Before Jeremy Hellickson signed on in Washington, A.J. Cole was the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation. No one was handing the 26-year-old right-hander the role, of course, but he’s out of options, and the 2010 4th Round pick is doing his part this Spring to make his case for inclusion.
“We haven’t made any decisions on it,” manager Dave Martinez told reporters this week, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“Of course, A.J.’s in the mix, but we’ve seen a lot of good things out of other people. Right now it’s still up in the air, and we’ll see where it goes.”
In five innings over two Grapefruit League starts, Cole has given up seven hits, a walk, and three earned runs, striking out seven batters, with opposing hitters putting up a .333 AVG against him thus far in Spring Training action.
Illness prevented Cole from making his scheduled start last Monday, but the righty threw a bullpen session instead and felt better according to his manager, so he’s back at it this afternoon as the Nationals travel to Jupiter, Florida’s Roger Dean Stadium to meet the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 PM EDT today, in a game that’s available via MLB.tv.
Cole is coming off a 2017 campaign which saw him post a 3.86 ERA, a 5.19 FIP, 24 walks (4.87 BB/9), 41 Ks (8.32 K/9), and a .263/.367/.440 line against in eight starts and 44 1⁄3 IP as part of the Nationals’ rotation.
With Hellickson now part of the competition for the final spot in the Nats’ rotation, there is some additional pressure on the starters looking to break camp on the big league roster.
Cole gets another chance to make an impression on his new manager and the Nationals’ front office today against the Cards.