As they searched for ways to help their struggling bullpen earlier this season, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said the team was, “looking for all avenues to improve ourselves bullpen-wise.” That search included signing a number of available veteran arms, including Francisco Rodney, Javy Guerra, Dan Jennings, George Kontos, Jonny Venters, and Michael Blazek, among others, all of whom were added to the organization over the first months of the 2019 campaign.
Three of those pitchers, (Rodney, Guerra, and Venters) have contributed at the major league level, while Jennings came up but didn’t last long in the Nationals’ bullpen.
According to multiple reports Saturday night, including an initial post on Twitter by 106.7 the FAN and The Athletic’s Grant Paulsen, Blazek was going to be the next reliever to get a shot to show he can add something to the big league pen after 23 appearances at Triple-A Fresno in which he posted a 5.54 ERA, a 4.92 FIP, 3.46 BB/9, and 9.69 K/9 in 26 IP for the Nats’ top minor league affiliate.
The move didn’t happen on Sunday, but this afternoon reporters in the nation’s capital noted that Blazek was in the Nats’ clubhouse in advance of the series opener with the Colorado Rockies and the official announcement came out shortly after the first tweeted reports of his presence.
Blazek, a 35th Round pick in 2007 by the St. Louis Cardinals, hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years, after putting up a 4.39 ERA, a 4.89 FIP, 4.32 BB/9, and 7.61 K/9 in 123 innings with the Cards and Milwaukee Brewers.
He’ll be the 20th reliever the Nationals have used this season when/if he gets in a game...
Source: The Nationals will continue tinkering with the pitching staff tomorrow. They will be calling up RHP Michael Blazek from AAA Fresno. Joined org during season. Has been nasty lately. 26IP, 28K, 22H.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) July 20, 2019
Formerly pitched in majors with the Brewers. Hasn't been since 2017.
Michael Blazek was apparently up to 96-97 in his last outing, which is crazy. Also throws an upper 80s SL. Took him a while to find groove after not having a spring training.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) July 20, 2019
Last 8 games: 10.1 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 13 strikeouts. Often gets 4 and 5 outs at a time.
The Nationals plan to call up right-handed reliever Michael Blazek from AAA Fresno tomorrow, continuing to shake up their staff after another rough showing for the bullpen on Friday. @granthpaulsen was first to report.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 20, 2019
UPDATE: The Nationals had to make room on the roster for Blazek’s addition. They appear to be willing to try any and everyone they think can contribute as they also continue to look into potential trade targets with the trade deadline approaching at the end of the month.
In order to make room, the Nationals’ 40-Man roster for Blazek, the Nationals transferred right-hander Justin Miller to the 60-Day Injured List in a series of moves this afternoon...
#Nationals’ roster moves:— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) July 22, 2019
· Selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Michael Blazek from Triple-A Fresno
· Recalled outfielder Andrew Stevenson from Triple-A Fresno
· Placed first baseman Ryan
Zimmerman on the 10-day Injured List with plantar fasciitis in his right foot