Spring Training is on the horizon for the Washington Nationals. There are still spots up for grabs, including for Sammy Solis, who is at last chance saloon.
We’re only five days away from Washington Nationals pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training for a new campaign. One of those pitchers will be Sammy Solis, who is likely down to his final chance during this year’s preseason.
The left-hander was considered a possible non-tender candidate earlier this offseason, before agreeing to a one-year, $850,000 deal. But with a contract of not too much value, it means that his 25-man roster spot is far from secure.
Solis is coming off of a rough season in which he posted a hideous 6.41 ERA, 1.551 WHIP while he also blew four saves. But it’s fair to wonder whether some of his struggles came from overuse, as his 56 appearances joint-led the team, despite spending over a month’s worth of games in Triple-A.
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The lefty actually held a 3.28 ERA and 0.812 WHIP through his first 36 appearances of the season. However, that was in the team’s first 70 games as manager Dave Martinez continually used Solis over and over again, seemingly wearing him down.
Martinez even said as much at the Nationals’ Hot Stove event just over a week ago. At the event, he told TalkNats that “at first, I fell in love with [Sammy Solis]. He pitched well in the beginning. He really did. I think I used him way too much. I really do. He then had a couple of bad outings. It got out of hand a little bit. I’m hoping this winter he was able to relax.”
It’s refreshing to hear a manager own up to something like that, and hopefully, it’s something that Martinez will learn from next season. That could end up giving Solis a reasonable chance to make the active roster, given how high the front office has been on him previously.
For starters, he has a good arsenal that includes a fastball which averages 93.6mph, a hard-breaking curveball 79.5mph and a changeup averaging 85.1mph. That’s led him to strike out more than a batter per inning with a solid 9.6 K/9 over his four big league seasons.
But when he’s struggled, the problem has been that the lefty’s hard-contact percentage, which has risen in every season of his career. Potentially due to the fatigue factor mentioned earlier, the lefty has a tendency to leave the ball over the heart of the plate when behind in the count, allowing hitters to capitalize. He certainly has the stuff to rectify this though, which will give him a chance at a role in the bullpen this year.
So far in the Nationals bullpen, it seems as though Solis will have to fight for the final spot with non-roster invitees. With only two lefties currently pegged for the major league bullpen in Sean Doolittle and Matt Grace, another lefty certainly makes sense.
Currently, Vidal Nuno is the main threat to Solis’ path to the active roster, but the former Tampa Bay Ray is coming off a good season, and won’t be a pushover in that competition. The front office could also go out and get someone such as Tony Sipp or Jake Diekman to bolster the bullpen, which would leave the former first-rounder in limbo. But right now, Solis certainly seems to be the favorite to make it.
Sammy Solis was the source of a lot of frustration last season for Washington Nationals fans and management alike. The left-hander should get one last shot to crack the big league bullpen this spring, or risk being let go by the team that drafted him.