After releasing left-handed reliever Sammy Solis, the Washington Nationals are gambling that the left-handers on their roster can be productive in the bullpen.
Despite a very disappointing 2018 season, in which Solis gave up 28 runs in 39 innings pitched, with the lack of left-handed reliever depth on the Nationals roster, it seemed inevitable he would be one of the lefties in their bullpen on Opening Day.
Washington clearly thought otherwise, and Solis’s 2018, where he proved unable to get left-handed batters out, led to his release.
With Solis out of the fold, it seems almost 100% certain that Matt Grace will be one of the left-handers in the Washington bullpen.
Grace had a surprisingly solid 2018 campaign, posting a 2.87 E.R.A. in 58 innings. Grace filled multiple roles during the season, including pitching to left-handed batters situationally and being used as a long reliever.
The 30-year-old does bring versatility to the Washington bullpen, but if he is being used as one of the team’s primary left-handed relievers, he may not be a viable option as the team’s long relief man.
Vidal Nuno, who was signed by Washington this offseason, seems to have the best chance at securing the second lefty spot in the pen.
Nationals manager Davey Martinez spoke highly of Nuno when asked about the release of Solis. Nuno’s 2018 numbers of a 1.64 ERA in 33 innings show he is capable of being a reliable arm out of the pen.
Nuno and Grace would be a solid pair, but there may be another reason Washington decided to move on from Solis.
If the Nationals have serious interest in free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel, they may feel comfortable pairing one of Nuno or Grace with Sean Doolittle who would likely move out of the closer’s role to a setup man spot.
It may be a stretch, but with Doolittle out of the closer spot, it would give the Nats the ability to use him as the primary left-handed bullpen arm and could even be matched up with the top left-handed batters you face.
This upcoming season, that could be Philadelphia Phillie Bryce Harper.
If Kimbrel is not in the Nationals plans, the team sure is showing a lot of trust in lefties Grace and Nuno.