Washington Nationals: Nats Should Target Lefty Reliever at Deadline
The Washington Nationals bullpen is a significant area of concern. As the trade deadline nears, the team should target a left-handed middle reliever.
The much belittled Washington Nationals bullpen needs an upgrade. Everybody knows that. However, one specific area that needs it desperately are the available left-handers.
While it has been needed all season, two recent events shine the spotlight on the issue. First, new acquisition Jonny Venters was placed on the 10-Day Injured List with a left shoulder sprain, and his return date is unknown.
Venters isn’t a good pitcher to start with, and he made only three appearances with the Nats before hitting the IL.
Secondly, Matt Grace allowed the game-winning home run on Sunday to Maikel Franco, costing the team a chance at a series sweep.
Grace has yet to find his 2018 form, posting a 6.09 ERA this season compared to his 2.87 ERA last season. His FIP has risen to 5.39 from 3.40 as well.
The only other left-handed reliever available for the middle innings is Tony Sipp, and he’s merely serviceable.
As the teams’ left-handed batter specialist, Sipp has limited lefties to 10 hits and one walk to the 41 batters he’s faced. He’s allowed seven singles and three doubles. His WHIP against them stands at 1.14 and his FIP at 2.59.
However, Sipp cannot be the only decent lefty in the bullpen, besides Sean Doolittle, for a playoff stretch run.
What is bizarre is that, despite all of the turnover in the bullpen, the Nats have only employed five left-handed relievers all season. They are Doolittle, Sipp, Grace, Venters, and Dan Jennings, who lasted 4.2 innings with the Nats before being designated for assignment.
There is no question that the Nats need to make an upgrade at this position before the trade deadline expires. Some of the players my site co-expert Matt Holleran suggested the Nats acquire via trade are as follows:
- Will Smith, San Francisco Giants
- Tony Watson, Giants
- Jake Diekman, Kansas City Royals
- Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Roenis Elias, Seattle Mariners
With rumors abound at this time of year, keep your eyes peeled for these names as the hot stove heats up.