Washington Nationals 2017 trade target: Anthony Swarzak

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CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 12: Anthony Swarzak #34 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the 9th nning against the Baltimore Orioles at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 12, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Orioles 10-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 12: Anthony Swarzak #34 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the 9th nning against the Baltimore Orioles at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 12, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Orioles 10-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals have been known to make deals with the White Sox. Could Anthony Swarzak be an option for the bullpen this year?

All month long, we have been taking a look at possible trade options for the Washington Nationals bullpen. When you talk about the Nats bullpen problems, the main team they have been linked to in trade rumors is the Chicago White Sox and for closer David Robertson. If they can’t work out a deal for Robertson, they could always try to acquire Anthony Swarzak .

At age 31, Swarzak is having a good season that is going under the radar except in the windy city. In 34 relief appearances, he is 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA and has 41 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. His 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings would be a career-high for him if the season ended today.

Yesterday, in his Inside Baseball column on FanRag Sports, Jon Heyman came up with nine trade proposals that could make sense by the July 31 deadline. One of them involved the Nats and White Sox with Washington getting Robertson and Swarzak for Drew Ward, Jesus Luzardo, and Pedro Severino. Here is what Heyman wrote:

"“This is close to the deal that was close to happening at the Winter Meetins (without Swarzak and Severino). But at this point, with Robertson performing well (only one blown save), some money off the books with the first half gone (he makes $12 million this year, $13 million next year) and the Nats presumably much more desperate (their wonderful team is being undermined by MLB’s worst bullpen), the Nats should have to sweeten the deal with Severino, a fine defensive catcher and their No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com”"

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While Swarzak had a 3.00 ERA last month, the opponents batting average was a little high (.304). With that being said, he has given up four total runs over his last 14 appearances and just one home run the entire year. That would be an instant upgrade considering the way the Washington Nationals bullpen gives up the long ball.

So, what has been the key to Swarzak’s surprising success this season after a bad season in New York last year (5.52 ERA in 26 appearances)? His fastball has been tough for hitters to hit this year. According to Brooks Baseball, teams are hitting .159 against that pitch with three extra-base hits and 30 strikeouts.

As for that fastball, Swarzak has thrown that pitch harder than he ever has in his career. According to Fangraphs, the average velocity on the heater this year has gone up from 93.4 miles-per-hour last season to 94.4 this year.

Swarzak wouldn’t be helpful for the Washington Nationals closer needs, but he could be a good middle relief option for a team needing reliable right-handers. Chicago has used him mainly in the sixth and seventh innings, but it’s the seventh where he excels (0.60 ERA, .111 batting average against).

Next: The Wieters option conundrum

If the Washington Nationals don’t want to overpay for Robertson and they can find a closer on another team, Swarzak wouldn’t be a bad secondary piece to add considering the health issues Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover are having.

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