Jennings, a client of ISE Baseball, struggled through a poor spring with the Angels and was ultimately cut loose at the end of camp. The well-traveled lefty, however, has a history of quality results at the MLB level, most recently having tossed 64 1/3 innings of 3.22 ERA ball with the Brewers in 2018. He’ll turn 32 later this week.
Jennings has logged parts of seven seasons in the big leagues and never posted an ERA of 4.00 or higher. He doesn’t miss bats at a particularly high rate (7.1 K/9) or possess pristine control (3.9 BB/9), but he’s been a durable arm that can retire both left- and right-handed hitters throughout his MLB career (although righties gave him some trouble last season). It’s also difficult to elevate the ball against Jennings, as evidenced by his 58.5 percent ground-ball rate and 0.66 HR/9 mark in 244 innings dating back to 2015.
For the Nats, it’s only logical to tack on some veteran depth in the upper minors. No team in baseball has seen its bullpen post a worst ERA than the Nationals’ collective 7.75 mark in 2019, and while there’s been some degree of poor fortune attached to the extent of that eyesore, the bullpen’s 5.22 FIP, 5.34 xFIP and 4.55 SIERA all support the notion that the overall performance has been legitimately ugly. Beyond closer Sean Doolittle, the Nats’ other two lefties — Tony Sipp and Matt Grace — have each struggled so far.
Jennings isn’t the first veteran arm to pique the organization’s interest in recent days; Washignton reportedly had a near-agreement with Bud Norris fall through last week, and the team will surely continue to explore what’s left in free agency and monitor the waiver wire. At present, Doolittle and Kyle Barraclough are the only Nationals relievers who have an ERA under 5.68, and there’s particular concern surrounding Trevor Rosenthal, who has allowed 12 of the 15 men he’s faced to reach base (seven via walk plus a hit batsman) in his first season back from 2017 Tommy John surgery.