Nationals Predictions: Best Hitter, Best Pitcher, Best Reliever
By Nick Meyers
Reliever of the Year - Mason Thompson
I nearly went with Hunter Harvey here, as he was sneaky good for the Nationals last year and I think he has success again this year. But predictions are about planting your flag, and I am firmly planting my flag in the Mason Thompson camp.
It is a bit sketchy, as the Nationals have not seemed to have a clear plan for Thompson since he came over from the Padres in a deal for Daniel Hudson in 2021. He has spent some time up with the Nationals, but also spent time down at AAA Rochester despite showing some flashes of success at the big league level. Now? They are apparently toying with the idea of using him as an opener with reports they are stretching him out to cover multiple innings.
I think that would be a mistake. Thompson stills needs to put it all together, but his plus sinker and devastating slider, which only had a .088 batting average against last season, scream back-end of the bullpen arm. Kyle Finnegan projects to be this team's closer to start the season, which I think is the correct move. But Finnegan is 31 and if he has success, I think he could be moved at the deadline if the Nationals get an offer they like. That would give Thompson an avenue to close games for the Nats and cement himself as the closer of the present and future in DC. Even if that doesn't happen, the Nationals simply need a consistent plan for Thompson and I think he will succeed.