Washington Nationals 2015 Player Review: Matt Grace


During the 2015 season, two young left-handers made their Major League debuts for the Washington Nationals out of the bullpen. One of them was Felipe Rivero, who ended up playing a major role down the stretch. The other one was Matt Grace. Grace made 26 appearances for the Nats, going 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA.

The Nats’ eighth round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft was called up to the Major Leagues on April 22 when Rivero went on the disabled list due to a GI bleed. Grace made his debut against the St. Louis Cardinals that night and walked one batter while giving up no hits in an inning of work.

Matt Williams didn’t use the 26-year-old left-hander in any long relief situations. In fact, out of his 26 appearances, only one time did Grace throw longer than one inning (two innings against the San Diego Padres on May 14). Grace didn’t give up a run in his first eight appearances, but he had one bad outing in the first two months of the year.

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That game occurred back on May 31 against the Cincinnati Reds. During that game, Grace gave up four runs on three hits and did not retire any of the five batters he faced in the seventh inning. The Nationals went on to lose that game 8-2.

Once Rivero was able to come off the disabled list, Grace was sent back down to triple-A Syracuse, where he had started the season. He made 38 appearances for the Chiefs this past season, going 0-2 with a 2.40 ERA and converting on one of his four save chances. In his final 16 games in triple-A, Grace had a 2.18 ERA and gave up five runs in 20.2 innings.

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The Nationals called Grace up to the 40-man roster in September when they were able to expand the roster. He would make nine more appearances for the Nats, giving up one run on seven hits. The problem for Grace this season was his command. He walked eight batters in 17 innings. When you only have 14 strikeouts in 26 games, command has to be important if you don’t have swing-and-miss stuff.

During his time with the Nationals, Grace used three pitches. He had a fastball that averaged out at 91 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), as well as a slider and a changeup. If Grace can fix his command, he can be an effective pitcher at the Major League level. For a rookie, Grace was okay, but it will be interesting to see where he exactly fits in the bullpen when the Nats open camp in February down in Viera.

. LHP. Washington Nationals. MATT GRACE. C