Washington Nationals: Carlos Torres a welcome addition

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Carlos Torres /

The Washington Nationals promote Carlos Torres to bolster their bullpen. Here is why it is a good move as A.J. Cole awaits waivers.

The Washington Nationals hope they have added depth to their tired bullpen by purchasing the contract of Carlos Torres from Triple-A Syracuse.

To make room for Torres, A.J. Cole, who was struggling, was designated for assignment. Cole has two more days before he potentially clear waivers and return to the International League Chiefs.

Torres, 35 and an eight-year major-league veteran, allowed a walk in his five innings of relief with Syracuse. The bulk of his big-league work came with the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox.

More from District on Deck

Although Torres does not figure to play the long-man role Washington hoped Cole would fill, he can throw over three outs. The Nats need a reliever who can do that, taking the hill in the fifth or sixth and getting four outs. Or, a pitcher that finishes a blowout game saving the “Law Firm.”

The last two seasons, Torres pitched out of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. In 2016, he posted a 2.73 ERA in 82.1 innings with a healthy 1.154 WHIP. However, last year, he struggled. Milwaukee let him walk after his ERA hit 4.21 while the Cleveland Indians released him this spring.

Overuse of the bullpen—or trusted arms—is an early story line for Washington. Of the seven current bullpen arms, five are on a pace for a minimum of 81 games. With Cole out of the picture, and as manager Dave Martinez’s comfort level grows, the workload should decrease.

A smart signing as the season started, Torres hopes to re-establish his career on a contending club.

But, if he wants to work his way into higher leverage situations, Torres must hold command of the strike zone. As his WHIP ballooned to 1.528 last year, his H/9 ratio jumped from 7.1 to 9.7 and the BB/9 numbers from 3.3 to 4.1. He is a contact pitcher with a BAbip last year of .312.

Still, he is an upgrade over the struggling Cole. Torres’ short tenure in Syracuse was effective, and he has the chance to pitch himself into the playoffs.

Do not expect Martinez to throw him into close games right away unless his hand is forced. Instead, watch for Torres to get innings if a starter has a rough night or they need a pitcher to finish a non-save game. If the control is there, setup situations will follow.

Next: Martinez passing early tests

This has the makings of 2017’s Matt Albers signing. If Torres performs that well, this is a steal.