Washington Nationals: Handicapping The Race For Closer

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Washington Nationals /

As the race for Washington Nationals closer heats up, here are the chances for the contenders. Who would you peg as the favorite?

The true audition for Washington Nationals closer has yet to begin.

Although we have seen the contenders pitch this spring, none have thrown against a full major-league lineup in what passes for a high-leverage situation. With an added week of games to get players ready for the World Baseball classic, the traditional fourth or fifth inning appearances are not there.

If you hoped we would get an early resolution to the problem before the Grapefruit League fully ripened, the answer is no. If you can guess who gets the call in April at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins, go play the lottery.

As the WBC is now underway—along with the endless parade of minor-league-bound players getting a look from big-league coaches—we should see the contest begin.

Instead of early game pitching, pay attention soon to who pitches right after the starter. Those arms will now pitch into the fourth and fifth innings over the next two weeks as they build pitch counts around 75. Then the “closer” gets work before the rest of the pen.

Who wins the job depends on what manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Mike Maddux and general manager Mike Rizzo agree on.

That does not mean we cannot handicap the process. We all know who we want to see slam the door this season, but what are the odds it happens?

As with any good horse race, let’s parade the field and see where they are heading to the post.