Washington Nationals: 3 early takeaways from Florida

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ARMS ON THE MEND

Again, it is possible to read too much out of early spring training results. But, the first live games pitched by Tommy Milone and Shawn Kelley are encouraging.

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Milone started last Friday against Houston and threw swing-and-miss stuff. His pitches were in the lower-half of the strike zone and were consistent. Although there is no official race for fifth starter, his two innings were better than Edwin Jackson and Erick Fedde’s debuts.

Fedde, to be fair, hit 96 on the Braves’ radar gun and induced two double plays.

Kelley walked straight off the set of the old television show Lost and pitched a scoreless inning Sunday in West Palm Beach versus the Braves. His pitches had bite while his delivery was fluid. A strong first outing after injuries sabotaged his 2017.

The next step for Kelley is early relief on the road to face as many major-league players as possible. Skipper Martinez will manage his innings and pitch counts tight. Save those throws for the season when the Nats need them.

However, for Milone, Syracuse or an opt-out remains the probable result. But, as with Robles, another strong outing builds his case. He is a non-roster invitee. Last year, so was Matt Albers. We know how that turned out.

Watch what Milone and Kelley do their next time out. If Kelley remains effective, the depth of Washington’s bullpen deepens and strengthens an already strong hand. For Milone, he offers a great story.

Next: 5 X-factors for 2018 Bryce Harper

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