Most Underrated Move of the Offseason
Last week, I posted an article talking about how pitching coach Mike Maddux was perhaps the most unappreciated move that general manager Mike Rizzo made this winter while reconstructing this team. As far as player personnel goes, however, Yusmeiro Petit just might take the cake.
Sure, Daniel Murphy is hitting the cover off the ball and leads the MLB with a .397 batting average, but everyone’s already talking about him. Petit fills a role that the Nats desperately struggled to fill last season and he has been a crucial key to the bullpen’s success so far this year.
When Craig Stammen was lost for the year with a shoulder injury prior to last season, it was expected that other young arms would step in and fill his role without many hiccups. That role, the long reliever who fills in when a starter gets roughed up early or a game heads into deep extra innings, proved to be one of the biggest holes in the Nats’ roster. Rizzo realized the importance of filling that void heading into 2016, and signed Petit to give the Washington Nationals a rock they could depend on in the middle innings.
The former San Francisco Giant has allowed only four runs on eight hits with four walks and struck out 11 across 13 innings so far this season, which is good for a 2.77 ERA and 7.6 K/9. He’s given Dusty Baker flexibility out of the pen, and can make a spot start when needed if a pitcher is scratched late.
The Nats can point to several different factors for their early success, and Petit is certainly one of them. Strong bullpens can make or break a playoff team, and the Nats can rest easy knowing they have Petit available to keep the group steady.
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