Washington Nationals: Nats Make Mistake by Releasing Tony Sipp
Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tony Sipp was one of three casualties as a result of the moves made before the trade deadline on Wednesday.
To shore up its bullpen, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo completed three trades before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
While it would be great to carry 28 players on the team’s active roster, the rules don’t allow it. Three players had to go, and one of the calls made was to designate left-handed relief pitcher Tony Sipp for assignment.
This puzzled lots of Nats fans, as it should. It was not the smartest decision.
The Nationals signed Sipp in the offseason for three primary purposes: To get Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, and Robinson Cano out in critical situations. As a left-handed specialist, that was his job, and he did it exceptionally well.
This season, those three players combined to go 1-7 with a single and two strikeouts against Sipp.
Even when he wasn’t facing just those players, Sipp was still effective. Against left-handed hitters this season, Sipp allowed a slash line of .255/.283/.383. He had a 0.71 ERA and a WHIP of 1.11.
That’s pretty good! And I’m not going off of what constitutes as a standard for a Nationals relief pitcher this season. Those are above average numbers in a league-wide context!
Just on its own, releasing Sipp was a bad decision. But the move is even worse because Matt Grace was not released as well. Grace is the worse pitcher, but he remains on the roster.
On the season, Grace has a 5.93 ERA with a career-high home run rate and a negative 0.1 WAR. Sipp, meanwhile, has a positive 0.3 WAR.
The only logical explanation as to why Grace remains on the roster is his excellent outing as an “opener” against the Dodgers last week. Recency bias is not a winning formula in Major League Baseball.
Unless the Nats have plans to make Grace an opener for their 5th starters, it doesn’t make sense why he’s on the roster. Grace opened for Joe Ross against the Dodgers but didn’t open for him against the Diamondbacks. Something does not add up.
Grace has proven himself to be an above-average reliever in the past as evident by 2.87 ERA last season. But his career average of 4.11 shows he’s merely an average relief pitcher with high volatility.
Sipp deserved this roster spot more than Grace, but hopefully, one thing Nats fans and the front office can agree on is that Roenis Elias is an upgrade over both of them. If he can provide high-quality appearances for the team, this Sipp vs. Grace Delima shouldn’t make too much of a difference down the stretch.