Washington Nationals: Jacob Turner designated for assignment
By Ron Juckett
Jacob Turner, a swing reliever/starter for the Washington Nationals, was designated for assignment Saturday. Will he stay in the organization?
The Washington Nationals designated Jacob Turner for assignment Saturday. Sammy Solis was activated from the 60-day disabled list requiring someone get dumped the Nats 40-man roster.
Whether his bad outing Friday night played a part, or this was the plan all along when Solis returned, the move to designate the long reliever and spot starter is a mild surprise. Although his numbers are poor, pitchers with the ability to throw three innings or more out of the bullpen are rare.
It was a terrible appearance after Tanner Roark struggled again in the Nats 7-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. In taking one for the team, Turner allowed five earned runs over 3.2 innings with seven hits and two walks. With an ERA of 5.08, the Nats must feel he is better off in Triple-A Syracuse.
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If he clears waivers.
Used 16 times in nearly two months, including two starts, Turner pitched twice over the last nine days. The return of a healthier Joe Blanton, along with good starting pitching by the rest of the staff, cut down on Turner’s chances.
In eight June games, Turner was not fooling hitters. Over 14.1 innings, he allowed 17 hits and six walks. A WHIP of 1.605, no matter where you get stashed in the bullpen, is a good way to lose your job. Overall, batters reached at a .349 clip in 39 innings. Five of the eight balls leaving the yard off him came in the last 30 days.
At 26, Washington is his fifth major-league team in six seasons. Once a starter, it was the Chicago White Sox who used Turner primarily as a reliever last year. His 6.57 ERA ended any chance of a return to the South Side.
Although the move makes sense on the surface, there are not any major-league ready starters at Syracuse if an injury shouts down a player in Washington. A.J. Cole never sniffed the mound in his recent call-up while Austin Voth is having a nightmare season on Lake Ontario. Edwin Jackson, signed after the Baltimore Orioles released him, is pitching well.
In the modern day of exact bullpen usage, having pitchers who can fill mop-up duty with middle relief are rare. You do not need great numbers to throw in games where the starters run short, but you must at least fool hitters occasionally.
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Turner could not do that. Solis gives the team a much needed boost near the back of the bullpen. With Blanton pitching better of late, Turner is the odd man out.