A year after he was named the Washington Nationals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, 27-year-old reliever Wander Suero made his MLB debut last summer, posting a 3.59 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 15 walks (2.83 BB/9), 47 Ks (8.87 K/9), and a .238/.312/.408 line against over 40 games and 47 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Suero talked this winter about what he’d learned from his first exposure at the major league level. His big takeaway was that he needed to work on his curve, after opposing hitters put up a .280 AVG on his breaking ball, hitting three of the four homers he allowed on the pitch.
“I had some struggles with it throughout the season,” Suero explained, “... and so I said to myself immediately, ‘This is something you really need to go home, you need to work on this, because you need to bring this to the team and you need to be able to help them with this.”
Suero said he wasn’t changing his grip, which he said was his grip, and unique to him, but he did think he needed to work more on locating the pitch.
“It’s more about where it’s going,” he said.
“I was leaving it out a little bit too much, I was floating a little too high, so working on where I’m locating and where I’m putting it is more of what I’m working on.”
Davey Martinez said at the start of Spring Training that Suero did really well for the Nats last season, and he hoped the right-hander could build on that this Spring.
The skipper also talked about the reliever when he was asked about the need for a left-hand specialist in the bullpen, noting that Suero did well against right-handed (.243/.301/.427 line against) and left-handed hitters (.237/.326/.382).
“I would want everybody to be more versatile,” Martinez explained.
“You talk about all these reverse split guys, but I would like guys to be able to get both hitters out.
“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.”
Sean Doolittle, Rosenthal, Barraclough, and Matt Grace, if all healthy on Opening Day, are the likely locks for the bullpen, which, if they stick with seven relievers, will also feature a second left-hander, (Like Sammy Solis, who is out of options, or Vidal Nuño, a non-roster invitee?).
Martinez said just last week that Justin Miller, if his back issues are behind him, is going to be in the bullpen.
So will it end up being Solis and Suero filling out the relief corps? Will a healthy Glover bump one of the two out?
Will any of the other relievers in camp (Nuño, Austen Williams, Jimmy Cordero, Aaron Barrett, J.J. Hoover, Tanner Rainey) force their way into the discussion?
Martinez seems to like what Suero has to offer.
“He attacks left-handed hitters,” Martinez said last week. “He’s got an unbelievable cutter. And the other day, facing Atlanta, he jammed two left-handed hitters, so I think he can get lefties out, just by watching what he does, and now he developed a two-seamer as well, so I’ll be interested to see and I’ll be putting him out there against some lefties and see what he can do.”
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