Washington Nationals Release Joe Nathan, Matt Albers

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Feb 16, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Joe Nathan (74) throws in the bullpen during spring training workouts at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Joe Nathan (74) throws in the bullpen during spring training workouts at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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 Looking to catch on with the Washington Nationals, the team released veteran bullpen pitchers Joe Nathan and Matt Albers. Both pitched well.

The Washington Nationals ended the Joe Nathan experiment Monday, also cutting ties with reliever Matt Albers. Both pitchers came to West Palm Beach hoping to latch onto a bullpen with open auditions.

Nathan, coming off a second Tommy John surgery, struggled with command the first half of the Grapefruit League, but found his stuff as games wore on. The former All-Star closer was not auditioning for that job, but hoped he could set up the eventual winner.

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Those surgeries and his age—42—cut down on what was a live fastball with movement to a high of 92. He mixed in a change and breaking ball into his mix, but had a hard time consistently throwing strikes or getting too much of the plate.

By the time he effectively mixed his pitches, the strong spring of Koda Glover and Joe Blanton’s signing took any role Nathan might have away. Still, for scouts watching over the last ten days, he can help a major-league team. There is something left in the tank.

Whether there is a role Nathan will accept outside of high-leverage elsewhere remains open.

In 15 spring innings, he allowed five runs in 12 games. Nathan fanned nine, walked three and scattered 15 hits to mostly minor-league talent. Although the Nats liked his performances, there was no role for him to fit.

The same cannot be said for Albers.

At times looking out of shape, Albers did not allow an earned run in his 11.2 frames over 10 games. A veteran pitcher who relies on finesse instead of power, he baffled hitters with a WHIP of 1.11 this spring, scattering 10 hits and three walks in his outings.

Albers could get into trouble early with a baserunner, but he induced a pop-up or timely grounder when he needed. He never looked rattled and enjoyed himself on the mound.

With the Nationals looking for a long man, it is a surprise Albers was not a later decision. As with Nathan, the more he pitched, the better he looked. But, as a non-roster invitee, Washington would need to make another move to cut a player off the 40-man roster. There becomes a danger of losing a wanted player through waivers.

Again, as with Nathan, Albers will hook on with another team. He pitched well enough with Washington where he nearly made the squad. With the inevitable injuries coming son to MLB bullpen’s, he will not be lacking for work.

Next: 2017 Nats X-Factors

Both pitchers impressed over their short stints with the Nats. As with Rich Hill last year, they will pitch in the big leagues this season. Hopefully for the Nats, it will be in the American League.

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