Washington Nationals: Brandon Kintzler’s 2017 report card

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: Brandon Kintzler
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: Brandon Kintzler /

Washington Nationals reliever Brandon Kintzler concludes our 2017 report card season. How well did he do changing roles? In his short time, quite well.

The Washington Nationals asked a great deal from Brandon Kintzler.

The closer to the American League Wild Card-bound Minnesota Twins, Kintzler came to Washington as the trade deadline struck at 4 PM on July 30. This free-agent-to-be cost the Nats a minor leaguer and bonus money. What they received was insurance for an improved bullpen.

Instead of auditioning for the closer’s role with the Nats, Kintzler turned into an effective seventh-inning setup artist. Sean Doolittle earned the job after his trade from Oakland with Ryan Madson as the trusty backup. The trio were affectionately known as “The Law Firm.”

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As the lead name, Kintzler did his job well.

Not a strikeout pitcher, fanning a scant 4.2-per-nine over 26 innings, Kintzler prodded hitters into contact. He scattered 25 hits and four non-intentional walks with Washington, including a couple late-season attempts to nab him 30 saves on the season. He came to the Nats with 28.

The decision to use him earlier was the right call.

With the Nats, he delighted fantasy owners securing 10 holds. Kintzler’s ability to pitch any late inning gave Washington stability. In 12 of his 26 appearances, he tossed a clean inning. He went a month without allowing a walk and a home run.

The master of ground ball outs, Kintzler induced multiple grounders 15 times with Washington. No runner successfully stole a base. His time might be short with the Nats but, from his visit to the San Diego Zoo forward, his tenure was memorable.

His eagerness to accept a new role speaks volumes about Kintzler as a teammate. We know what can happen when closers get demoted. If he was unhappy about the change, it never reached the press. He grabbed the ball and ran.

Although his status for next year is up in the air, a first-time free agent, his versatility will help on the market. With the Milwaukee Brewers in the past, Kintzler pitched well out of the bullpen like he did with Washington. His closer work with the Twins earned him an All-Star nod in 2016.

Whether he signs with Washington, or takes a closer role elsewhere, 2017 established him as an ideal reliever. He earned a few million extra doing so.

With Koda Glover due back, along with the continued maturation of Enny Romero, the incentive for Kintzler returning may be absent.

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For his time on the Nats, Kintzler earned a solid “A.”