Nationals: Washington’s Bullpen Took Another Hit
By Max Rayman
At the start of Spring Training, Washington’s bullpen projected to be a position of strength, and understandably so. 2020 witnessed the emergence of Tanner Rainey, while Kyle Finnegan impressed in his first year with the team. Wander Suero has flashed immense potential in the past, but has been plagued by control issues. Thankfully in 2020, he was able to show significant signs of improvement, lowering his H/9 and HR/9 rates. Throw in veterans Will Harris and Daniel Hudson who were instrumental in their respective teams reaching the World Series in 2019. The duo took a step back in 2020, but a full Spring Training was expected to allow the two to fully stretch out. Rounding out the bullpen was newcomers Jeremy Jeffress and Brad Hand, making this arguably the deepest bullpen in Nationals history.
Unfortunately, this has yet to come to fruition. Disaster struck early when Washington unexpectedly released Jeffress, who was a finalist for Reliever of the Year in 2020, with little explanation. Next, fireballer Rainey has yet to make his Spring debut due to a muscle injury near his right collarbone. He was shut down towards the end of the 2020 season with a flexor strain, raising some alarms amongst the fanbase. Then yesterday it was reported that Will Harris has a blood clot in his throwing arm, putting him out indefinitely.
In Harris’s last outing on March 9, he told manage Dave Martinez that something was off and he had yet to return to the mound during a game. This is a major blow to the bullpen, with Harris posting a 3.06 ERA in 2020. Entering year two of his three-year deal he signed before the start of 2020, the Nationals bullpen is becoming thinner every week.
“Medically, I don’t know the extent of what that is. But I know it’s something that is serious,” Martinez said. “We need to take care of it. Take care of it as soon as possible. And I feel for Will, ’cause I know he was just working his tail off to help us this year.”
With Harris sidelined, Wander Suero and Kyle Finnegan will need to step up to take the workload off of Daniel Hudson and Brad Hand. Hopefully, Harris can return soon, better than ever.