The Nationals’ terrible results from the bullpen have been frustrating fans all season, and it’s begun to take a toll on the clubhouse as well, per Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. Svrluga quotes unnamed Nationals players that are exasperated by the persistently blown leads, quoting one who states, “We feel like we have to win the game three times.” As has been reported on multiple occasions in the past, Svrluga writes that Nationals ownership vetoed a trade that would have netted the Nats David Robertson from the White Sox this offseason. However, Svrluga now reports that GM Mike Rizzo also had an agreement in place with current Rockies closer Greg Holland, only for the Lerner family to once again step in and nix that deal. (FanRag’s Jon Heyman previously reported that ownership balked at the concept of a vesting player option for Holland, though Svrluga is seemingly the first mention of an actual agreement that fell through.) The bullpen will assuredly be Rizzo’s prime target in trades this summer, though reports suggest that he certainly tried to be proactive in addressing the matter this winter but wasn’t granted the freedom to do so.
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- Manager Dusty Baker tells reporters that left-handed reliever Sammy Solis threw a lengthy bullpen session and also pitched a simulated game this week (Twitter link via the Post’s Chelsea Janes). The Nats, though, appear to be taking a cautious route with the 28-year-old, as Baker wouldn’t yet commit to a minor league rehab assignment. Solis tossed 62 1/3 innings of 2.74 ERA ball from 2015-16 with the Nats and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings last year, but he’s been limited to just 4 1/3 frames in 2017 thanks to inflammation in his left elbow.
- Janes also tweets that top prospect Erick Fedde has been promoted to Triple-A Syracuse. The former first-rounder is viewed as a starter by the Nationals in the long-term but was moved to a bullpen role earlier this year in order to help manage his innings and to allow him to surface as a potential midseason option in relief. Through 56 1/3 innings in Double-A Harrisburg, Fedde posted a 3.04 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 50.7 percent ground-ball rate.
- While there’s been speculation that the Nationals could put 2017 first-round pick Seth Romero in the bullpen in an effort to fast-track him to the Majors in 2017, GM Mike Rizzo says the team views Romero as a starter, according to MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. Rizzo has never had a player reach the Majors the same year he was drafted, though he didn’t firmly rule it out as a possibility in Romero’s case. “We’re going to develop him at his own pace and utilize our strong player development system,” the GM told reporters. “And hopefully he’s a guy for us down the road.” Romero was considered a possible top 10 pick but slipped in the draft due to makeup concerns after he was kicked off the University of Houston’s team this season despite being its top pitcher in terms of performance. The Houston Chronicle’s Joseph Duarte has reported that Romero failed a drug test in 2016 (one of multiple recreational drug-related incidents) and was finally dismissed from the team this season after getting into a fight with one of his teammates. Romero had previously been suspended by the Cougars on two separate occasions prior to the physical altercation.