Nationals Add Three Pieces to Bullpen at Deadline to Help Surge Towards October

It’s a wild time to be on South Capitol Street as the Nationals acquired three relievers to blooster the worst bullpen in professional baseball. GM Mike Rizzo planned to acquire at least two bullpen pieces today one of which he wanted to be a left handed reliever.

Rizzo got his wish and more as he acquired right hander Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays and lefty Roenis Elias and righty Hunter Strickland from the Mariners. Javy Guerra and Michael Blaztek were designated for assignment to clear room for two of the three relievers. 

The Nationals will have to decide which lefty they wanted to designate for assignment which will come down to either Matt Grace or Tony Sipp. Washington will likely designate Sipp as he hasn’t been nearly as effective against lefties this season while Grace has been effective out of the bullpen as a left-handed specialist. Grace is also controlled for two more seasons while Sipp’s contract ends after this season. Both players are making the trip to Arizona but only one will remain on the roster.

In the agreement with the Blue Jays, Washington will send minor leaguer Kyle Johnston to Toronato. 

Hudson, 32, emerged as a trade candidate after throwing 48 innings of 3.00 ERA ball for the Blue Jays this year. That’s a nice showing considering that Toronto added him late in camp on a minor-league deal with a $1.5MM base salary and $1.5MM in incentives. Hudson will be purely a rental as he becomes a free agent after the season ends./

The Nationals will send pitchers Aaron Fletcher, Elvis Alvarado and Taylor Guilbeau to the Mariners. Strickland is famously remembered by Nats fans as the guys who intentionally plunked Bryce Harper on Memorial Day Weekend in 2017. 

Strickland boasts a big fastball coming from his right arm that sits between 95 and 100 MPH. Strickland was injured earlier this season and has only pitched in four games giving up three runs in 3 ⅓ innings. 

Previously, Strickland was dominant out of the Giants from 2014 to 2018 where he pitched in 253 games pitching to a 2.91 ERA and striking out 211 batters in 226 innings. 

Elias became expendable once the Mariners started their downward fall in May. He’s had some inconsistent results this season but has pitched well in spots for the Seattle ball club. 

Working exclusively out of Seattle’s pen this year, he has a 4.40 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.53 HR/9, and 34.1% groundball rate in 47 innings this year.  Interestingly he’s faced 60 left-handed hitters this year, and they’ve teed off to the tune of a .353/.441/.549 batting line but he has had success facing lefties in the past

Yesterday, we highlighted the potential relievers the Nationals could acquire at today’s trade deadline

Johnston, 23, was a sixth round pick in 2017 working his way through the Nats’ system where he currently was pitching for Single-A Potomac. Johnston has started 20 games on the season pitching to a 4.03 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 37 walks. 

Alvarado, 20, recently transitioned from right field to the mound this season after a .139/.199/.228 slashline for the Nats rookie ball club last season. He’s been roughed up on the mound this year with an ERA of 6.00 in 15 innings. He does have the potential to strike batters out as he’s struck 19 batters out in those 15 innings. 

Gulibeau, 26, has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since being picked in the 10th round in 2015. Gulibeau has split time between AA Harrisburg and AAA Fresno. Gulibeau has seen much more success at the AA level with an ERA of 2.31 than his AAA ERA which stands at 5.19. 

Here’s how the Nationals bullpen looks after today’s trade deadline:

Sean Doolittle

Fernando Rodney

Wander Suero

Tanner Rainey

Matt Grace or Tony Sipp

Daniel Hudson

Hunter Strickland

Roenis Elias

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