Nationals Aggressive On Relief Market


After addressing the rotation with the signing of Max Scherzer, it looks like GM Mike Rizzo is interested in finding some pieces to fill out the bullpen for 2015. First, it was the report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network on Sunday that the team had checked in on former Blue Jays’ closer Casey Janssen. Then, on Tuesday, Rosenthal also tweeted that the Nationals are one of a handful of teams that are interested in finding some more arms for their middle relief:

Two of the names that have been reported to be of interest to the Nationals are right-handed relievers Burke Badenhop and Ronald Belisario. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted that on Tuesday:

Last season, Badenhop went 0-3 with a 2.29 ERA (3.08 FIP) in 70 games with the Boston Red Sox. He has played for four different teams since starting his Major League career with the Florida Marlins in 2008.

In particular, the 31-year old had a great second half for the last place Red Sox. In 28 appearances, he went 0-1 with a 1.09 ERA. He gave up only two runs in his final 23 innings of relief during the season.

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Where would Badenhop slide into the bullpen if the Nationals signed him? If you look in terms of the number of games he has appeared in each inning, he has appeared in the seventh and eighth inning over 110 times in his career. Last season, he appeared mainly in the seventh inning (35 games). According to Baseball Reference, he has a ERA of under three in both the sixth and eighth inning for his career.

He is fit for more of the middle relief role for the bullpen because he is not a high-strikeout pitcher for the late innings (5.1 K’s per nine innings last year). However, he is a reliever that can induce groundballs to opposing hitters, as evident by the near 62% of hitters hitting grounders against him last season.

As for Ronald Belisario, the 31-year old reliever had the highest ERA of his career with the White Sox last season. He went 4-8 with a 5.56 ERA in 62 games. Belisario was a closer at one point for Chicago last season, saving eight games in 12 chances.

He is a pitcher that could have more success in the National League as opposed to the American League. In four years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Belisario went 20-12 with a 3.29 ERA. He did get his walks per nine innings down from last season (3.7 in 2013 to 2.4 last season). As for his groundball rate, its around the same number as Badenhop’s (59.3%).

With Drew Storen as the closer for now to start the 2015, the Nationals are going to be look for help in the eighth inning and beyond due to trading away Tyler Clippard. Badenhop and Belisario are two relievers that fit the middle relief spot the Nationals are looking for. With Tanner Roark potentially moving to the bullpen as well,. Washington’s bullpen will be interesting to watch next month in Spring Training.