He hasn’t pitched in the major leagues in three years, yet Paolo Espino gave his best effort across four innings Tuesday night in hopes of securing a job next season.
With the Washington Nationals playing eight games in five days, there was a need for pitchers to throw out there to start games. Ben Braymer got his turn a few days earlier and proved he was capable of the task. Paolo Espino was next in line to toe the rubber to see what he could do.
Getting back to the majors has been quite a journey for Espino. The former tenth round draft pick in 2006 toiled in the minor leagues for several years before getting an opportunity with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017.
Espino actually won 22 games in the Washington Nationals system from 2014-2016, prior to making it to the majors later with the Brew Crew.
Pitching as both a starter and a reliever, Espino pitched in twelve games in ’17 between the Brewers and Texas Rangers. He did not factor in any decisions and ended with an ERA of 6.00.
After the season he re-signed with the Rangers, on a minor league contract. Up until this point, he had not made it back to the majors.
Entering last offseason, the Nationals signed him to the sixth minor league contract of his career, and he was fortunate enough to be on the 60-man roster when the pandemic hit.
A plethora of injuries used up a lot of resources at the alternate training site, leaving Espino waiting in the wings.
Here it was, on the back end of a double-header, Espino was thrust into action. Over four innings he pitched in and out of trouble. He allowed seven hits and did not walk a hitter. He gave up some loud, long outs, and fanned four, including the last two outs he collected.
Espino threw 66 pitches and kept the Nationals in the game for four innings.
At 33 years-old (he’ll turn 34 prior to next season) Espino will be looking for a job next year. Most likely he’ll sign a minor league contract and be considered organizational depth for whom he signs. Hopefully his spot start with the Nationals allowed him to audition his talents to some of those teams out there. Maybe the Nationals bring him back for a third tour of duty.
Whatever the case is, Paolo Espino did what was expected of him this go around. Welcome back to the big leagues, Paolo!