Harper, 30, debuted in the majors in 2019, putting up a 3.81 ERA, a 3.66 FIP, 10 walks (1.66 BB/9), 50 Ks (8.28 K/9), and a .257/.290/.419 line against in 54 1⁄3 innings out of the Twins’ bullpen, but he was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for free agent signing Josh Donaldson, after the infielder agreed to a deal with Minnesota last week.
The Nationals’ press release on today’s acquisition focuses on the strong start Harper got off to after he made his MLB debut.
“Harper started his rookie campaign in strong fashion, offering scoreless relief in 17 of his first 18 appearances while pitching to a 1.42 ERA (3 ER/19.0 IP) from March 31 through May 18. He was particularly strong in the month of May, when he posted a 0.84 ERA (1 ER/10.2 IP) with 12 strikeouts in 11 outings. Opposing batters hit .158 (6-for-38) with one double during the month.”
Selected in the 37th Round of the 2011 Draft by the Atlanta Braves, Harper was traded to the Seattle Mariners in December of 2015, and he signed with the Twins as a free agent in 2018, before debuting in March 2019.
Harper used a four-pitch mix out of the bullpen in Minnesota, throwing his curve 59.3% of the time according to BaseballSavant.com, with opponents putting up a .220 AVG on the pitch, which averaged just 74.1 MPH.
Something notable about Ryne Harper beyond the last name: He threw 60% curveballs last year, easily the highest rate in MLB.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) January 29, 2020
1st pitch: 65%
Behind in count: 44%
Ahead in count: 70%
Two strikes: 68%
He also used a four-seamer (.333 BAA, 89.3 MPH), a changeup (which he threw just eight times), and a cutter (which he threw once).
Hunter McMahon, 21, was a 2019 9th Round pick by the Nationals, who pitched for the Gulf Coast League Nationals and Auburn Doubledays in his first pro season, with 4 2⁄3 scoreless innings of work in the GCL, and a 1.13 ERA, a 0.65 FIP, two walks (2.25 BB/9), and 14 Ks (15.75 K/9) in eight innings of work in the NY/Penn League.
With the acquisition of Harper this afternoon, the Nationals now have 40 players on the 40-Man roster.