Last night, even in a loss to the Dodgers, Yusmeiro Petit showed off his versatility to the Washington Nationals
Regardless of who was pitching last night for the Washington Nationals, it was going to be a difficult task to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium against the best pitcher in the sport (Clayton Kershaw). The task was even tougher when Stephen Strasburg was scratched due to an upper back strain.
On a few hours notice, Yusmeiro Petit was made the spot starter and he did a good job of giving the Washington Nationals an opportunity to beat the Dodgers. Petit went six innings, gave up three runs on five hits, struck out five, and walked one on 94 pitches in the loss. Plus, he did a good job with the bat as he had a single against Kershaw.
The only two mistakes that the 31-year-old right-hander made last night were in the first inning when Justin Turner hit a slider over the wall in dead center for a solo home run and when Joc Pederson hit a 2-0 slider over the wall in right for a home run of his own. But, Petit provided a quality outing and threw more pitches than anyone expected.
When the Washington Nationals signed Petit to a one-year deal over the winter, they knew they were getting a pitcher that could fill in for a variety of roles and had experience doing that. Tanner Roark had some good moments in that type of role last year, but he didn’t have the experience that Petit has had in that role for a few years with the San Francisco Giants.
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Over the first couple months of this season, Petit has made one start and has one save in 18 games. His one save came in last Friday’s 7-5 win over the Padres at PETCO Park. It was only the second save of his career as he had one last year with San Francisco.
With the bullpen struggling right now and Jonathan Papelbon on the 15-day disabled list, Petit’s role becomes even more valuable to the Washington Nationals. On a night when nobody knew how much the bullpen would be taxed without Strasburg, he was at least able to give pitchers such as Shawn Kelley, Felipe Rivero, and Blake Treinen the night off for tonight and tomorrow.
If Strasburg were to miss more than just last night’s start, Petit could slide right into the rotation and at least provide five or six innings every fifth day. However, that would make the Nats razor thin in terms of their rotation depth.
Whichever role that Baker decides to use Petit in going forward, at least the Nats know they have a reliable option they can turn to at any point to keep the offense within striking distance. Plus, you have to wonder that if Gio Gonzalez continues to struggle, could Petit be in the rotation regardless?