Washington Nationals: Francisco Rodriguez likely to join bullpen

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Jun 6, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (57) pitches in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (57) pitches in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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According to Jon Heyman, the Washington Nationals are expected to sign Francisco Rodriguez. Can he help the bullpen at all? 

 It’s been known that the Washington Nationals have been looking for bullpen help since the offseason. While no trade will be made just yet, the Nats are about to adding another arm to the relief corps. According to Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports and MLB Network, the Nats are likely to sign former Detroit Tigers closer Francisco RodriguezChelsea Janes of the Washington Post later reported it would probably be a minor league deal:

The Tigers released Rodriguez on Friday after a rough start to the 2017 season. In 28 games, the 35-year-old right-hander had a 7.82 ERA, gave up nine home runs, blew six saves, and had 23 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.

It’s safe to say the Washington Nationals aren’t going to get the closer that had 62 saves with the Angels in 2008 or the reliever that has finished in the top four in Cy Young voting three times. So, does Rodriguez have anything left in the tank?

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If you look at his average fastball velocity, it’s at a career low 88.9 miles-per-hour (according to Fangraphs). He is mainly a two-pitch pitcher with his fastball and changeup (does use his slider occasionally). Plus, teams have a .674 slugging percentage against his fastball and a 1.3333 slugging percentage against the sinker (courtesy of Brooks Baseball).

Right now, there are not many teams that would consider themselves sellers, so the Washington Nationals weren’t going to make a trade at this point in the season. Their bullpen is coming off a good series against the Reds, so why the rush to add a piece now?

With Sammy Solis still rehabbing at Triple-A Syracuse, the major league club is  going to get more help to the bullpen soon. Plus, Rodriguez isn’t the pitcher that he once was and won’t likely play an immediate impact. But, will the money concerns that the Nats have prevent them from going all-in on a closer at the deadline. Ron Juckett had more on that last week.

Rodriguez would fit right in in terms of right-handed bullpen arms giving up home runs on the Washington Nationals. Shawn Kelley (on the disabled list) and Joe Blanton have combined to give up 17 home runs.

Plus, Koda Glover is still on the disabled list, so the Nats need a reliable right-handed arm to put with Matt Albers and an improving Blake Treinen.

Next: 5 to watch as Cubs head to D.C.

Rodriguez is a move that would be low-risk for the Nats because they probably won’t have to pay him a lot of money, but it’s a move that smells of desperation. Time will tell if this move pays off, but no one should expect greatness, to say the least, if he signs here.

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