Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was a guest on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM earlier today and discussed his team’s ninth inning option with hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette (audio link via Soundcloud). “We feel that we have a closer in house,” said Rizzo. “We’ve felt that ever since early in the offseason when we didn’t get one of the big three closers. We feel that he’s here. We’ll figure out which one it is. They all have the stuff to do it. You talk about a power bullpen — we’ve got four or five guys that throw 95-plus in the bullpen.” Pressed further on the issue later in the interview, Rizzo conceded that if things aren’t going well during the season, the Nationals will be open to seeking outside alternatives, but the GM did not indicate that he’s looking to acquire a closer in the limited time between now and Opening Day.
David Robertson has been the “proven closer” that is most commonly linked to the Nats in trade rumors, though FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the sides don’t seem to feel the other is all that serious about getting a trade worked out. Per Heyman, the Nationals feel the asking price on Robertson means that the Sox aren’t all that interested in moving him, whereas the Sox feel the Nationals haven’t been very aggressive in pursuing him.
A couple more on last year’s NL East champs…
- Also from that MLB Network Radio interview, Bowden specifically asked Rizzo about the team’s acquisition of left-hander Enny Romero from the Rays. Bowden noted that Romero caught his attention during the World Baseball Classic when hitting 100 mph with his fastball, and Rizzo explained that Romero has been on the team’s radar for years. The Washington GM revealed that he pushed for the Rays to include Romero in the trade that sent Nate Karns to the Rays in exchange for Felipe Rivero and Jose Lobaton, but the Rays would not part with him.
- Max Scherzer threw 54 pitches in a minor league game against the Mets today, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, and he did so with his traditional fastball grip — a grip he’d been unable to use earlier this spring as he worked back from a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger. Scherzer had previously experimented with a three-fingered grip on his fastball in order to alleviate some pressure on the problematic knuckle, but he was relieved to get back to his traditional pitch arsenal today, Janes notes. The plan for Scherzer is to start a Major League game six days from now, which would give Scherzer time to make three more spring outings. “That’s 70, 85, 100 [pitches],” Scherzer said, suggesting that he’ll have time to ramp up for the season. Janes notes that that schedule wouldn’t line Scherzer up to start on Opening Day but could allow him to make his 2017 debut during the Nationals’ first turn through their rotation.