Are We Overreacting About the Nationals Needing a Closer?
One of the biggest concerns of many people around the baseball world this winter has been in regards to the Washington Nationals and their lack of a proven, everyday MLB closer. While it certainly is a bit of a concern and something that a team that plans on contending shouldn't be searching for, there really is no need to panic if something doesn't get done prior to Opening Day.
The Nationals have had off and on discussions with the Chicago White Sox regarding closer, David Robertson, as well as with the Tampa Bay Rays in regards to closer, Alex Colome, virtually all offseason. Up until this point, nothing has come to fruition, but of course that could all change depending on how the spring goes for Washington and now that the Nationals have four catchers listed on their major league depth chart leading many to speculate that one could be used in a trade.
Last week, the Nationals announced that they would be looking at three different relievers to fill the closer role this season including: Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Enny Romero. In fact, you could even throw 23-year old reliever, Koda Glover, and veteran reliever, Joe Nathan, into the discussion as well.
No matter which way you slice it, many people are simply over reacting about the Nationals needing a closer especially when you look at their internal options more closely.
Let's take a look at Shawn Kelley for a moment who was brilliant last year with the Nationals as well as in 2015 with the San Diego Padres. Kelley combined for a 2.56 ERA in 109.1 IP over both seasons and locked down 7 saves in 9 save opportunities last year alone. Those stats right there should tell you that Kelley is more than capable of holding down the closer role until further notice.
After Kelley, would likely be Blake Treinen, who has put together three steallar seasons, with the Washington Nationals starting last year to 2014. During those three seasons, Treinen had a 2.92 ERA in 185.1 IP and was used as a closer for a short time last season as he recorded 1 save in 3 save opportunities.
In addition, the Nationals also have Enny Romero, who they acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays, earlier this winter, but since debuting in the major leagues in 2013, Romero has put up a 5.27 ERA in 80.1 IP. Furthermore, Koda Glover would be another option, but he isn't seasoned yet and struggled last season finishing the year with a 5.03 ERA in 19.2 IP. Lastly, is Joe Nathan, who the Nationals are taking a gamble on at 42 years of age. Nathan could fill the closer role, but comes with a lot of question marks given his age and has a history of injuries.
Therefore, the best thing for the Nationals to do at this point, would be to give Shawn Kelley or Blake Treinen the closer role until they either struggle or no longer show that they are capable of being an everyday closer. At the very least if the Nationals need, they can go out at the trade deadline and acquire a closer depending on where they are at in the standings whether than panicking about the entire situation right now.
After all, the organization has concern about how Alex Colome will perform over time and David Robertson is owed another $25 million dollars before he becomes a free agent in 2019 meaning that the best option might be to keep the search internal and use what the Nationals have on hand.