Spring Training Preview: Relief Pitchers

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SPRING TRAINING PREVIEW – RELIEF PITCHERS

This spring, 63 players — each member of the Nationals’ 40-man roster, plus 23 additional non-roster invitees — will vie for the 25 spots on Dusty Baker’s Opening Day ballclub. Over the course of this week, we are introducing these players in their position groups, continuing today with relief pitchers.

March 5 – Starting Pitchers

March 6 – Relief Pitchers

March 7 – Catchers

March 8 – Infielders

March 9 – Outfielders

AARON BARRETT

2015 Season Totals: 4.60 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 10.74 K/9, 2.15 BB/9, .351 BABIP, 0.9 fWAR

Although Barrett will begin the 2016 season on the disabled list following Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the 28-year-old has a bright future in the nation’s capital. Barrett has posted remarkable numbers during his first two big league seasons, including a 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2015 that led all Nationals relievers. Armed with a hard fastball and wipeout slider, Barrett has a chance to provide the team with a boost either down the stretch in 2016 or by Opening Day, 2017. 

ABEL De LOS SANTOS

2015 Season Totals: 5.40 ERA, 9.13 FIP, 16.20 K/9, 5.40 BB/9, .333 BABIP, -0.1 fWAR

A live-armed right-hander, de Los Santos has posted 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 3.61 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 144 Minor league games (36 starts) over his professional career. He went 4-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 39 games for Double-A Harrisburg, and was 8-for-11 in save opportunities for the Senators. He struck out 55 batters in 57.2 Minor league innings (8.6 K/9.0 IP). De Los Santos had his contract selected on July 20 and made his MLB debut the next night vs. New York Mets.

TREVOR GOTT

2015 Season Totals: 3.02 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 5.10 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, .266 BABIP, 0.1 fWAR

Gott, 23, comes to Washington after being acquired in a December deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The young right-hander, just three years removed from his junior season at the University of Kentucky, profiles as a late-inning reliever with a fastball that averaged more than 96 mph during his rookie season with the Angels a year ago. Prior to reaching the Major Leagues, Gott posted an impressive 2.25 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 28 innings between Double-A and Triple-A ball in 2015. 

MATT GRACE

2015 Season Totals: 4.24 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 7.41 K/9, 4.24 BB/9, .426 BABIP, 0.3 fWAR

Left-handed and featuring a fastball and slider repertoire that induced groundballs at a rate of 59 percent in his 26 big league games in 2015, Grace would have ranked in the top 15 in baseball in ground ball rate if qualified. He began the season with Triple-A Syracuse before being recalled to the big leagues on April 22 and made his MLB debut that night against the St. Louis Cardinals. On the season, he allowed just one extra base hit in 38 at-bats against left-handed batters, striking out nine and walking just two. 

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALSSHAWN KELLEY

2015 Season Totals: 2.45 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 11.05 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, .301 BABIP, 1.0 fWAR

Kelley brings a wealth of experience to the revamped Nationals’ bullpen from his seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. The 31-year-old right-hander has developed into a reliable reliever, striking out 246 opposing hitters in 200.2 innings over the past four years and featuring a slider he has thrown more than 50 percent of the time during that span. The Louisville, Ky. native signed a three-year deal with Washington in December.

NICK LEE

2015 Season Totals: N/A

Lee was added to Washington’s 40-man roster following the 2015 season. He began his professional career as a starter, but transitioned to the bullpen during the 2014 season. Lee is effective with the strikeout, posting 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings over his five-year professional career. He went 3-1 with 10 saves and a 3.12 ERA in a career-high 40 outings between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg in 2015, while his 10 saves ranked tied for second among Nationals farmhands.

RAFAEL MARTIN

2015 Season Totals: 5.11 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 18.24 K/9, 3.65 BB/9, .381 BABIP, -0.1 fWAR

An eight-year Minor League veteran, Martin earned an invite to 2015 Spring Training and quickly made his mark in the big leagues, striking out five consecutive Boston Red Sox batters in two scoreless innings in his MLB debut on April 15. Martin utilizes an upper-echelon slider to produce impressive strikeout numbers, helping him lead Washington’s minor league system with 12 saves, going 5-5 with a 3.21 ERA (20 ER/56.0 IP) in 46 games for Triple-A Syracuse.

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALS

JONATHAN PAPELBON

2015 Season Totals: 2.13 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 7.96 K/9, 1.71 BB/9, .258 BABIP, 0.4 fWAR

One of the game’s most decorated closers, Papelbon has a chance to climb up the all-time saves list in 2016. With 349 in his career, the 35-year-old veteran is just nine behind Troy Percival (10th; 358), 18 behind Jeff Reardon (9th; 367) and 28 behind Joe Nathan (8th; 377). Papelbon successfully closed out 24 games in 2015, posting 17 saves and a 1.59 ERA with the Phillies and seven saves and a 3.04 ERA with the Nationals, after being acquired just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline in late July.

OLIVER PEREZ

2015 Season Totals: 4.17 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 11.20 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, .321 BABIP, 0.5 fWAR

Perez’s resurgence has been one of baseball’s best stories over the past few years, as the one-time starter has rediscovered his magic as a short-inning reliever. The left-hander’s career took a positive turn under the tutelage of Nationals’ instructors in 2011, and he now joins the organization at the Major League level for the first time. In 232 appearances since 2012, Perez has posted a 3.31 ERA and 225 strikeouts in 182.1 innings, while proving to be one of the game’s toughest draws for left-handed hitters.

YUSMEIRO PETIT

2015 Season Totals: 3.67 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 6.99 K/9, 1.78 BB/9, .278 BABIP, -0.1 fWAR

SPRING TRAINING NATIONALSPetit, a versatile swingman with the ability to go multiple innings as a starter or reliever, signed with the Nationals this offseason after four successful campaigns with the San Francisco Giants. He set a Major League record in 2014, retiring 46 consecutive hitters at one point over an eight-game stretch. Fans may also remember his winning performance in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS at Nationals Park, in which he held the Nats to one hit over six shutout innings from the 12th through the 17th frames.

FELIPE RIVERO

2015 Season Totals: 2.79 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 8.01 K/9, 2.05 BB/9, .250 BABIP, 0.9 fWAR

A breakout rookie in the Nationals’ 2015 bullpen, Rivero returns with a chance to earn a more prominent role during the 2016 season. The left-hander pitched in relief over a full season for the first time a year ago, and seemed to get stronger as the season wore on. Rivero finished the year with seven consecutive scoreless appearances — holding opponents to just one hit and one walk while striking out seven batters — while earning his first two Major League saves in the process.

SAMMY SOLIS

2015 Season Totals: 3.38 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 7.17 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, .329 BABIP, 0.1 fWAR

Solis entered 2015 in good health after struggling with injuries his first few years as a professional. He began the season with Double-A Harrisburg before being recalled to the Major Leagues on April 29. Solis made his big league debut the next night, April 30 at the New York Mets. He enjoyed four stints with Washington over the course of the year, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA (8 ER/21.1 IP) in 18 games. In 20 games between Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, Solis went 0-3 with four saves and a 4.39 ERA (13 ER/26.2 IP).

BLAKE TREINEN

2015 Season Totals: 3.86 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 8.65 K/9, 4.26 BB/9, .328 BABIP, 0.4 fWAR

Treinen made his first Opening Day roster in 2015 and spent the majority of the season in the Nationals’ bullpen, showing electric stuff and a dominant streak against opposing right-handed hitters. Righties hit a paltry .187/.276/.216 against the 6-foot-5 Kansan, striking out in 28.8 percent of all plate appearances. Treinen compiled a nearly flawless month of August, holding opponents scoreless over 11 appearances while allowing just six hits and two walks over 12.1 innings, striking out 12.

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

BURKE BADENHOP6-foot-5 right-hander is a noted ground ball specialist, with a 54.4 percent career rate.

MATT BELISLEVeteran righty made 34 relief appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015.

MICHAEL BRADYSecond piece of the deal that brought fellow reliever Trevor Gott to Washington.

SEAN BURNETTFormer Nationals left-hander returns to the organization after three-year absence.

ERIK DAVISStanford product fanned 12 batters and walked just one in 10 appearances in 2013 debut.

NICK MASSETPitched four seasons in Dusty Baker’s bullpen in Cincinnati from 2008-11.

WANDER SUEROSlender Dominican right-hander posted a 2.41 ERA for Single-A Potomac in 2015.

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