Coming into the trade deadline, one of the main needs for the Washington Nationals to address was the bullpen. To try to fix that concern, President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo went out and acquired a closer that the Nats are familiar with from his time in the NL East.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network, a deal is done that sends Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals:
This season, Papelbon has converted all 17 of his save chances, has a 1.59 ERA and has struck out 40 batters in 39.2 innings. Over the last season and a half, Papelbon has had a WHIP of under one. As for this season, his strikeouts per nine innings is at 9.1, which is the highest he has had since his first season in Philadelphia (11.8 in 2012).
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network tweeted that it will be Papelbon that becomes the new closer. The 34-year-old right-hander will take over for Drew Storen, who was 29-for-31 in save chances and had a ERA of 1.73. Plus, Storen has the most one-run saves in the game this season (14).
Rosenthal also tweeted that Papelbon is expected to take less money to join Washington. While the numbers in terms of how much money are not official as of now, it appears Papelbon could void his $13 million vesting option if he finished 55 games (finished 31 games this season) in exchange for guaranteed money next season:
While Papelbon does have a 1.00 ERA in 18 games, including a World Series title in 2007 for the Red Sox, you have to wonder how angry Storen will be because he has nothing to deserve being demoted. However, it has to be in the back of everyone’s minds that Storen had those blown saves in the 2012 and 2014 NLDS.
Pivetta was recently promoted to double-A Harrisburg and he was 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts with the Senators. In his last start on Friday against the Bowie Bay Sox (Baltimore Orioles), Pivetta went 5.2 innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out three, and walked five in a loss.
However, the 22-year-old right-hander had a good season for high-A Potomac. In 15 games (14 starts), he went 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA. He struck out 72 batters and walked 29 in 86.1 innings. The Nats’ fourth round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft was the number 12 prospect in their organization, according to MLB Pipeline.
The Nationals are an organization that is deep in terms of pitching prospects, so only giving up the seventh highest pitcher in your organization for a closer that can improve a bullpen that has team ERA of 3.39 seems like a good deal. The question now is whether or not Papelbon will leave his attitude at the door and try to help the Nats reach their goal of a World Series title.