Washington Nationals: Finally healthy, Koda Glover set to be a huge asset

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 09: Koda Glover #30 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 9, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 4-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 09: Koda Glover #30 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 9, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 4-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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After a pair of seasons battling injury, Koda Glover finally seems to be healthy and could be a huge asset for the Washington Nationals in the bullpen.

Early on in his professional career, Koda Glover looked destined to be the closer of the future for the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately, injuries seemed to derail that plan, but heading into 2019 he finally appears to be healthy again and could be a difference maker in the bullpen.

Glover missed the first four months of 2018 with right shoulder tendinitis after suffering through back and hip issues in 2017. But when he finally returned to the major in August last season, he stayed healthy and was able to stick on the active roster the rest of the season.

Though he didn’t quite have the strikeout numbers he’s posted before, he was still effective with a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings. But if he wants to realize he true potential, he’ll have to get back to harness his raw stuff and generate more swings and misses.

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Last season, Glover posted a measly 5.0 K/9 compared to a 7.6 K/9 in his first two big league seasons, but both are way behind the 11.0 K/9 he posted in his minor league career. That doesn’t really line up with his raw stuff, as his mid 90s fastball and wipeout slider should be able to rack up the whiffs easily in the majors.

It looks as though his command has deserted him so far in the majors with a spike in walk rate that has likely resulted in the lower strikeout rate. In the minor leagues, he had a measly 1.8 BB/9 compared to 3.4 BB/9 in the bigs, and it’s fair to wonder whether nursing through injuries has been the reason for it.

When people mention Glover’s name, the term injury-prone might be thrown around after his three DL stints in three seasons. However, in his 12 months in the minors, Glover didn’t spend any time on the Disabled List, so it’s entirely possible he may now be able to leave those lingering injuries in the past and finally be a reliable figure in the Nats relief corps.

It’s a bullpen that’s still full of question marks outside of current closer Sean Doolittle, and even more so with its new additions. Trevor Rosenthal is coming off of Tommy John surgery and no guarantee to return to pre-surgery form, while Kyle Barraclough had a woeful second half last year and is hoping to rebound in 2019.

We saw last year that manager Dave Martinez was willing to use Glover as his closer when the injury bug hit the bullpen, so he clearly has faith in the young flamethrower. If he proves his health, he could easily find himself in the late-inning mix with Barraclough and Rosenthal which could give the Nationals a potentially dominant trio of arms to bridge the gap to Doolittle. What a luxury that would be for a team that has historically struggled in that area.

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Though it feels like Koda Glover has been around for a long time, he’s still just scratching the surface of his potential. In a bullpen that the Washington Nationals desperately need someone or multiple someones to step up, the righty could make a huge leap this year.

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