Quick Links

2016 Nats roster outlook: Shawn Kelley adds needed depth to bullpen


2016 Nats roster outlook: Shawn Kelley adds needed depth to bullpen

Age on Opening Day 2016: 31

How acquired: Signed as free agent, December 2015

2016 salary: $4 million

2015 stats:  53 G, 51.1 IP, 2-2, 2.45 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 63 SO, 15 BB, 1.091 WHIP

2016 storyline: Coming off his best season in 2015 with the Padres, Kelley signed a three-year deal with the Nationals as part of Washington's effort to reshape its beleaguered bullpen. But with the influx of other newly-acquired relievers like Trevor Gott, Oliver Perez and Yusmeiro Petit, it remains to be see where Kelley fits in the relief corps' pecking order. The other unknown factor here is closer Jonathan Papelbon's future — GM Mike says is still with the Nats — which could be subject to change. 

So what role will Kelley play? In his career he's been considered a versatile reliever who has experience as a long man, in setup situations and has even notched four saves. 

Best-case scenario: The Nats signed Kelley with the hope he'd build on last season's solid performance. If he pitches like that again in 2016, could he be a key late-inning option? Outside of closer, no one really has a stranglehold on any role at this point. So if Kelley proves his worth early, it wouldn't be a surprise if Dusty Baker regularly calls upon him to pitch the eighth inning. 

Worse-case scenario: Kelley's solid campaign with the Padres was preceded by a not-so-great stint with the Yankees — he had a ERA of 4.46 over two seasons with New York — so the fear for the Nats is that he regresses to what he was prior to last year. 

Most-likely scenario: Projecting how a reliever like Kelley might perform with a different team is never an easy thing to do. There are a number of factors to consider: a new home ballpark, a different set of divisional foes and a yet-to-be-determined role in the bullpen, among other things. 

That said, the folks over at Fangraphs project that Kelley will post a 2.94 ERA and a 2.57 FIP over 52 innings. Those stats aren't dominant for a reliever, but given what happened to the bullpen last year, the Nats would surely sign up for those numbers.  

[MORE: Will Michael Taylor become an everyday outfielder?]

Quick Links

The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


Quick Links

Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.