Washington Nationals: Neal Cotts Flying Under The Radar This Spring
By Ricky Keeler
This spring, Washington Nationals left-handed reliever Neal Cotts is flying under the radar with his good pitching
If you look at the Washington Nationals 40-man roster, it lacks a lot of depth in terms of left-handed relievers. With the addition of Enny Romero this offseason, the Nats have four lefty relievers on the 40-man.
It would be tough for a non-roster invitee to make the Opening Day bullpen, but one name to keep an eye on is Neal Cotts. Cotts picked up the win yesterday against the Houston Astros thanks to Andrew Stevenson’s walk-off single.
In the first five outings that he has made this spring, the 36-year-old has given up three hits, has four strikeouts, and has walked one. While he has given up a hit in each of his last three appearances, he has been able to keep the opponent off the scoreboard.
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While Cotts hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since he was with the Minnesota Twins in 2015, he still can be a pitcher the Nats use against left-handed hitters. Over his last 13 appearances with triple-A Round Rock last season, he had a ERA of 1.84 and had 13 strikeouts in 14.2 innings.
The addition of Cotts on a non-roster signing was a good one by the front office, but there probably isn’t room for him on the roster right now. Of course, Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez should be on the roster. If the Washington Nationals were to carry one more lefty, it would probably be Enny Romero.
Romero has an electric fastball and has shown good command this spring albeit in only three outings. Yesterday, he threw a 1-2-3 tenth inning for the Dominican Republic in their 11-inning win over Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. In that game, the radar gun showed some high speed from Romero’s pitches:
While Cotts won’t make the team, he could provide good depth at the triple-A level if he decides to stay with the Nats organization. Plus, he’s a pitcher that pitching coach Mike Maddux is familiar with from his two seasons with the Texas Rangers (2013-2014). In that 2013 season, he had a 1.11 ERA in 58 games.
If an injury happens, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Nats decide to give Cotts the first call-up or one of the first (Matt Grace is another lefty in triple-A). Dusty Baker does like to use his veterans whenever he can, so Cotts should get a chance at some point.
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Yes, it is a small sample size. However, if Cotts continues to have success this spring in West Palm Beach, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he is making a contribution to the Washington Nationals in 2017.