As the Washington Nationals ponder who will close for them in 2017, is the answer a hard throwing kid from Oklahoma? A closer look at Koda Glover.
As two more potential closers signing elsewhere, the odds of the Washington Nationals staying in-house for a closer increases.
With Brad Ziegler taking a deal with the Miami Marlins and Kenley Jansen staying put in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, chances of finding that elusive closer outside the organization dwindles. If Washington is forced to go with someone from within in 2017, perhaps Koda Glover can win the role.
His pedigree is there. Glover, according to Fangraphs, mixes a 96-mph fastball with a slider touching 90 thrown equally. On occasion, there is a sharp curve in his arsenal and a rare change in the mid-80s thrown around one percent of the time.
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With two effective pitches, and the possibility of four once he gains confidence, he has the makeup to be an effective reliever.
In his limited 19 games last year with the Nationals, his ERA hit 5.03. Not a great number. Still, in his 19.2 innings of big-league ball, there were signs he carries tremendous talent. Goodness, he pitched through a painful labral injury.
Although he never has closed in the minors, his numbers compiled before his call up to Washington show he has the potential. Glover pitched four different levels of baseball in 2016 from High-A all the way to Nationals Park. Each step up the ladder, he kept opposing hitters at bay.
A closer look at what he did with Triple-A Syracuse shows where he is now. In 24 innings with the Chiefs, he posted a WHIP of 0.792. He walked three while striking out 22. That is incredible control. Stingy with the hits, his 6.0-per-9 ratio is outstanding and his 8.2 K/9 rate will get the job done. With Double-A Harrisburg, his K/9 rate was 11.7.
Health is a concern. So is stability. Since his selection in the eighth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Glover pitched more games for the Nats last year than with any one team in his short professional journey. The 18-month adjustment from Oklahoma State University to the high pressures of a ninth inning may be too high now.
If he is ready to try, his ability to change speeds effectively while throwing strikes gives him a great chance of being successful. With five homers surrendered in 86 career minor league innings, Glover keeps the ball in the yard while striking out nearly a hitter an inning. He shows better command than Blake Treinen and will turn 24 in April.
As the Nats search through their available options, Glover has the stuff to turn a spring audition into a permanent role once the games count. Confidence matters for any closer. If he can win the spot down in West Palm Beach, Dusty Baker will need a backup plan in case things go wrong.
If Glover is as effective as he was at Syracuse, Washington might have their answer.