A lot of the talk going around is that the Nationals need to get another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, maybe even trading Mike Morse to get it.
Honestly, I don’t necessarily agree.
The Nationals do need depth in the pitching staff, as I’ve written about before, but I don’t think they need a big name left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. Currently they only have Zach Duke and Bill Bray – two guys they signed this week – on the depth chart.
The bullpen will also include Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen, Duke and probably one or two others. As it happens, Storen, Clippard and Stammen were actually three of the best pitchers out of the bullpen for the Nationals against left-handed hitting.
Clippard was the best of the three holding left-handed hitters to a .237 wOBA (wOBA stands for Weighted On Base Average and runs on the same scale as on base percentage but adjusts for the type of offensive event). That was the same mark that Sean Burnett had last season and Clippard actually faced more left-handed hitters than Burnett.
Stammen and Storen were next right behind Mike Gonzalez. Stammen had a .262 wOBA and Storen a .272 mark.
The fact that the top right-handers in the Nationals bullpen are so good against left-handed hitters means that there is less of a need to focus on a LOOGY. Having Duke helps and they definitely need another left-hander (bringing Gonzalez back or a similar pitcher on a minor league deal would suffice like Bray if he has a good Spring) but to say that the main goal when they trade Morse would be a reliever is not where I would focus.
Sure, that is where Washington has the most work to do, but with Clippard, Storen and the emergence of Mattheus, they don’t need a closer or late inning guy. Their main goal would be to build depth and maybe find some guys to stick in AAA for part of the year in case of an injury and get a couple of middle relievers from both sides of the mound.
So to answer my question, it would be nice to have another reliever from the left side to eat innings and get left handers out, but I wouldn’t only focus on that. The best relievers could get hitters out no matter what side they are hitting from and depth in the bullpen is the way to go, not necessarily making a big splash for a say, Brian Wilson, Rafael Soriano, Mike Adams or left-handers J.P. Howell or Randy Choate.