Washington Nationals 2017 trade target: Trevor Rosenthal

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ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 11: Trevor Rosenthal #44 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the eighth inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium on June 11, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Phillies 6-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 11: Trevor Rosenthal #44 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the eighth inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium on June 11, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Phillies 6-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Earlier this week, it was reported the Washington Nationals were scouting Trevor Rosenthal. Would he be a good fit in the bullpen?

With a little more than 36 hours to go until the trade deadline, the Washington Nationals are still scouting for any possible help to their bullpen. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network tweeted on Friday night that the Nats had scouted St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham and relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal:

Pham was the surprise name to hear because he’s not a free agent until 2022 and would essentially make Jayson Werth a part-time player when he comes back. Plus, the team has outfield depth with Michael Taylor, Brian Goodwin, Victor Robles, and Andrew Stevenson going forward and the team did just acquire Howie Kendrick.

Rosenthal, however, might be of good help to the Nats if the St. Louis Cardinals decide to sell. As we talked about earlier this week, the team was reportedly scouting Lance Lynn, who could fit in the starting rotation or in the bullpen during the postseason as a long reliever.

As for Rosenthal, he has a 3.69 ERA and has struck out 60 batters in 39 innings (42 games). After a rough month of June (7.15 ERA in 14 appearances), he has rebounded in July holding opponents to a .182 batting average and giving up two earned runs in nine games.

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Back in 2015, Rosenthal had 48 saves and was selected to the All-Star team. While he hasn’t been the closer for most of the year in St. Louis, his strikeouts per nine innings have gone up from 10.9 in ’15 to 14 this year. Plus, the walks per nine have been nearly cut in half from 6.5 (’15) to 3.9 (’17).

One of the things that Rosenthal could bring to the table for the Washington Nationals is his success in the postseason. In 23 postseason outings, the 27-year-old right-hander has a 0.69 ERA and has given up two runs over 26 innings. He’s not Mariano Rivera, but those are good numbers.

When watching Rosenthal pitch, his fastball that can reach into the triple digits in velocity stands out. However, don’t dismiss his offspeed pitches. According to Brooks Baseball, teams are hitting .133 against his changeup and a miniscule .037 against his slider.

The question the Nats will have to ask themselves if they want Rosenthal is if he’s ready to be a closer again. With the acquisitions of Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, the team doesn’t need another setup option. If they do add another reliever, it should be one that will come in to close like Brad Hand or Justin Wilson. With Shawn Kelley on his way back, do they need another setup reliever right now?

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If the Cardinals decide to sell, the Nats should look at acquiring Rosenthal for his closer experience. With one year of control left, they would have a closer candidate for next year while acquiring someone that can help them win a title.

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