The Bullpen. Who is in, who is out.

The bullpen was like reliving the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It seemed when the situation was Low Lev the bullpen was nails.  Clippard and Blevins were both traded in the off-season and Rafael Soriano departed for Free Agency.  There were going to be 3 spots to be replaced then Stammen suffered a season ending injury to his flexor tendon.  Aaron Barrett was a model of inconsistency and then he was lost to Tommy John surgery.

The bullpen looked like a MASH unit at times and many Minor Leaguers were added to the 40 man roster and got call-ups, and it was Felipe Rivero who made the biggest impression.  Initial impressions on Rafael Martin went from positive to negative quickly and he was returned to where he came from and the same for Matt Grace and Abel De Los Santos although all 3 would return in September and Rafael Martin was impressive.

Treinen and Barrett were both inconsistent during their season like they were in 2014, and both were sent back to the Minors with a twist and a turn for Barrett as he didn’t pitch again as he went on the DL and then required Tommy John surgery.

Rizzo needed serious reinforcements for the playoff push and in June he was negotiating for the best of the best in Aroldis Chapman and the price was too high.  Rizzo then turned to Craig Kimbrel and if the rumors are true, Padres GM AJ Preller wanted Joe Ross and Trea Turner back as if it was a scene from “Draft Day” with Kevin Costner and Rizzo probably hung up the phone.  That left the 3rd best reliever available which was Papelbon and the Phillies practically gave him to Rizzo with cash for a Top 15 prospect.  We all know how that ended.

Here’s the 40 man relievers available and under team control right now.  Papelbon almost certainly won’t be back, and Rizzo definitely will be shopping Storen as trade as his situation is like a scene from Groundhog Day that just never seems to end well.

That leave an inconsistent Treinen to be paired with Martin and Rivero who will be a set-up man initially in 2016, and then you have Stammen returning from a major injury.  If they are the only 3-4 to make the 2016 bullpen on Opening Day in Atlanta then Rizzo has to find 3-4 new arms unless he kept Storen or Grace or De Los Santos.

Figure that Rizzo has to find 2 back of the bullpen big arms for certain and target Darren O’Day like 10 other teams will be doing.  Ryan Madson will also be available and there’s a few other names to look at.


  1. Jonathan Papelbon *
  2. Felipe Rivero
  3. Blake Treinen
  4. Rafael Martin
  5. Craig Stammen
  6. Matt Grace
  7. Abel De Los Santos
  8. Sammy Solis
  9. Drew Storen *
  10. Aaron Barrett (won’t be available until September 2016)

* Trade bait

Statistically the Nats bullpen overall by standard and advanced metrics were not as bad as they looked which is shocking.  They rated 6th to 23rd in most categories and by controllable metrics of WHIP (hits/walks per inning) the bullpen was actually ranked 6th best in 2015.

Certainly not great but slightly above average and it’s the impact of the games they lost and the timing down the stretch which showed that in Hi Lev spots they failed and were exposed and that’s why the Nats bullpen was 7th worst in blown saves!

Bullpen ERA is a lousy stat and the Nats bullpen was 10th best in the Majors.

The stats are there and so are your emotions and then there is the reality of the dysfunction with Storen and Papelbon.

What’s your solution?

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