While they appear to be making either Shawn Kelley or Blake Treinen their 2017 closer, the Washington Nationals should take a hard look at making lefty Sammy Solis their closer.
Going into the MLB offseason, the Washington Nationals had their sights set on finding a long term closer. They came up short in multiple pursuits. Closers who they pursued included: Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Alex Colome, and their own Mark Melancon. After not adding any of their free agent targets, it appears the Nationals will look internally to find their replacement for Melancon at closer.
Last year, Kelley signed a three-year pact with the Nationals and was a reliable arm in the pen. He recorded a 2.64 ERA and struck out 80 over the course of the year. He was also able to fill in at closer when former closer Jonathan Papelbon went on the disabled list, saving seven games in 2016. On the other hand, Treinen, has very little closer experience.
Treinen has appeared in only six save situations and he’s blown five of them. Not too promising. But, if assigned the role permanently, he would probably be more calm and composed in the role. While both Kelley and Treinen appear penciled in candidates to close, lefty Sammy Solis should also be given a hard look to take the reins at closer.
While not a big name, the lefty Solis was a reliable arm out of the pen for the Nationals. He recorded a 2.41 ERA, and was also an asset in the postseason for the Nationals.
In the 2016 postseason, Solis appeared in all five games of the Nationals NLDS versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also, while maybe a stretch, Solis could potentially be what Andrew Miller was to the New York Yankees in 2015.
In 2015, Miller joined the Yankees on a four year deal to be the team’s closer. Going into the gig, Miller had only appeared in five save situations throughout his career, but he thrived regardless. He finished the year with a 2.04 ERA, and completed 36 out of 38 save opportunities. While he was moved to a setup role the following year, Miller’s first year in New York serves as a model for why the Nationals could aim to make Solis their closer in 2017.
While Kelley and Treinen appear to be penciled in as backend relievers, the Nationals should highly consider making lefty Sammy Solis their closer instead. While Solis isn’t a proven closer, he’s been a reliable arm for the Nationals, and he could potentially pan out to provide a spark in the pen much like Andrew Miller in 2015.