Washington Nationals Editorial: Why David Carpenter Could Be Key To Nats Bullpen

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This season has been a roller coaster for the Washington Nationals bullpen. Even though last night’s 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers wasn’t Aaron Barrett’s fault, you are starting to see a trend in some of these games over the last few days. Manager Matt Williams is going with his starters longer in games because the bullpen has not been able to be consistent outside of setup man Casey Janssen and closer Drew Storen.

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The Nats have been a team that has been ravaged by injuries and you can add another one to that long list. In the eighth inning of last night’s loss, Barrett left the game due to injury. After the game, Williams addressed the media, but did not give any specifics as to what the injury was:

If Barrett is out for a long period of time, this makes yesterday’s acquisition of David Carpenter that much more important. While they had to give up a good second base prospect in Tony Renda to the New York Yankees, Carpenter is a player that the Nationals need right now, despite his struggles in the Bronx.

In 22 games with the Yankees, Carpenter was 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA. One of the problems that Carpenter was having with New York was a lack of strikeouts. He only had 11 strikeouts to seven walks. However, it is possible that a move back to the National League will help Carpenter’s game, especially moving away from the hitter’s park that is Yankee Stadium.

His groundball rate this season is at 42.4%, according to Fangraphs. That percentage is the best of his career. His fastball velocity hasn’t changed, but it is getting hard more often than usual. Even though he was struggling, Yankees manager Joe Girardi still used him in key situations to try to help him gain some confidence. Eventually, New York designated him for assignment on June 3.

Two years ago, the 29-year-old right-hander is not far removed from having a 1.79 ERA in 56 appearances with the Braves. During his two seasons in Atlanta, he was, at times, the setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel. The key to Carpenter’s success in the Nation’s Capital is his familiarity with the division. Let’s take a look at his numbers against the other three teams in the NL East:

  • New York Mets – 1-0, 2.81 ERA in 14 appearances
  • Miami Marlins – 4-2, 2.45 ERA in 19 appearances
  • Philadelphia Phillies – 0-1, 4.58 ERA in 18 appearances

Plus, in nine career appearances at Nats Park, Carpenter has a ERA of 0.87. He might not go back to being as dominant as he was in 2013, but the Nationals do need a veteran right-hander to help with their middle relief. Now, with Barrett’s injury, Carpenter might be needed now more than ever to help some of the younger guys out.

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