On Monday, the Washington Nationals made the decision to call up 22-year-old right-handed reliever Abel De Los Santos from double-A Harrisburg. De Los Santos was called up for Blake Treinen, who has had an inconsistent 2015.
One of the main themes for the Nats bullpen has been the amount of young pitchers the team has had fill important roles. Whether it’s been Felipe Rivero, Matt Grace, Rafael Martin, and Taylor Jordan among others, Washington has relied on their youth to get some key outs. However, they did have one experienced veteran in triple-A that could have been a huge help down the stretch and they don’t have to make a trade to do it.
However, today, the Nats decided to cut Jose Valverde. The reliever had an opt-out clause in his contract if he wasn’t promoted, so he decided to exercise it:
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Back in late April, the Nationals signed Jose Valverde to a minor league contract. Valverde was in Spring Training with the Padres, but failed to make the team out of camp. Last season, in 21 games with the New York Mets, the 37-year-old reliever was 1-1 with a 5.66 ERA and had 4.4 walks per nine innings. The Nats were taking a flyer, but the former Tigers’ closer has done some good things with triple-A Syracuse. In 27 games with triple-A Syracuse, Valverde had a 2.39 ERA , was 10-for-10 on save chances, has a 0.91 WHIP and has only walked three batters over the course of 26.1 innings.
After having a 5.40 ERA in the month of May, he has found his form in the last two months. Over the course of June and July, Valverde had given up two runs in 18 innings and had a 0.90 ERA in the month of June.
Now, there is a big difference between getting guys out at the triple-A level as opposed to the Major League level. However, Valverde had made some adjustments that made a possible September call-up look encouraging. To find out what some of those adjustments were, I tweeted Kevin Brown, who is the broadcaster for the Syracuse Chiefs. I want to thank Kevin for taking the time to answer my questions on Valverde:
One thing Valverde would have given the Nationals is an experienced reliever that can fill multiple roles and someone who had pitched in big games in the postseason. Plus, they wouldn’t have had to give up any big prospects in a trade. With those good numbers in the minor leagues, you would have to think that a team is going to pick him up that needs bullpen help. The Nats had an experienced reliever ready in the minors, but instead, they chose to stick with their youth, which is surprising for a team looking to win now.