-highest BABIP-against (.317), second-highest WHIP (1.46), third-most home runs given up (28)... you get it. They could use some help. It’s not just our opinion.
While the Nationals may have found their closer, in Glover, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote last week, that they shouldn’t stop there.
“The Nats need to maximize that possibility. To resist overworking Glover — and so they have October options as to who pitches the eighth or the ninth inning — the Nats need to land David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Tony Watson or even Mark Melancon in a trade. Then, with one final fix — healing the confidence of Blake Treinen so he can resume the valuable high-leverage role he held last season — the Nats might go from a bullpen that brought tears in April to one that is feared in the fall.”
Glover seems to have claimed the closer’s role, and before Sunday, he was on a solid run.
If the Nationals can get Treinen back to being the pitcher he was last season, he can be a weapon.
The gamble the Nationals made on Albers has paid off. Sammy Solis might return... at some point. Erick Fedde is in the process of converting to relief work so he can maybe help out in the majors. It’s not enough though.
“Glover and journeyman Matt Albers, having a career spring, may feed delusions this could be a pennant-winning bullpen as it stands. It isn’t,” Boswell wrote.
The Nationals appear to agree, if you believe reports like this one from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on Tuesday afternoon:
Nightengale is, of course, hardly the only one reporting that the Nationals remain in the market for bullpen arms.
The search for a high-end closer didn’t land one this winter, and Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and Co. decided to turn to in-house options to fill out the pen.
Will the next search land the sort of arms they were after? Will they build around Glover?
Will they find a closer that pushes the rest of the relievers back into late-inning roles behind a bona-fide late-inning arm? That approach didn’t work well in the past. They have to do something though... right?