Washington Nationals Offseason Checklist (Bullpen Edition)

Will Tyler Clippard be here in 2014?

Before last season even started, everybody had high hopes on the 2013 Washington Nationals. Many people had them winning the NL East, and some people even had them winning the World Series. Davey Johnson had very high hopes for this team, saying the the now infamous phrase, “World Series or Bust” during spring training. However, a lackluster offense and key injuries to Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Stephen Strasburg had the Nationals far from the numerous “World Series” predictions, finishing at 86-76. This offseason, the Nationals will try to become favorites once again by doing several key things. We will look at these thing as part of a three day breakdown of the Nationals offseason:

2. FIX THE BULLPEN

Like the bench, the bullpen was not the same from 2012 to 2013. Many of the key pieces from 2012 (Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen) regressed, and new players (Rafael Soriano, Zach Duke) didn’t turn out the way we hoped. Lets evaluate each member of the 2013 Washington Nationals bullpen and see if they should stay in 2014.

Tyler Clippard (2013 stats) 6-3, 2.41 ERA, 73 K’s, 1.8 WAR

Tyler Clippard has arguably been the Nationals best bullpen pitcher over the past three season. That could be the reason that he might not be in out bullpen in 2014. If the Nationals want to trade for an ace like Max Scherzer, Clip might have to be one of the pieces the Nationals give up. Clippard’s versatility also make him an extremely good trade piece. He has shown that he can be used as a closer, set up man, or just someone to get your team out of a jam. However, I don’t think the Nationals will end up trading him.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY

Rafael Soriano (2013 stats) 3.11 ERA, 43 SV, 51 K’s, .9 WAR

Rafael Soriano looked like a totally different pitcher than the Nats had hoped he would. His fastball was down a few ticks, and his normally devastating slider was all over the place. While Soriano had one of the highest saves total in 2013, he was also in the top 5 in the MLB in blown saves with 6. And often times he would put himself in very bad situations, only to be bailed out by his defense. Unfortunately, Soriano is under contract for one more year, and unless Mike Rizzo could pull out a miracle, Soriano will be our close again in 2014.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY

Craig Stammen (2013 stats) 7-6, 2.76 ERA , 79 K’s, 1 WAR

Apart from Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen has been the best bullpen pitcher for the Washington Nationals over the past two years. That would also make him a good trade piece, if the Nats were to make a trade. Also, similar to Clippard, Stammen is versatile, being able to pitch one inning, two innings, or even make a spot start if needed. However, Stammen seems to be a solid part of the bullpen and I don’t think he will be moved this offseason.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY

Fernadno Abad (2013 stats) 0-3, 3.35 ERA, 32 K’s, .4 WAR

Abad was one of few happy surprises with the Nationals bullpen. Coming into the 2013 season, the Nats only had one left handed bullpen pitcher on their Opening Day lineup: Zach Duke. Once the Nationals realized that Duke wasn’t turning out the way that they had hoped, they called up Abad, who was signed to a minor league contract in November. After Abad was called up, he tossed 6.2 scoreless innings with 9 K’s. Abad went on to be a key part of our bullpen in 2013. However, look for Abad to move on to greener pastures in 2014.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: GO

Drew Storen (2013 stats) 4-2, 4.52 ERA, 58 K’s, -.7 WAR

Drew Stroren’s season was a tale of two halves. His first half of the season was like a re-run of Game 5. From April until July, Storen’s ERA was almost 6. Then, after a game against the Mets where Storen gave up 3 runs in .2 innings, the Nationals sent him down to AAA to get things “sorted out”. Whatever he did in AAA worked, because in the 19.1 innings after his brief stint in the minors, Storen gave up a TOTAL of 3 runs. That would look enticing to a team in need of a bullpen arm. Of any pitcher in our bullpen, Storen could be the first to be traded.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY

Ryan Mattheus (2013 stats) 0-2, 6.37 ERA, 22 K’s, -.8 WAR

As the famous Crash Davis once told a young Nuke LaLooshe, “Never punch with your throwing arm.” Ryan Mattheus had never heard this when he broke his right hand after punching it against his locker after a bad outing. That basically describes Mattheus 2013. One giant bad move after another. Even a trip down to the minors couldn’t fix Mattheus, as it seemed he only got worse. Don’t expect Mattheus to be with the Nationals at the start of the season.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: GO

Xavier Cedeno (2013 stats) 0-0, 1.50 ERA, 6 K’s, .2 WAR

It seemed like Cedeno was called up and down so many times that he had frequent flyer miles from DC to Syracuse. However, from what we saw from Cedeno was very impressive. In his time in September, Cedeno was used mostly as a LOOGY, a position in the bullpen which I like. If it were up to me, I would keep Cedeno in 2014. He wont cost much, and could bring in a lot.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: STAY

Ian Krol (2013 stats) 2-1, 3.95 ERA, 22 K’s, .1 WAR

Acquired this offseason as the PTBNL in the Michael Morse trade, Ian Krol showed that he could pitch at the major league level. Krol gave the Nationals 3 good months of left handed, relief pitch. However, towards the end of the season, Krol started to scuffle, so much so to warren a trip back down to AAA. While he did look good in September, Krol may be starting the season in AAA.

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO: GO

So that leaves us with 4 righties and one lefty. That would mean the Nationals would have to dip into free agency to find some relievers. There are some relievers like Fernando Abad and Xavier Cedeno who could be signed to minor league deals and turn out to be good choices. However, some options that intrigue me are Eric O’Flaherty, JP Howell, Henry Rodriguez (Just Kidding), Joe Smith, and Oliver Perez. With O’Flaherty, we would have to wait until mid season to see him because he is coming off a torn elbow ligament. Any of these pitchers would be a good addition to the bullpen.

Hopefully for the Nationals, the bullpen can turn back into the shut down form that it was in 2012. If not, we might be in for a long season.

Advertisements

One thought on “Washington Nationals Offseason Checklist (Bullpen Edition)

  1. Pingback: Washington Nationals Offseason Checklist (Rotation Edition) | Serious Jammage

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s