Washington Nationals: Tony Sipp would be an excellent lefty bullpen option
By Blake Finney
The Washington Nationals are still likely on the lookout for another bullpen arm. Former Houston Astro Tony Sipp would be an excellent fit for the Nats.
It’s not even the new year yet and the Washington Nationals have already made a serious dent on this offseason. There are still some needs left to fill and left-handed Reliever Tony Sipp would fit in perfectly.
Sipp is coming off of a great season for the Houston Astros in 2018, as he sported a 1.86 ERA to go with 10 holds out of the bullpen. He even finished sixth on the team in pitching appearances as he was a trusted option for manager AJ Hinch.
He was also excellent against left-handed hitters in 2018, allowing a slash line of .191/.263/.294 against him. He allowed a .249 wOBA against lefties last season, which ranked 20th best among left-handed relievers who pitched at least 10 innings worth in that situation in the major leagues.
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This is one area where the Nats struggled last season, as they were unable to find a pitcher consistently good against left-handers.
Looking back at that wOBA stat, Sammy Solis who was consistently manager Dave Martinez‘s option in LOOGY situations, ranked worst in the majors among lefties with a .421 wOBA. Martinez also used Matt Grace in those spots, but he is much better suited to a multi-inning role where he has thrived several times for the Nats.
Now, getting a LOOGY isn’t necessary for every team, because the way the game is going, teams are generally looking for relievers to pitch more innings rather than in short specialized situations. However, given the way Martinez was adamant is using a LOOGY, which we saw by his continued use of Solis in those situations, even though he was poor against lefties, it would be a worthwhile investment for the Nats.
Sipp is likely just outside a top tier of lefties that includes Andrew Miller, who was recently signed by the St. Louis Cardinals for $25 million over the next two seasons, and Zach Britton who will likely command a similar annual average salary. However, Sipp could be good value for a team like the Nationals who can’t afford an option like Britton.
Jon Heyman and his expert recently predicted that Sipp would earn a two-year, $10 million deal this offseason. That equates to $5 million per season, which is the same as former Nationals reliever Brandon Kintzler is set to earn in 2019. A fair value for someone who can pitch in those vital LOOGY situations, but also one that isn’t too prohibitive to the team.
Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals would certainly be wise to look at Tony Sipp as the final piece of their bullpen. With the team having a fair amount of money left to spend, the lefty is a luxury they can definitely afford.