The veteran reliever continues to struggle for the Washington Nationals. What will Shawn Kelley’s future be this year and next?
Under contract next year for $5.5 million, Kelley has had the season from hell this year. Injuries—so common throughout the team—play a part, but his numbers have not improved since his return. You wonder if he will make the playoff roster.
With the addition of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to the bullpen, finding a role for Kelley in high-leverage situations is tough. But, when Madson found the disabled list with a finger problem, there was an opening. One Kelley did not take.
More from District on Deck
- Latest DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code in Maryland: Bet $5, Win $200 Guaranteed
- Nationals Claim Jeter Downs Off Waivers
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
In three August games, he has pitched two innings, watched two balls leave the yard out of three hits and walked one. Kelly has struck out three. Still, four of his ten batters faced reached and four scored. A far cry from closing games last summer.
With September coming, the rosters will expand to potentially 40 and the Nats starters will get rest to keep fresh for the playoffs. There will be plenty of chances for relievers to get work. But, where will Dusty Baker pitch Kelley?
It is harsh to combine his pre-injury numbers into the mix but Kelley’s 8.10 ERA, 1.650 WHIP and 11 home runs allowed does not fill you with confidence.
Koda Glover and Enny Glover are expected back before the regular season ends. Ollie Perez can pitch a full inning when needed. Matt Albers has the best ERA+ for anyone on staff. When you combine the three new relievers and Edwin Jackson likely shifting to a long relief role that gives you eight relievers without Kelley.
Unless Baker carries 13 pitchers and short the bench a pinch-hitter, it is hard to see where Kelley fits in unless there is another injury. Nine relievers limit the offensive options in a league without a designated hitter.
Since the Nats prefer not to eat contracts, it is unlikely Kelley is designated for assignment. Perhaps a change of scenery will do wonders, but they are not eating extra money to pay nobody. If Baker and Mike Rizzo do not put him on the playoff roster, expect a trade in the offseason.
Kelley was an important part of last season’s playoff push and pitched well against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series. The next month is important as Washington must decide if this is an injury issue or a pitcher on the wrong side of his career.
Either way, not a fun one.