It’s a narrative that Nationals fans have become all-too familiar with this season. The starters pitch a quality game, the offense scores enough to be able to win. And then in comes the bullpen, and suddenly that lead is gone. It feels like it happens instantly, and like it’s a given. One or two of these games is okay; it’s bound to happen over a 162-game schedule. But to have the constant fear of the bullpen even entering the game for fear of a lead slipping away every game is a major concern.
Tag Archives: Mark Melancon
It’s never been a better time to be a relief pitcher. Thanks to the success of the Royals, Cubs and Indians and their respective bullpens, relief pitching is the new “fetch”. If you are lucky enough to be able to throw a baseball at least 95 MPH, you can pitch a couple innings a week, hang out in the bullpen the rest of the year, and watch the cash flow in. Look no further than the University of Maryland’s own Brett Cecil, who just signed a four year deal worth over $30 million after throwing only 36 innings of 3.93 ERA baseball last season.
The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, and that strangest of victories sent us into this strangest of offseasons. The weakest free agent class in memory means teams will have to battle for very few players or get creative in trades and with internal options.
With the conclusion of the World Series, the offseason is officially here. Although 2016 ended in disappointment for the Nationals, the team doesn’t lose a lot heading into 2017 and figures to once again be in the mix for the 2017 World Series. Like most teams, the Nationals have some work to do around the edges, like solidifying a bullpen that loses a few arms and replacing some of the bench players. But the big moves for the Nationals will be dictated by their answer to the following four crucial questions.
Ohhh boy. Oh man, oh man, oh man. Oh boy. Oh man. Hooooo boy. The postseason is upon us, y’all. Friday night, Max Scherzer will duel Clayton Kershaw and the backs of our seats will be neglected. As the christening of the postseason became closer and closer through the week, the Nats prepared on the field while they stirred up excitement off it. Now that the NLDS is brushing against our fingertips, it’s time to recap.
The last time the number seven was this magic was when Barry Bonds wore it for his introduction to Major League Baseball in ‘86. Checking the NL East standings to make sure that the Mets haven’t been automatically knocked out for signing Tim Tebow will reveal that the magic number now sits at seven. That magic in the air might be why the Nats hit peak fun off-the-field this past week.
No jinx, but the Nationals are inching closer to officially locking up a playoff spot. The sizable lead the team owns in the NL East allows the Nationals to be smart about playing time down the stretch. Joe Ross needs time to build up arm strength? Let him get as many rehab starts as possible. Stephen Strasburg isn’t 100%? Skip one more start just to be safe. The relief pitchers, though, still have something to play for: a spot on the playoff roster.
The “dog days” of August are stupid, mostly because they are misleading and provide no extra dogs for petting or looking at on the feeds of Nationals players’ instagrams. What I’m trying to say is the Nats were relatively quiet this week on social media, but there was lots of on-ish, but technically off, field stuff to takes its place. Max Scherzer protested Jayson Werth’s freedom, Mark Melancon discovered GIFs, and Shawn Kelley became a campaign manager.
The Washington Nationals visited some old friends this week, splitting a series with the San Francisco Giants and former National Denard Span, and decidedly sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks, for whom former manager Matt Williams coaches third base. It was a busy week with the non-waiver trade deadline smack in the middle and an off day sprinkled in for good measure and extra off-field escapades. Anthony Rendon got kids to the eye exams, the Nats met Willie Mays, and we all said goodbye to Felipe Rivero and his infinite potential to welcome sturdy veteran closer Mark Melancon.
After weeks of speculation, the Nationals finally made a deal for a closer, a deal that fans had been demanding for quite a while. Except the deal wasn’t for either of the Yankees’ hard throwing lefties, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. It wasn’t for Royals closer extraordinaire Wade Davis either. Instead, it was for Mark Melancon in a deal that at worst looks like a fair trade but at best could be considered a borderline steal. Melancon’s name wasn’t making the rounds on the rumor mill for long before the deal got announced. So who exactly is the Nationals’ new closer?