clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Washington Nationals add Tony Sipp to the bullpen mix...

Veteran reliever Tony Sipp gives the Washington Nationals a left-handed specialist at the back of a bullpen that still has a few question marks as Opening Day approaches.

Washington Nationals v Houston Astros Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Davey Martinez talked a few weeks back about the right-handers in his bullpen doing well against left-handed hitters when he was asked about the need for a left-handed specialist.

“I would want everybody to be more versatile,” the second-year manager said.

“You talk about all these reverse split guys, but I would like guys to be able to get both hitters out. [Wander] Suero is another guy that obviously has pretty good success doing that as well, but we’ve got a lot of guys like that, with Trevor [Rosenthal] and [Kyle] Barraclough when he’s on and he’s healthy. [Koda] Glover, hopefully when he’s on and he’s healthy.”

Releasing Sammy Solis opened up a 40-Man roster spot and left the Nationals with two left-handed relievers in camp in closer Sean Doolittle and Matt Grace with another, Vidal Nuño, on the bubble and fighting for a job after signing a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office apparently decided that they could use a left-handed specialist in the ‘pen after all, however, because they signed 35-year-old veteran Tony Sipp to a 1-year/$1.25M deal, coming off a 2018 campaign in Houston in which he earned $6M in the final year of a 3-year/$18M contract he signed with the Astros in 2015.

Sipp had a 1.86 ERA, a 2.41 FIP, 13 walks (3.03 BB/9), 42 Ks (9.78 K/9), and a .197/.272/.311 line against in 38 2⁄3 innings last season, with a .188/.263/.294 line against vs left-handed hitters, and a .206/.280/.328 line against vs right-handed hitters.

“I think that [Sipp] balances our bullpen out,” Rizzo said when he spoke after news of the signing broke, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“He’s had success in big moments. He’s been in the playoffs and had success. I think that not only with our division but just in general, I think he’s a sound relief pitcher. And he gets righties out, too. Let’s not forget that.”

“Can’t have enough lefty specialists,” Martinez said, “you really can’t, and in our division ... with the left-handed batters that we have in our division it will be nice to have that guy. But we also have right-handers that are capable of getting those lefties out as well and I kind of like that.”

Doolittle summed up the situation that Sipp is coming into when he talked about the latest addition to the bullpen mix in the nation’s capital.

“‘Welcome to the NL East. Here’s Harp. Here’s Freeman. Here’s Canó,’” the Nats’ closer said, referring, of course, to the PhilliesBryce Harper, the BravesFreddie Freeman, and the Mets’ big offseason addition, Robinson Canó.

“We think that [Sipp] is going to be a good addition to the bullpen,” Rizzo said.

“We think that he’s a really good value for us and it was time for him to sign and we have opportunities for him, and this is one of the places he wanted to be because he’s got a chance to win and he’s been used to that.”

Sipp has been to the postseason twice in his 10-year career, in 2015 and ‘18 with the Astros, giving up one run in six appearances and 5 13 IP in his first October run, and throwing 1 13 scoreless innings over three appearances last season.