Author Topic: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?  (Read 4133 times)

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Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Topic Start: March 08, 2023, 04:47:13 PM »
Time to set up the bullpen thread for this year.  With the cuts earlier this week, and Doo's slower progress, there are 3 lefties in camp: Anthony Banda (on the run), Matt Cronin, and Jose Ferrer.  Jesse Dougherty discusses the traditional "do the Nats have / need a lefty in the bullpen" question here:
It’s spring again: The Nationals have a lefty reliever conundrum

Quote
Banda, 29 and a nonroster invite to spring training, pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees in 2022, yielding 20 earned runs in 26⅔ innings. Cronin, 25, has not pitched above Class AAA, while Ferrer, newly 23, has not pitched above AA. The options, then, are a mix of uninspiring and inexperienced. But while the Nationals have papered over a lack of lefties in the past, Manager Dave Martinez seems, well, uninterested in a plan of that nature.
[notes Davey hasn't emphasized it in the past but says it would be a preference. Discusses past array of Clays and the like, and how the 3 batter minimum has changed the role from strictly a matchup LOOGY to someone who can get the tough lefty hitters plus be usable against righties]
...
Once Harper returns from injury, the Phillies will have him and Kyle Schwarber in the middle of their order. With the New York Mets, a lefty could face Brandon Nimmo and then flip the switch-hitting Francisco Lindor from the left side to the right (granted, Lindor was only marginally worse as a righty last year). And the Atlanta Braves have strong left-handed batters in Michael Harris, Matt Olson and switch-hitter Ozzie Albies.

And that’s just in the Nationals’ division.

So will Washington initially roster Banda, Cronin or Ferrer? Two of them? Or come the end of this month, will Martinez be stuck explaining why [insert name of right-handed reliever] negates the need for a lefty because they should have good reverse splits? Wander Suero, Will Harris and Andrés Machado, who’s still with the club, are in the esteemed group of pitchers who have been used for that logic. Veteran reliever Alex Colomé and his cutter could join them soon, though he’s struggled with the new pitch clock.

Notes the pluses and minuses of the remaining 3 lefty relievers.

Banda has the usual splits. 2/3 of his pitches are 4 seem and change up, but he's added a sinker and throws a slider.

Ferrer has hit 97 in camp, and has a change and is reintroducing his slider. GEtting tested against major leaguers this spring, has fans on the staff, fast riser, but hasn't pitched above AA.

Cronin was dominant in AA but in AAA not so much last year. Also throws a 4 seem fastball and an occasional splitter, threw a curve but is playing with a slider. 

Suggests that Banda may stick until Doo is ready so that Cronin and Ferrer can pitch more frequently (in the minors). Alternatively, if they continue to pitch solidly, they may develop in the majors. Both are on the 40 man roster.

Offline Senatorswin

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #1: March 08, 2023, 08:06:23 PM »
Corbin to the pen.

Offline IanRubbish

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #2: March 08, 2023, 09:21:36 PM »
So far so good with the pen.  With the resources available, I continue to believe using openers would be a big benefit, especially when many of the starters struggle by the third time through the lineup, and even when good they need a lot of pitches per IP.

Offline Senatorswin

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #3: March 08, 2023, 10:03:51 PM »
If Carl Edwards pitches as well as he did last year they have a pretty good backend of the pen with Edwards, Finnegan and Harvey.

Offline zimm_da_kid

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #4: March 08, 2023, 11:12:37 PM »
If Carl Edwards pitches as well as he did last year they have a pretty good backend of the pen with Edwards, Finnegan and Harvey.

Will certainly help the young SPs confidence if they can turn in good performances and not have the bullpen blow them

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #5: March 09, 2023, 09:08:55 AM »
So far so good with the pen.  With the resources available, I continue to believe using openers would be a big benefit, especially when many of the starters struggle by the third time through the lineup, and even when good they need a lot of pitches per IP.
I suggested this as a fix for some of the weaker starters last year.  We had a surplus of acceptable relievers, especially before Rainey went down. I don't know if I mentioned this for Gray and Corbin specifically, but the idea of the guy you want pitching the most innings starting his second and third time through the order at the bottom of the  order rather than the top seems pretty obvious. I think this is especially true when you are trying to break a guy into the majors like Gore and Cavalli.  W/r/t Gore and Corbin, the fact that they are lefties and we have a predominantly righty bullpen puts the opposing manager in a bit of a dilemma in terms of platoon advantage, too.  Do you drop any of your righty top of the order guys down in the order in order to counter-act the Nats strategy, or do you allow the Nats to get righty-righty matchups early in the start?

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #6: March 21, 2023, 02:18:07 PM »
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/03/21/washington-nationals-hobie-harris/

Profile of Hobie Harris, who is a NRI with a chance to break camp in the bullpen.  Features a very nice splitter that he's developed over the past year or so.  He's a 3 pitch pitcher who aims for 45% 4 seem, 45% splitter, and 10% cutter. Has 3 options, and has an opt out if he's not on the 40 man by mid-July, and can go to Japan, Korea, or Taiwan if he gets an inquiry before then.

Also, a discussion of the potential slots and candidates.

Quote
With six days left of camp, there are still open spots in Martinez’s bullpen. Five are expected to go to Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Carl Edwards Jr., Erasmo Ramírez and Thaddeus Ward, who Washington selected in the Rule 5 draft back in December. From there, at least one lefty between Anthony Banda and Jose Ferrer should make the cut. And after that, Harris, Mason Thompson, Andrés Machado, Alex Colomé, Paolo Espino and Wily Peralta are in the picture.

Machado, Harris, Peralta, Colome, and Banda are not yet on the 40 man roster.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #7: March 22, 2023, 09:20:23 AM »
Dr. Doo checking in with a report. Plans are that he will travel north with the team to work with the med staff for a week, then return to West Palm to continue his rehab. He will not exercise the pro-forma opt-out clause as his focus at this point is solely on the Nats.

The article also discusses Banda, who will make the team if they decide they want to carry a lefty in the bullpen. Banda at this point is mostly a hard-throwing lefty who relied 2/3 of the time on an upper 90s fastball in his last outing, mixing in changes and an occasional breaking ball.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/03/22/sean-doolittle-nationals-rehab/

Quote
Banda, 29, has appeared for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees over six seasons. Throwing 95 to 98 mph from the left side has yielded many opportunities. Facing the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, he peaked at 97.9 and mixed 13 four-seamers with five change-ups (plus two breaking balls). In one inning, he walked a batter and did not allow a hit or a run.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #8: March 23, 2023, 04:17:27 PM »
A Bill Ladson article on Carl Edwards, Jr.

https://www.mlb.com/nationals/news/carl-edwards-jr-looks-to-repeat-success-in-2023
Actually, Ladson has a bunch of articles up on the Nats website.


Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #9: March 24, 2023, 07:25:10 PM »
Carp sounding like Banda has an inside track on one of the toss up jobs.

Offline imref

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #10: March 24, 2023, 07:53:02 PM »
Colome looks awful

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #11: March 24, 2023, 08:07:59 PM »
I think there will be a revolt among anyone who cares if Colome makes the team at the start of the year.

Of course, it might be a small size revolt. Maybe like 4 members of WNFF and a couple of clubhouse guys.

Offline Slateman

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #12: March 24, 2023, 08:15:10 PM »
No one will care. Like, oh no, we might lose  one more game

Offline imref

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #13: March 24, 2023, 08:22:20 PM »
At least colome is better than peralta

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #14: March 24, 2023, 08:25:30 PM »
I think there will be a revolt among anyone who cares if Colome makes the team at the start of the year.

Of course, it might be a small size revolt. Maybe like 4 members of WNFF and a couple of clubhouse guys.
Scratch Peralta too.

I think Mason Thompson makes the team.  I think the bullpen will end up:

Finnegan
Edwards
Harvey
Ramirez
Ward
Banda
Thompson
Harris / Espino or both if Kuhl isn't added to the 40 man until his start.

Machado is the other one with a shot at this point.

Offline imref

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #15: March 24, 2023, 08:33:13 PM »
That’s not a terrible bullpen.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #16: March 24, 2023, 08:45:41 PM »
thinking about it a bit more, I think Machado doesn't get added until there is another injury in the bullpen. He's out of options, and both Espino and Harris have multiple options. You can play a game with Kuhl, but after that, it's basically the survivor of those Espino / Harris and Thompson who could be sent down and not released if they are not going well. IOW, they have to be convinced Machado will stick or be released in order for him to make the team.

Offline imref

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #17: March 25, 2023, 03:49:38 PM »
with the latest cuts, the bullpen will be Finnegan, Harvey, Edwards, Ramirez, Thompson, Ward, Banda and Harris

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #18: March 25, 2023, 04:23:34 PM »
with the latest cuts, the bullpen will be Finnegan, Harvey, Edwards, Ramirez, Thompson, Ward, Banda and Harris
was there more cuts today?

Offline imref

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #19: March 25, 2023, 04:45:01 PM »
was there more cuts today?

Quote
INF Jeter Downs and RHP Paolo Espino optioned to AAA
RHP Alex Colomé, RHP Andrés Machado and RHP Wily Peralta reassigned to minor-league camp

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #20: April 07, 2023, 09:05:29 AM »
Over in the "Week 1 assessment" thread, it hit me that, other than Finnegan, it's probably bearing out that the performance of the other 7 has been tough to criticize. 

Edwards, Harris and Erasmo have yet to give up a run in 7 appearances and 7.2 IP. 
Thompson gave up 1 homer, but has also gone 7 innings without walking a guy and picked up 7 Ks. Very impressive.
Banda has been fine and can take whole innings (not just a loogy).
Ward had a nice couple of multi-inning appearances. Big K%-BB% in those outings. Probably a guy who can be kept on the roster.  A successful use of Rule 5.
Harvey had a good week and looks like a good "Bullpen A" piece, which has to be viewed as a successful pick up.

Offline Slateman

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #21: April 07, 2023, 09:36:54 AM »
Finnegan simply isnt a closer. Put him in the 7th or 8th inning and he's probably fine. Some guys thrive on the pressure of the closer role. Others dont.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #22: April 07, 2023, 09:43:19 AM »
Finnegan simply isnt a closer. Put him in the 7th or 8th inning and he's probably fine. Some guys thrive on the pressure of the closer role. Others dont.
I kind of agree. It's weird because he can be used as a stopper mid-inning and handle that sort of pressure, but give him a clean inning and a lead in the 9th, which should be lower pressure, and it's trouble.

I'd be kind of in favor of a rotational closer role, where various guys among Edwards, Harvey, Harris, maybe at some point Thompson and Banda, all take a turn until they show they can't handle it. Finnegan should get some lower leverage appearances, settle down, then rejoin that closer rotation behind Harvey and a few others, at least until Rainey or perhaps Doo comes on board. Doo may never have the stuff again but at least he has the head for it.

Offline Slateman

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #23: April 07, 2023, 10:53:19 AM »
There needs to be The Guy. Frankly, the 8th and 9th inning should be set. Those guys should know they're not going to be used outside of those innings, or at least, if they are, the coaching staff will tell then before the game.

I think it should go to Edwards, due to being a veteran and having more experience. But I also think Hunter Harvey and Mason Thompson should get some legit shots at closer/setup roles.

Let Harris and Banda grow into being major league relievers in middle relief. Also, no reason to rush Rainey back to high leverage (dont think he'll be here until September anyway).

Rizzo and Davey need to balance the need for development of young, long term guys (Harvey, Banda, Thompson) and maximizing the trade value of short term veterans (Edwards, Finnegan, Ramirez). Ultimately, we should lean to the side of player development.

Offline Senatorswin

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Re: Bullpen - the strength of 2023?
« Reply #24: April 07, 2023, 07:47:09 PM »
Harvey has never had a save in two opportunities and Edwards has saved 5 and blown 13. Finnegan has 23 and blown 10. None may not be ideal but they better hope Finnegans blown save the other day was just a blip on the radar.