While the field at Nationals Park is covered with several inches of snow, the Washington Nationals are making their final preparations for Spring Training – which starts tomorrow when the team’s pitchers and catchers report to Viera, Fla.
As part of our effort to bring you the best Nationals Spring Training coverage possible, we have been profiling all of the team’s non-roster invitees over the last week. Earlier this week we looked at Cutter Dykstra and Emmanuel Burriss. Today we’ll continue our series with right-hander Mitch Lively.
The Nationals originally signed Lively to a minor league deal last season after the 28-year-old right-hander opted out of his contract with the San Francisco Giants.
After signing with the Nationals, Lively was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse, where he pitched fairly well. In 37 1/3 innings with the Chiefs, the right-hander went 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA. Lively appeared in nine games for the Chiefs, seven of which were starts.
Perhaps Lively’s most impressive start with Syracuse last year came in his last start of the season, when he allowed two runs over six innings of work while striking out 11 batters.
Prior to joining the Nationals’ farm system, Lively had spent the bulk of his eight-year professional career with the Giants. In those eight years, the right-hander is 46-31 with a 3.63 ERA in 634 innings of work.
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Although Lively saw some success at Triple-A last year – both with the Nationals and with the Giants – it is extremely unlikely that the right-hander will make the Opening Day roster. The bullpen is one of the few aspects of this team that is relatively up in the air, given the departures of Rafael Soriano and Ross Detwiler, but Lively will have to compete with the likes of A.J. Cole and Heath Bell (among several others) if he wants a shot at making the Opening Day bullpen.
Nevertheless, Lively should provide the Nationals with a solid option to pitch during Spring Training games and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares against big league hitters. The Nationals’ pitching staff may be set in stone right now but it’s impossible to know what will happen over the course of a 162-game season. After all, there’s no such thing as “too much pitching depth,” especially for pitchers who have as much experience both in the ‘pen and as a starter as Lively does.