Of course, the addition of Janssen meant that someone else had to be designated for assignment. Eric Fornataro wound up drawing the short straw. The 27 year old, who was claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, threw only 9.2 innings in his debut season.
Fornataro appears to be a player still in need of polishing. During his time with the Memphis Redbirds before his call up, Fornataro posted an ERA of 2.57 over 56 innings with a WHIP of 1.179. He saved 15 games, and averaged 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Fornataro did not fare quite as well once he was promoted. Over his 9.2 innings of work with the Cardinals, Fornataro’s ERA was 4.66 with a WHIP of 1.241. His strikeout per nine number fell to 2.8, though he managed to not give up any home runs. It’s a small sample size, but it seems safe to say that Fornataro still needs just a tad more time in the minors.
Casey Janssen, on the other hand, is exactly what the Nationals needed. The 33 year old relief pitcher will most likely serve as the replacement to Tyler Clippard, the former 8th inning ace who was shipped off to Oakland for Yunel Escobar.
Janssen also takes Clippard’s place as the DSIP: Drew Storen Insurance Policy. Janssen has 90 career saves, including 34 and 25 in 2014 and 2013 respectively. Should Storen falter in his role as the closer, or find himself on the disabled list for whatever reason, Janssen has the experience needed to take over as the anchor of the bullpen.
It’s also prudent to add another arm just due to sheer volume. Between Tyler Clippard, Ross Detwiler, and Rafael Soriano, the Nationals’ bullpen will be missing nearly 200 innings of work. The team will likely expand the roles of guys like Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins. Tanner Roark’s presence will help, but the Nationals still need more arms capable of carrying the load.
While the designation must be disappointing for Fornataro, it’s far from unexpected. The good thing is that the Nationals are getting a capable setup man and potential closer should the need arise. And who knows, maybe a little time in the Nationals’ system will get Fornataro that extra bit of polish that he needs to be a key contributor to a team hoping to make a World Series run.