Improving their bullpen will be the Nationals’ “top priority” as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches, a source told Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The Nats aren’t close to acquiring anyone at this time, reports Ladson, who writes that they are hoping the Yankees will put lights-out lefties Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller on the block. Both have been connected in the past to the Nationals, who aren’t content with Jonathan Papelbon serving as their closer. Papelbon has fared well this year, having converted 14 of 16 save chances and posted a 2.91 ERA, 7.06 K/9 and 2.08 BB/9 in 21 2/3 innings, but he’s undoubtedly inferior to both Chapman and Miller. Even without either of those two in the mix, Washington’s bullpen entered Sunday ranked third in both ERA (2.85) and K/BB ratio (3.51).
More pitching notes:
- In unfortunate news for the Reds, their top starter, right-hander Raisel Iglesias, will work out of the bullpen when he returns from a shoulder injury in a few weeks, reports Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). The door isn’t closed on the 26-year-old rejoining the Reds’ rotation down the line, but he’ll have to show that his shoulder can hold up, per Buchanan. From a financial point of view, Buchanan notes that the likelihood of Iglesias opting out of his $27MM contract when he becomes eligible for arbitration will decrease if he doesn’t go back to starting (Twitter links). Iglesias has 154 days of major league service time under his belt and will soon reach the 172-day mark necessary for a full year, but he’s still a good distance from the three years needed to take a crack at arbitration. The Cuba native has so far made 23 big league appearances (21 starts) and compiled a 4.00 ERA, 9.68 K/9 and 2.55 BB/9 in 123 innings.
- On the bright side for the Reds, righty Anthony DeSclafani is likely to make his 2016 debut during the upcoming week – perhaps Friday – tweets Buchanan. The 26-year-old has been out all season with an oblique issue. He performed well in 2015, his first full big league campaign, totaling 184 2/3 innings of 4.05 ERA/3.67 FIP/3.97 xFIP pitching.
- The Mariners’ Felix Hernandez might not return from the disabled list when he’s eligible on June 12, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. “Fingers crossed, but he may miss a couple (of more starts). We’ll see,” said manager Scott Servais. The hope when Hernandez landed on the DL with a straight right calf muscle was that he’d only miss two starts, but he still isn’t moving well and hasn’t resumed throwing. King Felix posted a 2.86 ERA, 7.57 K/9 and 3.71 BB/9 in 63 innings prior to going on the shelf.