While the Nationals still hold the best record in the National League, the team’s bullpen struggles remain a real concern, as Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Boswell acknowledges the benefit of hindsight but points out that the very trade that brought the Nats a closer last summer (Mark Melancon) cost them a much-needed future piece, as left-hander Felipe Rivero went to the Pirates in that deal. Rivero, 25, has a 0.87 ERA in 20 games for the Bucs this season, while the Washington relief corps has one of baseball’s worst bullpens, in terms of ERA. Manager Dusty Baker acknowledged to Boswell that the bullpen is a problem but suggested that there’s no quick fix at this time. “You’re always pushing for a trade, but ain’t nobody trading right now,” said Baker. “Sometimes you have no choice but to have patience. Nobody is going to drop you down a knockdown closer out of the sky until there’s some teams out of it. We have to look from within right now.”
More from the NL East…
- While Boswell focuses heavily on the need for a closer, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs observes that for the Nationals, it’s not just a matter of finding a closer. A league-average bullpen could get the Nats to the postseason, but that won’t cut it in the playoffs, Cameron notes. Washington is likely in need of at least two quality relief arms this summer, and Cameron posits that the team could look to add multiple pitchers in a single trade. He speculates that the pairing of Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from the A’s (assuming Doolittle is healthy) or Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson from the White Sox could be plausible fits.
- The Mets are considering a DL stint for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but even if he does land on the shelf, top prospect Amed Rosario isn’t a consideration for a callup, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. Mets assistant GM John Ricco told reporters that while the team is happy with Rosario’s performance in Triple-A, the general thought is that the 21-year-old still needs more time to round out his development. Also of note: Ricco refuted the notion that Cabrera has sustained a torn ligament in his thumb. “The ligament is not affected,” said Ricco. “It’s a joint. We have to see how he feels [Tuesday]. To his credit, he wants to keep fighting.” Cabrera himself, however, told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News on Sunday that he had torn a ligament in his thumb.
- Ackert also writes that Yoenis Cespedes is close to beginning a running program and could be a week to 10 days from returning to the Mets. Ricco stated that Cespedes will “have to ramp up a couple days” but has been getting at-bats in extended Spring Training already. She also reports that left-hander Steven Matz and right-hander Seth Lugo will both throw bullpen sessions tomorrow and go out on Class-A Advanced rehab assignments on Thursday.
- Marlins right-hander Dan Straily allowed just one hit in tonight’s start against the Astros but exited after five innings. Straily was struck on the right forearm by a line drive off the bat of Evan Gattis that was smoked at 108.3 mph, per Statcast (h/t: MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro). Straily was able to make his scheduled plate appearances the next inning (though he only bunted), and Frisaro tweets that the righty said after the game that he escaped serious injury. Straily said the ball struck more muscle than bone, and while there’s obviously some swelling, he expects to make his next start.