Sammy Solis is trying to salvage his 2017 season and prove he belongs in the Washington Nationals bullpen when it matters most.
During the offseason he seemed to have his spot solidified. At the start of the year, as far as both fans and columnists were concerned, there was little doubt he’d be a big part of the Nationals 2017 season. But, now in September, he just hasn’t been and he’s fighting for his spot in the postseason.
In 2017, Solis pitched in 25 games totaling 22 innings with a 6.95 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. In short, he’s been hurt and he’s been hit.
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Between the multiple trips to the disabled list, he’s tried to work out his issues. This has included being sent to Syracuse in an attempt to exorcise himself of pitching demons that seemed to have possessed the Nats bullpen before the acquisition of “The Firm,” Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.
Since being relieved of some of the pressure to hold tight games and fill in in intense situations Solis has pitched much better. His one-time 14.00 ERA is halved and he’s pitched a scoreless and hitless September. Albeit only being used in less than three total innings that came mostly when the Nats were already losing. Either way the change has been a promising one.
The Nationals postseason bullpen locks are Doolittle, Kintzler, Madson, Oliver Perez (for big spot single batters), and Albers. The rest is up to the last few regular season weeks.
Edwin Jackson and AJ Cole are fighting it out for the longman spot, which seems to be trending Cole in recent days. Matt Grace has worked himself into a conversation and, of course, there’s Enny Romero, I didn’t forget Shawn Kelley, he just seems a longshot given his inability to figure out what exactly has gone wrong.
I don’t know about you but to me that bullpen seems to be full of a whole lot of southpaws. Solis, also a lefty, is probably contending most with Romero. But Romero has put together a better season. Also, he has been plagued by inconsistency and injury as well. Romero, like Solis, has a scoreless September, pitching more innings in the process.
Dusty Baker and Mike Maddux are left with an interesting debate of who do they trust more? Do they use that electric but wild 100 mile an hour fastball, or a guy who’s proven himself in the past and brings at least a little postseason experience.
If the postseason were today I don’t think there’s a spot for Solis. Romero, when he’s on, seems like more of a threat to opposing hitters. I don’t care if you’re Kris Bryant or Cody Bellinger it’s an exceptional accomplishment to be able to hit a baseball coming at you as fast as Romero is capable of throwing.
Solis, of course, still has time to earn his spot and, if he does, it might provide a nice change of pace from the Nats hard throwing bullpen. One that could keep opposing hitters off time and unprepared for when the big boys take the hill.