WASHINGTON – Max Scherzer, a likely Hall of Famer, was named the Pitcher of the Year on Sunday by the Nationals after a vote of local media.
That should not be shocking. But perhaps better news for the team is the continued improvement of right-handed reliever Tanner Rainey, who also received some consideration for the honor.
A product of West Alabama, Rainey was 1-1, 2.66 in 20 games out of the bullpen with a WHIP of 0.74 when his season ended Sept. 15 as he went on the Injured List with a right flexor strain. That came after he went 2-3, 3.91 in 52 games with a WHIP of 1.45 in his first season with the Nationals in 2019 – which included key moments in postseason games.
While it was a tough season, pitching coach Paul Menhart feels the improvement of Rainey and other young pitchers will help them when Spring Training begins in February in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“For a lot of our young pitchers who were given a chance to pitch in high-leverage situations, the experience is something you can never really put a price tag on,” Menhart told Federal Baseball on Friday.
Rainey, 27, made his Major League debut in eight games with the Reds in 2018. After that season he was traded to Washington for starting pitcher Tanner Roark, who is now with Toronto. Rainey was the 71st overall pick in 2015 by Cincinnati.
“What he was able to show us once again is that he can handle any situation,” Menhart said of Rainey. “No situation is too big for him.”
Menhart hopes that young pitchers such as Seth Romero and Ben Braymer, who made their MLB debuts this year, can also aid the staff in 2021.
“We are very encouraged, we are very excited about the future with the young arms we’ve got,” Menhart said.