A whirlwind 48-hour period for now-former Washington Nationals’ reliever Trevor Rosenthal ended with the 29-year-old right-hander getting released by the team that signed him to a 1-year/$8M contract this winter.
Rosenthal signed a $7M deal which included a mutual option at $10M for 2020 or a $1M buyout, after a showcase in which he impressed a Nats’ scout in attendance following a year off recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Rosenthal’s time in the nation’s capital ended after 12 outings in which he gave up eight hits, 15 walks, 16 runs (all earned), hit three batters, and threw five wild pitches in 6 1⁄3 IP.
The tipping point, apparently, was Saturday night’s performance, which saw the seven-year veteran walk the only three batters he faced, loading the bases in what was an 8-4 game in the Nationals’ favor when he took the mound. He threw 15 pitches total, but just three for strikes, then watched as all three runners came around as part of a four-run inning for the Braves in what ended up a 13-9 win for Atlanta.
“Just couldn’t find the plate,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the loss, when asked what went wrong for Rosenthal.
“I mean, really,” Martinez added, “he looked a little kind of anxious today, a little bit. Just couldn’t find the plate.”
The rough outing came a night after the second-year manager sent Rosenthal in a high-leverage situation, with a runner on and two out in a one-run game.
He got the third out, then celebrated with his teammates in the dugout after what looked like it might have been a step in the right direction.
One day later, however, it was back to what Rosenthal had done all season.
“I’ll have to kind of just figure it out tonight and see,” Martinez said when asked what the next step was on Saturday night.
“Like I said, yesterday he seemed a little bit poised, today he seemed antsy out there. Some of those pitches I guess were close, I didn’t see them yet, but I’ll have to look and see where we’re at.”
He left Rosenthal in after the first two walks, Martinez said, because he had to see what the reliever had.
“We need to see where we’re at,” he explained. “We’ve got eight guys down there and they have got to pitch.”
“I really felt good about putting Rosie in there, I did,” Martinez added.
“And then he walked the guys, and then I thought, ‘Hey, you know what, he’s got to settle down, let’s see what he does.’”
After the third walk, he’d seen enough, and apparently the Nationals, as a team, had too.
Rosenthal told reporters he spotted a mechanical issue he thought would be an easy fix.
“Looking back at it, after I came out of the inning it was really a small mechanical tweak that I think will be an easy fix,” Rosenthal said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“It’s just a matter of timing and it just seemed like I was a little bit early on my timing and trying to make an adjustment and get everything to sync up. Just wasn’t able to get it there quite quick enough, but I think it’ll be something come back tomorrow and I’ll be able to figure it out fairly easily.”
Martinez and Co. in the Nationals’ front office apparently decided they couldn’t afford to wait any longer for Rosenthal to figure it out.
Before the third of three with the Braves in D.C., the Nationals released Rosenthal (an $8M hit), called right-hander Austin Voth up to start against Atlanta, and added Kyle McGowin to the bullpen mix, with Joe Ross going down, as they shuffled things around.
“We talked last night, after the game, and you know, hey, Trevor is an unbelievable person, just at this point in time — he put the work in, we put the work in, we tried to get him right and just things didn’t work out, so it was time for us to move on,” Martinez said.
“When we got him we knew he had Tommy John surgery, he looked good when we signed him, Spring Training was okay, just, like I said, all of a sudden he couldn’t find the strike zone, and tried to work on some things with him, thought we had — he was pitching better, it just didn’t work out.”