Washington Nationals: Opening Day 2017 Roster Projection
By Ricky Keeler
Right now, as we complete this Opening Day roster prediction, the closer spot belongs to Kelley. He had a chance to be in that role last season when Jonathan Papelbon went on the disabled list in June. The 32-year-old right-hander made 67 appearances last season, which was a career-high.
Of course, Kelley’s season ended on a bad note when he had to leave Game 5 of the NLDS due to an injury. But, from all accounts, he is feeling good and ready to go for the regular season. In fact, he made the case that being a closer might actually help his arm going forward:
Plus, he has the mentality that you would want in a closer. He also said earlier this month that he wants to make sure the lack of a closer right now won’t create problems for the rest of the bullpen:
In the second year of his three-year deal, the Washington Nationals will hope for Kelley to duplicate his 2016 season. He had a dominant month of September as the eighth inning guy heading into the postseason. Depending upon what happens the rest of the spring, the Nats may need that success in the ninth this year.